Income inequality has been growing since the 2008 self-inflicted bank chaos, indeed that banking stupidity from 2008 accelerated the growing gap. The inequity was so obvious that the Occupy Wall Street protests took the streets and the public consciousness of “the 1%” grew out of it. Sadly, politicians failed to address the root causes of the 2008 crisis. Not all hope is lost, we know what to do fight inequality – we just need to do it.
The New York Times took a look into the debate around inequality and set out to bust some myths about what works and what doesn’t.
No, It’s Not Trade
A rise in international trade — as a share of G.D.P., measured as either imports or exports using data from the Penn World Tables — is associated with equality, not inequality. The United States imports only a small fraction of the value of its total economy, whereas Denmark and the Netherlands are highly dependent on imports.
Or the Rise of Information Technology
Countries with higher rates of invention — as measured by patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, an indicator of patent quality — exhibit lower inequality than those with less inventive activity. As it happens, tech industries in the United States have contributed just a tiny bit to the rise of the 1 percent, and the salaries of engineers and software developers rarely reach the 1 percent threshold of an annual income of $390,000.
Donald Trump ran a campaign that championed the need to renegotiate the North American Free trade Agreement (NAFTA) to better help Americans. Trump’s erratic behaviour means we won’t know if NAFTA will ever be renegotiated, however the need to talk about trade in a new lens is needed (of course, we have no idea what Trump would want to change in NAFTA). Ed Broadbent has been calling for Canada to put people first when discussing trade with other countries, including NAFTA. Historically, trade deals (NAFTA, WTO, CETA, etc.) have the sole goal of making companies richer at the cost of environmental protections and human rights. This has sent global civilization on a race to the bottom.
Broadbent argues this does not need to be the case; we can use trade deals to help people and the environment.
The coming renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement and the possibility of a trade and investment deal with China should not be occasions to replicate past errors. Rather, they should be used as an opportunity to address this serious democratic deficit. While job losses and the shift of income from wages to profits have been in part due to technological change, the latest report of the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook notes that global competition has also produced a drop in the share of labour income in middle-class jobs in advanced economies as well as a drop in the workers’ share of income within developing countries. Together with the decline of unions, such competition has contributed to the marked rise in inequality within most countries around the world.
In renegotiating NAFTA and pursuing trade talks with China, Canada should avoid, not repeat, the errors of past trade agreements. Why should agreements provide effective enforcement mechanisms to protect the property rights of corporations but deny the human rights of workers? Why should we protect the one per cent at the expense of the majority?
Ontario is launching a cap and trade carbon program that matches with the existing programs in Quebec and California. This is a good thing for adoption of carbon-conscious economics even if the system isn’t perfect. The program is being praised by Greenpeace and other environmental NGOs.
And this program is happening despite the obvious incompetence of Canada’s federal government, including their support of the shameful tar sands.
The plan would increase the scope of the market to 61 million people and half of Canada’s economy.
Premiers and territorial leaders are poised to meet in Quebec City Tuesday to discuss an environmentally responsible Canadian energy strategy, which they agreed to in Charlottetown last August. Their goal is to flesh out the strategy before UN climate talks in Paris in December.
New York state has amended its existing ivory trade bans to make it harder for illegal ivory traders to practice their trade. This is good news as too many elephants are killed (or otherwise harmed) for their ivory which is used to make decorative objects or crushed to become a health product (which has no actual health benefits). Way to go New York!
The legislation amends the state’s environmental law to ban elephant ivory sales with only a few exceptions for antiques with small amounts of ivory, certain instruments made before 1975, and transfers for educational and scientific purposes or through the distribution of estates.
New York is the number one importer of elephant ivory into the United States. This state legislation will enhance federal efforts to tighten the elephant ivory trade ban on a federal level. Large-scale poaching of elephants and trafficking in ivory presents enormous economic and security challenges across Africa and beyond. The illegal ivory trade both flourishes from and contributes to a climate of instability and lawlessness in many African elephant range states, in which humanitarian crimes have risen dramatically.
China has to confront a lot of environmental problems brought forth by its own quick development, and when China confronts an issue they go all out! Renewable Energy World has a quick write up comparing and contrasting China and the USA in how they support green technologies.
The China Development Bank (CDB) is being relentless in its funding of clean-tech concerns. While American politicians battle it out over Solyndra’s collapse and potential loss to the government of $528 million, the Chinese are pumping billions into their clean-tech concerns, knowing full well that some of them will fail. The CDB put more than $30 billion in credit into its burgeoning solar companies in 2010, including Suntech Power, Trina, and Yingli. It recently announced financial commitments to ensure that its fledgling wind industry can join the ranks of GE, Vestas, and Siemens, allocating at least $15 billion in state-backed credit to China’s biggest windmill makers Sinovel Wind Group and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology. And China has plans to invest some $45 billion in smart-grid companies and technologies alone over the next five years.
These investments haven’t gone unnoticed in the U.S., and have been front and center in recent complaints that have claimed that China’s solar industry, for example, has an unfair trade advantage.