Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Sarah O'Connor examines the inconsistent relationship between job quantity and quality as another example of how it's misleading to think of policy choices solely in terms of the number of jobs generated. Angela Monaghan discusses how wages continue to stagnate in the UK despite a low unemployment rate. And Patrick Butler writes about the "relentless financial tightrope" which keeps far too many households from ever avoiding the stress of imminent ruin:
Low-income families are going without beds, cookers, meals, new clothes and other essential items as they struggle to cope with huge debts run up to pay domestic bills, according to a survey highlighting the cost-of-living crisis experienced by the UK’s poorest households.

Clients of the debt charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) had run up an average of £4,500 in debts on rent or utility bills, forcing them on to what the charity described as a “relentless financial tightrope” juggling repayments and basic living costs, leaving many acutely stressed and in deteriorating health.

The pressure of coping with low income and debt frequently triggered mental illness or exacerbated existing conditions, with more than a third of clients reporting that they had considered suicide and three-quarters visiting a GP for debt-related problems. More than half were subsequently prescribed medication or therapy.
There are widespread concerns about rising pressure on living standards for low-income households as wages fall, working-age social security benefits remain frozen and inflation rises. The survey’s findings indicate that households are increasingly turning to high-cost credit to stay afloat, which CAP said was “an unsustainable solution”.

Nearly seven out of 10 clients helped by CAP in 2016 had fallen behind with payments for gas, electricity and rent, and 90% had taken out loans, run up overdrafts or used credit cards to meet domestic bills. There was a year-on-year increase in the proportion of clients using credit cards stay afloat, from 49% to 64%.

Damon Gibbons, director of the Centre for Responsible Credit, said: “Once again this report lays bare the human costs associated with debt problems. Debt affects health, including mental health; contributes to relationship breakdown; makes it harder to get back into and sustain employment, and has a host of negative impacts for children.

“With the continuing squeeze on household incomes and the failure of the Financial Conduct Authority to curb irresponsible lending resulting in greater indebtedness, we desperately need a national strategy to raise wages, restore the welfare safety net and provide better debt solutions.”
- G. Elijah Dann implores Canadians not to be taken in by Justin Trudeau's public relations schemes when they're being used in support of Trumpian policy. And Bob Baldwin and Richard Shillington examine how the Libs' retirement income changes may do nothing - or even be outright damaging - for low-income earners in particular.

- Brent Patterson highlights how the Libs are insisting on including corporate-biased dispute resolution provisions in trade deals even as our trading partners seek more balanced options. And Dean Beeby reports on Canada's role in facilitating tax evasion through lax disclosure requirements, while Canadians for Tax Fairness highlights how the federal government is rewarding tax haven users with public contracts.

- Meanwhile, Michael Hiltzik examines the role of tax cheating in exacerbating inequality. Annette Alstadsæter, Niels Johannesen and Gabriel Zucman discuss how global inequality is even worse than has previously been assumed once hidden wealth is included in the picture. And Robert E. Litan and Ian Hathaway comment on the U.S.' growing tendency toward rent-seeking rather than productive entrepreneurship.

- Finally, Andrew Sheng writes that our political and social systems have failed to keep up with an increasingly complex world.

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