Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Ed Finn offers a reminder that Canada's social safety net is leading to the perpetuation of poverty despite ample resources to end it. And Niall McCarthy discusses the worsening state of financial inequality across the developed world.

- Hadrian Metrins-Kirkwood points out that enhanced sick leave under Employment Insurance would result in an affordable benefit to people who need it.

- Robert Reich reviews new books by Annie Lowrey and Andrew Yang on the value of a basic income, but recognizes the importance of dealing with inequality all along the income spectrum:
A U.B.I. might give recipients a bit more time to pursue socially beneficial activities, like helping the elderly or attending to kids with special needs or perhaps even starting a new business. Yang suggests it would spur a system of “social credits” in which people trade their spare time by performing various helpful tasks for one another. (I.R.S. be warned.) Surely a U.B.I. would help compensate many people — especially women — for the unpaid labor they already contribute. As Lowrey points out, some 40 million family caregivers in America provide half a trillion dollars of unpaid adult care annually. Child care has become so expensive that one of every three stay-at-home mothers today lives below the poverty line (compared with 14 percent in 1970).
Whatever the source of funds, it seems a safe bet that increased automation will allow the economy to continue to grow, making a U.B.I. more affordable. A U.B.I. would itself generate more consumer spending, stimulating additional economic activity. And less poverty would mean less crime, incarceration and other social costs associated with deprivation. “You know what’s really expensive?” Yang asks. “Dysfunction. Revolution.”
A core challenge in the future will be how to redistribute money from the ever richer owners of the robots and related technologies to the rest of us, who are otherwise likely to become poorer and less secure. This is not just an economic challenge but also a political one. As we know from recent history, vast fortunes translate directly into political power, and such power effectively resists redistribution.
- Lucas Laursen reports that in contrast to the consistent failure of Canada as a whole or any of its provinces to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets (or even develop a plausible plan to do so), California is now ahead of schedule in reducing its emissions while thriving economically.

- Finally, Martin Regg Cohn writes about the price Ontario stands to pay for Doug Ford's anti-tax dogma.

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