Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Sam Pizzigati discusses the predictable social consequences of allowing inequality to grow:
What sort of unintended consequences [result from increased inequality]? The British epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have some compelling answers in their powerful new book, The Inner Level.

The more unequal a society, the pair write, “the more people feel anxiety about status and how they are seen and judged.” And not just poor people, but people at every economic level.

Some respond by losing all self-confidence. Social gatherings “become an ordeal to be avoided.” The more they withdraw, the more they “suffer higher levels of anxiety and depression.”

Others react quite differently to the greater ego threat of invidious social comparisons,” observe Wilkinson and Pickett. “Instead of being modest about achievements and abilities, they flaunt them.”

Narcissism becomes endemic in highly unequal societies, and the issues of dominance and subordination that become so much more intense in unequal societies also exacerbate other mental illnesses and personality disorders.

Maybe worst of all, greater inequality undermines the “social relationships and involvement in community life” that researchers have “shown repeatedly” to determine health and happiness.
“By making class and status divisions more powerful,” sum up Wilkinson and Pickett, rising inequality “leads to a decline in community life, a reduction in social mobility, an increase in residential segregation, and fewer inter-class marriages.”

Unintended consequences.

So let’s by all means debate the unintended consequences of bold egalitarian reform proposals. But let’s not stop there. Let’s make sure the debate on these proposals also addresses the unintended consequences of letting our our lives continue to become ever more unequal.
- Stephen Kidd notes that narrowly-targeted social programs ultimately serve the interests of the wealthy who avoid funding more effective solutions, rather than the people who are forced to rely on a threadbare safety net.

- Jim Stanford points to the D-J Composites lockout - and the Newfoundland government's utter neglect of the workers affected - as a prime example of how political power is all too often used to favour wage-suppressing employers over workers. And Iglika Ivanova and Mark Thompson offer their suggestions to update labour and employment law to address new forms of exploitation.

- And on the bright side, Terry Pedwell reports on the pay equity arbitration decision won by rural and suburban postal carriers.

- Finally, Tom Parkin writes that the Ontario Court of Appeal's decision allowing Doug Ford to drastically interfere in Toronto's municipal elections should serve as a signal of the importance of political organizing.

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