Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Louis-Philippe Rochon reminds us why even if we were to (pointlessly) prioritize raw GDP over fair distributions of income and wealth, inequality is bad for economic growth in general:
The more we redistribute income and wealth, the more consumption increases, which then increases demand. In turn, this should encourage the private sector to invest, thereby accelerating the growth process.

So reducing inequality, in addition to social and health benefits, has important economic implications: our economies grow, and growth itself becomes less volatile. In short, inequality is bad economics.
To restart economic growth, a major preoccupation of many Canadians, there are a number of policies that can be adopted. For instance, higher incomes can be taxed at a much higher marginal rate, including capital gains and income earned from dividends; wealth can also be taxed more.

In light of the Panama Papers, government can close tax loopholes; we can also prevent the private-sector practice of buying back their own shares, which unnecessarily inflates the dividends of shareholders, which in turn favours short-term financial gains to the detriment of long-term economic growth.

Finally, we can adopt a full employment policy.
- Meanwhile, PressProgress points out new research by Cristobal Younga, Charles Varnera, Ithai Lurieb and Richard Prisinzanob showing no statistically significant connection between tax rates and millionaires' locations - signalling that there's no reason to take seriously any threat that more progressive taxes will lead the wealthy to move to avoid paying their fair share.

- Aru Pande discusses how U.S. non-profits are being forced to try to fill in glaring gaps in public services for children living in poverty.

- Ian McLeod reports that the Libs' plans to do anything about C-51 are limited to secret Parliamentary oversight after the fact - meaning that the public will have continue to have no idea how its rights are being violated. And Michael Geist writes that there's no longer any doubt just how much needless surveillance is taking place in Canada.

- Finally, Zeynep Engin reviews Beth Simone Noveck's Smart Citizens, Smarter State on the future of governance:
The key terms that I believe best describe the spirit of the book emerge as ‘targeted expertise’, ‘crowdsourcing’, ‘experimental governance’ and ‘citizen engagement’. Instead of the traditional advisory committee model that mainly relies on stakeholder representation (missing the epistemic value of committee membership) and typically produces a report or a set of recommendations over months or even years, Noveck suggests that new technologies should allow us ‘to make consultation on a day-to-day basis and to strive for constant conversation with an engaged and knowledgeable public’. Going beyond ‘crowdsourcing widely to crowdsourcing wisely’ to match the right experts to the right opportunities on a large scale is more likely to lead to faster and better decision-making. Modes of expert engagement can be accommodated at all stages of ideation, discussion, formulation and assessment as opposed to limiting public participation to consultation on pre-formulated drafts of ‘professional policy-makers’ in government departments. This would also lead to redefinition of ‘the public service and the public servant as the steward of such a conversation’. The challenges with this type of engagement and potential strategies to overcome them are also covered widely.
Those with technology and ‘hard’ sciences backgrounds would hugely benefit from a comprehensive understanding of government and policy domains in order to set new research agendas with significant potential for wider impact. At the other end of the spectrum, those with politics and social science backgrounds would find it very helpful for understanding the current technologies of expertise and the new trends in public decision-making, offering great promise for transforming the ways that governments should operate under the ongoing data revolution.
 [Edit: fixed typo.]

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