Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- T.M. Scanlon analyzes the dangerous effects of wealth inequality. And Philip Alston discusses how COVID-19 has only exposed an existing pandemic of poverty and inequality which was previously masked by grossly insufficient poverty lines:
The consequences of this highly unrealistic picture of progress against poverty have been devastating.

First, it is attributed to economic growth, justifying a “pro-growth” agenda characterised by deregulation, privatisation, lower taxes for corporations and the wealthy, easy movement of money across borders and excessive legal protections for capital. In my six years investigating governments’ anti-poverty efforts for the UN, I encountered this convenient alibi time and time again. Everything from tax breaks for the super-rich to destructive mega-projects that extract wealth from the global south are lauded as efforts to reduce poverty, when they do no such thing.

Presenting the agenda of the wealthy as the best road to poverty alleviation has entirely upended the social contract and redefined the public good as helping the rich get richer.

Second, the progress narrative has been used to drown out the appalling results so often brought about by this perversion of pro-growth policies. Many of the countries that have achieved great growth in GDP have also experienced exploding inequality, rising hunger, unaffordable health and housing costs, persistent racial wealth gaps, the proliferation of jobs that don’t pay a living wage, the dismantling of social safety nets and ecological devastation. These phenomena, directly related to neoliberal policies, are unaccounted for in the tale of heroic gains against poverty.
Until governments take seriously the human right to an adequate standard of living, the poverty pandemic will long outlive coronavirus. This requires them to stop hiding behind the World Bank’s miserable subsistence line and abandon triumphalism about the imminent end of poverty. Deeper social and economic transformation is imperative, to avert a climate catastrophe, provide universal social protection, achieve redistribution through tax justice and ultimately to really get on track to ending poverty.
- Robert Watcher discusses how California's initial strong response to COVID-19 gave way to carelessness and then massive outbreaks. Robert Reich writes about the difficulty in trying to respond to crises while the U.S. Presidency and Senate are controlled by men bent on destroying effective government. And Pankaj Mishra notes that both the U.S. and UK have deliberately undermined their own public capacity just in time for its absence to hurt as much as possible.

 - Nik Koskal interviews Lezlie Lowe about the need for publicly-available washrooms - particularly in the midst of a pandemic where sanitization is even more vital than usual.

- Jordan Press reports on the justified push by Canadian labour to ensure essential workers receive a living wage while risking their health for the public.

- David Climenhaga discusses how the Kenney UCP is looking to take Alberta back to the era of child labour. And CBC News reports on how a shift toward increased health care privatization will ensure that treatment is only available to people with money to burn.

- Finally, Rob Mahon reports on the Saskatchewan NDP's criticism of Scott Moe's choice to hand outside businesses and workers the bulk of SaskPower's construction work. And Wayne Mantyka reports that the Sask Party is going far out of its way to break the promise that it would stop at privatizing liquor retailing, but leave warehousing in the hands of the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.

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