Friday, December 04, 2015

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Tom Bawden notes that inequality is as much a problem in our relative contribution to climate change as it is in so many other areas of life. And Steven Rosenfeld lists some of the ways in which the increasingly-wealthy few are making life worse for everybody else in the U.S.:
The super-rich are more politically active than average Americans, financing and contacting elected officials and knowing many on a first-name basis. Their agenda, which is often cited by public officials across the country, emphasizes private profit-making and is skeptical of almost every public program to address economic inequality, the study by Chicago-based university researchers found. The top 1 percent’s social agenda, while “more liberal than others on religious and moral issues, including abortion, gay rights, and prayer in school,” is still “much more conservative than the non-affluent on issues of taxes, economic regulation, and social welfare,” the researchers found.

Put another way, today’s top 1 percent generally do not believe the longtime conservative line that a rising economic tide will lift all Americans, but have a darker view in which one’s fate is tied to the survival of the fittest. They consider climate change a non-issue and most would cut federal and state safety nets and anti-poverty programs, shift taxpayer dollars into privatized education and do little to ensure access to higher education.

“We speculate that the striking contrast concerning core social welfare programs between our wealthy respondents and the general public may reveal something important about the current state of American politics,” the report says. “If wealthy Americans wield an extra measure of influence over policy making, and if they strongly favor deficit reductions through spending cuts—including cuts in Social Security and Medicare—this may help explain why a number of public officials have advocated deep cuts in the very social welfare programs that are most popular among ordinary Americans.”
- Mike Moffatt writes that there's plenty our governments can do to ensure that wealthy individuals pay their fair share of taxes, but that it will take significant political will to take the necessary steps.

- The OECD documents how tax contributions have changed over the past decade - with corporate taxes in particular plummeting (contrary to the promise that tax cuts will pay for themselves) while individuals pick up the slack. And Alexandra Posadzki reports that bank profits alone seem to be skyrocketing even as the rest of our economy largely stagnates.

- Roderick Benns argues that our next major national project should be a basic income. And David Gratzer suggests that we should work on eradicating homelessness.

- Meanwhile, Ben Walsh highlights the need for far more investment in avoiding catastrophic climate change. And Martin Lukacs challenges Justin Trudeau to follow up on his shiny climate rhetoric with action.

- Finally, Ed Broadbent follows up on this week's show of public support by making the case for a a more proportional electoral system rather than an even more distorted ranked-ballot version. And Dylan Penner also weighs in to support proportional representation.

[Edit: fixed typo in excerpt.]

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