Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your day.

- Common Dreams discusses the prevalence of inherited wealth among the U.S.' richest individuals (as pointed out by a report by United for a Fair Economy):
Forbes claims that their list of the 400 richest people is 'the definitive scorecard of wealth' in the United States, but UFE rebuffs that assertion, saying that the narrative of wealth and achievement pushed by Forbes ignores the other side of the coin— namely, that the opportunity to build wealth is not equally or broadly shared in contempory society.

According to the report:
  • The net worth of the Forbes 400 grew fifteen-fold between the launch of the list in 1982 and 2011, while wealth stagnated for the average U.S. household.
  • The racial wealth divide is starkly apparent from the overwhelming whiteness of the list. The 2011 Forbes 400 had only one African American member.
  • Women accounted for just 10% of the 2011 list, and of the women on the list nearly 90% inherited their fortunes.
In addition, the report points out that (and the new 2012 list from Forbes shows continuation of this trend) the rich in 2011 got richer as the poor got poorer. The growing wealth inequality, the report says, is not due to any inherent brilliance or dynamism of the wealthy, but because of carefully crafted policy and legislative reforms enacted by government at the behest of the these same individuals.

Two examples cited by the report which directly impact the ability of the rich to retain and pass along their enormous assets:
  • Tax rates on capital gains have been slashed, which especially benefits members of the Forbes list. The richest 0.1% receive half of all net increases in capital gains.
  • Drastic cuts to the federal estate tax passed in the Bush tax cuts and the 2010 Obama tax deal allow the Forbes 400 to pass on more of their massive fortunes to their heirs, contributing to the growth of inequality and entrenching a class of super-wealthy heirs.
- Thomas Walkom weighs in on the anticipated effects of the CETA - noting that the problems with the deal go far beyond billions in giveaways to big pharma, while the supposed gains are tiny even based on the Cons' blind faith in the almighty market:
As the Council of Canadians has pointed out, CETA also promises to go far beyond tariff reduction. The Europeans want to prevent provinces and municipalities from favouring local business.

If as expected they get their way, this would wipe out Ontario’s remaining bus and train manufacturing capacity — and play havoc with Premier Dalton McGuinty’s green-industry strategy.

As well, Europe’s demand for greater patent protection is sure to raise the price of drugs. One study cited by Jacobs calculates the annual extra cost to Ontarians at $1.2 billion.

Why then has Canada chosen to take this path? The federal government’s answers are not convincing.

Ottawa cites a 2008 study it helped finance, which calculates the usual gains to trade predicted by economic theory. But such gains won’t be massive. In this case, the federal study says, they would amount to less than one percentage point of Canada’s gross domestic product, or about $12 billion.

If, as the Harper government assumes, all of this extra money were used to hire Canadians, then the deal would create 80,000 new jobs nationwide — which would help, if not solve, the problems faced by the 1.4 million who are currently out of work.

But Canadians know from grim experience that in the real world businesses don’t always spend their extra profits on domestic job creation.
- SOS Crowns points out that plenty of rural Saskatchewan communities will be losing broadband Internet access from SaskTel due to the latest anti-Crown edict from the Sask Party.

- Finally, Rick Mercer rants about the Cons' latest omnibus monstrosity in the making:

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