Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Axel von Schubert notes that the effect of Donald Trump's giveaway to his billionaire buddies will be to turn the U.S. into a tax haven itself. And Michelle Chen discusses how the growth in inequality has been the result of political choices at the behest of the people who already had the most:
Wherever you live in the world, here’s a newsflash: You’ve been robbed. Not by a hidden bandit, but a global kleptocracy: the super-rich who’ve managed to rob the poor blind in every corner of the globe for the past seven decades. And a research team led by pioneering economist Thomas Piketty, the World Inequality Lab, has mapped out how that theft has played out on a global scale.

Not surprisingly, America was near the top of the list in terms of how unequal our country is, in addition to being far richer as a whole than any other nation. Still, while inequality is universal—polarizing countries and dividing individual nations internally—some countries are, surprisingly, more unequal than others.
The wealth gap is epidemic but not inevitable. Policy choices still make a difference. In the United States, deeply ingrained antipathy for the welfare state and regulation has pushed a harsh neoliberal agenda since the late 1970s—a pattern that is now being reproduced across the Global South as poor countries attempt to capitalize on global trade but in the process are becoming more exposed to extreme market volatility and devastating poverty and social strife.
We can mitigate the worst effects of capitalist overproduction through mobilizing what’s left of our democratic institutions at the local and state levels, where social spending and education investment are often concentrated. Mobilizing grassroots campaigns to boost the minimum wage, expand union representation, institute universal health care, or guarantee retirement security obviously can’t overturn the global trend in wealth accumulation, but will at least move struggling communities toward a fairer social contract.
To ensure that future generations are better prepared to stop and reverse wealth polarization, developing a socially conscious, educated citizenry is key. On the other hand, given the number of college graduates working low-wage jobs and facing debt, Chancel emphasized, “education can’t do everything against inequality. This is where minimum wage policies, support to trade unions, work regulation policies, [and] laws to ensure that workers are represented in corporate governance institutions can play an important role” in balancing out structural inequality. 
- Meanwhile, Tracy Sherlock points out the increase in inequality in British Columbia over the past decade, with poor workers being paid less while the wealthy see their income soar.

- Ben Casselman writes that a turn toward full employment is offering a real opportunity for people who previously faced barriers to work.

- Finally, Mariana Mazzucato discusses the importance of creating wealth in multiple forms, particularly public ones. And Murray Mandryk comments on the Saskatchewan Party's reflexive refusal to allow the public to share in any new economic development, as epitomized by its choice to release a half-baked plan for corporate distribution rather than using existing retail infrastructure for marijuana sales.

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