Saturday, March 05, 2016

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Jackson discusses how large inheritance and accumulated capital lead to gross economic and social distortions:
Inheritances are quite heavily concentrated among the most affluent families and thus compound income and wealth inequality over time.

Inheritances continue to play a significant role in the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the richest Canadians. Forbes Magazine rankings of billionaires show that the ten richest Canadian families include at least four heads of families whose fortunes were at least partly inherited: those of David Thomson, James and Arthur Irving, and Galen Weston.

Wealth, especially financial wealth, is highly concentrated in Canada and produces a significant source of income and economic well-being for the rich which is not earned in the same sense as income from wages and salaries. At a minimum, inequality of financial wealth greatly reinforces inequality of income.

This is hard to justify on the normative grounds used by liberals to justify economic inequality, namely that individual rewards reflect the productive contributions of individuals. Accordingly, it is not “unfair” to consider taxation of inheritances and large accumulations of wealth.
- Leiliani Farha weighs in on the inescapable connection between inequality and homelessness of all types. And PressProgress highlights Derek Fildebrandt's attempt to minimize discussion of any social issues whatsoever.

- Marc Lee offers his take on what happened at the first ministers' meeting on climate change in Vancouver, while John Paul Tasker reports that the federal Libs' plan on making sure carbon pricing is in place regardless of any provincial obstruction. And Joseph Heath explains why Brad Wall's position to the contrary can only be explained by fealty to corporate backers over sound governance:
(W)e all know that the current price of carbon – zero – is too low. You don’t have to know how high it should be to know that $0 is not the correct price. (Actually, in practice it’s less that zero, because of the various ways in which fossil fuel production is subsidized.) So in order to get a properly structured market, and to eliminate the unfair competitive advantage that hydrocarbons enjoy over other energy sources in the current market, one needs to put a price on carbon. What will be the effects of raising the price? Who knows? The beauty of the market is that we don’t have to know. What we do know is that raising the price will improve the allocation of resources and increase welfare.
Wall’s support of the “free market” is not the sort of ideological conviction that arises from a sober assessment of the virtues of private enterprise, but more like a set of ideas picked up on the golf course, from hobnobbing with CEOs. It is essentially class politics, not responsible governance.
- Meanwhile, Eric Holthaus points out that at least on a temporary basis, we've already reached the two-degree threshold seen as the point of no return for climate change.

- Finally, CUPW makes the case for postal banking as both an important social service and a source of public revenue.

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