Monday, December 29, 2014

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- David Foot and Daniel Stoffman discuss Thomas Piketty's role in highlighting the need to work toward greater equality, while pointing out a few options to increase public revenues from people who can afford to pay them. And Ezra Klein interviews Paul Krugman about inequality (along with a wider range of issues):
Ezra Klein: Do you worry more about wealth inequality or income inequality?

Paul Krugman: Income inequality, but I don't think they're separable issues. We need to worry a lot more about lagging incomes in the bottom half or bottom two-thirds of the income distribution than we worry about soaring incomes at the top. And the people in the bottom two-thirds of the income distribution have hardly any wealth. For them, wealth has gone from essentially zero 30 years ago to essentially zero now. So for them, it's income that is crucial.

The wealth inequality measures are useful because they are, in some ways, a more reliable gauge of what's happening at the top. If incomes fluctuate a lot at the top, you can argue, though it's overstated, that it's a changing cast of people. But the top 0.1 percent in wealth is not an ever-shifting cast of characters.

Ezra Klein: Do you think the story of median and lower-than-median wage stagnation and the story of income inequality are the same story, or different? It seems to me that you can see different patterns. The story of the huge changes in income inequality seems to really be focused in the top three or four percent, and it seems to start about 10 years after media wage stagnation. Or, I guess, to put it another way, do you think we could solve wage stagnation without solving income inequality?

Paul Krugman: Probably not. I think if you really did something about wage stagnation you would find that it would have a pretty strong effect in curbing incomes at the top as well. I think if you try to understand the factors behind soaring incomes at the top, they are many of the same forces that are leading to stagnating incomes for workers. The idea that we can totally separate these things is wrong. It almost harkens back to the Clinton-Blairism. You did have, in the UK at least, a fairly serious attempt in Blair/Brown to tackle poverty and to reduce income inequality, combined with a sympathetic, laissez faire attitude towards the top one percent. It produced results for a while, but in the end, it seems to be economically and politically unsustainable. It gave rise, eventually, to a regime that's doing its best to increase inequality on all fronts.
- Meanwhile, Robert Reich comments on the Republicans' plan to eradicate accurate budget analysis in favour of absolute, evidence-free devotion to the belief that tax cuts inevitably increase revenues.

- Bill Waiser laments the Cons' destruction of our archives and new gathering of information about Canada alike, while Mike De Souza calls out their contempt for access to information in response to some noteworthy requests. But the Cons' dishonesty and secrecy fit perfectly into their political strategy, as Matt Henderson points out that our history doesn't exactly fit with any attempt to create a myth of national exceptionalism. 

- Finally, Owen Jones hopes that a wave of activism in 2014 is just the beginning in restoring government accountability to its citizens.

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