Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig reminds us that while growing inequality may have different impacts on older workers as compared to younger ones, it arises based on fault lines which have nothing to do with age:
(T)he suggestion that seniors as a group receive too much government support is absurd. Rich seniors, who need it least, are dramatically over-subsidized by government. Poor seniors — the ones who need more help — have been all but abandoned by the Harper government.

For that matter, the precarious financial situation faced by the young is part of the erosion of economic security for working people in general, as an increasingly powerful corporate sector pushes governments to redesign tax and trade laws in its favour, and to weaken union and workplace protections. This has allowed corporations to scoop up an increasingly large share of national income, at the expense of labour.
(I)t’s now common to have two-tier workplaces, where new hires receive pay and benefits that are a fraction of what long-time employees receive.

But it’s corporations that have created this highly unequal situation, by taking advantage of vulnerable younger workers. Unions have fought bitterly against the two-tier workplace, knowing it will weaken worker solidarity.

Both Maclean’s and Stewart-Patterson suggest that young people could deal with their plight by launching a tax revolt — the Right’s favourite cause — which would lead to further cuts to our social safety net. How convenient it would be for conservatives if it could enlist young people in an anti-tax crusade.

A much better solution for young people would be a stronger social safety net: increased government subsidies for university and college tuition, a universal child care program and direct investments in job creation, particularly for youth.

Above all, the Right wants to ensure that the anger of disaffected young people doesn’t end up aimed at the corporate elite — as it was during Occupy Wall Street’s campaign against the growing wealth and power of the ‘one per cent’.
- Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias highlights Pavlina Tcherneva's findings on increasing inequality in periods of U.S. economic expansion - as economic growth is now managing to take place at the same time as further erosion of income for the bottom 90%. But Thomas Edsall notes that far too few people are willing to talk about the progressive taxation and social investments necessary to improve matters.

- Huffington Post Canada takes a look at OECD data and finds that Canada's proportion of low-paying jobs (at 22% of all jobs) is among the worst in the developed world. And Louis-Philippe Rochon discusses how the Cons are determined to put the screws to workers even more by undermining any attempt to organize:
There is strong evidence to suggest that higher unionization rates translate into higher salaries, which in turn fuels consumption-based economic growth with less, not more, household indebtedness.  Yet, the decline of unionization in Canada and elsewhere in the last 4 decades has had devastating results.

If we look at the post World War II era, from 1945 to now, we notice two very distinct periods with very striking differences.

Consider, for instance, the period right after World War II from, say 1945 to roughly the early 1970s, which is what many economists now refer to as the Golden Years — and for a reason. Unionization in Canada was growing and the Canadian economy underwent a massive expansion. In fact, unionization grew steadily throughout this period, as did hourly earnings.
Since the 1970s, however, Canada changed for the worse.

This is where unionization began to decrease. It peaked at roughly 37 per cent in the early 1970s and began a slow decline, as did hourly earnings.

As a result of that and other influences, the Canadian economy slowed down and unemployment has been, on average, substantially higher. As for inflation, after hitting record highs, it has been tamer in the last few years but mostly as a result of weak increases in wages. As of 2013, unionization in Canada stands at a shocking 30 per cent (as a share of non-agricultural paid workers).

So what’s going on? Higher unionization means stronger unions, and stronger wage gains. Economies grow as a result of spending. So higher wages mean more consumption and growth. It’s that simple.

When governments try to quell unions and labour movements, they are actually hurting prospects for domestic growth. The same logic applies when governments reduce public spending, but that is a matter for another day.
- Scott Sinclair and Stuart Trew examine how the risks arising out of the CETA far outweigh any plausible benefits. And to be clear it's worth making sure that any trade deal can be justified on its own terms - rather than signing on to any of them based solely on the desire to be seen as generally friendly toward business (or the argument that it might be possible to minimize the damage later).

- Finally, Gwynn Guilford makes the case for improved paternity leave as the best means of both encouraging parental participation in the workforce, and ensuring that the responsibility for raising children doesn't fall disproportionately on women.

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