Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Paul Barratt discusses the results of a roundtable addressing inequality in Australia - with plenty of lessons worth keeping in mind elsewhere:
...(I)nequality is increasing significantly in Australia and, without a change in public policy, the problem will continue to worsen. Australia’s social security system is no longer adequate; it imposes unacceptable constraints on the growing numbers of people dealing with the consequences of poverty, unemployment, homelessness and general social disadvantage. Australia’s poor record on closing the gap between Indigenous and other Australians and between men and women is unacceptable. So is the inappropriate influence on policy decisions wielded by the corporate sector and those in the upper percentiles of wealth and income, and the failure of the current political structures to curb that influence.

The roundtable participants repeatedly drew attention to the inadequacy of the current economic model, its dependency on endless growth, its failure to engage with ecological and climate limits, and its assumption that unconstrained markets can respond to the need for the dignity and wellbeing of the whole population.
We all deserve basic human rights: food, clothing, shelter, education and modern healthcare. But we should aspire to go way beyond that, to be a genuinely intelligent and inclusive nation guided by an agreed set of national values.

It is time to reject the politically charged distinction between “lifters” and “leaners” that undermines our identity as a people committed to a fair go for all. The overwhelming majority of Australians want to have a job. They want to feel that it is a job that has meaning and they want to do it well. How productive they are depends not only upon how hard they are prepared to work but how well they are trained, how well they are led and managed, and what equipment they are furnished with.

In our wage fixation processes we need to reintroduce the concept of the living wage. We must recognise the benefits of investing in people’s education, vocational training, improved access to healthcare, public housing and a decent living standard for those who find themselves unemployed. Elimination of tax benefits like the capital gains tax discount and uncapped negative gearing against personal income, and an effective assault on multinational avoidance, could provide the wherewithal to tackle the problem.
- Matt Bruenig discusses three classifications of populist policies which can rebalance our economic structures, and notes that the three can and should be complementary to each other.

- Dawn Foster points out how social housing has been undermined in the UK by privatization and class segregation. And Joshua Schneyer and Andrea Januta report on the private operators who have turned housing for the U.S. military into a source of exorbitant profits for substandard accommodations.

- Peter Gosselin highlights how workers in their 50s and up are being pushed out of the jobs they thought would last until a standard retirement age.

- Lisa Naccarato reports on a push by Ontario doctors to ensure that migrants have access to needed health care.

- Finally, Kira Lerner discusses how deliberate confusion prevents American voters from seeing their choices reflected through elections.

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