Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Ian Welsh discusses how our problems with poverty and inequality arise out of artificial scarcity:
We either already have excess capacity or we have the ability to create more than people need of all necessities.

This includes housing, food and clothing.  We still have enough water, globally, if we are wiling to be smart about how we use it, and in those areas where there are geographical problems they can be solved, in general IF we are willing to be a bit flexible in how we grow our food.
We are also short of security.  This is another artificial shortage, though harder to fix.  But most countries which have been destroyed recently were destroyed in large part because of outside intervention: whether Western, Eastern or Jihadi.  We are in a cycle of blowback after blowback, with the first step being to stop doing things that will cause devastation.

Education is unequally spread throughout the world, but this is another problem which is solveable: we have the books, which cost cents to reproduce, the telecom networks are almost everywhere, and we can train the teachers. If we wanted to spend more money on teachers and less on finance, we wouldn’t have a problem.
Oh, and the shortage of spare time for so many; with the shortage of work for others?  Completely socially constructed.  We are doing too much of the wrong kinds of work, and too little of the right kinds of work, and those choices are also social.

Scarcity in the end goods humans need most is almost always, in the modern world, artificial: a social choice.
- Thomas Kochan writes about the importance of a new living wage norm in ensuring a more fair economy, while recognizing that any change will need time to take effect. And the International Labour Organization studies the connection between inequality, economic stagnation and a reduced labour share of income.

- Jeff Sallot rightly points out that blowing things (and people) up is not a solution to a humanitarian crisis. And Mitchell Anderson writes that one of the main factors exacerbating the refugee crisis in the Middle East is climate change which the Cons refuse to try to fight.

- Michael Plaxton examines the caretaker convention which is supposed to limit the exercise of power by a government whose support can't be demonstrated. And Kady O'Malley rightly challenges the spin that "most seats" is the only relevant question in determining which leader gets a chance to form government. But Leonid Sirota wonders whether agreement among the leaders who are in a position to seek the confidence of the House of Commons might itself change the conventions as they stand.

- Finally, Warren Bell reminds us of Robocon as another scandal which should ensure people are motivated to vote out the Harper Cons. And of course, that abuse of democracy is particularly important given the likelihood that Harper and company will try to cheat in yet another election.

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