Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Vincent Bevins interviews Branko Milanovic about the economic roots of the working-class revolt against neoliberalism, while pointing out that there's nothing inevitable about globalization harming large numbers of people in the developed world:
Let’s start with the obvious question. Does the elephant graph explain Brexit and Trump? 

Yes, I think that it largely does explain Brexit and Trump. Why? Because it shows in very stark terms that people in the lower parts of rich countries’ income distributions have seen fewer benefits of globalization compared both to the people in Asia against whom they often compete in global supply chains and compared to the people in their own countries’ tops of the distributions. You just cannot undo these two facts.
Rich world governments, in say the US and Western Europe, failed to “mop up” globalization’s mess. What could they have done differently?

Perhaps it is easy to say it with hindsight, but they could have argued for trade pacts that would pay more attention to workers’ standards rather than to the protection of intellectual property rights and patents.

Rich countries, and especially the US, could have paid more attention to the quality of education and tried to not only equalize access to the best schools but make public schools’ quality similar to the quality of private schools. You may say that it is a generally desirable policy that has little to do with globalization: I agree, but I also think that it would have reduced the number of “losers” because it would have enabled larger swaths of the population to successfully compete globally.
- George Monbiot discusses how celebrity culture has facilitated the corporate takeover of our social sphere. Katrina vanden Heuvel notes that Donald Trump's false populism has given way to pure plutocracy in the naming of nothing but corporate elites to his cabinet. And Polly Toynbee reflects on a miserable 2016 for far too many people, while highlighting the need to fight against the trends toward corporatism and austerity in the year to come.

- Malcolm Buchanan writes that the CETA is yet another bad trade deal being sold as an inevitability in the face of serious concerns.

- PressProgress points out that a million Canadian retail workers are making do with less than a living wage while catering to holiday shoppers.

- Finally, Heidi Garrett-Peltier discusses how renewable energy stands to create far more jobs than fossil fuels. And CBC reports that both Canada and the U.S. have taken some steps to rein in oil drilling in sensitive Arctic waters.

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