Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Lynn Stuart Parramore offers five convincing pieces of evidence to suggest that the U.S.' plutocrats are losing their minds in their effort to set themselves apart from the rabble. Kevin Roose tells a story about some awful, awful (and disturbingly wealthy and powerful) people. And Patrick Wintour discusses how the UK Cons are dedicating significant public resources to placing impossible demands on the unemployed - then cutting off the livelihood of anybody not acrobatic enough to jump through their newly-created hoops.

- So there's plenty of reason to think Ana Marie Cox is right to call for the middle and lower classes to start putting up a fight against the perpetual top-down class war:
People are angry – and maybe people should be angry. Both Perkins and Mankiw seem to think that the poor (or just the not-rich!) resent the wealthy simply because they have so much. They think we resent the number of zeros in their paychecks. Of course not. We resent that those zeros come out of ours.

Mankiw asks the simplistic question: Are CEOs so valuable as to be worth their exorbitant paychecks? He answers it perhaps even more simply, by cherry-picking famous people. But the question on most people’s minds is simpler still, and yet somehow too difficult for the CEOs and their enablers to comprehend: Am I so expendable as to be worth such a small paycheck ... or no paycheck at all?

To the extent that income inequality is a threat to the rich, it’s not because they are so wealthy – at some point, the wealth of the most wealthy just becomes absurdly unimaginable anyway. No, it’s because the wealth of the super-rich is just so damn far away, without any rungs in the ladder between, no assistance for that leap of faith that allows those who struggle to hope their struggles can cease.
- And Davide Furceri and Prakash Lounganin note that two of the leading causes of growing inequality are public-sector austerity and greater privileges being accorded to private capital. (Not concidentally, those are of course two of the Cons' top political priorities.)

- The Star argues that the Cons shouldn't force a jobs grant program onto Canada's provinces (or workers). But as Thomas Walkom writes, questions of what's fair or appropriate seem rather distant in the face of a government which has nothing but contempt for the law.

- Finally, Paul Adams recognizes what's missing from Canada's federal political scene as a three-party race develops:
The fact that cooperation between the parties and their leaders is not imminent seems to have obscured the possibility — the likelihood, even — that there will be a minority government after 2015, as there was after three of the last four elections.

In that situation, the parties will have to choose with whom they cooperate and on what terms.
(P)arties will probably have to cooperate after the 2015 election — unless they want to see Canadian politics descend into the dysfunctional mess we’ve see south of the border and, at times, here at home in the first decade of this century.
Voters and the media should be pressing the parties hard to explain their approach to cooperation — including who their preferred partners might be in the event we return to minority government in 2015.

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