- Zoe Williams questions when being poor became grounds for deliberate discrimination and ritual public humiliation (h/t to Mound of Sound):
What I cannot help noticing is a failure of normal human respect for the people at the bottom of the heap – Tuesday's ruling in favour of Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson has had its bones picked over for what it does or doesn't say about slavery, and yet the judges were clear: these people were treated dishonestly. They were treated as though, being unemployed, they could be parcelled about at the whim of the secretary of state.- Meanwhile, Claire Davenport writes that gratuitous austerity is pushing an entire generation of European citizens toward economic ruin. And Yves Smith discusses how inequality has continued to grow since the 2008-2009 crash - with the top 1% taking massive income gains while the bottom 99% have actually lost ground.
A similar belief pervades the suggestion that those on benefits need to be ritually humiliated every time they go into a shop; or those on low wages, by dint of their low status, need to be monitored like criminals. Across the piece, having a low financial status is now elided, by politicians and by corporations, with being untrustworthy.
- David Climenhaga points out that Alberta's latest budget only confirms what Stephen Harper, Brad Wall and other spokesflacks for the tar sands have tried to deny: both overdependence on resource royalties and a petrodollar have negative impacts for the province's finances. But Climenhaga is even more in point in recognizing how Alison Redford's "bitumen bubble" complaint seems calculated to distract Albertans from the massive social problems being blithely ignored - including the wealthiest city in Canada slashing school service for lack of funding, and refugee-camp conditions in the province's capital.
- Which isn't to say Alberta is alone in its utterly warped priorities: Simon Enoch writes about the City of Regina's obsession with costly P3 projects, while Brian Banks and Paul Gingrich observe that a Sask Party promise to address poverty has produced no substantive plan.
- Finally, Sid Ryan explains why the Cons are so determined to attack union finances:
In his decision, Rand explained that unions also need adequate resources in order to "redress the balance of what is called social justice." This is because, then as now, corporations have all the power in a workplace -- they can hire, fire, discipline and discharge any individual employee. Workers only have leverage if they work together and they should always have the right to do so.
This bargaining table principle applies equally to the halls of government. Concerned about Canada's growing inequality, individual workers recognize the need to work together to counteract well-heeled corporate lobbyists and convince politicians of every stripe to promote the livelihoods of working people and their families. For that reason, workers have increasingly given their unions a mandate to launch campaigns to defend public services, good jobs, the environment, and many other public priorities.
However, when it comes to influencing public policy, workers are again at a great disadvantage. In stark contrast to the paltry five per cent of election financing that came from unions between 2004 and 2011, corporate Canada contributed a whopping 40 percent of all election funds, including $26 million to the Conservative Party.
And what did Canada's corporate elite get in exchange for their generous support for the Harper government? Well, among other things, the passage of a new law allowing employers to pay migrant workers 15 per cent less than the going rate and another forcing employment insurance claimants to compete for lower wages.
It is no wonder that working people across the country are working together to stop Canada's race to the bottom. For every worker in Canada, the Rand Formula is the basis of their democratic rights and promotes fairness in their workplaces. As much as Tories may try to dress up their anti-worker policies as "freedom of choice," they are only offering Canadian workers one choice: lower wages.