Thursday, July 14, 2016

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Dani Rodrik comments on the need for a far more clear set of policy prescriptions for left-wing political parties to present as an alternative to laissez-faire corporate domination, while noting there's no lack of source material worth considering:
The good news is that the intellectual vacuum on the left is being filled, and there is no longer any reason to believe in the tyranny of “no alternatives.” Politicians on the left have less and less reason not to draw on “respectable” academic firepower in economics.

Consider just a few examples: Anat Admati and Simon Johnson have advocated radical banking reforms; Thomas Piketty and Tony Atkinson have proposed a rich menu of policies to deal with inequality at the national level; Mariana Mazzucato and Ha-Joon Chang have written insightfully on how to deploy the public sector to foster inclusive innovation; Joseph Stiglitz and José Antonio Ocampo have proposed global reforms; Brad DeLong, Jeffrey Sachs, and Lawrence Summers (the very same!) have argued for long-term public investment in infrastructure and the green economy. There are enough elements here for building a programmatic economic response from the left. 
A crucial difference between the right and the left is that the right thrives on deepening divisions in society – “us” versus “them” – while the left, when successful, overcomes these cleavages through reforms that bridge them. Hence the paradox that earlier waves of reforms from the left – Keynesianism, social democracy, the welfare state – both saved capitalism from itself and effectively rendered themselves superfluous. Absent such a response again, the field will be left wide open for populists and far-right groups, who will lead the world – as they always have – to deeper division and more frequent conflict.
- Meanwhile, Michael West offers offers an inside look at offshoring and other forms of corporate tax avoidance which have been used to keep businesses making a fair contribution to the society which makes their own success possible.

- Matthew Herder, Trudo Lemmens, Joel Lexchin, Barbara Mintzes and Tom Jefferson highlight the gross lack of transparency surrounding prescription drugs in Canada. And Leila Salehi makes the case for a national pharmacare program.

- Joseph Heath points out why it's nonsensical to try to turn the social insurance provided by the Canada Pension Plan into (yet another) individual retirement savings vehicle.

- Aarian Marshall writes that U.S. municipalities are being forced to let infrastructure decay for lack of any source of funding to maintain it. And Roger Harrabin examines how climate change stands to further harm the utilities we rely on.

- Finally, Ashifa Kassam discusses the need for Canada to confront our own racism past and present, rather than making any claim to superiority based on high-profile incidents in the U.S. and elsewhere. And Susana Mas reports that the Libs continue to drag their heels on even the most basic promises to First Nations, including the removal of their longstanding 2% funding cap.

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