Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Larry Elliott reports on Oxfam's latest study on wealth inequality, showing that 26 extremely rich people now own as much as half of the world's population. And Ronald Quaroni notes that half of Saskatchewan families are on the brink of insolvency - the highest level of any province in an already-bleak national survey.

- Given that inequality and individual insecurity, it should be little surprise that trust in government and social institutions is eroding (as Louis Putterman points out). And Matt Taibbi highlights how the U.S.' political establishment fails to understand the public's understandable frustration:
I have no idea if Ocasio-Cortez will or will not end up being a great politician. But it’s abundantly clear that her mere presence is unmasking many, if not most, of the worst and most tired Shibboleths of the capital.

Moreover, she’s laying bare the long-concealed fact that many of their core policies are wildly unpopular, and would be overturned in a heartbeat if we could somehow put them all to direct national referendum.

Take the tax proposal offered by Ocasio-Cortez, which would ding the top bracket for 70 percent taxes on all income above $10 million.

The idea inspired howls of outrage, with wrongest-human-in-history Alan Greenspan peeking out of his crypt to call it a “terrible idea,” Wisconsin’s ex-somebody Walker saying a 5th grader would know it was “unfair,” and human anti-weathervane Harry Reid saying “you have to be careful” because voters don’t want “radical change quickly.”

Except polls show the exact opposite. Almost everyone wants to soak the rich. A joint survey by The Hill and Harris X showed 71 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and even 45 percent of Republicans endorse the Ocasio-Cortez plan.

Is it feasible? It turns out it might very well be, as even Paul Krugman, who admits AOC’s rise makes him “uneasy,” said in a recent column. He noted the head of Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers estimated the top rate should be even higher, perhaps even 80 percent.

We’ve been living for decades in a universe where the basic tenets of supply-side economics — that there’s a massive and obvious benefit for all in dumping piles of money in the hands of very rich people — have gone more or less unquestioned.

Now we see: once a popular, media-savvy politician who doesn’t owe rich donors starts asking such questions, the Potemkin justifications for these policies can tumble quickly.
- Andrea Janus reports on the widespread food waste in Canada - particularly within the food industry rather than at the consumer level. And Daniel Tencer examines how Canada's housing market has become thoroughly unaffordable for far too many.

- Finally, any Saskatchewan readers are encouraged to participate in what little public consultation the Moe government is offering when it comes to the province's library system - and particularly to point out that libraries do far more than merely lending materials.

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