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After Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, comparing our era to the Gilded Age is no longer just a metaphor: Piketty argues that we never actually left the Gilded Age. The mid-twentieth-century period of lower inequality was a massive and perhaps unrepeatable exception to what Piketty sees as the natural tendencies toward inequality inherent in capitalist societies. But comparing our current period of relentless cuts in taxes and rising inequality to the Gilded Age shows why our period cannot be a repeat of the Gilded Age: the Gilded Age itself led to so many transformations to capitalism that inequality no longer leads to the political outrage that could anchor a broad-based progressive movement. The Gilded Age led to policies that made capitalism bearable, and that is precisely what is leading now to a situation in which Americans identify their success with the free market, and resist policies to lower inequality.
Suboptimal nutrition among children remains a problem among South Asian (SA) families. Appropriate complementary feeding (CF) practices can greatly reduce this risk. Thus, we undertook a systematic review of studies assessing CF (timing, dietary diversity, meal frequency and influencing factors) in children aged <2 years in India.
Searches between January 2000 and June 2016 in MEDLINE, EMBASE, Global Health, Web of Science, OVID Maternity & Infant Care, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, BanglaJOL, POPLINE and WHO Global Health Library. Eligibility criteria: primary research on CF practices in SA children aged 0–2 years and/or their families. Search terms: ‘children’, ‘feeding’ and ‘Asians’ and derivatives. Two researchers undertook study selection, data extraction and quality appraisal (EPPI-Centre Weight of Evidence).
From 45 712 abstracts screened, sixty-four cross-sectional, seven cohort, one qualitative and one case–control studies were included. Despite adopting the WHO Infant and Young Child Feeding guidelines, suboptimal CF practices were found in all studies. In twenty-nine of fifty-nine studies, CF was introduced between 6 and 9 months, with eight studies finding minimum dietary diversity was achieved in 6–33 %, and ten of seventeen studies noting minimum meal frequency in only 25–50 % of the study populations. Influencing factors included cultural influences, poor knowledge on appropriate CF practices and parental educational status.
This is the first systematic review to evaluate CF practices in SA in India. Campaigns to change health and nutrition behaviour and revision of nationwide child health nutrition programmes are needed to meet the substantial unmet needs of these children.
Suboptimal nutrition among children remains a problem among South Asian (SA) families. Appropriate complementary feeding (CF) practices can greatly reduce this risk. Thus, we undertook a systematic review of studies assessing CF (timing, dietary diversity, meal frequency and influencing factors) in children aged <2 years in Pakistan.
Searches between January 2000 and June 2016 in MEDLINE, EMBASE, Global Health, Web of Science, OVID Maternity & Infant Care, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, BanglaJOL, POPLINE and WHO Global Health Library. Eligibility criteria: primary research on CF practices in SA children aged 0–2 years and/or their families. Search terms: ‘children’, ‘feeding’ and ‘Asians’ with their derivatives. Two researchers undertook study selection, data extraction and quality appraisal (EPPI-Centre Weight of Evidence).
From 45 712 results, seventeen studies were included. Despite adopting the WHO Infant and Young Child Feeding guidelines, suboptimal CF was found in all studies. Nine of fifteen studies assessing timing recorded CF introduced between 6 and 9 months. Five of nine observed dietary diversity across four of seven food groups; and two of four, minimum meal frequency in over 50 % of participants. Influencing factors included lack of CF knowledge, low maternal education, socio-economic status and cultural beliefs.
This is the first systematic review to evaluate CF practices in Pakistan. Campaigns to change health and nutrition behaviour are needed to meet the substantial unmet needs of these children.
What is the value of global histories like this one? Most other academic disciplines, including the disciplines closest to sociology such as political science and history, have long abandoned the attempt to write encompassing histories of the world in favor of precise renderings of narrow events. Even most of sociology follows the advice to specialize. Given the explosion of data in our contemporary world, it seems hard enough to get even one small thing right – can anyone really get the history of the world right? Comparative historical sociology is perhaps the last holdout against academic specialization, the last space within academia where one can attempt projects of this nature, and it is good to ask ourselves periodically if the attempt is producing anything of value.
