Friday, July 27, 2018

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- The Economist discusses how income and wealth inequality lead to disproportionate influence on the part of the rich:
The relation between concentrated wealth and the political power of the rich is scarcely limited to political spending, or to America. The rich have many means to shape public opinion: financing nominally apolitical think-tanks, for instance, or buying media outlets. Although their power may sometimes be used to influence the result of a particular vote, it is often deployed more subtly, to shape public narratives about which problems deserve attention. Mr Epp and Mr Borghetto analysed bills brought before the parliaments of nine European countries between 1941 and 2014. Rising inequality, they found, is associated with political agendas more focused on matters related to “social order”, such as crime and immigration. Issues such as economic justice are crowded out. They attribute this to the “negative agenda power” of the rich. As their wealth increases, they have a greater ability to press politicians to emphasise some topics rather than others.

The evidence that concentrated wealth contributes to concentrated power is troubling. It suggests that reducing inequality becomes less likely even as it becomes more urgent. It implies that a vicious cycle of rising inequality may be developing, with a loss of democratic accountability as a nasty side-effect.
- Meanwhile, Jeff Stein reports on the global decline in business tax rates which has resulted from the corporate sector largely dictating the terms of political debate. Duncan Cameron writes that any tax system will influence the composition of our public discourse - and that for too long Canada's system (among others) has privileged the wealthy while silencing voices for progressive change. And PressProgress exposes one of the B.C. Libs' secret big-money fund-raising events. 

- Katherine Boothe debunks some myths about a national pharmacare program - and in particular the claim that there's any public benefit in handing the pharmaceutical industry exorbitant prices for an already-limited set of drugs under the status quo. And Steve Morgan discusses how Doug Ford's move to limit Ontario's public plan to make prescription drugs available to youth is a step in the wrong direction.

- Kevin Carmichael points out how parents would benefit far more from a universally accessible child care system than from child benefits alone. 

- Finally, Eleanor Ainge Roy reports on the introduction of paid domestic violence leave in New Zealand in order to ensure people facing personal threats aren't trapped by work obligations, while CBC News discusses its imminent implementation in New Brunswick as well.

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