Monday, October 29, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Gavin Kelly writes that the UK's welfare state has been shaped by the Cons to prevent working households from being able to aspire to anything better than precarity:
According to a recent analysis for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the combined effect of the changes to the tax and benefits system between 2010 and 2021 will be average losses for a couple with children of £3,000 a year, rising to more than £5,000 for a lone-parent family – almost a fifth of their income. Families with disabled members, or with three or more children, tend to lose more.

These are life-altering sums. In every corner of Britain, we see the symptoms of these and other cuts as growing numbers fall through the gaping holes in our safety net: the rise in food banks, street-sleeping, temporary accommodation and problem-debt. Tax-credits for those on middle incomes have been steadily chipped away and child benefit for the better off axed altogether – though it’s still the case that the support on offer to middle Britain remains more generous than it was in the mid-1990s, prior to the Labour government. The use of the benefits system has also changed: jobseeker’s allowance, which has withered in value compared to earnings, is claimed by only six out of 10 of today’s unemployed, compared to almost 100% in the early 1990s.
The cold calculus of cash losses is vitally important, of course, but only tells us part of the story. A core idea of the welfare state was that it provided the bedrock of security needed for people to take economic risk. Increasingly, however, it has the opposite psychological effect. Take universal credit for example. It’s not just that 3.2 million working households will be £2.5k worse off than under the old system (though 2.2 million will be better off). Moving today’s benefit claimants on to UC over the next five years will involve several million families knowing they face big losses if their personal circumstances alter – the birth of a new child, separation from a partner, a boost in earnings. An idea conceived in the name of “aspiration” has yielded a policy that will pressure families to stand still.
- The Globe and Mail's editorial board notes that Doug Ford's "business-friendly" messaging in fact reflects nothing more than enmity for the working poor. And PressProgress documents how workers will be worse off if Ford gets his way.

- Mitchell Anderson discusses the corrupting influence of the fossil fuel industry generally. And David Roberts points out the tens of millions of dollars it's poured into attacking citizens' initiatives in a single U.S. election cycle.

- Meanwhile, Tristin Hopper discusses the effect a carbon price will have in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But Nic Rivers and Leah Stokes note that there's limited evidence to suggest a Lib-style rebate scheme will help to build popular support for stronger climate policy.

- Finally, David Climenhaga examines the backstory behind the sale of Jason Kenney's UCP platform to car dealerships.

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