Sunday, June 07, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- The World Bank's latest World Development Report discusses how readily-avoidable scarcity in severely limit individual development. Melissa Kearney and Philip Levine write that poverty and a lack of social mobility tend to create a vicious cycle of despair. And James Ridgeway examines the deliberate interference aimed at preventing many of the U.S.' poor from ever building secure lives.

- Meanwhile, Mark Thoma reminds us of the role the labour movement needs to play in ensuring greater equality across the income spectrum. And Deirdre Fulton writes that the first tentative steps toward improving the minimum wage as a matter of public policy have proven highly successful (contrary to the warnings of the corporate sector).

- The CP reports on Canada's embarrassing international status as one of the main obstacles to progress when it comes to climate change. And Harsha Walia writes that we'll need an alliance between labour, First Nations and environmental activists to produce a sustainable economy.

- Jessica Desvarieux reports on the extreme secrecy surrounding the TPP, while Dean Baker highlights how the arguments being made to try to push it on unsuspecting citizens are getting ever less plausible. And Stuart Trew and Scott Sinclair comment on its disastrous implications for Canada.

- Sean McElwee writes about the U.S. media's bias both in how it talks about issues, and in its choices as to which topics to cover.

- And finally, Katrina vanden Heuvel discusses the importance of public libraries as an essential source of economic and social benefits:
While it would be wonderful to assume that all media are available to all New Yorkers at all times—and that the only thing standing between us and the world is a sticky connection or a malfunctioning server—this simply isn’t so. And if you spend a morning observing a job-search program at the public library—where recent immigrants, perhaps, and parolees and recovering addicts sign up for their first email addresses and struggle with a QWERTY keyboard for the first time—you recognize such a sentiment as woefully naïve. As The New York Times editorialized last month, “The libraries are where poor children learn to read and love literature, where immigrants learn English, where job-seekers hone résumés and cover letters, and where those who lack ready access to the Internet can cross the digital divide.” Imagine everything you did today that utilized the Internet—checked your checking-account balance, ordered a birthday present for a friend, read your hometown newspaper—and now imagine having to go to the library, during library hours, to do it. Can’t make it to your local branch between 10 and 6 (between 1 and 6 at many Queens locations)? Tough luck. Hop on the bus and try again tomorrow during your 20-minute lunch break.

Beyond mere fairness, there are viable economic reasons for sustaining New York City’s public libraries. In 2010, the City of Philadelphia spent $33 million on its public libraries; private donations contributed $12 million more. Subsequent to the funding, the value of an average home located within one quarter-mile of one of the city’s 54 public library branches rose $9,630. In the aggregate, the public libraries contributed $698 million to home values in Philadelphia, which translated into an additional $18.5 million in property taxes for the city and school district. Other studies have demonstrated that for every tax dollar that libraries take in, communities receive anywhere between $2.38 and $6.54 in return. Simply put, it’s not just cruel to starve our libraries—and the communities that utilize them. It’s bad for business, and bad for America.

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