Friday, November 01, 2013

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- David Green asks whether decades of corporate insistence on "flexible" labour markets (i.e. ones which offer no stability for workers) have resulted in the improved wages promised at the outset:
Increased wages are how we share the benefits of economic growth among a wide range of people in our society. It’s hard to see the fairness in policies that seek to stamp out wage increases wherever possible.

But this raises the second question – has the policy of increased labour market flexibility worked? Has it delivered a better life for most Canadians?

The short answer is no. To answer this more fully, we have to cut the data by region. Between 1980 and the early 2000’s the economy performed badly in terms of real wages. Real wages fell for both men and women starting a new job and whose highest education was a high school diploma or less (an education group making up about 50% of the male labour force). For males, real wages fell by nearly 20% in virtually all provinces.

Since the mid-2000s, real wages in Ontario and the East have essentially stagnated so that workers entering new jobs are making less in real terms than their fathers did 30 years before. One could argue that the wages haven’t gotten worse since the mid-90s paradigm shift but its hard to see how the new paradigm is delivering in terms of wages in this part of the country.

In the West, and particularly Alberta, the story is different. Real wages have risen dramatically since the mid-2000s. Though, so far, that has only gotten workers back to about the real wage levels their fathers earned. It would be hard to argue that these increases are due to the policy shift. They have much more to do with global resource price movements that are beyond the influence of Canadian policy. 
- Zoe Williams discusses how a privatized probation system in the UK is expected to raise costs and produce worse outcomes. But presumably nobody's supposed to worry about the public paying more for less - as long as somebody makes money off of social ills.

- Jeffrey Simpson calls out the Cons for their false spin about greenhouse gas emissions (even as their own numbers show they're breaking promises to rein in emissions by the day).

- And finally, Adnan Al-Daini discusses the madness of basing our economy on never-ending growth. But I'll  note that it's worth distinguishing between types of growth which are inherently limited (such as those based on the extraction of finite resources) and those based on renewable and human resources which might not face the same constraints - with the latter offering a feasible means of maintaining sustainable improvement in standards of living.

1 comment:

  1. To all,

    In so far as Adnan Al-Daini wishes to criticize the"GDP " measurement: fine.

    But be weary of those who allow our political rivals to own & define the concept of economic growth. Such people are typically Green Party cultists who would rather indulge Luddite fantasies than seek correct economic analysis. IMO, these are the folks Al-Daini wishes to pamper.

    Long ago, I took in an informative lecture on growth by "The Center For Economic & Policy Research". It incorporates & addresses many of the concerns honest folks have about this misunderstood economic concept...and more importantly, rescues its meaning from charlatans in the Conservative movement.

    You can partake here:
    Growth I: Why Economists Worry About It So Much, and Why You Should Too
    Growth II: Growth in the Developing World Over the Last Quarter Century

    I am fond of reminding our audience that this progressive economic think-tank was loudly warning about the then-unforeseen "housing bubble" as far back as 2002/2003. They do incredible & consistent work analyzing & formulating economic policy. That is why Thomas Mulcair sought out & secured the support of their most prominent advisory board member: Joseph Stiglitz.

    Dan Tan