- Robert Reich discusses how our economic system is set up to direct risk toward the people who can least afford to bear it (while also directing the spoils to those who need them least):
Bankruptcy was designed so people could start over. But these days, the only ones starting over are big corporations, wealthy moguls, and Wall Street.- And Murray Dobbin discusses how an age of constant anxiety is making it more difficult for working Canadians to stand up for themselves.
Corporations are even using bankruptcy to break contracts with their employees. When American Airlines went into bankruptcy three years ago, it voided its labor agreements and froze its employee pension plan.
After it emerged from bankruptcy last year and merged with U.S. Airways, America's creditors were fully repaid, its shareholders came out richer than they went in, and its CEO got a severance package valued at $19.9 million.
But American's former employees got shafted.
Wall Street doesn't worry about failure, either. As you recall, the Street almost went belly up six years ago after risking hundreds of billions of dollars on bad bets.
A generous bailout from the federal government kept the bankers afloat. And since then, most of the denizens of the Street have come out just fine.
Yet more than 4 million American families have so far have lost their homes. They were caught in the downdraft of the Street's gambling excesses.
There's no starting over for millions of people laden with student debt, either.
Student loan debt has more than doubled since 2006, from $509 billion to $1.3 trillion. It now accounts for 40 percent of all personal debt -- more than credit card debts and auto loans.
But the bankruptcy law doesn't cover student debts. The student loan industry made sure of that.
Economies are risky. Some industries rise and others implode, like housing. Some places get richer, and others drop, like Atlantic City. Some people get new jobs that pay better, many lose their jobs or their wages.
The basic question is who should bear these risks. As long as the laws shield large investors while putting the risks on ordinary people, investors will continue to make big bets that deliver jackpots when they win but create losses for everyone else.
- Meanwhile, Pedro Nicolaci da Costa notes that even the financial sector which has done so much to exacerbate inequality is starting to take notice of the problem. The Washington Post weighs in on how Sam Brownback's experiment in even more extreme corporatism has proven exactly as disastrous as we should have expected. And Paul Krugman debunks the Republicans' spin that inequality is a matter of merit rather than structural unfairness, while the CP reports on the Conference Board of Canada's research showing an unprecedented generational divide.
- Moira Donovan points out the sad state of early childhood education in Nova Scotia. CBC News reveals that injured Canadian soldiers are being forced to keep quiet about their injuries in order to secure some pension income. And Karl Nerenberg writes about the Cons' continued war against refugees - this time consisting of an attempt to deny even the most basic standard of living.
- Finally, Stephen Maher discusses the need to acknowledge and confront Canada's legacy of genocide toward aboriginal peoples.