Saturday, December 17, 2016

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Murray Dobbin highlights how our political and economic discussions are poorer for the dominance of neoliberalism:
That's it? That's the best the economics profession can come up with to explain Canadians' indebtedness catastrophe? It's all about human behaviour, written in stone, so I guess we might as well just sit back and observe the meltdown in the comfort of our economist's middle-class lifestyle.

But of course that's the very thing they should be examining -- people's determination to live the middle-class life style that our entire culture is based on and which the sophisticated marketing machine tells us we must have -- or we are losers. They need to explore this classic bait-and-switch: manipulate people to buy stuff and then suppress their incomes so they can't.

Carrick's article detailed just how serious the problem is -- repeating numbers that have been quoted numerous times: over 700,000 people would be financially stressed if interest rates rose by even a quarter of one per cent. One million would face that circumstance if they rose by one per cent. The Canadian Payroll Association regularly tracks people's financial stress and its recent survey revealed 48 per cent of people said "[i]t would be tough to meet their financial obligations if their paycheque was delayed even by a week. Almost one-quarter doubted they could come up with $2,000 for an emergency expense in the next month."

I'm sorry, but that's insane in a country that creates as much wealth as Canada does.

The fact is, those trapped within the context of neoliberal policies don't have a clue what to do.

But everyone knows it's going to get worse. The quality of jobs in Canada continues to fall with low-paid jobs making up an increasing proportion of the total (we are already second in the OECD), with those earning less than the average wage falling furthest behind. This is a continuation of a 12-year trend. Sixty-one per cent of Canadian workers have seen their wage gap increase. These are the conclusions of a recent CIBC report which also concluded that only 15 per cent of people aged 15-24 can be defined as genuinely "employed."

If economists and politicians (NDP -- please note) actually want to change this situation before it descends into full-on dystopia they must, as a UN report recently recommended, "jettison neoliberal ideology." That would include a long list of policies but let's just take one: "labour flexibility." Inequality, flat incomes, work-life imbalance and unsustainable debt can all to a large extent be traced to this deliberate government policy. Just reversing it would start a recovery. That means returning EI to an actual insurance program, reinstating the federal Canada Assistance Plan which provided strings-attached (read: humane rates) money to the provinces for social welfare, increase the minimum wage to living-wage levels, enforce and enhance labour standards and their enforcement, and make it easier, not harder, for unions to organize.
- Statistics Canada examines the gross increase in income inequality over the past three decades, as the bottom 50% of tax filers have seen their share of market income drop by over 28%.

- Iglika Ivanova offers some lessons to be learned from the CCPA's recent report on the cost of child care. And Pierre Fortin makes the case for a national child care policy, while recognizing the need for the provinces to lead the way.

- Meanwhile, Andrew MacLeod reports on the predictable results of B.C.'s privatization of health care administration - which wound up costing 50% more than the supposed price certainty found in the original contract.

- Finally, James Wilt points out that the Libs' climate change "framework" falls well short of meeting the already-inadequate targets they've adopted from the Harper Cons - and wonders whether Canada will end up having to pay for offsets rather than meeting the targets for itself.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Greg, neoliberalism has our governments by the throat. John Ralston Saul wrote about this a decade ago and said the way out began with imagining an economic model to replace globalism. Sandra Waddock of Boston College is part of a project doing just that, mapping out what we need to replace the dark era of neoliberalism. She wrote a piece in the Christian Science Monitor this week that's a must read:

    Those familiar with the Progressive movement in the US during the early 1900s will recognize the progressive precepts in Waddock's prescription.