Thursday, July 05, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Callahan writes about the U.S.' billionaire-dominated political system - and why nobody should be satisfied merely with having an ideologically-agreeable set of tycoons buying elections:
Depending on your politics, you may either cheer or fear the influence spending of specific top donors. In truth, we should be troubled about all such spending. Thanks to several factors, economic inequality seems to be translating into civic disparities at a faster pace and in ways that touch more parts of US society.
The new money flowing from wealthy left-of-center donors, especially in response to Trump’s rise, may look like a sign that American pluralism is alive and well in this second Gilded Age. Yes, public life in increasingly drenched in cash, but aren’t many viewpoints getting heard as a more ideologically diverse upper class supports various causes and candidates?

Sometimes this is the case. On climate change, for example, progressive donors have helped counter the longstading might of the fossil fuel industry. Economic issues have been another story, though. Polls show that the wealthy are more conservative on such issues, which explains why very little money even from left-of-center donors goes to support work that strongly challenges inequality. Bloomberg’s big give for Democrats this year is a case in point: he’s made it clear that he wants to support moderate candidates, not populists from the Bernie Sanders wing of the party.
Ultimately, the best solution to the new civic inequality lies in stronger social movements that convert Americans from spectators to activists. And one of the most reassuring trends of recent years is we’ve seen a lot of such people power, including the Tea Party, Occupy, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.

Now we need more of the same, extending to more issues and more places – especially the core challenge of economic inequality. Otherwise, it’s hard to see how the United States can escape from a new era of plutocracy.
- Lindsay Wiginton and Sara Hastings-Simon point out what Ontario stands to lose if Doug Ford guts its climate change policies. And Jessica Corbett discusses Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' ambitious environmentalism as reflecting what's needed to ensure both a strong economy and a healthy planet.  

- The New York Times' editorial board writes that consumers will end up paying far more in interest on mounting credit card debt to fund the Trump giveaway to the wealthy.

- The Saskatchewan Herald highlights the billions in health infrastructure deficits left behind by Brad Wall even as he blew through the products of a boom and increased the provincial debt. And Canadian Glen interviews Joel French about the costs of Alberta's choice not to collect readily-available revenue including through a sales tax.

- Finally, Tom Parkin notes that Justin Trudeau's broken progressive promises figure to leave ample room for the federal NDP to win over swing voters in 2019.

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