Air quality has improved dramatically in rich countries over the past century. Around 1880, when the air was worst in London, it is estimated that 9,000 people died each year from air pollution,1 about one of every seven deaths.2 Today, London air is cleaner than since medieval times.
That comes out to, "one of every thirteen people that die on the planet" (Kindle Locations 1433-1434). In China, 23 percent of deaths are due to air pollution.
That is according to an article in The Atlantic on the association between health and homelessness in the United States,
The connection between housing and health is coldly logical. The sick and vulnerable become homeless, and the homeless become sicker and more vulnerable.
The article continues with,
The specific therapy for homelessness and its associated health issues is housing.
Almost entirely from digital goods and services, in contrast to physical goods and services, according to Progressive Policy Institute article,
1. Per capita real consumption of physical goods and services, outside of housing and health care, has grown by only 10% since 2000, or an average of 0.6% annually. By comparison, per capita real consumption of digital goods and services has skyrocketed, growing by 64%, or 3.4% annually.
The whole article is short and worth the read.
If you're American, probably quite wealthy, according a recent Economist article,
IF YOU had only $2,222 to your name (adding together your bank deposits, financial investments and property holdings, and subtracting your debts) you might not think yourself terribly fortunate. But you would be wealthier than half the world’s population, according to this year’s Global Wealth Report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute. If you had $71,560 or more, you would be in the top tenth. If you were lucky enough to own over $744,400 you could count yourself a member of the global 1% that voters everywhere are rebelling against.
According to VoxEU, the "gig economy" is bigger than we thought,
Our research concludes that 20-30% of the working age population have spent time as independent workers. Extrapolating this to the US and 15 core EU countries, that’s as many as 162 million people, with up to 94 million in the 15 core EU countries alone. Government statistics show roughly half that headcount, putting the independent workforce at a mere 11% of the working age population in the US and 14% in the EU-15. The difference primarily comes from the fact that more than half of this non-traditional workforce is engaged in independent work part of the time, and also that, in recent years, the gig economy has indeed grown, but still represents only 15%, or about 24 million, of the independent workers in our study. About 9 million out of that 24 are exclusively using digital platforms for their independent work – a little less than 40% – while more than 60% are combining both digital and non-digital means to perform their work.
According to Noam Chomsky in his recent book Who Rules the World?,
For the public, the primary domestic concern is the severe crisis of unemployment. Under prevailing circumstances, that critical problem could have been overcome only by a significant government stimulus, well beyond the one Obama initiated in 2009, which barely matched declines in state and local spending, though it still did probably save millions of jobs. For financial institutions, the primary concern is the deficit. Therefore, only the deficit is under discussion. A large majority of the population (72 percent) favor addressing the deficit by taxing the very rich. Cutting health programs is opposed by overwhelming majorities (69 percent in the case of Medicaid, 78 percent for Medicare). The likely outcome is therefore the opposite.
Obviously, none of the above is in line with what is likely to happen in the near future. As the link above to my recent article on Dean Baker's ideas shows, much of the deficit is fixable with changes to policies that govern the "free markets".
However, none of that matters as Republicans are very likely to try gutting education, pollution regulations, and medicare, while giving huge tax breaks to the rich. These would all seem to be the exact opposite way in which the majority of Americans would wish to see this done.
Dean Baker wraps up his new book Rigged with the following,
the point of this book is that the distribution of income can be hugely altered by restructuring the market to produce different outcomes. This doesn’t dismiss the value of tax and transfer policies, but if the market is rigged to redistribute ever more income upward, it will be difficult to design tax and transfer policies to reverse this effect. And if the rigging efforts are never challenged, then they will impose an ever greater burden on those trying to reduce inequality through tax and transfer policy.
A couple paragraphs later, he finishes with,
The standard framing of economic debates divides the world into two schools. On the one hand, conservatives want to leave things to the market and have a minimal role for government. Liberals see a large role for government in alleviating poverty, reducing inequality, and correcting other perceived ill-effects of market outcomes. This book argues that this framing is fundamentally wrong. The point is that we don’t have “market outcomes” that we can decide whether to interfere with or not.
