Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Matthew Yglesias offers his take on how to strengthen the U.S.' economy through full employment and improved wage and family benefits. And Richard Florida discusses how everybody can benefit if an increasingly important service sector starts to provide higher wages and better work:
The only way to close Canada’s yawning economic divide and rebuild the middle class is to upgrade the wages and working conditions of Canada’s service workers.

Increasing the minimum wage, as Ontario is doing, is an important first step. And, it is important to link the minimum wage to the steep variation in the cost of living across cities: $15 an hour buys a lot less in expensive cities like Toronto and Vancouver than in does in many smaller places. Indeed, nearly half of Canada’s low-paid service workers are concentrated in the nation’s five largest metros — Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. But it is only a first step.

The real key is to upgrade the millions of low-wage service jobs that workers across Canada toil in. We fail as a society if 40 per cent of Canada’s workforce is condemned to toil in such low-wage precarious jobs.
It has been done before. During the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, Canada and other advanced nations turned low wage manufacturing work into middle-class family supporting work. Henry Ford famously initiated his $5 a day pay policy to enable blue collar workers to purchase the cars they were making on the assembly line.

The government created new labour laws that enabled workers to form unions and bargain collectively enabling blue-collar wages to rise higher. Manufacturing companies developed strategies to involve more high-paid blue-collar workers in efforts to improve quality, productivity and ultimately profits, creating a win-win cycle. The same can be done for low-wage service work, the analog of blue-collar factory work today.
- Hugh Muir discusses how only the wealthy few actually benefit from selectively open borders - including the ability to purchase citizenship or immigration rights when it becomes convenient.

- Amanda Carver writes about the importance of using evidence-based approaches to solving homelessness - including the Housing First model that has proven successful. Jordan Press writes that the Trudeau Libs are willing to talk about a right to housing, but not to back it up with any meaningful steps to actually provide it. The Star's editorial board comments on how the growing use of food banks to paper over the unmanageable cost of rent highlights the need for a housing benefit. And Robert Booth reports on new research showing how housing has become unaffordable for young workers in the UK.

- Mike De Souza highlights how the same National Energy Board which has shrouded pipeline approvals in secrecy has been entirely reckless with the personal information of journalists trying to report on its activity. And Justin Gillis discusses how human behaviour is the great unknown in trying to project the damage to be done by climate change.

- Finally, Gary Mason writes that John Horgan's NDP is finally bringing British Columbia into the 21st century with effective campaign finance rules - leaving Saskatchewan as the only laggard. And Bob Mackin's slightly dated report on the B.C. Libs' advertising spending is worth noting again, as it shows the party which is now set to scream bloody murder over public financing for political parties had no scruples whatsoever about using similar amounts of public money solely for its own self-promotion.

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