Sunday, January 27, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Aditya Chakrabortty discusses the belated recognition among the world's most privileged few that they can't but their way out of the fundamental issues facing humankind. And Branko Milanovic highlights the Davos set's lip service to combating inequality as long as it does nothing to affect the imbalances in their favour.

- The London School of Economics points out Jonathan Mijs' work on the connection between social divisions and relative popular acceptance of inequality. And Polly Toynbee writes about the right's exploitation of that link:
Both rich and poor delude themselves that they are ordinary. But telling people the facts doesn’t change their attitudes: increasingly they cling to a moral belief that people rise by merit, sinking for lack of it. Spend time talking to people using food banks or in Citizens Advice offices knocked down by benefit sanctions, and too often you hear people absorbing the blame. “I should have tried harder at school,” is a frequent refrain, as if no other forces were at play. Talk to the mega-rich – I once conducted focus groups of earners up to £10m – and they are wilfully ignorant about their super-privilege, unshakable in believing their superior merit.

The right captured the story, the emotions, the moral framing: social democrats need to seize it back with a narrative of immorality that is more compelling. The British Social Attitudes survey suggests a swing back towards empathy with the swelling numbers of poor people – including more than 4 million children. But still inheritance tax remains the most reviled of all taxes. The right forever tries to prove poor people are more stupid by nature than the rich, but Professor Steve Jones, a celebrated geneticist, when asked about the heritability of intelligence, replies deftly that the most important heritable trait, by miles, is wealth.
- David Sirota interviews Anand Giridharadas about the pitfalls of relying on elite philanthropy rather than democratic decision-making.

- The Australia Institute examines how tax giveaways to businesses accomplish nothing. And the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy discusses how a wealth tax can and should work south of the border.

- Finally, Sammy Hudes reports on a report prepared for Calgary's city council showing how the privatization of public services creates massive new risks to the public while only benefiting the corporations who are able to extract profits.

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