Sunday, October 07, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Bob Lord discusses how the concentration of wealth in the U.S. has pushed beyond even the obscene levels of the Gilded Age. Sunil Johal and Armine Yalnizyan examine (PDF) both Canada's inequality and polarization of wealth, and a few of the options to rein them in. And David Sirota highlights how a new aristocracy considers itself to be above any laws or other accountability:
Since Skilling’s conviction 12 years ago, our society has been fundamentally altered by a powerful political movement whose goal is not merely another court seat, tax cut or election victory. This movement’s objective is far more revolutionary: the creation of an accountability-free zone for an ennobled aristocracy, even as the rest of the population is treated to law-and-order rhetoric and painfully punitive policy.

Let’s remember that in less than two decades, America has experienced the Iraq war, the financial crisis, intensifying economic stratification, an opioid plague, persistent gender and racial inequality and now seemingly unending climate change-intensified disasters. While the victims have been ravaged by these crime sprees, crises and calamities, the perpetrators have largely avoided arrest, inquisition, incarceration, resignation, public shaming and ruined careers.

That is because the United States has been turned into a safe space for a permanent ruling class. Inside the rarefied refuge, the key players who created this era’s catastrophes and who embody the most pernicious pathologies have not just eschewed punishment – many of them have actually maintained or even increased their social, financial and political status.
...(T)o paraphrase Leona Helmsley, accountability is for the little people, immunity is for the ruling class.

If this ethos seems familiar, that is because it has preceded some of the darkest moments in human history – the eras of violent purges, authoritarian dictators and sharpened guillotines. There is no guarantee that is our future – and let’s hope it isn’t our destiny. Whether or not things proceed in that terrifying direction, though, the moral question remains: what can be done to restore some basic sense of fairness and justice?
This is no easy way forward and there are no shortcuts – but if we avoid this path, then the accountability-free zone will fortify itself and we will probably see the rise of an institutionalized form of moral hazard that dooms us to a tragic repetition of history.
- Meanwhile, Mark Bou Mansour weighs in on the effect of the "finance curse" in which overall well-being in the UK has been treated as secondary to the profits of the banking sector.

- Both Paul Wells and Jen Gerson discuss how carbon taxes have turned into political targets, particularly for politicians catering to oil industry donors. And David Climenhaga offers a reminder that carbon pricing alone actually represents a market-focused, right-wing response to a problem which might be more obviously (and easily) dealt with by regulation.

- Kathryn May reports on PIPSC's push for public services to be insourced rather than outsourced. And Richard Partington notes that a substantial proportion of workers with casual contracts would prefer more stable employment - signalling that their precarity is a matter of a lack of choice rather than an exercise of it.

- Finally, Matthew Hays makes the case for the elimination of the notwithstanding clause from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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