Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Paul Krugman discusses two theories behind the ever-growing divergence between soaring profits and stagnant wages. But it's particularly important to note that neither of them calls for "free money for rich people" as a rational response:
Why is this happening? As best as I can tell, there are two plausible explanations, both of which could be true to some extent. One is that technology has taken a turn that places labor at a disadvantage; the other is that we’re looking at the effects of a sharp increase in monopoly power. Think of these two stories as emphasizing robots on one side, robber barons on the other.
I don’t know how much of the devaluation of labor either technology or monopoly explains, in part because there has been so little discussion of what’s going on. I think it’s fair to say that the shift of income from labor to capital has not yet made it into our national discourse.

 Yet that shift is happening — and it has major implications. For example, there is a big, lavishly financed push to reduce corporate tax rates; is this really what we want to be doing at a time when profits are surging at workers’ expense? Or what about the push to reduce or eliminate inheritance taxes; if we’re moving back to a world in which financial capital, not skill or education, determines income, do we really want to make it even easier to inherit wealth?

As I said, this is a discussion that has barely begun — but it’s time to get started, before the robots and the robber barons turn our society into something unrecognizable.
- I've wondered before whether Elections Canada would contribute needed factual detail to the Council of Canadians' Robocon litigation way it stepped into Ted Opitz' Etobicoke Centre challenge to minimize any concerns about the results in that single riding. But it's for the best that the answer is an emphatic "yes".

- Mike de Souza reports that after gutting fisheries legislation as part of their spring omnibus monstrosity, the Cons are now refusing to follow through on a promised consultation process to minimize the damage through regulations.

- Finally, Michael Harris theorizes that the Cons' out-of-control spin machine is set to crash head-first into reality.

1 comment:

  1. The "technology" explanation is also a "robber barons" explanation. Without robber barons, technological improvements let everyone work less for the same pay, or work the same for pay increased according to productivity gains. It's only when robber barons come into the picture that increased productivity implies paying less for labour. Further, the specifics of technological change and its implementation are shaped by robber barons to their advantage and labour's disadvantage. For example, workplace surveillance technologies only come into being if the workplace is being run by someone whose objective is to have you under surveillance.
    How technology gets used is a political question; who benefits from it depends on who's winning. It may give more spoils to the victors and intensify their advantage, but not because technology has an independent agenda.