Tag Archives | Inequality
The western media can’t comprehend why Hugo Chavez used Venezuela’s oil wealth to pull his nation’s population out of poverty, when he could have built an indoor artificial ski mountain like in Dubai. Earlier this month from Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:
One of the more bizarre takes on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s death comes from Associated Press business reporter Pamela Sampson (3/5/13):
‘Chavez invested Venezuela’s oil wealth into social programs including state-run food markets, cash benefits for poor families, free health clinics and education programs. But those gains were meager compared with the spectacular construction projects that oil riches spurred in glittering Middle Eastern cities, including the world’s tallest building in Dubai and plans for branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums in Abu Dhabi.’
That’s right: Chavez squandered his nation’s oil money on healthcare, education and nutrition when he could have been building the world’s tallest building or his own branch of the Louvre.
I’ve never really looked into feminism until recently. I’m aware of the fundamental principles feminists adhere to – the liberation of women from an oppressive patriarchal society and the somewhat problematic expression “equality for women” (which seems something of an oxymoron to me, since surely equality should apply to everyone) – but, having never come across feminism beyond an awareness of its existence as an ideology, and personally knowing no women who call themselves feminists, it’s been something of an “unknown” to me.
A town in Canada tried the simplest method to end the ills associated with poverty: give everyone a minimum sum of money. Via the Dominion:
Try to imagine a town where the government paid each of the residents a living income, regardless of who they were and what they did. For a four-year period in the ’70s, the poorest families in Dauphin, Manitoba, were granted a guaranteed minimum income by the federal and provincial governments.
Until now little has been known about what unfolded over those years in the small rural town, since the government locked away the data that had been collected and prevented it from being analyzed.
But after a five year struggle, Evelyn Forget, a professor of health sciences at the University of Manitoba, secured access to those boxes in 2009. Forget has begun to piece together the story by using the census, health records, and the testimony of the program’s participants.
Via the Daily Beast, Michael Thomsen on the new model of scientific progress:
In a time of dramatically worsening social conditions in the richest country in the world, there is something perverse about chasing scientific advancement that only the tiniest percentage of people will have access to, driven by the optimism of impossible promises.
It’s possible to view scientific advancement not as a marker of human progress but as a separatist illusion used to justify the accumulation of wealth by the few, building new speculative societies with iPhones, gene therapy, and regenerative medicine, while everyone else festers in shanty towns and militarized city slums. Does it matter if there is a cure for cancer but no one will share it with you?
In the thrilling early years of the Human Genome Project, scientists flew all over the world to study the genes of as many different races and ethnic groups as possible.
Don’t be distracted by January’s fiscal cliff or looming budget deficits. The central problem of our economy is widening inequality.
British economist Arthur C. Pigou, friend and contemporary of beloved John Maynard Keynes, eventually not only came around to the Keynesian logic, but also expanded on the common-sense philosophy to promote social balance and checks with the gentle, invisible hand of the Public. By incentivizing what benefits the downtrodden (perhaps with subsidies) and disincentivizing poor practices (by taxing rampant, unregulated profits), a more reasonable parity between the classes could be reached, stimulating economic growth and benefiting everyone.
This doesn’t have to be a ‘redistributive’ scheme that pits neoconservatives against progressives. Indeed, such a rational, gradated, and bracketed system makes sense to anyone who believes in the American traditions of pragmatism, equality, openness, innovation and opportunity.
But the conventional strategy for fighting inequality—far higher taxes on the rich—usually rests on a foundation of fairness, and the question of what’s fair and what’s unfair turns out to cut different ways, depending on your point of view.
Via Alternet, Sam Pizzigati ponders the jobs of the future, with masses clamoring for the opportunity to cater to the rich:
We’re well on the way to becoming a full-fledged “servant economy.” Most Americans no longer make things. They provide services.
Young people can become engineers and programmers and spend their careers in pitiless competition with people all over the world just as smart and trained but willing to work for much less. Or they can join the servant economy and “service those few at the top who have successfully joined the global elite.”
In this new “servant economy,” we’re not talking just nannies and chauffeurs. We’re talking, as journalist Camilla Long notes, “pilots, publicists, art dealers, and bodyguards” — a “newer, brighter phalanx of personal helpers.”
Want to see the world? In the new servant economy, you can become a “jewelry curator” and voyage to foreign lands to pick up gems for wealthy clients.
Relevant in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a conversation between BOMB Magazine and Rebecca Solnit about this hazardous, even deadly, phenomenon:
The term “elite panic” was coined by [sociologists] Caron Chess and Lee Clarke of Rutgers. Elite panic [is] the way that elites, during disasters and their aftermath, imagine that the public is not only in danger but also a source of danger. In case after case how elites respond in destructive ways, from withholding essential information, to blocking citizen relief efforts, to protecting property instead of people.
[Elites] believe that only their power keeps the rest of us in line and that when it somehow shrinks away, our seething violence will rise to the surface—that was very clear in Katrina. Timothy Garton Ash and Maureen Dowd and all these other people immediately jumped on the bandwagon and started writing commentaries based on the assumption that the rumors of mass violence during Katrina were true.
Scottish radical geographer, professor, and author Neil Smith died at age 58 this past weekend. It’s worth revisiting his groundbreaking, established-wisdom-challenging work, including his well-known declaration post-Hurricane Katrina that there’s no such thing as a natural disaster:
It is generally accepted among environmental geographers that there is no such thing as a natural disaster. In every phase and aspect of a disaster – causes, vulnerability, preparedness, results and response, and reconstruction – the contours of disaster and the difference between who lives and who dies is to a greater or lesser extent a social calculus. Hurricane Katrina provides the most startling confirmation of that axiom.
The Bush administration…is happy to attribute the dismal record of death and destruction on the Gulf Coast – perhaps 1200 lives by the latest counts – to an act of nature. It has proven itself not just oblivious but ideologically opposed to mounting scientific evidence of global warming and the fact that rising sea-levels make cities such as New Orleans, Venice, or Dacca immediately vulnerable to future calamity.