- Jim Tankersley interviews Joshua Bivens about the relative effects of economic growth and income inequality - and particularly his evidence showing that more people are far better off with more modest growth fairly distributed than with greater nominal growth concentrated at the top:
Tankersley: How do we know that a lot more growth would not have been enough by itself to help the workers who have been left behind in this period?- Meanwhile, Dennis Rasmussen reminds us that the theorist whose name is often invoked as a defence of unfettered greed actually had significant ethical concerns with the concentration of wealth.
Bivens: There’s a bunch of ways you can do this, but there’s no way you can do it where inequality is not a huge part of the problem. The way I do it in the paper is really a simple look at average household income in the two periods — say, what if we had let the bottom 90 percent grow over the past 30 years at the rate of average growth; so basically, no rise in inequality but the average growth stays the same? That has a bigger effect on their incomes than if we did a counterfactual that says, let’s let the overall rate of growth go with the faster immediate prewar period but inequality still happens. The inequality effect is larger than the growth effect in keeping their incomes lower.
Tankersley: There is an argument that many liberals make that if we could reduce inequality, we could improve growth. You’re arguing that might be true but needs not be to justify fighting inequality?
Bivens: It’s a little bit dangerous to accept the burden of proof in the debate that says, if we stop the rise in inequality we will boost overall growth. Because even if we don’t, it will still be a worthwhile thing to do for my political goal of raising incomes for the bottom 90 percent.
- Canadians for Tax Fairness comments on the absurdity of Members of Parliament and expert witnesses being prohibited from even saying KPMG's name when discussing its tax offshoring. And Linda McQuaig notes that the Libs generally aren't lifting a finger to ensure that the people and corporations with the most spare capacity to fund a functional society actually do so.
- Meanwhile, on the long list of areas where Canadians who voted for change have every reason to be disappointed in the Libs, Andrew Mitrovica reminds us that C-51 is still in full effect without any hint of restraint or oversight. Janice Dickson points out that the NDP is having to prod the Libs to remember the need for pay equity. Kristy Kirkup reports that there's little indication the Libs are living up to the acknowledged obligation to stop discriminating against First Nations in funding child welfare programs. And Ryan Moore notes that Stephen Harper's edifice of dumb-on-crime legislation has been left standing except for the parts which had already been dismantled by the courts.
- Finally, Paul Wells reports on Justin Trudeau's pathetic excuses for selling arms to human rights violators - based on the laughable theory that it's somehow more a mark of a banana republic to prioritize human rights over immediate economic convenience rather than the opposite. And Somini Sengupta notes that Saudi Arabia's intimidation of anybody daring to even mention its human rights abuses extends to the U.N. as a whole - meaning that the community of nations would seem to have a strong interest in reversing course.