Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz writes that inequality is killing the American middle class. And Crawford Kilian examines the direct connection between inequality and midlife mortality:
For some white Americans born between 1961 and 1970, however, something has gone wrong. They grew up in what should have been a wonderful time: the fall of the Soviet Union, the emergence of China as the world's economic powerhouse, the fading of the threat of a global nuclear war.

In 1998, however, some members of this age cohort began to sicken and die...
...(T)his cohort's mortality began to rise at half a per cent a year. Not much, but it has continued year after year. By 2013, that meant 488,500 white Americans were dead when they should have lived...
As discouraging as these studies are, they largely vindicate a century of public health research that shows your very life depends on the class you're born into. Every social class is healthier and less stressed than the class below it, and sicker and more stressed than the class above it. Mobility between classes is far easier downward than upward.

It's not that poor, uneducated people don't know how to eat properly or keep themselves clean. They usually do; they're just too stressed to take care of themselves. As researchers like Dr. Richard Wilkinson have shown in book after book, income inequality within nations creates stressors on the relatively poor (even if they're far better off than the proverbial Bangladeshi peasant).
Canada's mortality rates may be consolingly low, but for some Canadians they have always been high -- especially for aboriginal Canadians. Their incomes are a fraction of other Canadians', and their incarceration rates are much higher than others'.

In both countries, far more research needs to be done to understand -- and remedy -- the deadly consequences of inequality.
- Meanwhile, Harry Leslie Smith contrasts the welcoming humanitarian attitude toward refugees following World War II to the inclination toward denial and isolation across much of Europe today.

- David Macdonald studies the soaring cost of child care across Canada. And the Star follows up by arguing for a national program to make child care affordable for all parents - to replace the status quo in which child care can carry the same cost as an additional mortgage.

- Philip Preville takes a look at Canada's shadow lending industry - and how it drives up both housing prices and stressors on the people who rely on it to fund house purchases. 

- Finally, Stuart Basden discusses how Canada remained part of the problem in Paris - even if its obstruction was targeted toward specific issues rather than the general principle of agreeing on reining in climate change at all. George Monbiot highlights the flaws and retrenchment in the final Paris agreement. And Brad Plumer charts how the emission reduction commitments made so far would take us less than halfway to the supposed goal.

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