Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading...

- Thomas Torslov, Ludvig Wier and Gabriel Zucman examine the shifting of corporate profits to tax havens - and the false promise that corporate tax cuts will serve any purpose other than to undermine the collection of needed revenue by countries with real economies. And Liz Alderman notes that Portugal's rejection of austerity has led to better economic and social results than the alternative of cuts and suffering.

- Tom Saler writes about new archaeological research tracing inequality dating back thousands of years - and finding it to be a matter of choice rather than inevitability. And Meagan Day points out that inequality (particularly at the very top) continues to get worse by the year.

- Alex Finnis reports on the UK's largest jump in poverty since Margaret Thatcher was in power. Thiemo Fezter studies (PDF) the role the UK Cons' austerity played in fomenting support for the far-right UKIP as well as the disastrous Brexit vote. And Polly Toynbee writes about the added demands being placed on the UK's citizenry to plan for their government's irresponsibility out of already-limited resources:
Eight years of austerity has only cut debt by shifting a financial deficit on to a social deficit everywhere else. Philip Hammond, the chancellor and austerian-in-chief, has said taxes must rise to pay for the NHS, but he will return to his autumn budget besieged by needs in every threadbare service. Austerity was not accompanied by telling the public to expect less of everything for ever.
 or now, the Brexit crisis distracts from all its other failures. When the former attorney general Dominic Grieve tells Sky News that no deal will cast us into “a state of emergency – basic services we take for granted might not be available”, Cassandra-like, he is ignored as Project Fear mark two. But when Doug Gurr, the head of Amazon UK – no political player – warns of “civil unrest” within two weeks of a no-deal guillotine, we should all sit up and pay attention. He said that to Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, at a meeting with business chiefs last Friday: Amazon is making contingency plans.

Everyone will take fright at the government’s own warnings to businesses and households. John Manzoni, the head of the civil service, told MPs last week that a no-deal break would be “almost unimaginable”, and have “horrendous consequences”. Already the government warns that the M26 in Kent will be a “holding area” for 1,400 trucks to ease gridlock as 10,000 lorries a day are potentially delayed by new EU customs checks. Mazoni warns of the need to stockpile food and medicines: “We have to put contingencies in place.” Stockpiling food – that’s an order to panic! And why not – half our food is imported, of which 80% comes from Europe via Dover.
Conspiracy theorists claim a “deep state” really controls this country, a civil service and a dark establishment that prevent any radical change. That theory is now being tested to destruction. This has been the worst session of parliament in recent memory: the next may be worse. There is no deep state – nothing out there to save us from self-inflicted disaster. Only we can save us from ourselves.
- Samira Shackle discusses the value of viewing crime primarily as a condition to be treated, rather than an excuse to inflict punishment.

- Finally, Duncan Cameron makes the case for a national public bus service to more than fill the void left by Greyhound's disappearance.

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