Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Murray Dobbin points out the utter failure of an economic system built on suppressing wages for the general populace in the name of boosting stock values and profits for a few at the top:
Flaherty insisted before and throughout the last election on moving ahead with another unconscionable round of corporate tax cuts -- resulting in a $6 billion increase per year in the deficit. The rationale? It will stimulate investment.

Who will save us from this incompetent? In the first quarter of 2011, corporations were sitting on $471 billion of capital -- awash in cash they have no idea what to do with. Why? Because they and their political flunkies in Ottawa and the provinces have screwed the worker/consumer so badly that demand has flat-lined. No CEO in his right mind invests just on the basis of lower income taxes. There have to be customers with money to spend. Henry Ford would be shaking his head.

The Washington Consensus -- the name given to neo-liberalism and its agenda of privatization, deregulation, free trade, cuts to social spending and massive tax cuts for the wealthy -- was not just a call to moderate state intervention in the economy. It was determined to gut it, to return that period where the economy (by which they always mean capital) was somehow hived off from society and government and allowed to run effectively without regulation or direction. Thirty years of amazing growth and prosperity based on a complex system of mutual dependence between state and capital was tossed aside. It was a sort of revenge of the nerds -- we'll show those uppity workers.

But now the evidence is in. More chickens are coming -- and they will be even more gargantuan. But still no one in authority or in the business press gets it. No one is listening. But Will Hutton, writing in the U.K.'s Observer newspaper a week ago, said it succinctly in an article entitled Our capitalist system is near meltdown: "Markets are beset by mood swings and uncertainty which, if not offset by government action, lead to violent oscillations. Capitalism without responsibility or proportionality degrades into racketeering and exploitation. The prospect of limitless pay is an open invitation to bad, or even criminal, behaviour. Good capitalism cannot happen without referees to blow the whistle or robust frameworks in which markets can function."
- Meanwhile, Excited Delerium calls out the right-wing strategy of provoking false fiscal crises through gratuitous tax giveaways. Linda McQuaig notes that the Cons have turned Canada into a tax haven rather than encouraging a productive economy. And Erin Weir comments on the futility of the latest round of Ontario corporate tax cuts.

- Finally, Tom Shelstad recognizes the value of unions and the benefits they've earned for working people:
It was as if a larger-than-usual number of conservative-minded commentators had burst from the undergrowth in full war cry, brandishing their cliches.

One example was the comment that a certain group of unionized workers made more money and had a lot more vacation time than most ordinary workers who had to work harder to make ends meet. The commentator then used this emotionally loaded reasoning to justify asking the government to give unionized workers nothing and force them back to work.

This is totally perverse. Instead of trying to suppress unions and drag them down to a lower level, we should try to raise those less fortunate up to a higher level of wages and benefits. After all, we don't drive average citizens from their homes just because there are some unfortunate people who are homeless. Instead, we help those in need.

When Statistics Canada tells us 25 per cent of workers retire without a company pension and don't have enough to retire on, shouldn't we all be concerned?

No comments:

Post a Comment