Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jordan Yadoo discusses the increasing inequality in lifespans across the income scale. Roderick Benns writes that Belleville (along with Cornwall) has joined the movement calling for a basic income so everybody has some measure of security. And Chris Dillow theorizes that it's non-material goods which are most inaccessible to all but the wealthiest among us:
I suspect that most of the best things that the median income-earner can’t buy are non-material goods.

One is financial security. 49% of people, and most 35-44 year-olds live in households with less than £5000 of net financial wealth (pdf). They are only a pay cheque or two away from trouble.

Another is status. Our wages are related to our sense of worth – which is one reason why most people would prefer (pdf) a lower but above-average income to a higher but below-average one. A median income, by definition doesn’t provide much status.
Another thing our median earner can’t buy is workplace autonomy: she is more likely to be the victim of workplace coercion than the beneficiary of it. And even if she isn’t, she probably lacks the satisfying work which the better-paid sometimes enjoy.  And she is tied to work for years, because she lacks the savings to retire early. Warren Buffett might dance to work every day, but most people on £25,000 a year do not.

Now, none of this is to deny that things have improved; workers today enjoy better conditions and shorter hours than their 19th century ancestors. But it seems to me that what median earners lack are the goods which are higher up the hierarchy of needs.
- Meanwhile, D.C. Fraser reports on Regina's first step toward a Housing First strategy to end homelessness - though sadly neither the province nor the city can be bothered to contribute a dime.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh follows up on the story of wage theft in Ontario restaurants by reporting that the employees involved in the most prominent case still haven't received a dime of the $675,000 owed by their past employer.

- Sean McElwee and Brian Schaffner point out that the U.S. fight against a cleaner environment is being conducted almost entirely by the Republicans' donor class. And Charles Mandel offers some suggestions for greener living at the individual level.

- Finally, Michael Geist highlights the ongoing battle over open access to the Internet in Canada.

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