Monday, September 07, 2015

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Labour Day reading.

- Keith Doucette reports on Hassan Yussuff's efforts to highlight the continued importance of the labour movement in ensuring a more fair society for everybody. And Josh Bivens and Lawrence Mishel study the disconnect between growing productivity and stagnant wages, reaching the conclusion that workers' loss of bargaining power represents one of the two main factors.

- David Friend writes about the spread of precarious work in Canada. And Douglas Todd comments on the need to adapt to the replacement of a large number of existing jobs with automated labour, including by implementing a basic income which ensures everybody shares in improved productivity.

- Dean Beeby reports on how Canada is falling behind the rest of the world on all kinds of women's issues including pay equality.

- Gaja Maestri reviews Danny Dorling's latest book on the persistence of social inequality. The Star highlights the need to treat inequality as a major issue in Canada's federal election campaign. And Kev points out that poverty and inequality are choices resulting from our willingness to let the already-privileged warp our political and social structures for their own benefit.

- Finally, Joseph Stiglitz highlights the problem when central bankers let implausible concerns about inflation derail any shared prosperity. And Jordan Brennan writes that Canada's current recession and ongoing lack of growth demonstrate the need for a change from the Cons' corporatist policy choices:
Canadians have thus been given ample reason to reconsider the traditional assumption that Conservatives naturally have the best economic credentials. And the problem is much bigger than the present downturn in GDP. In fact, the longer-run economic legacy of the Harper Conservatives has been marked by stagnation, imbalance and inequality. Over nine long years, the core of the Harper government's economic strategy has been to accelerate a broader shift to a business-led model of economic development. This strategy included multiple elements. Cutting corporate income taxes was supposed to incentivize business investment and job creation. Signing so-called free trade deals would improve competitiveness and enhance export growth. Reducing regulations would lessen compliance costs for business and leave them free to police themselves. And by giving labour unions a good kick now and then, workers would surely learn not to ask for too much in the way of compensation and job security.

Six years into an inconsistent recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-09, Canada's slide into yet another downturn suggests that this business-led approach to economic development has failed.
The business-led vision which has been at the core of the Harper government's economic strategy has failed to deliver its promised trickle-down prosperity. Our problem is bigger than the current recession. If Canada is ever going to emerge from the prolonged stagnation which has kept us back from reaching our economic and social potential, an alternative approach to economic development is required. Policies which genuinely stimulate investment (both public and private) and job creation, and which foster participation, innovation, and productivity, are needed to help return Canada to a path of national prosperity. Just don't expect the Harper Conservatives to lead us there.

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