Saturday, April 04, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Saturday reading.

- Lana Payne writes that we're seeing exactly the results we should expect from Stephen Harper's foolish choice to push money upward:
A recent Globe and Mail story, using data from Statistics Canada, pointed out just how poorly the job market is doing under Stephen Harper’s leadership.

“Employment growth has been below 1 per cent for 15 months in a row.  The longest stretch … outside of recessions in almost 40 years of record-keeping,” according to the article by economics reporter Tavia Grant.

At the same time, corporate Canada is flush with cash, including billions of dollars in tax cuts from the federal government. Tax cuts that are not being spent to create jobs or invest in wages, despite the rhetoric behind them.

Indeed, corporate Canada, according to a recent report from CIBC WorldMarkets, is laughing all the way to the bank with the highest profit margins in 27 years.

But while the profit share of the country’s GDP continues to grow, the labour share continues to decline. The same report found that one-third of the country’s GDP was produced in sectors with falling labour costs.

The report noted that even with falling oil prices it doesn’t expect the profit market trend to be reversed. In other words, high profits are here to stay.

This may work for Bay Street, but on Main Street where politicians — even Stephen Harper — have to get elected, this is a mess. On Main Street, high profits and weak employment are not exactly a winning combination. The question is how or will the other two political parties capitalize on Harper’s failed economic record.
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Branko Milanovic study (PDF) the incentives of the ultra-rich and find that they're motivated primarily by increasing inequality rather than improving overall economic conditions. And George Monbiot highlights the distinction between the people who produce what matters, and those who merely exploit others around them:
One of the most painful lessons a young adult learns is that the wrong traits are rewarded. We celebrate originality and courage, but those who rise to the top are often conformists and sycophants. We are taught that cheats never prosper, yet the country is run by spivs. A study testing British senior managers and chief executives found that on certain indicators of psychopathy their scores exceeded those of patients diagnosed with psychopathic personality disorders in the Broadmoor special hospital.

If you possess the one indispensable skill – battering and blustering your way to the top – incompetence in other areas is no impediment. ...
As the pay gap widens – chief executives in the UK took 60 times as much as the average worker in the 1990s and 180 times as much today – the uselessness ratio is going through the roof I propose a name for this phenomenon: klepto-remuneration.

There is no end to this theft except robust government intervention: a redistribution of wages through maximum ratios and enhanced taxation. But this won’t happen until we challenge the infrastructure of justification, built so carefully by politicians and the press. Our lives are damaged not by the undeserving poor but by the undeserving rich.
- Meanwhile, Emily Dugan reports on the British Sociological Association's conclusion that a strong social safety net actually encourages more people to want to work.

- Thomas Walkom reminds us that Canada Post remains highly profitable while continuing to provide door-to-door delivery - meaning that the Cons' desire to destroy it is based on nothing more than general contempt for public services. But that obsession with privatizing isn't limited to the Cons, as Martin Regg Cohn warns the Ontario Libs against needlessly selling off parts of Hydro One.

- Finally, Sean Craig writes that the Wynne Libs have also selectively rewritten an anti-SLAPP bill for the benefit of themselves and their key donors. And Chris Wiseman duly criticizes the federal Libs for trying to silence Leadnow's grassroots opposition to C-51.

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