Saturday, October 08, 2016

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Jim Stanford writes about the obvious problems with globalization as it's currently structured - and the need to meaningfully take into account the public interest before anybody other than the investor class can be expected to participate in the process:
The reality is that hundreds of millions of people across the developed world (and in many developing countries, too) have been hurt by globalization as presently practised: whereby mobile private companies decide what to produce and where, and every jurisdiction can only bow down to business in hopes of capturing a slice of scarce investment and jobs.

We must remember that the economic theory underpinning free trade assumes that all resources (including all workers) will be productively employed, that trade flows will be balanced and mutually beneficial, and that the efficiency gains from trade will be shared throughout society. In the quantitative economic models routinely trotted out to “sell” each new trade deal, these assumptions are embodied in mathematical equations imposing full employment, balanced trade and the existence of a “representative household” (portraying each country as one big family, happily sharing all its wealth). None of these assumptions has any connection to reality; they are all imposed for the mathematical (and ideological) convenience of the economists.
Going to those devastated communities, the fodder for Brexit and Mr. Trump, and telling them they aren’t really unemployed, and are in fact better off than they think they are, will hardly turn the tide of this debate. If we want to avoid the isolationism, xenophobia and worse that Mr. Trump and his ilk portend, we must start by recognizing that there is indeed a downside to free trade.

Acknowledging that modern free trade produces losers as well as winners allows us to start developing and implementing policies to moderate those downsides – and purposely share the upsides. This means actively managing trade flows, limiting beggar-thy-neighbour trade surpluses, supporting incomes for all workers, ensuring sensible and fair exchange rates, and actively fostering domestic investment in desirable, trade-intensive industries.

All this implies a much bigger role for government in managing globalization than free-traders imagine. But it would be an infinitely more effective response to the gathering backlash, than trying to convince suffering people that they have nothing to complain about.
- Owen Jones highlights the need for Labour (like other progressive parties) to offer a voice to the working class - particularly given the dangers of allowing real insecurity to provide an opening for false populists. And Chris Kahn identifies a contrast in views about avoiding taxes as a key fault line between the likes of Donald Trump and the people whose votes could bring them to power.

- Richard Kozul-Wright weighs in on the problems with an economy built to enrich executives and shareholders at the expense of society at large. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh discusses the importance of workers' rights in the face of employer efforts to make employees' lives more precarious. 

- Brendan Haley points out that Nova Scotia's knee-jerk resistance to a federal carbon price was utterly misguided. Bruce Johnstone informs Brad Wall that a climate obstructionist has no credibility when it comes to criticizing any attempt to solve a global problem. Andrew Coyne observes that the Libs' actual announcement was a modest one. And Toby Sanger offers plenty of suggestions as to how to address any complaints about the effect of a carbon price.

- Finally, Cory Doctorow writes that the Libs' supposed consultation on security policy has turned into little more than a sales pitch for total surveillance. And Alison Crawford notes that a roundtable on the community effects of security policy has been left behind even as the state has become more intrusive over the past couple of years.

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