Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- The Guardian's editorial board weighs in on the undue gains going to the 1% while everybody else faces stagnation or worse:
While the rest of society have shared in an equality of misery following the crash, the top 1% – households with incomes of £275,000 – have now recovered all the ground they lost during the world’s worst post-second world war slump. The share of income going to the very richest is now 8.5%. That’s double their share in 1985. The question has to be asked: has the value of the 1% in society doubled in the last 20 years? What have all these higher earners – in the City or in the boardrooms – done that has been so socially useful to see their share of total wages go up so much?

It’s not that we are richer as a nation. The economy is about £300bn smaller than would be expected if the crash had not happened. Remember the recession was caused by the financial sector’s innovations – the excessive leverage; the perverse incentives; the fraudulent promotion of risky products as safe – and its promotion that greed was the ultimate good. While public spending as a proportion of GDP might be roughly constant since the crash, the country’s needs are higher, so there’s a feeling of less to go round. This has happened while there’s been a quiet secession of the successful.

All the rise in inequality is due to this group racing away with the goodies from the economy, while the rest of us are being squeezed closer together. For the very wealthy, rules are bent to suit their needs. When a dividend tax was readied for 2016-17, the very wealthy took their payments early and avoided £800m, money that could have been used for schools and hospitals. More than £100m of that tax saving was enjoyed by 100 people. Can you imagine a supermarket worker asking to bring forward his pay to avoid a tax charge? The richest in our society are not worth the rewards they give themselves. It’s because they have captured ideologically the political process that these absurdities continue.
- Meanwhile, Katie Forster discusses new research showing a severe spike in anxiety and depression among UK residents facing austerian welfare cuts.  

- David Crouch reports on Sweden's renewed effort to rein in inequality - though it too has decades of corporatist damage to repair.

- CBC reports on Calgary's closure of social housing units due to a lack of means to repair them. And Rebecca Marroquin reports that Saskatchewan's domestic abuse shelters are operating at capacity (and thus having to turn away or waitlist spouses in need of a safe place to stay).

- Maura Forrest highlights the dysfunction behind the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. And Gloria Galloway points out that First Nations are trying to address the child suicide crisis which has seen so little national attention - but need stable funding to make real progress.

- Finally, Terry Glavin criticizes the Libs' chumminess with an abusive Chinese regime - which is put in stark relief by the death of human rights activist and Nobel laureate Liu Ziaobo.

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