The highest paid increase their share. New data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that income inequality in the developed world increased by more in the first three years of the world financial crisis to the end of 2010 than it had in the previous 12 years.

After taxes and transfers, the richest 10% of the population in OECD countries earned 9.5 times the income of the poorest 10% in 2010, up from 9 times in 2007. The gap is largest in Chile, Mexico, Turkey, the United States and Israel, and lowest in Iceland, Slovenia, Norway and Denmark. The OECD analysis says that the welfare state has cushioned the blow for many but warns that further social spending cuts in OECD countries risk causing greater inequality and poverty in the years ahead.

The OECD figures reveal that the first three years of Australia’s federal Labor government from 2007 to 2010 show income inequality declining on three commonly used measures.

The decline was not sufficient to undo the steady increase in income inequality that occurred after 1995.

Blame it on the frog leg eaters. The amphibians around the world are dying apace from an evil fungus infection, and frog leg eaters are getting the blame. National Geographic reports that the American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) is a popular source of frog legs served in restaurants everywhere. And their movements can also be correlated to the spread of the killer chytrid fungus.

And if it’s not the bullfrog, then suspicion is falling on the African clawed frog. It too is a known chytrid fungus carrier.

“… the spread of chytrid was aided by the pet trade in African clawed frogs and by the animal’s widespread use as a research animal. Until the 1970s, the frog was also used in many hospitals as an indicator of human pregnancy; injecting the urine of a pregnant woman into the frog caused it to lay eggs.

“Individual frogs that escaped or were released into the wild by hospital workers or pet owners may have carried the chytrid fungus, introducing the pathogen to new habitats around the world.”

Steady as she goes. The early participates in our Chunky Bits survey of Crikey readers expect virtually no change in what the opinion polls will show when they measure the reaction to this week’s federal budget. The median prediction is for Essential Research to calculate Labor’s share of the two-party preferred vote at 45% when figures are published on Monday.

The more readers who participate the more relevant the findings. Make your prediction about what the Essential Research finding will be.

A quote for the day. Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood on the need for politicians to adapt to the demands of the 24-hour news cycle:

“Sometimes politicians would be better off not talking at all. It’s instructive when you sometimes see when politicians decide to get their head down and not go to the media for a while that their ratings go up. To me there’s a lesson in there somewhere, that you don’t actually have to respond to that demand.”

News and views noted along the way.

  • Brigitta the wheelchair cat adopts lost kittens — “Brigitta hasn’t just found a new lease on life but a new role as well — as an adoptive mother to two abandoned kittens just two weeks old.”
  • Why the world faces climate chaos — “We will watch the rise in greenhouse gases until it is too late to do anything about it.” [Behind metered paywall]
  • Mount Everest’s ice is melting — “Glaciers in the Mount Everest region have shrunk by 13 percent in the last 50 years and the snowline has shifted upward by 590 feet (180 meters).”
  • How the case for austerity has crumbled — A long essay by Paul Krugman concludes that “the Reinhart-Rogoff debacle has raised some hopes among the critics that logic and evidence are finally beginning to matter. But the truth is that it’s too soon to tell whether the grip of austerity economics on policy will relax significantly in the face of these revelations. For now, the broader message of the past few years remains just how little good comes from understanding.”
  • Breast cancer, risk and women’s imperfect choices

Peter Fray

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