Wealth Inequality Is Literally Killing Us. The Economy Should Work for Everyone

Short video with Alissa Quart, author of Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America (2018). Summary: “Economic hardship is linked to physical and psychological illness, resulting in added healthcare expenses people can’t afford. The gig economy – think Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Handy – is marketed as a ‘be your own boss’ revolution, but it can be dehumanizing and dangerous; every worker is disposable. The cooperative business model can help reverse wealth inequality.”

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Sludge: How Corporations ‘Nudge’ Us into Spending More

“Small changes in how choices are presented or designed can have a big impact on our behaviour. Governments are taking advantage of this to “nudge” us into making better choices without removing our right to choose. Instead of taxing sugar in drinks, for instance, simply changing how food is arranged in shops can make people eat healthier. But corporations now use the very same techniques. The goal here is different – instead of helping us make better choices, the aim is to unnecessarily increase consumer spending.”

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Rethinking Social Progress in the 21st Century

What do we mean by social progress? That is the theme explored by the International Panel on Social Progress, a group of over 300 academics, including Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. After four years of work, their report has finally been published last month by Cambridge University Press, with a useful summary at www.ipsp.org. […] It looks at six policy domains: economics, education, environmental protection, health care, development and science and technology. There is one unifying theme across all six policy domains—the perennial debate over the role of markets versus the state.”

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A New Way to Measure Growth and Development: The Inclusive Development Index

“Recent political developments in many countries suggest that most of their citizens lack confidence in the assumption of the standard growth model that everyone in a society benefits from GDP growth. This column proposes a multidimensional ‘Inclusive Development Index’, based on a dashboard of indicators in growth and development, inclusion, and intergenerational equity and sustainability. GDP per capita growth is weakly correlated with performance in many of the new index’s indicators, including those pertaining to employment, income and wealth inequality, and carbon intensity.”

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Alienation: From Marx, via Smith and Ferguson, back to Rousseau

This blog explores the fluidity between the different pre-twentieth-century ‘rightish’ and ‘leftish’ perspectives on alienation in commercial, bourgeois society. It shows that the views of Rousseau, Smith, Ferguson, and Marx, while spanning a broad spectrum of political positions, share a common assumption: the mechanisms of commercial society as it is stand in need of, at the very least, correction in order to counter their undermining effects on human flourishing.

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Why Capitalism Wins. And How a Simple Accounting Move Can Defeat It

“I believe the real strength of capitalism stems from the theory of value it has imposed on society. The theory can be summed up as follows: value is only created through market transactions, which are always positive for the economy. The rest – like social costs and ecological impacts – doesn’t matter. […] even socialist systems largely accepted capitalism’s accounting approach, ultimately failing to beat capitalism at its game.”

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