Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jonathan Chait sees Larry Kudlow's claim that "Wealthy folks have no need to steal or engage in corruption!" as an all-too-accurate statement of the belief system underlying Donald Trump's presidency:
What has been exposed is not only the lie at the heart of Trump’s campaign, but a delusion embedded in conservatism itself. Conservatives like to imagine that their policy represents a challenge to the power structure, which they see as “crony capitalism,” a form of corruption threatened by their free-market ideas. The failures of the Bush administration (which, in fact, followed the tax-cutting, deregulatory agenda that conservatives had promised would usher in prosperity) were dismissed as the byproduct of the administration’s departures from market purism. Bush and the Washington Republicans allowed power and wealth to corrupt them, the argument went. As Bush’s popularity plunged, conservatives lacerated their party with polemics like Matthew Continetti’s “The K Street Gang,” which depicted the GOP as a self-enriching elite.

The conceptual distinction between the good kind of wealth, earned through the free market, and the bad kind, earned through political favoritism, is an absolutely vital one for right-wing intellectuals. And yet Trump is showing how easily it collapses in practice. Conservatives have treated a first family using the powers of office to enrich itself — not theoretically or in the future but right now, on an ongoing basis — as, at worst, a distraction or a problem of optics. In practice, conservatives share Kudlow’s belief that a government of and by the rich is necessarily virtuous.
- And Alana Semuels notes that Trump's victory may represent an end to the theory that the economy largely dictates electoral results, as partisanship seems to have far outweighed economic realities in influencing a decisive number of votes.

- Nick Falvo discusses the importance of taking social factors into account in developing housing policy. And Jay Walljasper highlights the importance of place as a determinant of health, while recognizing that some fairly simple steps can make a substantial difference improving how one's location influences one's well-being

- Erik Loomis highlights how garment workers in Bangladesh are trying to push for some of the minimal gains promised to be the result of globalized supply chains - and being met with state violence and firings as a result. And Deirdre Fernandes writes about the link between unemployment rates and suicide levels.

- Finally, Jerry Dias offers his take on what we can try to accomplish in 2017 after a year all too often marked by disappointments and worse.

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