Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins interviews Eugene McCarraher about the cultivation of capitalist greed as a new religion. And Annie Lowrey writes about the value of cancelling the concept of billionaires:
(T)here are far more urgent reasons than poverty to get rid of billionaires and reverse the trend of economic polarization. A growing body of economic and political-science research demonstrates that Gilded Age–type inequality does not just mean having too many with too little. It is warping the very social fabric of the country, stifling mobility, innovation, investment, and growth, and putting the country at political risk.

Dramatic inequality in wealth means dramatic inequality in terms of political power means a political system unresponsive to what most people want. Wealth inequality, in other words, is an anti-democratic force. A remarkable study by Lee Drutman found that just 31,385 people—one ten-thousandth of the population—accounted for more than a quarter of all political donations in the 2012 campaign cycle, with politicians getting more money from fewer people than in any other year analyzed. No wonder low-income households’ policy preferences have little effect on political outcomes in the United States, whereas high-income households’ policy preferences do, as research by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern forcefully shows. One of those political outcomes? Inequality itself: Unequal societies tend not to correct their own inequality, because of the political influence of the rich.

The country’s inequality is also stifling mobility and damaging the country’s human capital. As the country has become more unequal, it has also become more sclerotic and class-dominated. Despite all the money the government spends on public education, private education, health, and welfare, rich kids are likely to stay rich and poor kids are likely to stay poor. Measures of absolute mobility have fallen: Children born in 1940 had a 90 percent chance of doing better than their parents did, whereas children born in the 1980s had just a 50 percent chance of the same. The steps of the income ladder are too far apart for kids to climb them, in other words. Safe neighborhoods, quality education, and security at home are out of reach for too many children. Inequality is now driving a longevity gap, an educational-attainment gap, and a health gap. It lurks behind the country’s falling entrepreneurship rate, too. The country will not prosper through growth alone, but only through sharing its prosperity more widely.
- Shannon Proudfoot writes that meaningless appeals to the "middle class" like those favoured by the Libs and Cons avoid the questions which should be asked about the concentration of wealth and power. And Nora Loreto views Martin Lukacs' thorough analysis of the Trudeau Libs (including the contrast between public and private pronouncements) as a crucial starting point for media and voters alike.

- Meanwhile, Hannah Thibedeau reports that the Libs' hand-selected expert on pharmacare sees the NDP as offering the best combination of structure and funding to ensure people have access to the medications they need. 

- David Macdonald points out the importance of taking into account all kinds of debt when developing policy - particularly when the alternative is to pile unmanageable amounts of debt on people in the name of arbitrary demands for government budgets. 

- Finally, Matthew Taylor and Jonathan Watts discuss the 20 companies responsible for a third of humanity's greenhouse gas emissions.

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