Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Ronald Inglehart discusses the political roots of inequality - and the likelihood that the forces that have allowed it to fester for decades will eventually be reversed:
New political alignments, in short, might once again readjust the balance of power between elites and masses in the developed world, with the emerging struggle being between a tiny group at the top and a heterogeneous majority below. For the industrial society’s working-class coalition to become effective, lengthy processes of social and cognitive mobilization had to be completed. In today’s postindustrial society, however, a large share of the population is already highly educated, well informed, and in possession of political skills; all it needs to become politically effective is the development of an awareness of common interest.
The essence of modernization is the linkages among economic, social, ideational, and political trends. As changes ripple through the system, developments in one sphere can drive developments in the others. But the process doesn’t work in just one direction, with economic trends driving everything else, for example. Social forces and ideas can drive political actions that reshape the economic landscape. Will that happen once again, with popular majorities mobilizing to reverse the trend toward economic inequality? In the long run, probably: publics around the world increasingly favor reducing inequality, and the societies that survive are the ones that successfully adapt to changing conditions and pressures. Despite current signs of paralysis, democracies still have the vitality to do so. 
- Bill Moyers also weighs in on the need to take back our political system from the plutocrats who have managed a hostile takeover. And Deirdre Fulton reports on the GMO industry's appalling attempts to silence a single teenaged critic as an example of corporatism run amok.

- Meanwhile, Tom Bergin reports on the barely-existent taxes paid by the UK's big banks as just one example of the corporate sector trying to avoid any responsibility to the society which makes its profits possible.

- The Canadian Labour Congress answers a few of the false talking points being used to attack any effort to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan. But the most important myth about the CPP may be any remaining belief that the Libs can be trusted to follow through on improving public pensions - as Thomas Walkom points out.

- Finally, it's well and good that Justin Trudeau is telling others to welcome the refugees arriving in Canada. But Lee Berthiaume observes that our refugee system is currently designed to saddle new Canadians with debt from day one.

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