Sunday, December 03, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Matt Bruenig proposes a social wealth fund as a fix for the U.S.' burgeoning inequality and income insecurity:
We seem stuck in the same policy equilibrium we have been in for decades, with conservatives denying that there is a problem and pushing policies that would make it even worse, liberals emphasizing the need for education and skills development, and leftists pushing for a unionized labor market and social-democratic welfare state.

Some of these ideas are good ones, which would make life better for vulnerable people. But they’d do little to directly target inequality in our society or to capture all the benefits that economic fairness brings.

The solution is simpler than it seems. There’s a tried and tested way, within the system we have now, of giving everyone a share in the investment returns now hoarded by the wealthy. It’s called a social wealth fund, a pool of investment assets in some ways like the giant index or mutual funds already popular with retirement savings accounts or pension funds, but one owned collectively by society as a whole. One that paid dividends not to the few, or even just to the shrinking middle class lucky enough to have their savings invested, but to everyone.
Creating a social wealth fund in which we all own an equal part is certainly not the only way to tackle wealth inequality directly, but it is one of the few ways that we know works well and is able to work within the system we now have. If policymakers want to get serious about trimming wealth concentration, and not just use these shocking statistics to promote the same old half-measures, then this would be a fair, effective and practical way to start.
- Meanwhile, Ed Pilkington reports on a UN mission addressing poverty in the U.S. And Danny Dorling and Stuart Gietel-Basten examine how the UK's increasing inequality and needless austerity is cutting into life expectancies.

- Pamela Duncan and Patrick Butler discuss the connection between lower-income areas and fast-food consumption. And Fatima Syed reports on rallies seeking to ensure that poverty isn't a barrier to access to financial services in Canada.

- The Star examines how Canadian governments are subsidizing environmental destruction by providing subsidies which far exceed the penalties corporations have paid for environmental violations. And Bill McKibben argues that a gradual shift toward dealing with ongoing carbon pollution (after decades of industry-funded delay) will prove to be a loss in the long run.

- Finally, Chris Parsons writes that we have every reason to be outraged about offshore tax avoidance - and particularly the policy choices which have allowed it to occur.

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