Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Yves Engler discusses the importance of a "social wage" - and how the minimum standard of living we're prepared to tolerate affects the well-being of all kinds of workers:
These attacks against the poor and unemployed should be opposed by anyone who cares about their fellow human beings. But in addition to compassion, working people have another important reason to oppose these cuts to social benefits: a self-interest in maintaining the social wage.

Right-wing pundits often claim that welfare payments or unemployment benefits cost us all. And at one level it is true that welfare benefits cost everyone, though rarely are these costs a significant chunk of public expenditure.

Examined from another perspective, however, social entitlements such as welfare and EI are an important means to protect the wages and conditions of working people. Decent welfare and unemployment benefits provide a security guarantor for wage workers who may fear losing their jobs. When decent social entitlements exist, invariably workers’ bargaining power is improved. In short, the strength of welfare and unemployment benefits helps determine a country’s social wage — its generally accepted minimum pay and benefits.
Lobbyists for wealth-holders certainly understand the relationship between social entitlements and the social wage. Business organizations have ferociously attacked social entitlements over the past 20 years. In doing so, they’ve driven down the social wage and increased the proportion of income going to the relatively small number of wealth-holders.
- And Linda McQuaig notes that the corporatist war against unions fits into the same overall strategy of consolidating wealth to the exclusion of most Canadians:
The real question is: as the country has grown richer, who should benefit? Under the more egalitarian system that prevailed during the early postwar decades, the economic benefits would have been more widely shared and could have been used to actually lower the retirement age (or extend holiday time, such as in Scandinavia, where the norm is six weeks paid vacation).

A few decades ago, North Americans often whimsically posed the question: in the future, what will we do with all our leisure time?
As it turned out, our leisure time shrunk (with two years of it now snatched away by the Harper government).
Indeed, instead of being widely shared, almost all the benefits of economic growth in recent decades have been siphoned off by a small corporate elite.
It’s that same corporate elite, and its political and media supporters, who now assure us that unions are no longer relevant.
 - Canadian for Tax Fairness points out that the OECD has finally noticed the issue of double non-taxation - where corporate tax-avoidance strategies result in multinational businesses paying tax nowhere.

- Finally, Dan Lett comments on the sad connection between Bell's attempt to spark some talk about mental health issues, and the Cons' choice to single out the mentally ill as their latest target for "tough on crime" posturing.

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