Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Matthew Yglesias sums up the effects of four decades of U.S. union-busting, and points out how the supposed benefit from pointing a fire hose filled with money in the general direction of the corporate sector hasn't materialized:
If you turn back 30 or 40 years, the policy rationale for crushing labor union influence went something like this: In the short-term crushing private sector labor unions is going to lead to a surge in corporate profits, but profits are the fuel of investment and long-term economic growth. Companies with high profits have the capital necessary to invest. And the existence of large profit margins means there are profit opportunities to be exploited with new investment. It makes perfect sense. But it hasn't happened, and profits have soared far in excess of investment.
(S)everal decades into this experiment, we're seeing much more of the "profits surge" than the "surging profits lead to an investment boom" dynamic. One explanation for this that's growing in popularity on the right is that the rise of more capital-friendly politics in the mid-1970s coincidentally occurred at the exact same time as a structural slowdown in the rate of technological progress, so while it seems like anti-labor politics has failed to deliver the goods, it's really all just a stroke of bad luck.
And maybe that's right—just because an (unfalsifiable) proposition seems conveniently conducive to the interests of very rich people doesn't mean it's false. But it sure seems false to me.
- Duncan Cameron comments on the Harper Cons' latest transparent attempt to attack anybody still making anything approaching a decent living - in this case, striking foreign service officers. And David Bush points out the need for an active rank-and-file membership to bolster the effectiveness of unions.

- Miles Corak discusses how income inequality has been exacerbated in Canada over the past few decades - and how we shouldn't see temporary resource price spikes as an alternative to income security:
I don’t see commodity prices increasing indefinitely, and don’t see the last 15 years revealing the changes in the underlying structure of the economy and the jobs market.

The fact that a sustained resource boom has not increased median incomes higher than they were at the past economic booms suggests an underlying structural change that is working against the typical household.
An awareness of the experience and policy discussion in the United States sheds light on the impact of policies like falling real minimum wages, increasing low-skilled immigration, less investment in high quality accessible education in the early years, higher tuition fees, and limited parental leave.

And as a result I see more clearly the need and the possibilities for fundamentally changing tax and social policies, and promoting human capital investment in a way that favours families who have made little or no progress over the course of 30 years, others who have witnessed outright declines in their standard of living, and even others who in spite of their overall income levels face increased insecurity.
- Finally, both Les Whittington and Nick Taylor-Vaisey discuss the Cons' continued refusal to set greenhouse gas emission regulations for the tar sands. 

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