Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Harry Leslie Smith reiterates his determination to make sure that new generations don't face the poverty and deprivation that marked his childhood. And Beverly Gologorsky discusses the rise of extreme poverty in the U.S. and its lasting effects on its victims:
In the psyche, poverty begets fear, anxiety, tension, and worry, constant worry. In the soul, poverty, which feels like the loss of you know not what, is always there like a cold fist to remind you that tomorrow will be the same as today. Such effects are not outgrown like a child’s dress but linger for a lifetime in a country where the severest kinds of poverty are again on the rise (and was just scathingly denounced by the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights), where each tax bill, each favor to the 1 percent, passes a kind of life sentence on the poor. And that is the definition of hopelessness.

Americans who barely made it through the recent recession now find themselves in conditions (in supposed good times) that seem to be worsening. In poor neighborhoods and rural areas, even when people listen to the pundits of cable TV chatter on about economic inequality, the words bleed together, because without the means to make real change, the present is forever. At best, such discussions feel like a teardrop in an ocean of words. Among professionals, pundits, and academics barely hidden contempt for those defined as lower or working class often tinges such discussions.
During the past few decades, however, with huge sums being poured into this country’s never-ending wars, unions weakening or collapsing, wages being pushed down, and workers losing jobs, then homes, so much of that safety net is gone. If Donald Trump and his crew of millionaires and billionaires continue with their evisceration of the rest of the safety net, then food stamps, welfare aid directed at children’s health, and women’s reproductive rights, among other things, will disappear as well. Add to that the utter disregard the Trump administration has shown for people of color and its special mean-spiritedness toward immigrants, whether Mexican or Muslim—and for growing numbers of non-millionaires and non-billionaires the future is already starting to look like the worst, not the best, of times. 
- Janet McFarland writes that executive pay has been skyrocketing even as the public's concern about inequality has grown in recent years. And Prem Sikka discusses how just a decade after the most recent financial meltdown, regulators have resumed catering to corporate interests rather than protecting the public from them.

- Mike De Souza looks at the details of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain environmental violations, featuring internal calculation errors, faulty equipment and a failure to report to regulators. And Bill McKibben notes that the fossil fuel industry is being recognized as a particularly irresponsible actor even in the corporate world.

- Finally, Doug Saunders offers a reminder that contrary to the fearmongering by right-wing demagogues, there's no rational basis to treat the presence of immigrants of any type or background as a problem.

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