Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Armine Yalnizyan points out that Canada has followed the global pattern in which income growth has disproportionately been directed toward the few people with the most to begin with:
Canada’s story pales in comparison – and so does our access to comprehensive and timely public data about the top 1 per cent. But the data we do have reveal the same troubling trends. In each phase of economic expansion since the 1980s, the top 1 per cent of Canadian tax-filers took a bigger share of income growth, and less of the hit in bad times. (The top 1 per cent always sees a big decline in incomes during a recession, but in the 2008-2009 recession more of the pain was shared with the rest of the top 10 per cent.)

The bottom 50 per cent has seen a dwindling share of income growth over time, accounting for only 3 per cent of all income gains since 2009, after having lost much more during the recession. Most Canadians have seen almost no improvement in their real incomes since the crisis began.

But incomes have indeed grown since 2009, and thus far the top 10 per cent enjoyed more than half of all that growth – and the top 1 per cent alone accounts for more than half of that. Welcome to the recovery. The higher up the income ladder you are, the more you benefit from economic growth.

As one wag put it: Trickle-down would work if it weren’t for the sponges at the top.
- And Edward McClelland mourns the demise of the U.S. middle class - while recognizing that corporatist zealotry will only ensure that no such thing develops again.

- Justin Brake discusses the minimum wage in Newfoundland and Labrador, concluding that at least workers should be able to expect annual adjustments to match the cost of living. And the Star concludes that it's long past time for an immediate increase in Ontario:
It may sound counterintuitive but in today’s increasingly marginalized workforce, many people who work full time still live below the poverty line. That’s both socially unacceptable and just plain bad for an economy that needs consumer spending to thrive.

Some 534,000 Ontarians work 35 hours or more each week in fast-growing retail and service industries, earning the provincial minimum wage of $10.25 an hour. Indeed, with annual earnings under $20,000, these workers will never even crack the paltry official low-income measurement of $23,000 a year. That means a lot of people are working very hard just to remain in poverty.

The emergence of such a huge underclass does not bode well for Ontario. There are many complex reasons for it – including long-term challenges facing the province’s old industrial economy and the lingering effects of the Great Recession. But the Liberal government didn’t helped matters by freezing the minimum wage for the past three years.

It needs to stop stalling. To both alleviate poverty and increase consumer spending, the government should move as quickly as possible on minimum wage reform. It should speed up the work of the advisory panel it set up on the issue this summer and get ready to make a substantial increase in Ontario’s minimum wage.
 - Finally, the Canadian Press reports on the Cons' continued refusal to take any action to combat - or even track - violence against aboriginal women:
“There have been a number of inquiries and resulting proposals for improvements over the years,” says the reply.

“In addition, race-based statistics are not recorded in a systematic manner across Canada’s criminal justice system due to operational, methodological, legal and privacy concerns.”

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