Monday, September 08, 2014

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Bryce Covert writes that U.S. workers are receiving a lower share of economic output than at any point since 1950 - and that the decline in wages has nothing to do with the quality or quantity of work:
Workers aren’t earning less because they’re slacking off — just the opposite. Their productivity increased 8 percent between 2007 and 2012 while their wages actually fell, a trend that has been going on since at least 1979. And they’ve been speeding up since the recession, increasing their productivity last summer at the fastest pace since 2009.

The productivity has helped out corporations. They saw record high profits last year, rising to $1.68 trillion, and they have been rising steadily for some time, more than fully recovering what they lost to the financial crisis. Yet workers are getting little of that money. Profits have risen nearly 20 times faster than workers’ incomes since 2008, and on the whole workers have seen a lost decade of stagnant wage growth.
- Meanwhile, Rachel Aiello reports on the Cons' challenge in trying to explain how the trickle-down policies they've pushed have produced nothing but a widening income gap, while Mark Gongloff addresses the similarly disastrous effect of austerity and corporatism in Europe.

- Carol Goar highlights one more economic trend crying out for explanation and remediation, asking whether the part-time and precarious jobs consistently generated by the Cons' anti-labour policies are the new normal for Canadian workers.

- But naturally, the Cons have no interest whatsoever in actually addressing the concerns of workers - as they're too busy using public money to subsidize the promotion of weapons exports.

- Finally, John Millar discusses the effects of poverty and inequality - along with the urgent need to dedicate public resources to eliminating both:
Here's what the evidence says about the devastating outcomes of poverty: poorer health, more chronic disease, more avoidable deaths, social injustice, increasing demand and costs for healthcare services and reduced productivity of the workforce. On a large scale and over the long-term, inequality can also slow the economy and erode democracy, political and social stability.
Economists call what we need "a judicious redistributive approach" -- that is, to raise government revenues via natural resources, taxes on the wealthy (income, estates, capital), regulation of offshore tax havens, and taxes on externalities, such as pollution, tobacco, alcohol and sugar. Governments should direct these revenues toward social investments such as income support, education, healthcare and infrastructure.
We are paying dearly for inaction. It would cost taxpayers less to eradicate poverty than to continue to pay for poverty-related policing, corrections, housing and healthcare. In B.C., the estimated cost to implement a poverty reduction plan is $4 billion annually, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Right now, poverty costs the province up to $9.2 billion per year. Businesses and governments must take measures now to reduce poverty and inequities. It is time for concerned citizens to demand action.

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