Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Evening Links

This and that to end your week.

- Serina Sandhu writes that everybody is worse off when inequality is allowed to run rampant. And Danny Dorling highlights the principles we'll need to follow in order to reverse the trend in that direction:
There was a time when hardly anyone was roofless in the UK, when you never met a beggar and when those with least were not that different from those in the middle, when those with least had enough to be included in society. I was young then. As I age it becomes harder to remember when I first saw teenagers having to sleep rough, or was first asked for ‘the price of a cup of tea’, or first realized that because I could make some choices whereas others couldn’t, that they were no longer free.

Luckily you don’t have to rely on the memories of the old to know that a more equal world is possible, a world where the 1% take a far smaller share of the cake. The 1%, by definition, will always be those taking the largest slice, but not always such a great fat slice, leaving slithers for the rest. Question those who say that it can only be this way. Try to question them kindly rather than with incredulity. A society based on merit would be remarkably equitable compared with what we face today. No one is worth 3000 times another person. The three-thousand fold inequalities within the 1% are just as indefensible as those between them and the other 99%.
Gross inequality creates a lack of respect for the other group – people who are not like us. There is a lack of respect among the rich for the poor, and that will be the same among the poor for the rich. Lack of respect breeds cruelty and hate. Lack of respect is not new and has grown between groups many times before, over religion, race, nationality, social class, sex and sexuality. These older divisions all remain and can be easily reignited, resulting in cruelty and hate, fear, suffering and despair. However, nowadays it is financial inequality both globally and in the UK that is the greatest source of our separation from each other.

What is needed is understanding and generosity, hope and perseverance, but above all kindness. Kindness is patient, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13, verses 4-8). All is worthwhile when we have been kind.
- Meanwhile, Jonathan Heller connects race and poverty as related contributing causes of health disparities. But Robert Rogers finds that it's income which plays a larger role than any other factor in childhood obesity.

- Ben Norton comments on the U.S.' disappearing middle class, as the majority of the population doesn't have enough savings to handle even a $1,000 emergency expense.

- Hugh Mackenzie responds to a particularly inept defence of labour inequality by pointing out that even if CEOs were worth their weight in gold, they'd still be overpaid. And Adnan Al-Daini discusses how everybody else is subsidizing the increasingly absurd amounts being paid to the lucky few.

- Finally, Michael Harris delivers a well-deserved retort to Kevin O'Leary in response to his attempt to become Canada's Donald Trump:
Using O’Leary’s standards, the guy with the biggest bank account is the smartest dude. Which means that Norway wins because it both got North Sea oil developed, and it exacted the public’s fair share, which it refused to merge into general revenues. Alberta and Canada caved in to energy investment at any price, blew the windfall, and now have to face the music. With oil dipping below $30 a barrel, it might be a dirge.

So let’s not forget the real authors of this mess. O’Leary would have you believe that Alberta now has catastrophic political leadership. What he actually means is the free lunch for Big Business is over.

The NDP might have delivered a $5 billion deficit budget, replete with new taxes — but it was past Conservative governments which made both the deficit and the tax hikes inevitable. They were put in charge of massive amounts of money and mismanaged it tragically.

It’s ludicrous for O’Leary to now complain that Rachel Notley is the wrong steward for what he calls Canada’s most important resource. The only people who believe that are the ones whose heads are “for rent, unfurnished”, as the saying goes.

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