Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses how Greece has been turned into a sacrificial lamb at the altar of austerian economics:
Austerity is largely to blame for Greece’s current depression — a decline of gross domestic product of 25 percent since 2008, an unemployment rate of 25 percent and a youth unemployment rate twice that. But this new program ratchets the pressure up still further: a target of 3.5 percent primary budget surplus by 2018 (up from around 1 percent this year). Now, if the targets are not met, as they almost surely won’t be because of the design of the program itself, additional doses of austerity become automatic. It’s a built-in destabilizer. The high unemployment rate will drive down wages, but the troika does not seem satisfied by the pace of the lowering of Greeks’ standard of living. The third memorandum also demands the “modernization” of collective bargaining, which means weakening unions by replacing industry-level bargaining.

None of this makes sense even from the perspective of the creditors. It’s like a 19th-century debtors’ prison. Just as imprisoned debtors could not make the income to repay, the deepening depression in Greece will make it less and less able to repay.
(W)e understand that this is not just an academic debate between the left and the right. Some on the right focus on the political battle: the harsh conditions imposed on the left-wing Syriza government should be a warning to any in Europe about what might happen to them should they push back. Some focus on the economic battle: the opportunity to impose on Greece an economic framework that could not have been adopted any other way.

I believe strongly that the policies being imposed will not work, that they will result in depression without end, unacceptable levels of unemployment and ever growing inequality. But I also believe strongly in democratic processes — that the way to achieve whatever framework one thinks is good for the economy is through persuasion, not compulsion. The force of ideas is so much against what is being inflicted on and demanded of Greece. Austerity is contractionary; inclusive capitalism — the antithesis of what the troika is creating — is the only way to create shared and sustainable prosperity.
- Pedro Antunes writes that rather than giving in to the siren song of austerity, Alberta should be taking advantage of an economic downturn to build needed infrastructure when it's more affordable. And Michal Rozworski comments on the need for far more pushback against austerity politics at the federal level.

- Tula Connell follows up on the IMF's findings that unions play an essential role in fighting inequality. And Lydia DePillis discusses the success of the U.S.' labour movement in making the minimum wage into a winning issue - though Jennifer Medina reminds us that better laws ultimately only help to the extent they're obeyed and enforced.

- Roderick Benns interviews Maggie Olscamp about the difference a basic income could have made in her life.

- Finally, Frances Ryan observes that France is outlawing discrimination on the basis of poverty, and asks why that step hasn't been taken elsewhere.

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