Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Owen Jones argues that public policy and social activism are needed to rein in the excesses of a corporate class which sees it as its job to extract every possible dollar from the society around it:
A financial elite plunged the country into calamity and effectively got away with it unscathed, while workers suffered the longest period of reduced pay since the Victorian era. Meanwhile public services, social security and secure jobs were slashed. It has become increasingly clear – as the Panama Papers underscored – that a significant chunk of our economic elite simply do not like paying tax in this country.

The problem is that this injustice is met with resignation, rather than anger. While rage at the smaller misdemeanours of the poor – such as benefit fraud – seems easy to stir, destructive behaviour on this far greater scale is discussed like the weather. The rich pay themselves ludicrous sums of money, major corporations avoid tax, sometimes it rains. It’s this resignation – stemming from a lack of faith in any viable alternative – that feeds the triumphalism of the powerful, enabling them to engage in behaviour that is ultimately destructive to the health of their beloved capitalism itself.
The High Pay Centre is right to argue for workers’ representation on remuneration boards. Stronger trade unions would also mean countervailing pressure against the concentration of wealth and power in such few hands. And protests by the likes of UK Uncut highlight the injustice of tax avoidance. All this could be helpful.

But the problem with executives such as Bob Dudley isn’t just them – it’s also us. For until we shake off this weary resignation, the well–heeled will continue to enjoy their decadent party – in the knowledge that we’re the ones paying for it.
- But of course, the Libs are headed in the direction of further privileging the corporate sector. On that front, Steven Chase reports on their refusal to allow any Parliamentary study of arms exports, while Peter Mazereeuw notes their demurral on any discussion of accountability for exploitative mining operators. 

- PressProgress highlights the fact that the underpayment of women is a matter of systemic discrimination, not personal choice. And Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood examines how the Trans-Pacific Partnership will entrench a corporate right to low-wage labour at the expense of workers throughout the Pacific region.

- Which should be a problem for all concerned, as Duff McCutcheon argues that a living wage can be just as beneficial for the employer who provides it as for the employees who earn it.

- Finally, Susan Peters discusses how poverty and other social determinants of health are finding their way into patients' medical evaluations.

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