Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jim Stanford kicks off the must-read responses to the Cons' budget with a modest list of five points deserving of public outrage, while PressProgress identifies seven points where the Cons' spin is far out of touch with reality. Citizens for Public Justice notes that climate change and poverty are among the important issues which don't rate so much as a mention in the Cons' plan for an entire term in office, while Jorge Barrera reports that First Nations were also conspicuously omitted other than some cynical re-announcements. Angella MacEwen points out that any (however flawed) claim to a balanced budget has come solely on the backs of the unemployed who can't access Employment Insurance benefits, while Louis-Philippe Rochon writes that the Cons could hardly have been more contemptuous toward workers generally if they'd tried. David Macdonald and John Ibbitson both make the point that federal fiscal policy should be aimed toward creating jobs rather than false balance in any event. And Scott Clark and Peter DeVries note that the Cons are leaning more heavily than ever on implausible assumptions about oil revenue to pretend they've balanced anything.

- On that front, the Cons' plan is to keep pushing at full speed ahead for fossil fuels in western Canada - no matter how much the public wants to stop relying on low and unstable royalty revenues, or how many serious health risks we face due to a woeful lack of regulation.

- But Achim Steiner writes that the world - or at least the more forward-thinking part thereof - is now producing renewable energy on an industrial scale. 

- Robert Reich discusses how "flexible" arrangements pushed by employers make both work and life more precarious for employees:
Businesses used to consider employees fixed costs  – like the costs of factories, offices, and equipment. Payrolls might grow or shrink over time as businesses expanded or contracted, but from year to year they were fairly constant.

That meant steady jobs. And with steady jobs came steady paychecks along with regular and predictable work schedules.

But employees are now becoming variable costs of doing business – depending on ups and downs in demand that may change hour by hour, possibly minute by minute.

Yet working people have to pay the rent or make mortgage payments, and have keep up with utility, food, and fuel bills. These bills don’t vary much from month to month. They’re the fixed costs of living.

American workers can’t simultaneously be variable costs for business yet live in their own fixed-cost worlds.
Whatever it’s called – just-in-time scheduling, on-call staffing, on-demand work, independent contracting, or the “share economy” – the result is the same: No predictability, no economic security.

This makes businesses more efficient, but it’s a nightmare for working families.
(I)f American workers can’t get more regular and predictable hours, they at least need stronger safety nets.

These would include high-quality pre-school and after-school programs; unemployment insurance for people who can only get part-time work; and a minimum guaranteed basic income.

All the blather about “family-friendly workplaces” is meaningless if workers have no control over when they’re working.
- Finally, Michael Harris rightly slams Stephen Harper for pushing war at every available opportunity, regardless of the risks to Canadian troops and international stability alike.

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