Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Dietrich Vollrath discusses both what's included in our societal capital, and how best to think of redistributive policies as means of fairly dealing with it:
(T)axes are a way of collecting the royalties on trust and scale that we inherited and/or create ourselves. Taxes are the rents to idea of playing “cooperate” or having scale. And the proper use of those rents, if I am reading him correctly, is in ensuring that those endowments are perpetuated and handed off to our own children.
How then, do you justify the collection of the rents that, arguably, rightfully belong to all of us, and ensure that we pass on the trust and scale necessary for prosperity to the next generation? And do so in a way that is palatable to all parties?

One idea is that you can use the idea of rents or royalties as a positive justifcation [sic] of taxation. We are collecting on the royalties due to us as a citizenry for our trust and scale, the same way that Apple collects royalties due to them as a designer of useful touchscreen emoji delivery machines. In this concept, taxation is not theft, or a necessary evil, but rather the enforcement of our intellectual property rights over trust and scale.

On the other end, the distribution of those rents is perhaps more palatable when seen not as a handout (which makes people feel like a deadbeat) but as something like a dividend on shared ownership of an asset. I feel like this would be one way to think of how a universal basic income could be framed - everyone is getting their share of the collective dividend payment due to the owners of the “ideas” of trust and scale. It is a sign of ownership, not dependence.
- But Josh Bornstein writes that nominally left-wing parties and governments have failed to identify (let alone implement) meaningful challenges to neoliberal policies oriented instead toward extracting social capital for corporate gain. And Patrick Iber notes that genuinely socialist politics are just now returning to the U.S. in particular - while pointing out the challenges of organizing for progressive systemic change under a Trump presidency.

- Imana Guwanan interviews Ichiro Kawachi about the relationship between inequality and poor health. And Phil Heidenriech reports on the success of an Edmonton project in reducing overall social costs by providing supportive housing.

- Meanwhile, Carly Weeks points out the extreme costs of prescriptions drugs faced by people with rare diseases.

- Finally, Charles Marohn discusses California's Oroville Dam as an example of the dangers of failing to invest in needed maintenance due to the political advantages of funding shiny new infrastructure instead. 

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