Monday, September 09, 2013

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jordon Cooper writes about the dangers of growing income inequality in Saskatchewan and around the world:
Income inequality is driven largely by market forces. Technology has changed the job market, and globalization has moved markets overseas or driven down wages.

It's also driven by actions of governments. They have tried to weaken organized labour for decades, which hurts the workers unions represent. Other institutional factors include stagnating minimum wage rates that hurt those at the bottom, while decreasing marginal tax rates are credited for the increases of top wage earners.

The problems are well known, but politicians struggle with the solutions. Whenever I ask an elected official what can be done, I get a couple of moments of awkward conversation about education being a big part of the solution to market problems (and something we have to improve in Saskatchewan), but that is it. No one wants to mention the institutional solution, which is to transfer money from the rich to the poor through personal income taxes and social programs.

Countries who have closed the gap on income inequality, such as the Nordic nations, have more generous social safety nets. By distributing the money over a wider population, the economy does better and those at the bottom have better options to be upwardly mobile.
- But while Cooper also worries that any interest in addressing inequality might be seen as a negative in a political party, Murray Dobbin writes that a strong push by the labour movement may help to change that assumption at the federal level. And Paul Adams suggests that we should be looking for our federal opposition parties to find common ground on progressive policy issues - contrary to Michael den Tandt's demand that Thomas Mulcair sing from the oil baron hymn book in order to gain admittance to the Very Serious Persons Society.

- Meanwhile, Richard Blackwell interviews Canada Without Poverty's Leilani Farha about the role employers should play in ensuring a living wage:
Is there a role for the business community in decreasing poverty in Canada?
Business has a very important role to play. On a practical level, employers need to pay their employees a living wage, and they need to do this without waiting for provincial governments to increase minimum wages. The bottom line is that it is not cheap to live. Employers need to take that into consideration.

Why do employers have that responsibility?
When I ask the business community to pay a living wage, I am actually asking them to stand in the shoes of their employees. What are their employees’ daycare costs? What are they paying for a loaf of bread? What are they paying in rent or what do their mortgage payments look like? What is the cost of Internet, cable TV, or whatever?

Are there economic benefits from reducing poverty?

It makes good business sense. If people have money, they will spend money. That will benefit employers and business, ultimately. It is expensive to run homeless shelters. [And poverty is a] huge tax on our health-care system.
- Finally, Susan Delacourt rightly suggests that Stephen Harper's legacy as Prime Minister has already taken shape - and that it consists mostly of social destruction.

No comments:

Post a Comment