Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Fred Dews highlights Alice Rivkin's suggestions as to consensus policies which can reduce inequality while facilitating economic development. And Sheila Regehr looks at how a basic income can work in practice, while Monica Oss reminds us that investments in reducing poverty and inequality can often be recouped in reduced health care costs alone.

- But Sean McElwee echoes Bernie Sanders' point that we're far less likely to see policy choices which reflect our common interest when we don't have sufficient voter turnout to demand them:
(P)olitical scientist Anthony Fowler notes that when compulsory voting was implemented in Australia, the increased voter turnout by 24 percentage points and the result was increased vote and seat shares for the Labor Party of 7 to 10 percent. Fowler used several methods to examine what the impact of universal turnout might be in the United States. One method used is to compare on-cycle gubernatorial elections (ones that coincide with a federal election) with off-cycle elections. He finds a stunning result: On-cycle gubernatorial elections increase turnout by 17 points, and Democratic vote share by 6 points, enough to shift many elections.

Voter turnout would also influence policy. In a new study at the state level, political scientists Christopher Witko, Nathan Kelly and William Franko confirm this analysis. They find that states with higher levels of class bias in turnout have higher levels of economic inequality because high levels of class bias limits the power of progressive policymakers and reduces the liberalism of economic policymaking. This relationship was also discovered in a recent paper by James Avery, who finds, “states with greater income bias in turnout have higher levels of income inequality.”

In an early study on the influence of class in turnout, Kim Hill and Jan Leighley find that higher turnout among the poor (and thus lower class bias) leads to higher spending on welfare programs. Economists Timothy Besley and Anne Case find that,
“Less costly voter registration— through motor-voter rules, or through day-of-polling registration—is generally associated with higher taxes, higher spending, and larger family assistance and workers’ compensation payments.”
- Mike de Souza reports on Imperial Oil's longtime knowledge that the oil industry has been engaged in anti-social environmental destruction. And Arthur Neslen exposes Chevron's express intent to use new trade agreements to try to prevent governments from developing new policies including fracking regulations.

- Finally, Larry Brown discusses how the Trans-Pacific Partnership fits into the business lobby's desire to take power out of the hands of people and the governments we elect. Paul Dewar points out the need to crack down on child labour and other other international abuses, rather than entrenching them as part of a corporate-driven system. And PressProgress points out Statistics Canada's latest estimates showing that corporate Canada has hidden $270 billion in offshore tax havens.

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