- Robert Kuttner writes about the increasing recognition that extreme inequality arises out of power imbalances rather than any natural state of affairs:
(I)nfluential orthodox economists are having serious second thoughts. What if market outcomes and the very rules of the market game reflect political power, not market efficiency? Indeed, what if gross inequality is not efficient, and there is a broad zone of indeterminate income distributions consistent with strong economic performance? What if greater liberalization of financial markets produced tens of trillions of costs to the economy, benefits that are hard to discern, and billion-dollar paydays for traders that don’t comport with their contributions to general economic welfare? Evidence like this is piling up, and hard to ignore.- Medical News Today discusses yet another measurable manifestation of child poverty in the form of altered and weakened brain connectivity. And Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and Nattavudh Powdthavee examine how inequality reduces well-being across an entire society:
While life satisfaction was negatively related to increased income inequality, we did not find a relationship between positive emotional well-being and inequality at the very top of the income distribution. This is probably because the things that make up positive emotional experiences have little to do with income and rank.- Martin Regg Cohn points out the desperate need for a national pharmacare plan to make sure Canadians have access to medication, while Ian Bailey finds several provinces agreeing. And the Star makes clear that a move toward bulk buying alone falls short of the mark.
But the flip side of daily positive emotional experiences are negative emotional experiences — and we did find that these rise along with the incomes of the top 1%. In societies where the richest hold most of the country’s income, people were more likely to report feeling feeling “stressed,” “worried,” or “angry” on the day before the survey.
So, on aggregate, as the incomes of the 1% pull away from those of the rest, people’s overall life satisfaction is lower and their day-to-day negative emotional experiences are greater in number. The effects at work alone are numerous: other research has shown that unhappy workers tend to be less productive; studies have also found that unhappy workers are more likely to take longer sick leaves, as well as to quit their jobs.
Since our evidence is at the country level, there are obvious implications here for economists and policy makers. But corporate leaders also would do well to consider the possible implications for pay and compensation policies in the microcosms of their organizations, where executive salaries are now as much as 200 times what median workers earn.
- But on the bright side, Elizabeth Church notes that David Naylor's report on health innovation which was ignored by the Cons is getting a second look.
- Finally, Mike de Souza reports that the federal government was well aware of issues with the Mount Polley mine before its dam breach disaster.