Michael Mann is one of the most talented practitioners of this kind of big think comparative historical sociology, so a close reading of his efforts should tell us something important about whether comparative historical sociology is itself worthwhile. I propose that for comparative historical sociology of this sort to be worthwhile, it should tell us more than we can learn from reading a series of separate in-depth examinations of particular episodes. It should allow us to reach new insight into historical events or identify important patterns that could not be seen by looking at a single event. As an example, Theda Skocpol's comparative analysis of revolutions demonstrated among many other things that close examination of single episodes is a method biased toward explanations that highlight agency, whereas comparative examination of multiple episodes can show that what seems like agency is in fact highly structured. Similarly, any good comparative analysis should be able to provide a different perspective than can be gleaned from reading a series of isolated in-depth studies of particular cases or events; if it does not, one would be well-advised to read a series of books by specialists instead, who will surely provide narratives with more nuance and attention to context.
This chapter therefore subjects parts of Mann's Volume 4 – specifically, his examination of neoliberalism and financialization – to this high bar: does his meta-analysis tell us something about these episodes that we could not have gleaned from the specialist literature? Does it cast the specialist literature in a new light, as Skocpol did?
Governments have always used taxation to regulate their citizens' behavior, from the Babylonian divorce tax of 2350 B.C. (Burg, 2004) to the latest child tax credits. The regulatory tax receiving the most attention from scholars, activists, and policymakers these days is a tax on pollution. Ever since A.C. Pigou argued that some market exchanges produce externalities that are not captured in the exchange itself, pollution has been the classic example of a market externality, and recently a carbon tax has been proposed as an alternative to the more popular cap-and-trade method of controlling pollution. Cap and trade, critics argue, causes excessive price volatility, cannot adjust for swings in the business cycle, and too easily captured by special interests. Taxation, on the other hand, is more flexible and less bureaucratic. Environmental taxes seem to be a benefit for all: They would reduce the negative outcome of bad pollution; they would generate revenue that could be used to reduce other taxes (a “double dividend”), or to offset the regressivity of the tax; and they would contribute to energy independence. Although at the national level American policymakers seem more interested in cap-and-trade, interest in green taxes is intense in many countries, and several American states have adopted them.
But do green taxes work? Environmental taxes have been in place in several countries since the early 1990s, but the experience is mixed.
The spirit of a people, its cultural level, its social structure, the deeds its policy may prepare – all this and more is written in its fiscal history, stripped of all phrases. He who knows how to listen to its message here discerns the thunder of world history more clearly than anywhere else.
– Joseph Schumpeter  1991
Everyone knows that taxation is important. Political scientists know that tax cuts are a major partisan battleground in the United States today, and that the rise of neoliberal ideology has propelled taxation onto the international policy agenda. Legal scholars know that the tax code has become the preferred vehicle for promoting an enormous variety of domestic policies – from social provisions to industrial policies to educational subsidies. Historians know that taxation has been a pivotal source of conflict and change from the American Revolution to the Reagan revolution, and that taxes have been central to the formation of civic identity across place and time. Sociologists know that nearly every issue with which they are concerned – the obligations of the individual to society; the powers and legitimacy of the state; the allocation of public and private resources; the rise of bureaucratic administration; the reproduction of class, race, and gender inequalities – runs through the issue of taxation.
There are good reasons why many scholars have recognized the importance of taxation. Taxes formalize our obligations to each other. They define the inequalities we accept and those that we collectively seek to redress.
The New Fiscal Sociology: Taxation in Comparative and Historical Perspective demonstrates that the study of taxation can illuminate fundamental dynamics of modern societies. The sixteen essays in this collection offer a state-of-the-art survey of the new fiscal sociology that is emerging at the intersection of sociology, history, political science, and law. The contributors include some of the foremost comparative historical scholars in these disciplines and others. They approach the institution of taxation as a window onto the changing social contract. Their chapters address the social and historical sources of tax policy, the problem of how taxes persist, and the social and cultural consequences of taxation. They trace fundamental connections between tax institutions and macrohistorical phenomena - wars, shifting racial boundaries, religious traditions, gender regimes, labor systems, and more.