About $435 billion according to economist Dean Baker in his new book Rigged,
This strengthening of copyright law and altering its structure to adjust to digital technology and the Internet is interesting not only because of the costs involved for the larger economy but also because it highlights alternative ways in which society adapts to technological change. Technological change has destroyed many sectors of the economy. The spread of digital cameras essentially destroyed the traditional film industry, causing the collapse of two major U.S. corporations, Kodak and Polaroid, and leading to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. While the collapse of these companies and the job losses were unfortunate, no one would have considered it a reasonable strategy to block the spread of digital cameras.
He continues a few paragraphs later with,
Table 5-6 shows projected 2016 spending and potential savings in areas where the costs of current monopolies are likely to be largest. Savings for recorded music and video material as well as recreational books are pegged here at 50 percent, under the assumption that the tax-credit system will make available a vast amount of free writing, music, and video material. Savings on educational books are pegged at 70 percent, under the assumption that the bulk of textbooks will be produced through the publicly funded system. The savings for prescription drugs are based on the calculation in Table 5-3 (see below). Savings in newspapers and periodicals, motion pictures, and cable TV are pegged at 20 percent. (With cable, many people may opt to rely on the Internet and cancel cable subscriptions.) The figure for medical equipment is loosely derived from the earlier calculation in Table 5-3; it is larger here because this figure reflects spending to purchase the equipment rather than the fees charged to patients. The total potential savings are $ 435 billion, or 2.4 percent of GDP.
By picking Betsy DeVos — a billionaire education philanthropist and activist — as his education secretary appointee, President-elect Donald Trump sent a strong message about what his education priority will be: school vouchers.
From The Atlantic,
According to Chalkbeat, DeVos’s family poured $1.45 million into an effort to prevent Michigan from adding oversight for charter schools. That effort ultimately failed. DeVos and her husband have been supporters of charter schools for decades and longtime opponents of regulation. And according to Chalkbeat, around 80 percent of the state’s charter schools are run by private companies. The lack of oversight has prompted concern from the Obama administration that some bad charters were being allowed to operate without improving or being forced to close. Civil-rights groups like the NAACP have also expressed concern that low-income children and children of color suffer when oversight is scaled back.
From The New Yorker,
The DeVos family belongs to the deeply conservative Dutch Reformed Church, and has pushed for years to breach the wall between church and state on education, among other issues. Betsy, who served as the chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party in the late nineties and again in the early aughts, spent more than two million dollars of the family’s money on a failed school-vouchers referendum in 2000, which would have allowed Michigan residents to use public funds to pay for tuition at religious schools. The family then spent thirty-five million dollars, in 2006, on Dick DeVos’s unsuccessful campaign to unseat Jennifer Granholm, then the Democratic governor of the state. After that campaign, the DeVos family doubled down on political contributions and support for conservative Christian causes. Members of the family, including Betsy and Dick DeVos, have spent heavily in opposition to same-sex-marriage laws in several states. According to the Michigan L.G.B.T. publication PrideSource.com, Devos and her husband led the successful campaign to pass an anti-gay-marriage ballot referendum in the state in 2004, contributing more than two hundred thousand dollars to the effort. Dick Devos reportedly gave a hundred thousand dollars, in 2008, to an amendment that banned same-sex marriage in Florida. That year, Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, Betsy Devos’s mother, was a major contributor to the effort to pass Proposition 8, which made same-sex marriage illegal in California.
According to Business Insider,
Interestingly enough, red states, which tend to advocate for a lesser influence by the federal government, are much more dependent on the federal government than blue states. Red states combined to form an average ranking of 18.3 (with 1 being most dependent and 50 being least dependent), while blue states combined to rank 33.2 overall.
This is particularly relevant with all of Trump's discussion of defunding "sanctuary cities and states". The backlash could be enormous, given that they take in less federal funding than they pay out to begin with. What reason would they have to continue paying federal taxes, which red states largely benefit from and they would no longer receive any of?