Saturday, April 29, 2017

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Gillian White highlights Peter Temin's work on poverty and inequality - including the standard which a person trapped in poverty needs to meet in order to have any meaningful hope of escaping:
Temin then divides workers into groups that can trace their family line in the U.S. back to before 1970 (when productivity growth began to outpace wage growth) and groups that immigrated later, and notes that race plays a pretty big role in how both groups fare in the American economy. “In the group that has been here longer, white Americans dominate both the FTE sector and the low-wage sector, while African Americans are located almost entirely in the low-wage sector,” he writes. “In the group of recent immigrants, Asians predominantly entered the FTE sector, while Latino immigrants joined African Americans in the low-wage sector.”

After divvying up workers like this (and perhaps he does so with too broad of strokes), Temin explains why there are such stark divisions between them. He focuses on how the construction of class and race, and racial prejudice, have created a system that keeps members of the lower classes precisely where they are. He writes that the upper class of FTE workers, who make up just one-fifth of the population, has strategically pushed for policies—such as relatively low minimum wages and business-friendly deregulation—to bolster the economic success of some groups and not others, largely along racial lines. “The choices made in the United States include keeping the low-wage sector quiet by mass incarceration, housing segregation and disenfranchisement,” Temin writes.

And how is one to move up from the lower group to the higher one? Education is key, Temin writes, but notes that this means plotting, starting in early childhood, a successful path to, and through, college. That’s a 16-year (or longer) plan that, as Temin compellingly observes, can be easily upended. For minorities especially, this means contending with the racially fraught trends Temin identifies earlier in his book, such as mass incarceration and institutional disinvestment in students, for example. Many cities, which house a disproportionate portion of the black (and increasingly, Latino) population, lack adequate funding for schools. And decrepit infrastructure and lackluster public transit can make it difficult for residents to get out of their communities to places with better educational or work opportunities. Temin argues that these impediments exist by design. 
- Vickiie Oliphant writes that inequality is looming as a major issue in Germany's upcoming election. And Justine Hunter notes that the growing gap between the privileged few and the general public is shaping British Columbia's provincial campaign.

- Meanwhile, the Tyee introduces readers to Christy Clark's club of lobbyists. And Emma Gilchrist points out how the fossil fuel sector has turned substantial donations to the B.C. Libs into massive public subsidies and policy favours.

- Mike Crawley writes about Ontario's limited introduction of pharmacare for young people, while Thomas Walkom points out the limitations of the Libs' hastily-assembled scheme. And Meagan Fitzpatrick discusses the hope that Ontario's first step will lead to a national pharmacare plan - though the more important analogy seems to be that just like Kathleen Wynne, Justin Trudeau will start implementing progressive policy if and only if he recognizes that it's his only hope of avoiding being overtaken by the NDP.

- Finally, Tammy Robert highlights the fact that the Saskatchewan Party's indignity being forced on people who die while on social assistance bears no resemblance to how governments across Canada handle the issue. And Scott Stelmaschuk reminds us about the federal tax implications of Brad Wall's plans to sell off chunks of Saskatchewan's Crown Corporations.

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