Sunday, March 06, 2016

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Bill McKibben offers his take on the news that the entire northern hemisphere has reached two degrees Celsius above its normal temperature level, including the increased urgency it creates in reining in climate change. And Bruce Johnstone writes about Brad Wall's losing battle to keep promoting the unfettered and unpriced pollution of our atmosphere.

- Matthew Desmond comments on the connection between unaffordable housing and the other stressors resulting from poverty and inequality:
Poor families are stuck. Because they are already at the bottom of the market, they can’t get cheaper housing unless they uproot their lives, quit their jobs and leave the city. Those with eviction records are pushed into substandard private housing in high-crime neighborhoods because many landlords and public housing authorities turn them away. When poor families finally find a new place to rent, they often start off owing their landlord because they simply can’t pay the first and last month’s rent and a security deposit.

When tenants are behind, protections designed to keep housing safe and decent dissolve. Tenants in arrears tempt eviction if they report housing problems. It’s not that low-income renters don’t know their rights. They know that exercising those rights could cost them. So many go on paying most of what they have to live with lead paint, exposed wires and broken plumbing. Saving and stability become wishes, and some days children go hungry because the rent eats first.
A universal housing voucher program would fundamentally change the face of poverty in the United States. Evictions would plummet, and so would the other social problems they cause, like family and community instability, homelessness, job loss and depression. Suicides attributed to evictions and foreclosures doubled between 2005 and 2010. A universal housing voucher program would help reverse this disturbing trend.
A national affordable housing program would be an anti-poverty effort, human capital investment, community improvement plan and public health initiative all rolled into one. It would especially benefit mothers and children, the face of today’s eviction epidemic.
- But William Greider notes that instead, the U.S. seems set to give away hundreds of billions in revenue through a corporate tax amnesty - even though exactly the same scheme produced none of the promised economic development when tried in 2004.

- Chico Harlan examines Louisiana's example of how right-wing politics in their purest form - including top-heavy tax cuts, corporate giveaways, resource dependency and selloffs and patches intended to avoid any political consequences in the short term - can affect people once somebody recognizes the need to start paying the bills.

- Finally, David Watkins points out how private security firms are pitching their lack of responsibility to comply with constitutional rights as a feature.

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