Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Neil Irwin writes about the White House Council of Economic Advisers' study of employment policy which found that superior protections for workers (rather than the undermining of employment standards in the name of "flexibility") correlate to improved workforce participation.

- MaxSpeak discusses the value of universal social supports in contrast to means-tested programs which compromise the idea of a common interest - and warns of the dangers of pushing the latter at the expense of the former:
The fact is that the great, social-democratic systems of Europe are powered by mass consumption taxes that finance big spending programs. The most powerful, time-tested tool against inequality is universal social insurance, not means-tested benefits. The prominence of the latter in the U.S. welfare state is a bug, not a feature. Trading social insurance for means-testing is a concession to inequality. Sometimes such concessions can facilitate reasonable bargains for greater benefits, sometimes concessions are required in adversity. The problem is elevating such a device as a basic ideal.

A principled progressive would have welcomed discussion of Sanders’  proposals, rather than revert to bromides about fiscal austerity. The simple truth is that any universal benefit financed by progressive taxation will retain a net, progressive redistributive impact. This is not an economic theory; it’s arithmetic. Nobody has suggested that Sanders’ tax proposals are not progressive. Of course the practicality of any proposal is fair game, but that was not the basis for most criticism. Instead we had ostensibly liberal Democratic Party politicians upholding the tenets of neoliberalism.
- Fortunately, at least one of Canada's major social programs is now set to be expanded and improved thanks to the federal-provincial agreement to boost the Canada Pension Plan.

- Michael Hiltzik suggests that prescription drug costs can be expected to drop if manufacturers are simply required to account for their pricing.

- Judith Lavoie discusses a push by Canadian health care providers to end the use of coal power. And Charles Mandel points out the Canadian connection between big coal and climate change denialism.

- Finally, Katrina Vanden Heuvel comments on the importance of freedom of the press to challenge all forms of concentrated power. And Jordon Cooper points out that any place of power or privilege can and should be used to help the many people excluded from those positions.

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