Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Andrew Sheng discusses the role of oversimplified assumptions about economic development in exacerbating wealth and income inequality:
The American era has been very comfortable with the timeless, universal model of the free market. Inconvenient problems such as inequality are market failures, which the state can take care of, ignoring the reality of political capture and vested interests. Free market economics suited the privileged elite because “everyone can get rich, we can always redistribute later”. But once the elite got rich, few paid serious attention to redistribution.

The tax cut proposals in the US prove this. All indicators are that the rich will benefit from them more than the poor. The hope is that the rich will invest and the middle class will spend, while welfare and health care for the needy are cut.

Politics drives economic theory, which legitimises the status quo. Recognising inequality is therefore not difficult. The real question is: what can we really do to reduce inequality?
- The OECD offers an overview of its efforts to measure social capital. And Frank Huyler discusses how institutional breakdowns including regulatory capture by the pharmaceutical industry have played the main part in causing the U.S.' opioid crisis.

- Thomas Walkom writes that Justin Trudeau's agreement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership confirms that he's primarily interested in appealing to the corporate class. And Andrew Mitrovica discusses how Trudeau's silence makes him complicit in Donald Trump's bigotry.

- David Roberts reports on Colorado's example of renewable energy outclassing fossil fuels as a cheaper and cleaner means of generating power.

- Finally, Stanley Tromp offers some suggestions to modernize British Columbia's access-to-information system (which also bear review elsewhere).

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