Monday, January 18, 2016

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Oxfam offers its latest look at global inequality, featuring the finding that 62 people now control as much wealth as half of the people on the planet. And the Equality Trust discusses how that extreme inequality is eroding any sense of community:
Inequality is a huge threat to economic and democratic systems, social cohesion and the health and wellbeing of entire populations. We know from the now vast array of research on the subject that in more equal countries you’re more likely to trust others, live longer with better physical and mental health and your children are more likely to achieve a decent education.
The huge imbalance in the resources, wealth and incomes people now enjoy should concern us all. Most recognise it when they see their children growing up in a country where it is harder to find a well-paid job, or to get on the property ladder. But we also see it every day in our relationships with others. Inequality stretches society, making it harder for people to recognise and understand others who are not in the same position as they are. It’s why trust is so low in more unequal countries and mental and physical health problems are so high.

We often hear politicians talk of equality of opportunity, of giving everyone a fair chance at the start of life. But when some start with access to unimaginable wealth, and others enter the world in poverty and deprivation, it’s clear that’s just not possible. Oxfam’s work today shows just how vast and indefensible inequality of outcome now is. It’s high time politicians took seriously the task of reducing it.
- Meanwhile, Stephanie Fontana examines the massive amounts of money hidden away in tax havens for the sole purpose of avoiding any contribution to any social good.

- Gus Van Harten lists a few of the ways in which the Trans-Pacific Partnership stands to funnel still more wealth to those who need it least at the expense of everybody else. And Michael Geist notes that the TPP's damage to health care may go far beyond inflating the cost of medication through gratuitous drug monopolies.

- Finally, Larry Schwartz warns us of the dangers of relying on corporate advertising based on cherry-picked or outright fabricated numbers.

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