Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Elizabeth Piper reports on Jeremy Corbyn's much-needed declaration that under a Labour government, the financial sector will serve the public rather than the other way around. And George Monbiot comments on the role the left needs to play in reversing the accumulation of wealth and power:
(O)nce you have money and property, you can use it to accumulate more money and property, taking an ever greater share of society’s wealth, through the harvesting of economic rent. By economic rent I mean charging people over the odds to use a non-reproducible resource over which you exercise exclusive control. Think, for example, of the ridiculous price we pay in the UK for train tickets, because the train companies have us over a barrel.

By this means, through no enterprise of their own, the rich become richer and the poor become poorer. This process has no natural limits. Eventually, as we’ve seen in the past, the very rich can capture almost the entire production of society.

At this point, the debt, destitution and unemployment that results can cause economic collapse: the Great Depression is a good example.

This predicament is not a perversity of the system. It is an innate characteristic. It is bound to work this way, unless there is a political movement capable of breaking the vicious circle of wealth accumulation.
The right will never break the power of patrimonial wealth, because the right exists to defend it. But the left, when it remembers what it’s for, exists to confront it.

During the 1940s, when the left was arguably at the peak of its power in mainstream politics, the top rate of income tax in the US rose to 94%, and in the UK to 98%. Economists today look back on these rates and describe them as irrational. They argue that the Laffer Curve suggests that governments raise no further revenue above a rate of about 70%. But this is to miss the point. The point of these taxes was not just to raise revenue, but to break the power of patrimonial capital, and the vicious circle of wealth accumulation and inequality.
- Meanwhile, Frances Ryan discusses how the UK's punitive system for social benefit recipients is doing nothing but adding gratuitous stress for people already struggling to get by.

- Mike de Souza reports on the National Energy Board's attempt to weed out staff for providing accurate information to the media. And Barry Saxifrage examines how continued expansion of the tar sands is utterly incompatible with any serious attempt to meet Canada's already-unambitious greenhouse gas emissions targets, while Marc Jaccard calls out Justin Trudeau's Orwellian attempt to claim we can only cut carbon pollution by increasing it.

- Finally, Daniel Leblanc reports on the parting message of retiring Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault - and particularly the reality that access to information isn't getting any better under the Libs than it was under the Cons. And de Souza notes that the Harper Cons' habit of muzzling federal scientists remains standard operating procedure under Trudeau.

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