Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Larry Elliott is optimistic that the UK's election result will lead to an end of destructive austerity. James Downie comments on the example Jeremy Corbyn's campaign provides for progressives in the U.S. (and elsewhere). And Karl Nerenberg writes about the importance of youth turnout in boosting Labour's fortunes.

- But Polly Toynbee offers a reminder as to how a first-past-the-post electoral system prevents voters' interests from translating fully into government decision-making.

- Gareth Hutchins reports on a new study showing that in Australia like in many other countries, any economic growth has been more than skimmed off the top by a well-connected few. And Jordan Brennan offers this chart on the similar effect in Ontario:

- Lana Payne discusses how a $15 minimum wage (and a living wage generally) would change workers' lives for the better. Meagan Gilmore highlights how unions are leading the way in pursuing domestic violence leave to ensure that work demands don't trap people in abusive relationships. And Nora Loreto points out the importance of building social movements in order bring about political change.

- Finally, Ed Finn writes that the business lobby's knee-jerk anti-government position misses the vital role of a strong public sector in building a functional economy and society:
The public and private sectors have become so interdependent that one cannot be attacked or diminished without hurting the other. Public expenditures often stimulate private sector activities. Many industries could not get started or keep going without government services and infrastructure. And of course governments need a robust economy to boost employment and generate the revenue they need to provide social services.

Public funds spent on making workers healthier and better educated provide the private sector with a more efficient work force. Public funds spent on roads, airports, and other utilities are essential to the operation of private industry.
That's the absurdity of the neoliberal assault on the public sector. Somehow more private industrial development is supposed to flow from less public education and research. More private X-ray machines, MRIs, and other hardware is supposed to be made for fewer public hospitals. More private cars and trucks are supposed to be driven on fewer public highways. A smaller public police force is supposed to guard larger private fortunes.

What is more likely to happen -- and what in fact has happened in recent years -- is that restraints on growth in the public sector cause overall national production to be slowed down, rather than causing a shift in growth from the public to the private sector.

You would think that, by this time, our political leaders would realize just how illogical, inequitable, and impracticable this self-defeating business dogma really is. Instead, they submissively continue to aid and abet the corporate kingpins in their deranged attacks on the public sector and public employees.

As long as this ignorance of public and private sector interdependence prevails, so will the cancers of social and economic deprivation, inequality, poverty, deregulation, privatization, crumbling infrastructure, and environmental degradation.

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