Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- In the course of grading Canada's job market, Kayle Hatt traces the rise of precarious employment in both absolute and relative numbers - and notes that other countries haven't seen the same type of move toward temporary employment encouraged by the Cons. And in a similar vein, Duncan Cameron rightly brands the Cons as the "bad jobs party".

- Meanwhile, the lack of stability in any single job makes it all the more important to ensure that Canada's retirement system provides for security even among workers who have been pushed from employer to employer. And both the Globe and Mail and the Star Phoenix lend their support to the NDP's push to expand the CPP as the best way of reaching that goal - with the latter editorial nicely summing up the difference between public and private options:
There is another flaw in the pooled accounts plan. While the CPP has relatively low administration fees because of its size, the greater the number of pooled plans the more that is bled off in such fees. That puts less money in the hands of retirees and more money into the bonuses of wealthy bankers. The federal government's argument that increasing CPP premiums will cost jobs is predicated on the ideological belief that any tax discourages investment. In fact, keeping seniors out of poverty is more likely to create jobs than providing more tax breaks at a time when doing so is already threatening Canada's social union.
- And Amanda Lang surveys just a few examples of how the same markets which are praised as a means of mass wealth creation are in fact rigged to divert any gains toward the top.

- George Monbiot is the latest to discuss how excessive materialism leads to far less personal well-being:
There has long been a correlation observed between materialism, a lack of empathy and engagement with others, and unhappiness. But research conducted over the past few years seems to show causation. For example, a series of studies published in the journal Motivation and Emotion in July showed that as people become more materialistic, their wellbeing (good relationships, autonomy, sense of purpose and the rest) diminishes. As they become less materialistic, it rises.
I should emphasise that this is not about differences between rich and poor: the poor can be as susceptible to materialism as the rich. It is a general social affliction, visited upon us by government policy, corporate strategy, the collapse of communities and civic life, and our acquiescence in a system that is eating us from the inside out.

This is the dreadful mistake we are making: allowing ourselves to believe that having more money and more stuff enhances our wellbeing, a belief possessed not only by those poor deluded people in the pictures, but by almost every member of almost every government. Worldly ambition, material aspiration, perpetual growth: these are a formula for mass unhappiness.
- And finally, Michael Harris documents what he describes as Stephen Harper's annus horribilis. But while it would be a plus for less of the damage to be inflicted on Canada as a whole, we should ensure there are worse political times ahead for Harper and his party.

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