Category Archives: Social values

More Effective Remedies for Inequality

Yves here. The subject of inequality in income and wealth has, in the last year or so, become an oft-mentioned topic in economic and political commentary. It’s now even acceptable to use the word “oligarchy” to describe the US. Yet too often lost in the debate is that this type of inequality is the result of what right society allows various members to have. For instance, in the last 30 years, intellectual property laws have gotten stronger while the rights of workers to organize have been cut back.

We had a more equitable society when unions were stronger, taxes were more progressive, and anti-trust laws were enforced. This post by Geoff Davis serves as a reminder that there are remedies other than progressive taxation (which he regards as an after-the-fact remedy) to achieve that end.

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Edward Snowden Testimony at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Snowden’s big messages were familiar: the lack of effective supervision of the US surveillance state, the scope and methods of surveillance, and the ability of citizens to protect themselves if they use strong enough encryption of their data and their communications. But it was striking to see, even in such a formal setting, how seriously European officials took his remarks.

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Yanis Varoufakis: Think Big, Think Bold – A Green New Deal

Yves here. One of the common frustrations expressed by the NC commentariat is that we spend a lot of time on diagnosis and not as much on solutions. I actually don’t think our emphasis on forensics and analysis is misplaced. Too often, people are uncomfortable with examining deep-seated problems and thus rush to devise remedies that are incomplete or worse, counterproductive.

A second frustration, which I sympathize with, is that many of the solutions recommended by economists to our current problems (income disparity, high unemployment, increasing looting of the private sector and government) is based on restoring growth, which will make redistribution and other measures less contentious. Readers correctly point out that more growth is a 20th century remedy, when the 21st century is faces with global warming (meaning an need to start containing and better yet, reducing energy consumption) and resource constraints.

Yanis Varoufakis addresses both issues in his outline of what he calls a “Green New Deal”.

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How Do the Powerful Get the Idea That They ‘Deserve’ More? Lessons from the… Laboratory

The distribution of power and wealth can be, and usually is, highly arbitrary and independent of ‘marginal productivity’, ‘risk taking’ or, indeed, any personal characteristic of those who rise to the top. So how do those at the top convince themselves that they are more deserving?

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