Thursday, July 05, 2012

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jim Stanford discusses how Canadian right-wing parties are picking up on the most extreme anti-labour stances of the U.S. Republicans. But I do have to wonder whether the comparison between union dues and taxes is one that they'd particularly shy away from: isn't much of the point to try to eliminate both as means of providing resources to achieve social ends?

- Meanwhile, Linda McQuaig explains why baby hippos and others have plenty of reason to be concerned about debt hysteria. And David Climenhaga points out that even from an economic standpoint, there's far more risk in the Cons' demands for austerity than in funding citizens' basic needs.

- Trish Hennessy serves up some numbers on food security:
Approximate number of Canadians who turn to food banks every month, up from almost 714,000 who reported using a food bank in 1998. (Source and source)
1.9 million
Number of Canadians, aged 12 or over, who lived in food insecure households in 2007-08. (Source)
Percentage of Canadian families with at least one child under six who were food insecure in 2007-08. That's one in 10 families. (Source)
Percentage of First Nations adults aged 25-39 who reported they were hungry but could not afford to buy food in 2007-8. (Source)
 - Finally, I'm not quite sure who's writing under Margaret Wente's byline. But more like this please:
Once upon a time, banks and drug companies enjoyed good reputations and a relatively high degree of trust. Most people regarded them as useful industries that created products and services that benefited society. Sometimes the people who ran these companies even lived down the street. Those times are long gone. Today these industries are movie villains – multibillion-dollar enterprises portrayed as so rapacious they’ll do anything to turn a buck. Judging by current events, this characterization is all too true. Some of the most powerful people in these lines of work will lie, cheat and steal until they get caught, all the while assuring us that they are adding incomparable value to society.

What happened? Both banking and pharmaceuticals went global, and the stakes (and rewards) shot up. Today they count their sales and profits in the billions. Today they’re led by corporate rock stars who make more money than most people can ever dream of. Their compensation is tied to stock prices, which means they have every incentive to do whatever it takes to goose short-term results. This is called “aligning management’s interests with the shareholders,” and for years was thought to be a good thing. Unfortunately, it’s not always such a good thing for the public.
Simple logic dictates that if the risk is small and the reward is great, the temptation to lie, cheat and steal will occasionally prove overwhelming. Those billion-dollar fines are just the cost of doing business.

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