Saturday, February 11, 2017

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson comment on the moral and practical harm done by continued inequality:
Inequality matters because, as a robust and growing body of evidence shows, the populations of societies with bigger income differences tend to have poorer physical and mental health, more illicit drug use, and more obesity. More unequal societies are marked by more violence, weaker community life, and less trust. Inequality also damages children’s wellbeing, reducing educational attainment and social mobility.
You might think that evidence of harm, alongside the growing concerns of world leaders, academics, business, civil society, and government would be enough to turn this problem around. But from our perspective as social epidemiologists working on inequalities, the record on tackling health inequalities does not inspire optimism. Decades of research has led to a consensus among public health academics and professionals that we need to tackle the structural determinants of health if we want to reduce health inequalities; yet this has not happened and health inequalities have not diminished. In many cities in the UK and US, for example, we continue to see life expectancy gaps of five to 10 years, and occasionally 15 to 20 years, between the richest and poorest areas.

The long term failure, even of ostensibly progressive governments, to tackle these glaring injustices is perhaps one of the reasons why public opinion has swung so strongly away from the established political parties. And the public’s sense of being left behind will only be exacerbated by the negative health effects of austerity, which are starting to emerge in our health statistics.
During the last generation, economic growth ceased to improve health, happiness, and the quality of life in rich countries. Now, more than ever, we need an inspiring vision of a future capable of creating more equal societies that increase sustainable wellbeing for all of us and for the planet.
- On that front, Andrew MacLeod examines how British Columbia's disability income assistance is nowhere near enough to allow people to live with security and dignity. And Lynne Fernandez and Simon Enoch write that Brad Wall and Brian Pallister seem determined to inflict austerity measures which will make matters even worse for people already facing an uphill battle to get by in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

- David Cay Johnston highlights how Donald Trump's economic policy looks to instead reflect nothing more than allowing the corporate sector to shamelessly fleece the public without repercussions. And Sean McElwee, Jesse Rhodes, and Brian Schaffner discuss how big money distorts the U.S.' political system.

- Finally, Jesse Winter reports on today's protests against Justin Trudeau's broken promise of electoral reform, while PressProgress weighs in on the unprecedented 100,000 signatories to Nathan Cullen's petition demanding the Libs live up to their commitments. John Ivison notes that Trudeau's tone-deafness is making him a punchline for progressive Canadians, while Greg Squires examines the bridges he's burned among core voting groups. But Karl Nerenberg argues that the greatest danger arising out of the preservation of first-past-the-post is to Canadian democracy, not merely to the Libs' political fortunes.

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