Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Wray Herbert examines Lukasz Walasek and Gordon Brown's work on the psychological links between inequality, status-seeking and reduced well-being. And Linda McQuaig writes about the harm increasing inequality has done to Canada both economically and socially:
(The OECD's recent) report puts actual numbers on how much growth has been reduced as a result of trickle-down. In the case of Canada, the reduced economic growth amounts to about $62 billion a year — which economist Toby Sanger notes is almost three times more than the estimated annual loss to the Canadian economy of lower oil prices.

But while dropping oil prices are grabbing headlines, the serious negative economic consequences of Canada’s pro-rich economic policies are largely ignored. Certainly the Harper government promises to entrench these policies more deeply if re-elected.
The OECD’s powerful message is clearly of little interest to the Harper government, which is planning to exacerbate Canada’s rich-poor gap by introducing an income-splitting scheme that will benefit rich families almost exclusively. Harper’s plan to provide an additional $60 a month per child to all families won’t be nearly enough to allow the bottom 40 per cent of Canadians to invest meaningfully in their children’s education.

The OECD stresses the need “not only for cash transfers, but also increasing access to public services, such as high-quality education, training and healthcare” — areas where Harper’s planned cutbacks to the provinces will hit hard.

What’s striking about the entrenchment of policies favouring inequality is how out of sync they appear to be with popular will.
While the world’s elite may still be slapping their knees and marveling at what they’ve managed to pull off, the fact that the most prestigious international economic bodies have lined up against trickle-down orthodoxy may mean there are now prospects for real change.

At the least, it suggests that, in a showdown with the world’s billionaires and multi-millionaires, the world’s people may actually stand an outside chance.
- Of course, if free money for the rich is a demonstrably foolish policy, the Cons remain all too happy to destroy the evidence. But Tavia Grant reports that we can still see an alarming number of Canadians living with low incomes - signalling that the promise of trickle-down economics remains as empty as ever.

- Stephen Gordon takes a look at the fiscal squeeze Stephen Harper has placed on the federal government. But it's well worth pointing out one more piece to the puzzle, as the eroding resources nominally allocated for public services are increasingly being applied to spin rather than anything which could help anybody besides the Cons themselves.

- Thomas Walkom weighs in on the fallout from the Ontario Libs' failed P3 schemes - including needless debts which the province will be paying off for decades to come.

- Finally, Pablo Iglesias discusses how social justice principles reach far beyond partisan lines - even as they've been applied to turn Podemos into an emerging political force (as both a party and a movement) in Spain:
When you study successful transformational movements, you see that the key to success is to establish a certain identity between your analysis and what the majority feels. And that is very hard. It implies riding out contradictions.
Politics is not what you or I would like it to be. It is what it is, and it is terrible. Terrible. And that’s why we must talk about popular unity, and be humble. Sometimes you have to talk to people who don’t like your language, with whom the concepts you use to explain don’t resonate. What does that tell us? That we have been defeated for many years. Losing all the time implies just that: that people’s “common sense” is different [from what we think is right]. But that is not news. Revolutionaries have always known that. The key is to succeed in making “common sense” go in a direction of change.

César Rendueles, a very smart guy, says most people are against capitalism, and they don’t know it. Most people defend feminism and they haven’t read Judith Butler or Simone de Beauvoir. Whenever you see a father doing the dishes or playing with his daughter, or a grandfather teaching his grandkid to share his toys, there is more social transformation in that than in all the red flags you can bring to a demonstration. And if we fail to understand that those things can serve as unifiers, they will keep laughing at us.

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