Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Nick Bunker points out that the worst of the U.S.' growing inequality since 2000 has come from the growing share of income going to capital concentrated in the .01%. And Lynn Parramore highlights Peter Temin's case that the U.S. is regressing into a developing country for the majority of residents:
America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations, and fates.

In one of these countries live members of what Temin calls the “FTE sector” (named for finance, technology, and electronics, the industries which largely support its growth). These are the 20 percent of Americans who enjoy college educations, have good jobs, and sleep soundly knowing that they have not only enough money to meet life’s challenges, but also social networks to bolster their success. They grow up with parents who read books to them, tutors to help with homework, and plenty of stimulating things to do and places to go. They travel in planes and drive new cars. The citizens of this country see economic growth all around them and exciting possibilities for the future. They make plans, influence policies, and count themselves as lucky to be Americans.

The FTE citizens rarely visit the country where the other 80 percent of Americans live: the low-wage sector. Here, the world of possibility is shrinking, often dramatically. People are burdened with debt and anxious about their insecure jobs if they have a job at all. Many of them are getting sicker and dying younger than they used to. They get around by crumbling public transport and cars they have trouble paying for. Family life is uncertain here; people often don’t partner for the long-term even when they have children. If they go to college, they finance it by going heavily into debt. They are not thinking about the future; they are focused on surviving the present. The world in which they reside is very different from the one they were taught to believe in. While members of the first country act, these people are acted upon.
We’ve been digging ourselves into a hole for over forty years, but Temin says that we know how to stop digging. If we spent more on domestic rather than military activities, then the middle class would not vanish as quickly. The effects of technological change and globalization could be altered by political actions. We could restore and expand education, shifting resources from policies like mass incarceration to improving the human and social capital of all Americans. We could upgrade infrastructure, forgive mortgage and educational debt in the low-wage sector, reject the notion that private entities should replace democratic government in directing society, and focus on embracing an integrated American population. We could tax not only the income of the rich, but also their capital.
Along with Thomas Piketty, whose Capital in the Twenty-First Century examines historical and modern inequality, Temin’s book has provided a giant red flag, illustrating a trajectory that will continue to accelerate as long as the 20 percent in the FTE sector are permitted to operate a country within America’s borders solely for themselves at the expense of the majority. Without a robust middle class, America is not only reverting to developing-country status, it is increasingly ripe for serious social turmoil that has not been seen in generations.
- Meanwhile, Daniel Tencer discusses the spread of precarious work in Canada - along with the temp agencies and other actors who profit from it.

- Paul Wells examines the early development of the Libs' infrastructure bank, while pointing out the risk that infrastructure designed to facilitate profits rather than benefit the public will serve only to bring lower standards to public services. And Percy Downe discusses the need for political and organizational will to match new federal funding to combat overseas tax evasion.

- Tim Fontaine reports on the multiple social factors which contribute to illnesses for indigenous people both on and off reserve. And Joshua Tepper comments on the health challenges for people living in northern Ontario.

- Finally, Natalie Bennett comments on the role a more fair electoral system could play in ensuring stronger environmental policy in the UK - and the lesson applies equally to Canada.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this information. It truly is a warning about where USA and probably Canada is going in terms the middle class and the poor. Add to this the rapid movement to robots which replace many jobs. At the end of the day are we going to a world where we produce more, but an increasing majority which cannot afford anything?