Thursday, February 25, 2016

NE: A new watch on inequality

NE is computer speak for Not Equal. From time to time, Scriber will be devoting time and space here to provide snapshots of news stories and editorials about economic inequality. These are just trailers, so to speak, so feel free (or compelled) to dig deeper and read the target articles.

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been charged with being a single issue candidate, the issue being economic inequality. It's one hell of a big issue that has gained traction all over the globe. The problem is that our elected leaders don't seem to get it.

Duke U. Chronicle: "Combating inequality is far from radical; it’s necessary. Major societal gaps between rich and poor are associated with greater rates of violence, drug abuse and mental illness. Correlation certainly does not prove causation, but the link is ominous. Moreover, high levels of inequality are harmful to economic growth. As such, the interests of those at the top are aligned with those at the bottom. If we do nothing, the wheels are bound to come off sooner rather than later."

Forbes magazine: "Why An Economy For The 1% Is Bad For Business, And Government ... We live in a world with levels of inequality we may not have seen for over a century ... If this is a world that’s all about making money, then making sure more people have money to earn and spend makes more sense than building a global economy where only a few can afford to participate.”

Asahi Shimbun: "The collective wealth of the world’s 62 richest people is roughly the same as the cumulative worth of the poorer half of the global population, or some 3.6 billion people. ... The two problems--increasing wealth concentration and growing threats from diseases and disasters--may appear to be unrelated at first glance. But they are linked to each other through poverty. ... With economic disparity and inequality growing increasingly serious, poor people are becoming especially vulnerable to the threats of diseases and disasters. The situation is further accelerating the widening of inequality in a vicious cycle."

South China Morning Post: "Mong Kok riots are a wakeup call ... The rise of violent political confrontation in Hong Kong has three critical causes. First is the growing socioeconomic divide that has deepened anxiety, insecurity and conflict in day-to-day life. Second is the government’s failure since 1997 to respond effectively to the new socioeconomic challenges and its refusal so far to reform the political system so the problems can be tackled. Third is the rising influence of radical intellectual ideas that have led youths to view the socioeconomic divide and approach the political system with deep animosity and little patience. They see the system as morally bankrupt and the struggle to reform if not to overthrow it as regaining their human dignity." [Scriber: So the pitchforks have come to Hong Kong?]

New York Times letter: "In partnership with The Nation, the Institute for Policy Studies has just put forward a set of bold proposals to curb runaway inequality and transform our economy. The solutions we have put forward are rooted in the idea that it will take sustained social movements to bring about lasting change. For example, the nurses’ union and other movements are fighting for a tax on Wall Street speculation that could generate enough revenue to set low-income families on a path to economic stability. Likewise, a 1 percent tax on concentrated wealth could erase student debt over a decade and bring the cost of public higher education to zero. We think that Americans see that the rules of the game are fixed and are ready to come together to change the rules."

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