Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Leslie McCall and Jennifer Richeson offer another look at what happens when Americans are properly informed about the level of inequality in their country:
What effect did this information have? First, more respondents came to believe that “coming from a wealthy family” and “having well educated parents” were essential or very important to “getting ahead” (43 percent, compared with 27 percent among those who did not get the information).

Conversely, fewer respondents who saw information about inequality said that individual factors, such as “having ambition” and “hard work,” were essential or very important (81 percent vs. 90 percent).

In short, being told about rising inequality made Americans a bit less likely to believe that economic success was about individual effort and much more likely to think it was about luck.

Information about rising inequality also changed people’s views of economic policy. In particular, we asked separate questions about whether “the government ought to reduce the income gap between the rich and the poor” and “major companies ought to reduce the pay gap between employees with high pay and those with low pay.” Respondents could answer on a scale of 1 to 7, ranging from strong opposition to strong support. Among the people who read about inequality, 53 percent indicated some degree of support for government efforts to reduce the income gap, compared with 43 percent among those who did not read about inequality. Similarly, people became more likely to support efforts by major companies to reduce pay gaps (58 percent vs. 51 percent).
(I)nforming Americans about the extent of economic inequality, or simply making the issue salient, can change attitudes about economic opportunity by foregrounding the role of luck in getting ahead — and that in turn tends to increase support for policies designed to reduce inequality. For this reason, the instinct to focus on economic opportunity instead of inequality seems misplaced. In the minds of Americans, the two can be linked quite readily.
- Matt Bruenig examines who is poor in the U.S. and why - with the lack of an adequate welfare state serving as the overwhelming cause of poverty. Luke Williams writes about the connection between low incomes, precarious work and suicide. And Leslie Young notes that Canada's latest census shows 1.2 million children living below the poverty line, while Roderick Benns offers a look at poverty in action while asking why we continue to put up with it.

- Mark Suzman reviews how greater financial equality for women leads to overall economic and social progress. And Lizzie Buchan reports on a push by UK unions to punish employers for perpetuating pay inequity.

- Michael Harris warns Justin Trudeau and his entourage that they are supposed to be accountable public servants, not royalty to be catered to at public expense. And Stephen Maher writes that Dean Del Mastro is now in jail due in large part to his bringing political hubris to his defence for election law violations.

- Finally, Brent Patterson points out how Trudeau is falling short on his promises to rebuild Canada's environmental regulatory structure. And Helena Bottemiller Evich discusses how soaring greenhouse gas emissions are making our food less healthy.

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