Saturday, July 02, 2016

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Danny Dorling writes about the importance of empathy and kindness in establishing the basis for a more equal society:
When you cannot empathise with another group, it is very hard to think kindly towards them. It is when you feel “all in it together” or at least “there but for the grace of God, go I” that kindness comes more naturally. And it comes less and less easily in the UK. The UK is on a trajectory to become the most unequal of the richest 25 nations in the world. Those in power in the most unequal of rich countries today see kindness as weakness. Had they been kinder, less aggressive, when they were younger and making their way in the world, they would probably not have got to where they are today – they tell themselves.
Gross inequality creates a lack of respect for the other group – people who are not like us. There is a lack of respect among the rich for the poor, and that will be the same among the poor for the rich. Lack of respect breeds cruelty and hate. Lack of respect is not new and has grown between groups many times before, over religion, race, nationality, social class, sex and sexuality. These older divisions all remain and can be easily reignited, resulting in cruelty and hate, fear, suffering and despair. However, nowadays it is financial inequality both globally and in the UK that is the greatest source of our separation from each other.
- Neil Irwin recognizes that claims of economic efficiency are of little use to people who directly bear the risks of policies designed to prioritize raw GDP numbers over human interests. And Emmanuel Saez finds that income inequality in the U.S. remains on the rise as the spoils of a growing economy have mostly been siphoned off by the top end of the income spectrum.

- Meanwhile, Deborah Orr discusses how Brexit will serve as a prime example of the public interest being ignored in favour of the incessant drive for more on behalf of those who already have the most:
The elites decide how much they are prepared to contribute in tax towards the social and physical infrastructure they operate in. They’d rather do it privately, bleeding interest for their chiselling loans out of the public sector. They will always have free movement for themselves, and the threat that they will make use of it. It’s so easy for them to get their way.

They will always manage to bring in cheap staff from abroad, when and if they want it, safe in the knowledge that it’s the cheap staff, not them, who will bear the brunt of the anger of the people they refuse to employ because they want fair wages and decent conditions. People will learn the hard way how much Nigel Farage cares about their lives, how much Rupert Murdoch frets about their poor pay.

These men want ordinary people to be angry, because angry people make errors of judgment, blaming each other instead of the elites that plunder ideas about equality, fairness, freedom and democracy for their own ends. Britain. You voted for this. Now, once again, get ready to be told that There Is No Alternative.
- Mike Smyth reports on how British Columbia's provincial parks are being taken over by profiteers who are systematically excluding citizens from their publicly-owned resources with the Clark government's approval. And CBC examines the massive liabilities the province is carrying for contaminated Crown land long after mining operators have taken their profits and fled.

- Finally, Steven Chase reports on the Libs' plans to continue supplying human right abusers with military equipment.

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