Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Joseph Stiglitz offers his suggestions (PDF) for a tax system which would encourage both growth and equality:
Tax reform...offers a path toward both resolving budgetary impasses and making the kinds of public investments that will strengthen the fundamentals of the economy. The most obvious reform is an increase in the top marginal income tax rates – this would both raise needed revenues and soften America’s extreme and harmful inequality. But there are also a variety of other effective possible reforms related to corporate taxation, the estate and inheritance tax, environmental taxes, and ensuring that the government gets full value when it sells public assets.
- PressProgress calls out Restaurants Canada for dishonestly claiming its members are abusing temporary foreign workers only because they can't find workers at any price. And Alison points out how the same group saying it doesn't matter how much workers are paid has gleefully pronounced its success in suppressing the minimum wage.

- Meanwhile, Carly Schwartz discusses the plight of the working poor in North America - or in other words, some of the same the employees the fast-food industry brags about having held to sub-poverty wages. And Lynn Stuart Parramore takes a look at the "gig economy" and its disastrous effect on workers:
Proponents of the gig economy, from the New York Times' Thomas Friedman to bright-eyed TED pundits, tout it as a welcome escape from the prison of the standard workweek and the strictures of corporate America. Working on a project-to-project basis will set you free, they tell us. Wired magazine has called it "the force that could save the American worker.”

But when you’re actually stuck in it, the gig economy looks quite different.

Consider the New York Freelancer’s Union: According to a report in the New York Times, 29 percent of the union’s New York City members earn less than $25,000 a year, and in 2010, 12 percent of members nationally received some type of public assistance. Turns out that life with no health benefits, vacation pay or retirement plan is not a rosy picture.
What’s really going on is the desire of businesses to chop wages and benefit costs while also limiting their vulnerability to lawsuits, which can happen when salaried employees are mistreated. The burden of economic risk is shifted even further onto workers, who lose the security and protections of the New-Deal-era social insurance programs that were created when long-term employment was the norm. 
- Upstream points out Canada's poor ranking compared to international peers when it comes to children's well-being. Jon Land discusses Save the Children's research showing how the UK's austerity is driving millions of children into poverty. And Roger Cohen writes that the problem of capitalism eating its children applies globally:
[Mark Carney's] bluntness reflects the fact that, six years after the crisis, the core problem has not gone away: The deep unease and anger in developed countries about the ways globalization and technology magnify returns for the super-rich, operating in a world of low taxation and lax regulation where short-term gain becomes a guiding principle, even as societies become more unequal, offering diminished opportunities to the young, less community and a growing sense of unfairness.
(H)uman beings matter. An age that has seen emergence from poverty on a massive scale in the developing world has been accompanied by the spread of a new poverty (of life and of expectations) in much of the developed world. Global convergence has occurred alongside internal divergence. Interdependence is a reality, but the way it works is skewed. Clinton noted that ants, bees, termites and humans have all survived through an unusual shared characteristic: They are cooperative forms of life. But it is precisely the loss at all levels of community, of social capital, that most threatens the world’s stability and future prosperity.
- Finally, Marilla Stephenson writes about two Con patronage scandals arising out of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. But predictably, the Cons' response to news of their own corruption has merely been to slam the door on anybody trying to figure out what they're up to - as evidenced by their sudden and inexplicable decision to turn the publicly-funded Challenger fleet into Stephen Harper's personal and confidential private jet service.

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