Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday.

- It would be nice to be able to believe that the U.S.' greenhouse gas emissions regulations would lead to some action on our side of the border as well. But is there actually any realistic prospect that the Cons' won't simply give the Wheel of Excuses another spin - likely landing on "Made In Canada!" again - in order to avoid doing anything meaningful in response?

- The Star weighs in on the ever-more-appalling gap between CEO pay and the income of Canadians in general, and echoes the CCPA's proposed solution to at least part of the problem:
Basing pay on the stock market is like rewarding a quarterback on the basis of whether his team beats the point spread, says Martin. And in the long run, the whole economy suffers, not just individual companies, as CEOs spend their time “jerking around expectations.”

Some argue that executive compensation ought to be of concern only to shareholders and corporate directors. But as Mackenzie notes, directors and CEOs are all members of the same “club,” and executive pay is based on what other club members are paid. “The logic is perfectly circular,” he writes.

As for giving shareholders “say on pay,” that just allows them to say they are unhappy with executive pay, says Mackenzie. “It does not mean they can actually do anything about it.”

A better option, adds Mackenzie, is for government to intervene -- starting with treatment of stock options as regular income, not capital gains, which are taxed at half the normal rate. That’s an idea for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to consider in his upcoming budget – or, if he is disinclined, for the opposition parties to adopt in their platforms.
- And amazingly, even Kelly McParland may not be entirely disagreeable toward the idea:
There is no question CEO pay has grown faster and more steadily than other income levels, and that much of it receives a favourable level of tax treatment the rest of us can only wish for. It’s a matter worthy of discussion, and serious treatment.
- Finally, Neal Lawson and John Harris have some suggestions for the UK's Labour Party which may resonate in Canada as well:
The new paradigm understands the nature of capitalism: a dynamic force that is as creative as it is destructive. Unless confronted, regulated and shaped, it undermines society and community - and crucially, its own positive aspects, as the trailblazing entrepreneur is sidelined by the monopoly corporation, and the once-thriving town centre gets killed by the faceless out-of-town mall. Moreover, if we don't regulate free markets, we end up regulating people, to force them to behave as the market desires - a fact glaringly reflected in the huge growth of the authoritarian state. Crucially, however, most regulation will increasingly have to happen at a transnational level - at the very least, via the European Union. Economic sovereignty will have to be pooled to ensure that damaging effects of capitalism are tamed. Every second of every day the bond market pools its sovereignty to destroy whole economies. This week it's Ireland, next week it is wherever they decide. This means controls on speculative capital flows and the ability to shift location and production to where taxes and labour conditions are lowest; it means coordinated corporation taxes and establishing the principle of a European minimum wage. The old social democracy never got this. Neither did it understand the demands of people for meaningful voice at their place of work. Capitalism is a tiger that we cannot ride but must tame.

New Socialism knows the state is vital but recognizes too the crisis of the bureaucratic and market state. It is Labour's grip of statism that must be broken. The New Socialism seeks to balances our need for security through the state with our right to freedom from the state. It wants a state whose scope is democratically determined and made accountable, responsive, sensitive and local through the most radical political reforms of public service this country has ever seen. A more proportional national electoral system is only one part of the change required: we have to reinvent the state from top to bottom to entrench people's involvement through the principle of co-production and the critical role of both producers and users of services. Health, education, social care and much more need to be liberated from the bureaucratic and outsourced state and reshaped accordingly, aiming at two transformative effects: creating in-built efficiencies through ongoing improvements on the frontline, and helping to make the tax case for the public sector. In the midst of the current fiscal crisis, the importance of this second element cannot be overstated.

No comments:

Post a Comment