Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Ball talks to Joseph Stiglitz about inequality and its causes - including the spread of corporate control through trade agreements:
What would you say is the dominant cause [of growing inequality]?

The weak economy, partly associated with austerity, has led to a weak labour market. The official unemployment rates don't indicate the real weaknesses. In the U.S. there's a huge amount of disguised unemployment -- people who have dropped out of the labour force or are working part time. That's why wages have stagnated.

You saw that so vividly in the three years at the beginning of our so-called "recovery," from 2009 to 2012, when 91 per cent of all the gains went to the top one per cent. That's obviously a huge increase in inequality... African-Americans, Hispanics, low-income Americans, and high school graduates have not recovered. You might say it's been a lopsided recovery.

The recession was really bad for the poor. They lost their jobs and lost their homes. But even before that, you saw really significant increases in inequality in an economy that was supposedly performing very well. So [the cause of inequality] is beyond just austerity.
A number of trade deals passed by Canada -- the TPP and the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China that we're locked into for 31 years, for example -- are seen in traditional economics as the gold standard.

The TPP is a very bad agreement that will increase inequality. Inequality isn't just about income -- it's also about standards of living. There are several [worrying] provisions. The worst is the investment agreement provision, which effectively restricts the ability [of states] to regulate and protect health, safety, the environment, even economic regulations important for stability. These are things that are particularly important to ordinary citizens. The regulations are meant to protect our society.
- And Blayne Haggart notes that the intellectual property provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership represent a new - and particularly dangerous - form of protectionism in favour of the businesses who already have the most.

- Marc Lee offers his twelve-point plan for a federal government wanting to get serious about climate change.

- Craig Scott discusses both the opportunity we have to push for meaningful electoral reform, and the danger that the Libs will see fit to gum up the works to protect the system which led to their own false majority. And Elizabeth Thompson reports on just one more of the many absurdities of handing over unfettered executive power based on a modest minority of votes, as the Cons were able to lock in a large number of long-term patronage appointments which will last for multiple terms of government to come.

- Finally, Susana Mas reports on the NDP's work to make sure the Libs don't turn away refugees in the name of political convenience and a false claim to security concerns. But unfortunately, the Libs haven't taken long in backtracking from even their core promises.

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