Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Andrew Jackson discusses the problems with increased corporate concentration of wealth and power - including the need for a response that goes beyond competition policies.
In the 1960s, institutional economists like John Kenneth Galbraith described a world of oligopoly in which a few firms, such as the big three in auto, set prices in order to achieve profit targets. This cozy world was disrupted by increased international competition, and by deregulation and privatization of the utilities, transportation and financial sectors, but corporate concentration has staged a major comeback

Mr. Galbraith advocated countervailing power rather than competitive markets as a way to constrain large dominant firms. In his view, corporate power had to be balanced by the power of organized labour so that profits were shared by workers, and by the power of democratic governments to regulate prices, service quality, and product and environmental standards in the public interest.

A similar argument has been advanced by Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz in a publication of the Roosevelt Institute, Rewrite the Rules. Mr. Stiglitz believes that extreme income and wealth inequality in the United States is indeed closely associated with the increased market power of large corporations, and argues for increased regulation (especially in the finance sector), support for trade unions and stronger labour standards, and corporate tax reform.
In this new age of corporate concentration, we certainly need a much broader response than competition policy alone.
- Janine Berg and Valerio De Stefano discuss the need to provide regulatory protections for workers in the gig economy, while Rebecca Greenfield points out how a shorter work day can produce better results for workers and employers alike. And Laurie Monsebraaten highlights some of the hopes for Ontario's basic income pilot project in providing basic financial stability for people who currently lack anything of the sort.

- Meanwhile, Ivona Hideg points out how the Libs' plan to draw out maternity leaves only helps families who can afford to have a parent out of the workplace for an extended period of time. And Evan Johnston rightly rebuts the anti-worker proposals being made by corporate groups participating in Ontario's workplace consultations.

- CBC reports on this week's new research study showing how Christy Clark's Site C debacle represents a waste of billions of public dollars. And Carol Linnitt highlights five particularly egregious realities about the project.

- Finally, Geoff Leo exposes the shady connections between Saskatchewan Party MPs and holding companies whose purposes haven't been publicly disclosed. And Murray Mandryk notes that tolerating glaring conflicts of interest is business as usual for Brad Wall and his party.

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