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With minimum wages catching up with inflation is not enough and other news and views for Saturday 7 June

June 7th, 2014
  • Seattle Leads the Way – “The new $15-an-hour minimum wage approved this week in Seattle does more than guarantee a raise to tens of thousands of workers in the city. As the highest minimum in the nation, it changes the terms of the minimum-wage debate and expands the realm of the possible in setting new minimums. In recent decades, proposals to lift the minimum — whether on the federal, state or local level — have been presented as a way to restore purchasing power lost to inflation during long stretches with no raises. Seattle lawmakers have said, clearly and correctly, that catching up with inflation is not enough. To be adequate, a minimum wage also has to reflect real economic gains as measured by average wages and productivity growth.
  • Privatisation and government debt – Simon Wren-Lewis economics professor at Oxford University: “Possibly the worst argument for privatising part of the public sector is a supposed ‘need’ to reduce public sector debt. … Privatisation is one of a number of devices that flatter the short term public finances with no impact (or worse) on the long term position. (Considerably worse if the asset is sold far too cheaply, as in the most recent UK case for example.) “


  • Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014) – “The Arctic has been undergoing significant changes in recent years. Average temperatures are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. The extent and thickness of sea ice is rapidly declining. Such changes may have an impact on atmospheric conditions outside the region. Several hypotheses for how Arctic warming may be influencing mid-latitude weather patterns have been proposed recently. For example, Arctic warming could lead to a weakened jet stream resulting in more persistent weather patterns in the mid-latitudes. Or Arctic sea ice loss could lead to an increase of snow on high-latitude land, which in turn impacts the jet stream resulting in cold Eurasian and North American winters. These and other potential connections between a warming Arctic and mid-latitude weather are the subject of active research.”
  • Former Boxer Steps Up As Kiev Mayor, Spars With Remaining Activists – “Former world heavyweight boxing champ Vitaly Klitchko is now set to become mayor of Kiev. In his first major move, Klitchko is asking activists in Independence Square to pack up their tents and allow the square to return to normal. Some activists are resisting, warning that one presidential election doesn’t guarantee the success of their revolution — or do justice to the martyrs who were killed there.”
  • Early Exposure To Bacteria Protects Children From Asthma And Allergies -“Babies who are exposed to both bacteria and allergens in the first year of life are less likely to develop asthma and allergies, a study finds. … But what’s interesting about this study is that it gets specific; not just any old germs or allergens will do.”
  • Upset at UN climate talks as ministers go missing – “Negotiators and campaigners have reacted angrily to the failure of many environment ministers to attend UN talks in Bonn. They say governments gave an undertaking last year to come here and update plans to cut emissions. But so far, around 50 ministers have turned up, with representatives from the UK, France and Brazil notably absent. Over 130 turned up in Warsaw for the last major talks session.
  • Climate change helps seas disturb Japanese war dead – “Rising sea levels have disturbed the skeletons of soldiers killed on the Marshall Islands during World War Two. Speaking at UN climate talks in Bonn, the Island’s foreign minister said that high tides had exposed one grave with 26 dead.”
  • The Climate Domino by Paul Krugman – “Maybe it’s me, but the predictable right-wing cries of outrage over the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules on carbon seem oddly muted and unfocused. … the attacks on the new rules mainly involve the three C’s: conspiracy, cost and China. That is, right-wingers claim that there isn’t any global warming, that it’s all a hoax promulgated by thousands of scientists around the world; that taking action to limit greenhouse gas emissions would devastate the economy; and that, anyway, U.S. policy can’t accomplish anything because China will just go on spewing stuff into the atmosphere.”
  • EPA’s Proposed Greenhouse Gas Regulation: Why are Conservatives Attacking its Market-Based Options? – “Not so long ago, cap-and-trade mechanisms for environmental protection were popular in Congress. Now, such mechanisms are denigrated. What happened? Professor Richard Schmalensee (MIT) and I recently told the sordid tale of how conservatives in Congress who once supported cap and trade had come to lambast climate change legislation as “cap-and-tax.” Ironically, in doing this, conservatives have chosen to demonize their own market-based creation.”


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