- Martin O'Neill and Rick Pearce interview Thomas Piketty about possible policy responses to growing inequality:
[Martin O'Neill]...(D)o you think that the response to the increase in inequality might be one that explores the sorts of avenues that Meade opened up, and doesn’t just rely on mechanisms of redistribution through the tax system?- Meanwhile, Kieran Healy suggests that people take a look at the seating arrangement on an Air Gini patterned after actual income inequality. And Trish Hennessy crunches the numbers on the billionaire class in Canada and around the world.
Thomas Piketty: Yes, I think that you are right – I am glad that you have asked this question. First I would like to pay tribute to James Meade and this long tradition of British economists, including Tony Atkinson, with whom we have been working with a lot and who is largely the godfather of historical studies of income and wealth. Tony wrote a great book in 1978 on the history of the inequality of wealth in this country – and this has been a source of inspiration to me along with others...
James Meade, just like me, believed that progressive taxation and the development of other forms of property relationships and of other forms of governance are complementary institutions. In the book I probably place too much emphasis on progressive taxation, but I do talk about the development of new forms of governance and property structure, but probably not sufficiently. So I agree with that – that can be for volume two!
Let me make the point that these are complementary institutions, because progressive taxation of wealth will always be necessary even if we manage to develop these other alternative forms of property. Also progressive taxation of wealth comes with increased financial transparency – transparency of assets and company accounts – and that is very important because, if you want workers to be involved in the management of their company and if you want people more generally to be involved in the management of the economy, then you want access to information. You want to know who earns what in the company, and you want to know who owns the shares. When you have financial opacity about property and shareholder structures of the company, and you don’t have access to proper accounts, then you don’t have the information that you need.
Financial opacity is the worst enemy of economic democracy; so you need transparency if you want to have economic democracy.
- Travis Gettys discusses Gregory Clark's findings that social mobility in the U.S. is no better than that in medieval England, meaning that the myth of being able to succeed merely by working hard is becoming less and less believable. And the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage debunks the claim that it's small businesses rather than corporate behemoths that seek to pay workers the bare minimum.
- The Canadian Youth Delegation exposes the embarrassing positions the Cons are taking at the Lima climate change talks, while Emily Chung reports that they've managed to make Canada irrelevant to any international conversation.
- And finally, Richard Blackwell makes it abundantly clear that the Cons' cheerleading for the oil industry has nothing at all to do with jobs, as a new Clean Energy Canada report shows that there are already more jobs being generated in green energy than in the tar sands.