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Inequality and Democracy

Not a day goes by without news on the growing inequality that is the telling indicator of the kind of economic model in which we have put ourselves, following the neoliberal binge unleashed by the Washington Consensus. The idea that economic growth is “a rising tide lifting all boats”, as the late Margaret Thatcher declared when she announced war on the welfare state, and its twin “capital will trickle down to everybody”, are now totally discredited. Facts, as it has been said, are stubborn.

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How to Halve Poverty in Just One Day

Researchers from the Center for Global Development discovered how to halve poverty in just one day: they used the new PPPs (purchase power parity), following the recent results from the Comparison programme: so now, poor countries are much richer than they were...

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Building Another World: Re-Thinking Social Protection

 

Global Social Justice is happy and proud to present a new book of Francine Mestrum: Building Another World: Re-thinking Social Protection.

It is a proposal for a new concept of social protection, which is particularly important at the moment that international organizations start to  make their proposals for ‘social protection’. The ILO came out with its ‘social protection floors’, the World Bank completes its old proposal with ‘resilience’ and the European Commission switches from poverty reduction to ‘social protection’ in its cooperation policies.

While these proposals have to be welcomed and promoted, there is a real risk that they will not go beyond poverty reduction. They do have nevertheless a potential to do more: they are rights-based, they imply permanent mechanisms and they do take into account – finally! – the income dimension.

We think however that more is needed.

 

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Africa Rising? Inequalities and the role of Fair Taxation

Economic growth in Africa has been important these last years.But who is benefiting? Where does the money go?

Read this latest report from Tax Justice Africa

 
The geographer David Harvey says fixing inequality will take more than tinkering

David Harvey would implore you to imagine life without capitalism—that is, if you can. Chances are, even if you’re puzzled by the manipulation of phantom money on Wall Street, troubled by society’s growing inequality, or disgusted with the platinum parachutes of corporate executives, you probably still conceive the world in terms of profits, private property, and free markets, the invisible hand always on the tiller.

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Huge Hole in Social Safety Nets

Social safety net programmes have expanded, yet 870 million of the world’s poorest people remain uncovered, says a new World Bank report released Tuesday.

Although over one billion people in 146 countries now participate in at least one of roughly 475 social safety net programmes, most of the extreme poor – those who live under 1.25 dollars a day – are not, says the report, The State of the Social Safety Nets 2014.

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The Accidental Controversialist: Deeper Reflections on Thomas Piketty's "Capital"

Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a six hundred and eighty-five page tome that definitively characterizes the empirical pattern of income and wealth inequality in capitalist economies over the past two hundred and fifty years, and especially over the last one hundred. It also documents the grotesque rise of inequality over the past forty years and ends with a call for restoration of high marginal income tax rates and a global wealth tax.

His book has tapped a nerve and become a phenomenon. In laying a solid blow against inequality, Piketty has also become an accidental controversialist. That is because his book has potential to unintentionally trigger debate over so-called "free market" capitalism. The big question is will that happen?

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Social Commons: the what, why and how

Social protection[1] is high on the international political agenda today. What exactly does this mean? Is it a strengthening of the poverty reduction agenda? Is it a step in the direction of – globalized - welfare states? ‘Social protection’ now has different meanings and all will depend on the historical, geographical and ideological circumstances in which it is promoted.

In this contribution I want to briefly sketch the history of social protection in Western Europe and in so-called third world countries. Secondly, I will show how this basic democratic thinking has been changed and how a new neoliberal paradigm was introduced, focusing on individual responsibility and technical management. I then want to propose a re-thinking of social protection in terms of social commons and explain the what, why and how of it. At this moment ‘social commons’ is a conceptual proposal that should allow us to develop and build a new kind of social protection, able to protect individual liberty in a context of collective responsibility, at different political levels. It will require to look beyond human rights and to put politics back in the centre.

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A need for a re-think of the World Bank's policy on tax havens

On 7 April, the World Bank Group published a report on the first year of implementation of its policy on the use of Offshore Financial Centres (OFCs) – commonly known as tax havens – in its private sector operations. The report, which comes after repeated calls from civil society organisations for a stronger policy, fails to include the necessary information to make a proper assessment of the Bank’s implementation efforts. Once again, it exposes the inadequacies of the current policy in terms of tackling tax evasion and avoidance.

Report

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A European FTT

Official press briefing concerning the European FTT at today's meeting of EU ministers of finance ... see p. 9

a sad result ...

 
A slippery ladder: 2.8 billion people on the brink

The precarious rise from poverty of millions in the emerging world.

Muljoko, a 27-year-old cleaner who works in one of Jakarta’s gleaming office towers, has all the trappings of a newly minted member of the middle class. He owns a motorcycle, slings a Sony smartphone and has a futuristic-looking phone-watch strapped to his wrist that he uses to text friends during working hours.

He is infinitely better off than when he was growing up in an impoverished farming village in southern Sumatra. Like millions around the world over the past three decades, Muljoko has risen out of poverty and is now a proud member of Asia’s emerging urban middle class.

And yet, a closer look at his finances – and his aspirations – reveals that his place in the middle class is much more fragile than it seems.

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