- David Dayen highlights the treatment of workers as the most fundamental difference between Scandinavian countries which have achieved both prosperity and social justice, and the U.S. and others which have sacrificed the latter for false promises of the former:
But societies make choices at a more elemental level. You understand more about Sweden by seeing men with strollers in Stockholm neighborhoods at 2:00 in the afternoon than by reading any white papers on social spending. Those men have an expectation of work/family balance that allows them to bond with their offspring and be an equal partner in child-rearing. The policy comes after that expectation takes hold in the public consciousness.- Meanwhile, Chris Dillow sketches a useful outline for a policy agenda based on individual security and control. And Lillian Mongeau discusses the hidden long-term costs of insufficient child care.
Indeed, Sweden has the most generous parental leave policy in the world. Families receive 480 days off at 80 percent of their wages, which can be split between mother and father (and 60 days must be specifically allocated to the father). Sweden and Denmark also offer a “universal child benefit” to families with children, virtually eliminating child poverty. You see that pro-family policy manifested in the streets as you dodge young couples pushing prams. High-quality day care is subsidized by the state as well, in case both parents want to continue working. This lets Swedish and Danish families pick their preferred path, one that’s typically forced by circumstance in America.
Once you see the society-wide belief in what workers deserve, you recognize why they must have generous services to actualize this vision. World-class infrastructure is a pro-worker policy. The average Dane can choose between 24-hour subways running every four minutes, buses with dedicated lanes and turning arrows, well-kept and prompt trains, or wide bike lanes on every major street. They have options to get to work beyond soul-deadening waits in traffic. That makes them more productive and more available to spend time with families away from work.
Tuition-free higher education gives people choices for their field of study. Universal health care programs ensure they don’t go broke if they get sick. Union density of between 67 and 70 percent make some labor market regulations, like the minimum wage, irrelevant, because fair wages are bargained and even non-union workers have leverage. These policies fit into a coherent whole, where everyone understands that they collectively pay for services that give them the freedom to make choices about their lives.
- Jake Johnson discusses how social democracy serves as the needed alternative to exclusionary nationalism. And Derrick O'Keefe points out that it's important to focus on the "capital" aspect of foreign capital when recognizing which forces are restricting access to housing and other citizens' needs.
- Jerry Dias and Joel French each comment on the value and practicality of a $15 minimum wage for Alberta.
- Finally, O'Keefe points out that Justin Trudeau is doing little but echoing the Harper Cons' foreign policy - but with virtually none of the scrutiny. And Steven Chase points to the use of Canadian-made equipment in Saudi Arabia government raids as an example of how both our previous and current federal governments have chosen to ignore glaring human rights issues.