Saturday, May 28, 2016

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Eric Reguly highlights the growing possibility of a global revolt against corporate-centred trade agreements:
(A) funny thing happened on the way to the free trade free-for-all: A lot of people were becoming less rich and more angry, to the point that globalization seems set to go into reverse.

Maybe it should. The shocks unleashed by globalization have yet to be absorbed. The senseless deregulation of financial services and the globalization that went with it set the stage for the 2008 financial crisis, whose damage remains. Real average wages for low and middle-income earners have stagnated for decades in North America and Europe. Jobs continue to shift to countries, notably China, where costs are lower and industries are moving up the value chain. Disinflation is turning into outright deflation – falling prices – in some regions.
Western governments did virtually nothing constructive to manage the worst effects of globalization on their populations, such as the loss of millions of jobs.

No wonder more and more Europeans and North Americans are not buying the free-trade hype any more. The marginal trade gains could be more than offset by greater pressure on working-class jobs or laxer regulations on, say, food quality. Europeans also fear that both TTIP and CETA are essentially undemocratic. They were negotiated almost entirely behind closed doors, and both have dispute resolution mechanisms that would allow companies to sue governments for damages if profits are hit because of changes in government policy or regulations. In effect, the provisions would rob their governments of their sovereignty.
- Ed Finn reminds us of the role citizens need to play in shaping our own future. And Cheryl Santa Maria examines the flip side to misplaced anger about leaving oil in the ground by discussing the climate chaos that would result if (for whatever perverse reason) all available fossil fuels were actually burned.

- Chris Havergal reports on Christopher Martin's advocacy for a post-secondary education based on making further learning available to facilitate social involvement, rather than on the accumulation of massive debt which narrows students' future opportunities.

- Trevor Hancock discusses the policy choices around different retirement ages - and particularly the need to take into account an individual's type of employment and life expectancy, rather than raising an overall retirement age based on unequally increased lifespans.

- Finally, the Star makes the case for a review of Canada's tax code to make sure we're not bleeding needed revenues without some important policy purpose. 

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