Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- The Economist discusses how a tiny elite group is taking a startling share of the U.S.' total wealth:
The ratio of household wealth to national income has risen back toward the level of the 1920s, but the share in the hands of middle-class families has tumbled (see chart). Tepid growth in middle-class incomes is partly to blame; real incomes for the top 1% of families grew 3.4% a year from 1986-2012 while those for the bottom 90% grew 0.7%. But Messrs Saez and Zucman reckon the main cause of falling middle-class net worth is soaring debt. Rising home values did little to raise middle-class wealth since mortgage debt also soared. The recession battered home prices but left the debt untouched, further squeezing middle-class wealth.
On the other side of the spectrum, the fortunes of the wealthy have grown, especially at the very top. The 16,000 families making up the richest 0.01%, with an average net worth of $371m, now control 11.2% of total wealth—back to the 1916 share, which is the highest on record. Those down the distribution have not done quite so well: the top 0.1% (consisting of 160,000 families worth $73m on average) hold 22% of America’s wealth, just shy of the 1929 peak—and exactly the same share as the bottom 90% of the population.
- Meanwhile, Lana Payne points out that the Cons are looking to set up the same level of inequality in Canada by pushing tax giveaways at the top end of the income spectrum. And Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert rightly challenge the regressive claim that pushing people toward marriage is somehow a solution to inequality.

- Thomas Walkom and Jeffrey Simpson are both duly skeptical as to whether Stephen Harper will do anything of substance in response to the new greenhouse gas emission reduction agreement between the U.S. and China. But even if we should fully expect continued stonewalling from the Cons, it's not such a bad thing for Harper to be forced to explain that choice.

- Harsha Walia calls out the Cons' "managed migration" which serves primarily to limit individual rights and freedoms:
While Canada is often cast as a liberal counterpoint to aggressive U.S. immigration enforcement tactics, the U.S. has actually pointed to Canada as the model to implement for U.S. migration policy. This is because Canada has perfected a system of managed migration to ensure the steady supply of cheap labour within neoliberalism while entrenching racialized citizenship.
Canada currently accepts more migrants under temporary permits than those who can immigrate permanently. Permanent residency for refugees, skilled workers and family members is restricted, citizenship is becoming harder to get and easier to lose, but the migrant worker program is exploding.

These changes are drastic. The number of family-class immigrants dropped by 10,000 in the first four years the Conservative Party of Canada formed government.

According to Avvy Yao-Yao Go, Director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, "Thirty years ago, family-class immigrants made up the majority of all immigrants. Today, they account for less than 20 per cent of the total intake."
For the few refugees and migrants who do become permanent residents or citizens, the battle for secure legal status doesn't end there. The Immigrant Criminalization law that passed last year allows for deportations of thousands of permanent residents who have been convicted for minor offences including traffic offenses.

And the new Stealing Citizenship law makes it possible to revoke citizenship from dual nationals or even from Canadian-born children who have the possibility of accessing dual citizenship.
- Finally, David Broockman and Joshua Kalla examine the effectiveness of direct personal contact with voters - both in making an immediate impression, and actually inspiring people to vote. And it's well worth contrasting Broockman and Kalla's findings that genuine conversations represent the most important result of door-to-door canvassing against Derek Willis' claim that it's a problem for volunteers to have their own principles and values rather than merely seeking to match a voter's preexisting views.

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