Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Owen Jones discusses the importance of the labour movement in ensuring that workers can get ahead in life, rather than drowning in debt:
Nights spent staring at the ceiling as worries dance manically around the brain. Taking a deep breath before opening the gas bill. Sacrificing a hot meal so your children don’t need to. Living with personal debt can be draining and emotionally exhausting, and it is the everyday experience of all too many Britons. According to a new TUC report, 3.2m British households face problem debt, meaning they spend more than a quarter of their overall income repaying unsecured borrowings (ie, excluding mortgages). For 1.6m households in extreme debt, the picture is even bleaker: more than 40% of their income goes to creditors.

This is the lived experience of Britain’s working poor, those who keep the country ticking with their hard graft and are rewarded with poverty and insecurity. British workers have suffered the longest fall in wages since Queen Victoria sat on the throne. Between 2007 and 2015, real wages fell by an astonishing 10.4% - the worst fall in any advanced nation other than Greece. Growing personal debt is the price many British workers have paid for the disastrous economic failure of George Osborne and his colleagues – one of whom is now the nation’s prime minister.
In Nordic countries, it is the norm for workers to be unionised. Better living standards and more equality than we have in Britain are two of the byproducts. Jeremy Corbyn – near-certain to be re-elected Labour leader next month – has unveiled policies such as compulsory collective bargaining for companies with more than 250 workers. Such an approach would help lift the wages of workers, not only for their own good, but for the good of the British economy, too. But the positive case for trade unionism cannot just be left to politicians: it needs to be made by all of us. It needs to be put in a language that resonates with the millions of non-unionised workers, and particularly for younger people for whom the very notion of trade unionism seems culturally alien. Personal debt is a blight in modern Britain – and trade unionism is one of its cures.
- And PressProgress highlights how Canada's youth are also facing an unprecedented combination of large debt and minimal employment opportunities.

- Tom Parkin notes that under the Trudeau Libs, Canada's real economy isn't keeping up with the "like economy" - and that we need strong government action to improve matters at all. And the New York Times' editorial board highlights the role an affordable child care system can play in improving outcomes for parents and children alike.

- Scott Santens surveys a UK review as to how means-testing can create fatal holes in a social safety net. But Noah Zon raises some important questions as to whether a basic income represents the best way to strengthen our social supports.

- Johnny SanPhillippo points out that poverty and precarity are important factors shaping individual well-being even in the areas (mostly suburbs) which are all too often considered to be immune.

- Finally, Brooke Harrington discusses the utter futility of expecting any positive social or economic outcomes from tax haven status. 

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