Saturday, April 20, 2019

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Matt McGrath reports on David Attenborough's warning of an impending climate catastrophe. And Moira Fagan and Christine Huang examine the widespread recognition around the world of the importance of averting a climate breakdown.

- Jonathan Watts reports on polling showing half of UK respondents are willing to pay more in order to avoid polluting our oceans with plastic. But Oliver Milman points out Donald Trump's attempt to push poorly-regulated offshore drilling - indicating that the powers that be are far behind the public in recognizing the importance of our natural environment.

- John Stapleton and Yvonne Yuan note that Canada's official poverty line doesn't take into account the higher effective food prices facing lower-income people.

- Joseph Stiglitz offers his diagnosis as to how our economy came to be grossly unbalanced in favour of the wealthy - and his suggestions as to how progressive capitalism might be possible:
Beginning with the Reagan era, economic policy played a key role in this dystopia: Just as forces of globalization and technological change were contributing to growing inequality, we adopted policies that worsened societal inequities. Even as economic theories like information economics (dealing with the ever-present situation where information is imperfect), behavioral economics and game theory arose to explain why markets on their own are often not efficient, fair, stable or seemingly rational, we relied more on markets and scaled back social protections.

The result is an economy with more exploitation — whether it’s abusive practices in the financial sector or the technology sector using our own data to take advantage of us at the cost of our privacy. The weakening of antitrust enforcement, and the failure of regulation to keep up with changes in our economy and the innovations in creating and leveraging market power, meant that markets became more concentrated and less competitive.
We are now in a vicious cycle: Greater economic inequality is leading, in our money-driven political system, to more political inequality, with weaker rules and deregulation causing still more economic inequality.
The prescription follows from the diagnosis: It begins by recognizing the vital role that the state plays in making markets serve society. We need regulations that ensure strong competition without abusive exploitation, realigning the relationship between corporations and the workers they employ and the customers they are supposed to serve. We must be as resolute in combating market power as the corporate sector is in increasing it.
- Finally, Murray Mandryk rightly questions Scott Moe's willingness to serve as Jason Kenney's lapdog rather than paying attention to the needs of Saskatchewan's residents.

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