Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Steve Roth points out how extreme concentrations of wealth lead to poor economic and social outcomes:
If wealth is consistently more widely dispersed — like it was after WW II — the extra spending that results causes more production. (Why, exactly, do you think producers produce things?) And production produces a surplus — value in, more value out. It’s the ultimate engine of wealth creation. In this little example, we’re talking a trillion dollars a year in additional spending and production. GDP would be 5.5% higher.

If you want to claim that the extra spending would just raise prices, consider the last 20 years. Or the last three decades, in Japan. And if you think concentrated wealth causes better investment and greater wealth accumulation, ask yourself: what economic theory says that $95 trillion in concentrated wealth will result in more or better investment than $95 trillion in broadly dispersed wealth? Our financial system is supposed to intermediate all that, right?
So how do we get there, given that we’ve mostly failed to do so for millennia? Start with a tax system that actually is progressive, like we had, briefly, during the postwar heyday of rampant and widespread American growth and prosperity. And greatly expand the social platform and springboard that gives tens of millions more Americans a place to stand, where they can move the world.

All of this dweebish arithmetic, of course, doesn’t put across the real crux of the thing: power. Money is power. So it is, so it has been, and so it shall be in our lifetimes and our children’s lifetimes (world without end, amen). This is especially true for minorities, who have been so thoroughly screwed by our recent Great Whatever. Money is the power to walk away from a shitty job. To hire fancy lawyers and lobbyists, maybe even buy yourself a politician or two. If we want minorities to have power, they need to have money.

Add to that dignity, and respect, which is deserved by every child born: sadly but truly, they are delivered to those who have money. You can bemoan that reality, but in the meantime, let’s concentrate on the money.
- And Chris Winters interviews Chuck Collins about the four types of policy needed to reverse inequality and build a fair economy.

- Jeremy Nuttall reports on the effect of foreign workers with minimal rights who are being imported to Alberta to drive down wages and working conditions. And Ben Schneider writes about a push by Australian unions to allow for negotiation by sector or supply chain to ensure that workers' hard-won gains in collective bargaining can't be so easily erased from the picture.

- Meanwhile, Rod Hill discusses how self-insurance for workers (in contrast to even the already-limited Employment Insurance system) is doomed to failure. 

- Finally, Tristin Hopper reminds us that most of Canada faces far higher cell phone plan prices than most of the developed world - and that the lone exceptions are found in provinces including Saskatchewan where a regional provider ensures more fair prices than the big three telecoms would otherwise offer.

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