Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jim Stanford sets the record straight as to how Canada's manufacturing sector has eroded over the past couple of decades:
(T)echnology can explain some of the job loss, but not most of it. It certainly cannot explain the disproportionate carnage in Canadian manufacturing, nor the all-out industrial warfare which now characterizes much of the sector (like the management lockouts at Caterpillar and Rio Tinto). The loss of 500,000 manufacturing jobs in Canada over the last decade was far more dramatic than most jurisdictions. Many factors contributed to this miserable record, including lopsided trading relationships, the volatile trajectory of Canada’s currency, and the unprecedented aggression with which business executives now do anything that boosts profit margins, without regard to community welfare.
Technological change applies to all manufacturing jurisdictions, so there should be no secular trend in Canada’s share of total manufacturing production. However, contrary to Moffatt’s assertion, our relative share of global manufacturing has indeed declined dramatically. As recently as 2001, Canada was broadly self-sufficient in manufacturing. Huge volumes of two-way trade entered and left, but at the bottom line we exported as much as we imported (about $300 billion each way). By 2011, however, this balanced position disintegrated into a massive manufacturing deficit of almost $100 billion, which explains 300,000 of the jobs lost since 2001.
Moffatt’s faith that technological growth makes everyone better off is unjustified by recent history. Lopsided globalization, and the aggressive actions of business leaders, have severed the traditional link between productivity and mass prosperity. That’s why real wages in Canada are no higher today than a quarter-century ago, despite a 35-per-cent increase in labour productivity in the same time. And that’s why Caterpillar executives (who receive salaries worth tens of millions of dollars) feel entitled to demand enormous rollbacks from highly skilled Canadian workers, on pain of total disinvestment.
 And Stanford also points out the issue is hardly a new one.

- Pat Atkinson wonders why the concept of "family values" doesn't extend to immigrants - who are now being told by federal and provincial governments alike to choose between Canadian work and their families.

- Jim Hightower discusses how big-money pharmaceutical ad campaigns have turned U.S. health care into a profit driver rather than a system to actually improve health outcomes.

- Finally, Alison and Saskboy offer updates on Robocon. And Jonathan Montpetit opens up public reporting on a brand new Con scandal - with the party's top Quebec organizer openly musing about how corporate interests might be able to buy off political inasiders.

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