Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jeff Guo reports on Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson's research showing how the U.S. went from standing out internationally for its relatively equal distribution of wealth, to being equally exceptional in its inequality:
In the Revolutionary era, inequality in America was dramatically lower than it was in England or the Netherlands, in part because of the abundant opportunity (enjoyed at the expense of the Native Americans), and in part because of the kinds of people who immigrated.

We get some impression of this from historical documents. George Washington predicted that the young nation would allow even the lower classes to prosper thanks to “the equal distribution of property, the great plenty of unoccupied lands, and the facility of procuring the means of subsistence.” In his chronicle of the young United States in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville famously said that “nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of condition among the people.”

The new data not only confirms these anecdotal accounts, but it also puts the past in perspective. According to Lindert and Williamson’s calculations, today’s income inequality may be the highest the nation has ever known. 

“We went from one of the most egalitarian places in the world to one of the least,” Williamson said. “What happened?”
- Julius Grey and L.M. Casgrain discuss how economic inequality is harming Canadian democracy. And Thomas Walkom points out the inevitability that the public will eventually get fed up with being told there is no alternative to economic systems which leave them perpetually more vulnerable.

- But in case anybody was under the illusion that the Trudeau government has changed much of anything on that front, Jeremy Nuttall reports on how the Libs have stacked the parliamentary deck in favour of the continued exploitation of temporary foreign workers.

- Finally, Angella MacEwen examines the economic stimulus effects of a higher minimum wage. And Michael Mendelson, Sherri Torjman and Ken Battle study the effects of a bolstered Canada Pension Plan, while recognizing there's still room for improvement in ensuring a fair retirement income for all.

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