Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Leonhardt looks at the glaring growth of inequality in the U.S., while Matt Bruening charts how that trend is based entirely on capital ownership. And in the face of the Republicans' plan for another round of giveaways to the rich, the New York Times' editorial board discusses what tax reform could (and should) mean.

- Torsten Bell argues that the 2007 financial crisis represented a lost opportunity to build an economy that works for workers. And Ann Pettifor laments that the political response to a global financial crisis was limited to lining the pockets of the wealthy, while reminding us that people ultimately hold the power to set the terms of market operations:
In the real economy, those who do not own and rent out income-earning assets like rental property, bonds (government debt), stocks and shares (that earn dividends) have become poorer, and inequality has rocketed. To raise incomes many have joined the rentier economy by renting out their homes (Airbnb) their cars (Uber, Lyft) or bikes (Deliveroo and other couriers). This is an extraordinary development. Workers invest in the ownership, maintenance and insurance of the capital asset (the home, car or cycle) – while the rentier class based in Silicon Valley, having invested in, borrowed or stolen open source software, almost effortlessly extract rent from the worker and her asset. It is these developments that in my view have led to the dramatic rise in inequality worldwide.
So what is to be done? Challenging and dismantling gargantuan financial markets that operate beyond democratic regulatory oversight will not be easy, but it is long overdue. Some believe that the management of financial markets by governments will never be restored. I do not agree. Because of global imbalances, economic and financial tensions could lead to the onset of wars. These could dismantle global financial markets just as the two world wars did.

There is a more peaceful way of restoring finance to the role of servant to, and not master of, economies and regions. For that to happen the public must realise that citizens can exercise economic power over global financial markets. The global ‘House of Finance’ is almost entirely dependent, and indeed largely parasitic, on the public sector. In other words, private finance is largely dependent for its capital gains on taxpayers like you and me.

Neither politicians nor mainstream economists will hold the out-of-control finance sector to account until citizens make that case. The people must lead, so that leaders can follow. We must use the powers of taxpayer-backed central banks and finance ministries to demand a transformation of the global financial system. If our demands are ignored, then we must demand the withdrawal of massive subsidies provided to the private finance sector by our publicly-financed and taxpayer-backed institutions.

Nothing less will do if we are serious about creating an economy that works for people and the planet.
- Andrea Bellemare reports on the ubiquity of Airbnb and other short-term rental services - and how they're leading to needed rental housing being diverted to the app market. And James McCandless points out the end result of anti-government zealotry run amok by writing about the failed libertarian experiment in Von Ormy, Texas.

- Kristian Foden-Vencil discusses the importance of social factors in affecting individual health.

- Finally, Susan Delacourt examines personal examples of people changing their minds on some of the big issues in Canadian politics.

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