Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Daniel Tencer nicely surveys how a guaranteed annual income could work in Canada, as well as the obstacles to putting one in place:
Imagine the government started handing out $10,000 annually to every adult in the country, or implemented a negative income tax rate so that low earners and people out of work would receive tax money instead of paying it.
(A) growing number of economic thinkers -- and not only on the left -- are saying it could be the exact opposite: that it could be the policy idea of the century. While not exactly a silver bullet to solve all ills, it could eliminate poverty to a great extent, and set the stage for a healthier and more productive society.
(I)n the short run, we could be facing a major problem. If new industries and activities don’t take the place of disappearing jobs fast enough, we could see a similar sort of displacement and impoverishment as seen in the early years of the industrial revolution, when many skilled craftsmen were put out of work by machinery.

In a 2013 article, Nobel prize-winning economist and liberal pundit Paul Krugman argued for a minimum income as a way of cushioning the blow from the automation revolution -- a way of ensuring the middle class isn’t decimated in this transition to a new economy.

In an economy like this, “the only way we could have anything resembling a middle-class society ... would be by having a strong social safety net, one that guarantees not just health care but a minimum income, too,” Krugman concluded.
- Chris Rhomberg comments on the U.S.' barriers to social programs - noting that an end to easily-accessible social programs hasn't done anything to end or reduce poverty. Erika Eichelberger discusses how a lack of access to affordable financial services imposes an extra burden on people living in poverty. And Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery report on the spread of title loans as yet another financial-sector scheme to extract massive amounts of money from the people who can least afford to lose it.

- Mitchell Cohen is hopeful that now may be just the time to make a push for more affordable housing - if we elect a federal government interested in taking on the cause.

- And finally, Owen Jones interviews Thomas Piketty about the need for wealth taxes and other means of reining in inequality.

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