Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Nicholas Fitz observes that inequality is far worse than the U.S. public believes - even as it already wants to see significant action. And Thomas Piketty updates his policy prescriptions arising out of Capital:
As I look back at my discussion of future policy proposals in the book, I may have devoted too much attention to progressive capital taxation and too little attention to a number of institutional evolutions that could prove equally important. Because capital is multidimensional and markets are imperfect, capital taxation needs to be supplemented with other asset-specific policies and regulations, including for instance land use and housing policies and intellectual property right laws. In particular, as rightly argued by Elizabeth Anderson in this symposium, monopoly power and the regulation of intellectual property rights play an important role in the dynamics of private wealth accumulation. Given the central role played by changing real estate values and rent levels in the aggregate evolution of capital-income ratios and capital shares in recent decades, it is clear that land use and housing policies have potentially a critical role to play, in particular to regulate and expend access to property. On the other hand, it is equally clear that such policies are sometime difficult to implement (e.g. public construction policies or housing subsidies have not always been very successful in the past), so they should certainly be viewed as complementary rather than substitute to progressive taxation.

Also, in my book I do not pay sufficient attention to the development of other alternative forms of property arrangements and participatory governance. One central reason why progressive capital taxation is important is because it can also bring increased transparency about company assets and accounts. In turn, increased financial transparency can help to develop new forms of governance; for instance, it can facilitate more worker involvement in company boards. In other words, “social-democratic” institutions such as progressive taxation (see Miriam Ronzoni in this symposium) can foster institutions that question in a more radical manner the very functioning of private property (note that progressive capital taxation transforms large private property as a temporary attribute rather than a permanent one – already a significant change). However these other institutions – whose aim should be to redefine and regulate property rights and power relations – must also be analyzed as such...
- Meanwhile, David Heinemeier Hansson writes from experience that extreme wealth is overrated even for those who accumulate it.

- Rebecca Green rounds up some reasons for hope and despair on the economic front. And Maximiliano Dvorkin notes that jobs involving routine tasks - whether manual or not - are in the midst of an extended stagnation.

- Andrew Learmonth discusses the devastating effects of austerity in creating child hunger in Scotland. And Naomi Lakritz rightly points out that Alberta's precarious fiscal situation can be traced back to Ralph Klein's obsession with slashing taxes and public services alike.

- Finally, Anita Nickerson argues that everybody ultimately loses out under a winner-take-all electoral system - meaning that it's long past time to ensure a more fair proportional system.

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