Saturday, September 22, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Bandy Lee discusses the need to treat inequality as a social disease which calls for immediate treatment:
Residents of countries with higher income inequality have worse health, not just of the poor but of the rich (Subramanian and Kawachi, 2006). Greater income inequality is also associated higher levels of mental illness (Burns, Tomita, and Kapadia, 2014); murder and assault (Hsieh and Pugh, 1993); obesity and obesity-related death (Pickett, 2005); as well as drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, racism, incarceration, and a number of other societal problems (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2009). Such countries also have more sociopolitical instability in the form of assassinations, coups, and riots (Alesina and Perotti, 1996); worse institutions in terms of less efficient governments, higher regulatory burdens, and weaker rule of law (Easterly, 2007); and more corruption (Jong-Sung and Khagram, 2005). The wealthy have stronger motivations to minimize redistribution while at the same time having more power to influence institutions, given the relatively higher share of their resources (Buttrick and Oishi, 2017).

Economic inequality may further put the world at risk of both environmental and nuclear harm. Taming the planet’s climate or reducing nuclear weapons requires trust and cooperation, but these are difficult in the setting of economic inequality and exploitation. Income and wealth gaps accelerate the environmental crisis (Martinez-Alier, 2002), with increasing local and global conflicts over the sharing of the burdens of pollution and access to natural resources. Previous failures to reach consensus in climate summits have been attributed to, among other factors, conflicting policies of rich and poor countries, which disagree on the implementation of mitigation measures (Vasconcelos, Santos, Pacheco, and Levin, 2014). When there is greater income and wealth inequality between nations, there is an erosion of trust due to the ensuing social and cultural differences, and greater perceived need for military defense, including nuclear weapons for nations that can afford them.

Social and economic inequality is linked to disease, death, and other forms of harm. To better understand these societal ills, we must look at inequality as a disorder in itself.
- And Sanjutka Paul examines how a bias toward top-down, property-based decision-making has systematically stacked the deck against workers, particularly in service-based sectors.

- The Trade Justice Network rightly criticizes the Libs for abandoning the concept of progressive trade by implementing the TPP. And Nicholas Caivano and Richard Elliott argue that if Justin Trudeau is going to give in on anything to renegotiate NAFTA (however unnecessary that may be), we should expect him to defend fair drug prices rather than fighting to protect corporate-friendly arbitration structures.

- Karina Roman points out that the Libs' privatized Infrastructure Bank is sucking up millions of public dollars without apparently accomplishing anything.

- Finally, Stephanie Taylor reports that SaskPower is backing away from plans to relocate operations to the Global Transportation Hub - but that the public is already on the hook for the land purchased as part of the previous attempt to portray the GTH as something other than an utter failure. And Adriana Christenson reports on the Saskatchewan Party's hidden selloff of SaskEnergy gas plants.

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