Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jacques Peretti discusses how corporate elites rewrote our social contract in a concerted effort to the inequality we're fighting today - and suggests it's well past time to push back in the name of moral economics:
Politicians have now, as then, conspired in their own diminishment — outsourcing foreign policy to Washington, saying there's nothing we can do about global capitalism.

But it's not up to them, it's up to us to be uncompromisingly moral at a moment when the criminal immorality of 30 years of misguided economic policy has been revealed.

The free market doctrine is over, and there’s an open goal. A once in a lifetime opportunity to rewrite the rules. It doesn’t require another Labour manifesto, nor call to "revolution".

We need a thousand surgical strikes to our economic system – ideas already out there from teachers, health workers, economists, even the enlightened super rich – which add up to one big idea, called morality.

So be radical. Be like a banker. But do it for good.
- Meanwhile, Bryce Covert highlights the opportunity to offer solutions to inequality as the G20's finance ministers acknowledge the problem for the first time. But Mainly Macro notes that we should fully expect corporate interests to keep trying to warp the system in favour of further wealth accumulation - though Ian Welsh is optimistic that they'll fail in the effort.

- Nate Cohn notes that a new "parent agenda" - based on improved parental leave, child care and affordable education - offers somewhere to start in providing an alternative vision. And Will Hutton offers his suggestions to fix a broken economic system:
The problems in the British economy and society run deep. Put at its rawest, our private institutions do not provide sufficient public good to justify their unreformed autonomy. A democracy has both the right and the duty to ask tough questions of the effectiveness of all its institutions, public and private. To insist that private institutions can only be reformed if they provenly fail – as the current centre-right consensus insists – and that public institutions must, as far as possible, simulate private ones, is to accept that the only good order is private.

If there are no networks of reciprocal obligation, and no acknowledgement that human beings associate in a society they can construct, redesign and reform around those principles, then we are all reduced to atomistic consumers and workers – serfs who are no more than notations in the spreadsheets of companies and public bodies alike. Business, too, is part of this framework. Wealth generation is not some magic left to firms and individuals in their low-taxed private garden: it reflects how companies are owned, financed and incentivised within a framework of public law – and thus what risks are run and what innovation and investment is undertaken. Business is healthier in a healthier society: it cannot be blind to social obligations. There is of necessity an inter-relationship with the democratic state. Without this recognition politicians are turned into journeymen with no great purpose, and into the vacuum pour nationalists, populists and the weird. We can do better.
The starting point is to ensure the foundation of any capitalist economy – the company – works as it should, and that legally, constitutionally and culturally, companies are purposed to do what they can do so well. To argue for the reform of capitalist enterprise should not be interpreted as “anti-business”; rather it is to be anti-dysfunctional business. For at their best, companies are organisations of genius, solving problems, innovating and delivering great goods and services. They should not be allowed to degrade into instruments of stock market speculation, so that managers are governed by the new god – the share price – and the temptations of their own colossal self-enrichment.
- Meanwhile, Andrew Jackson makes the case for Canada's budgets to invest in public well-being, rather than slashing away at it.

- Finally, Nahanni Fontaine calls for Canada to take long-overdue steps toward genuine equality for indigenous women.

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