Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Reich writes about the growing disconnect between the few well-connected people who have warped our political and economic systems for their benefit, and the rest of us who are on the wrong side of that system:
(C)orporate executives and Wall Street managers and traders have done everything possible to prevent the wages of most workers from rising in tandem with productivity gains, in order that more of the gains go instead towards corporate profits. Public policies that emerged during the 1930s and the Second World War had placed most economic risks squarely on large corporations. But in the wake of the junk bond and takeover mania of the 1980s, economic risks were shifted to workers. Corporate executives did whatever they could to reduce payrolls: outsource abroad, install labour-replacing technologies and use part-time and contract workers.

A new set of laws and regulations facilitated this transformation. Trade agreements, for example, encouraged companies to outsource jobs abroad, while enhancing protections for the intellectual property and financial assets of global corporations. Government budgets that prioritise debt reduction over job creation have undermined the bargaining power of average workers and translated into stagnant or declining wages. Some insecurity has been the result of shredded safety nets and disappearing workforce protections.
Given these changes in the organisation of the market, it is not surprising that corporate profits have increased as a portion of the total United States economy, while wages have declined. Those whose income derives directly or indirectly from profits – corporate executives, Wall Street traders and shareholders – have done exceedingly well. Those dependent primarily on wages have not.

Britain is not as far along the path toward oligarchic capitalism as is America, but it is following the same trail. Markets do not exist without rules. When large corporations, major banks and the very rich gain the most influence over the composition of those rules, markets invariably tilt in their direction – adding to their wealth and their political influence. Unaddressed and unstopped, the vicious cycle compounds itself.
- Meanwhile, Brent Patterson notes that even the Globe and Mail is calling for the Libs to put the brakes on the Trans-Pacific Partnership before we sign away even more decision-making authority to the corporate sector.

- Mariana Mazzucato points out that everybody can benefit from an entrepreneurial public sector. And Katie Herzog reports on the massive economic development and job growth we'd expect from a transition to renewable energy.

- Andrew Jackson reminds us that the Libs' much-hyped "middle class tax cut" serves mostly to shuffle money around the top 10% of the income scale, and suggests using any increased revenue to actually help the people who need it most.

- Finally, Andrew Defty examines the causes and effects of reduced party membership in the UK. And David Ball discusses the snowflake organizational model which offers one means of reaching more people than the relatively small number already engaged in politics.

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