Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- As part of her look at what lies ahead for the NDP, Barbara Yaffe recognizes why it figures to make for a tougher opponent than the Libs have over the past few years:
How will Conservatives react to Layton leading the main opposition party in Parliament?

It remains to be seen whether they will mount an advertising campaign against him as they did against Liberal leaders Paul Martin, Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff.

Conservatives may have met their match, though. After all, Layton has led his party since 2003 and may be too much of a known quantity to be successfully attacked by government backroomers.
- All those who predicted that Newfoundland and Labrador would be the first province to see any effort to call Stephen Harper's Senate bluff (even if based only in the province's opposition parties), please collect your winnings.

- While plenty of people have pointed to Stephane Dion's paper for the MacDonald-Laurier Institute, I'm not sure anybody else has noticed what looks like a major part of the story.

Namely, when did Stephane Dion start writing for a Con-promoted and funded special interest group which mostly serves as a front for Con spin? And if the likes of Dion are lending their names and opinions to the greater glory of the Cons' cronies, what does that say about the Libs' hopes of building any competing institutions?

- Finally, Benjamin Wallace-Wells' feature on Paul Krugman includes this noteworthy tidbit on how economic gains have been divided in the U.S.:
From 1979 to 2004, the income of the richest one percent of Americans grew by 176 percent, that of the richest one fifth of the country by 69 percent, and that of everyone else by less than 25 percent. Working through the numbers, Krugman came to believe that “only a fraction” of the change was compelled by global forces, which had been the standard explanation. The rest, he concluded, was political.

It was Krugman’s Princeton colleague Larry Bartels who made the critical connection, in research Krugman devoured and still cites. Perhaps the most important influence on income inequality, Bartels argued, was something economists had not ­emphasized: whether a Democrat or a Republican was in the White House. Since World War II, Bartels found, wealthy families in the 95th percentile in income had seen identical income growth under both parties. But for families in the 20th percentile, the difference was astonishing: Under Democratic presidents, their income grew at six times the rate it did under Republican ones. There was, for Krugman, a kind of radicalization implied in this.
And I'd have to wonder whether the observations can be applied elsewhere: is there reason to doubt that the wealthy will tend to see relatively consistent gains in income, while the main distinction between different governments and societies is whether anybody else also benefits? And if so, wouldn't that seem like a rather compelling reason to focus all the more on redistribution rather than hoping that policies which obvious favour the wealthy on their face will somehow have trickle-down effects?

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