Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Stephanie Blankenburg and Richard Kozul-Wright comment on the rise of rent-seeking as a driver of stagnation and inequality. And George Monbiot argues that we shouldn't let our common wealth be used for the sole benefit of a privileged few:
A true commons is managed not for the accumulation of capital or profit, but for the steady production of prosperity or wellbeing. It belongs to a particular group, who might live in or beside it, or who created and sustain it. It is inalienable, which means that it should not be sold or given away. Where it is based on a living resource, such as a forest or a coral reef, the commoners have an interest in its long-term protection, rather than the short-term gain that could be made from its destruction.

The commons have been attacked by both state power and capitalism for centuries. Resources that no one invented or created, or that a large number of people created together, are stolen by those who sniff an opportunity for profit. The saying, attributed to Balzac, that “behind every great fortune lies a great crime” is generally true. “Business acumen” often amounts to discovering novel ways of grabbing other people’s work and assets.
Enclosure creates inequality. It produces a rentier economy: those who capture essential resources force everyone else to pay for access. It shatters communities and alienates people from their labour and their surroundings. The ecosystems commoners sustained are liquidated for cash. Inequality, rent, atomisation, alienation, environmental destruction: the loss of the commons has caused or exacerbated many of the afflictions of our age.
I’m not proposing we abandon either market or state, but that we balance them by defending and expanding the two neglected sectors. I believe there should be wages for carers, through which the state and private enterprise repay part of the subsidy they receive. And communities should be allowed to take back control of resources on which their prosperity depends. For example, anyone who owns valuable land should pay a local community land contribution (a form of land value tax): compensation for the wealth created by others. Part of this can be harvested by local and national government, to pay for services and to distribute money from richer communities to poorer ones. But the residue should belong to a commons trust formed by the local community. One use to which this money might be put it is to buy back land, creating a genuine commons and regaining and sharing the revenue...

A commons, unlike state spending, obliges people to work together, to sustain their resources and decide how the income should be used. It gives community life a clear focus. It depends on democracy in its truest form. It destroys inequality. It provides an incentive to protect the living world. It creates, in sum, a politics of belonging
- Meanwhile, Jim Stanford examines the impact of public-sector austerity, and finds that wage cuts for public servants lead to both wage suppression in all sectors, and overall economic stagnation.

- David Macdonald studies (PDF) the effects of income splitting in private corporations, and finds that 0.3% of Canadian households use a tax loophole whose gains go disproportionately to people making over $200,000 per year.

- Colleen Fuller discusses how the corporate sector has taken over Canada's health care system - particularly in British Columbia and other provinces which have been eager to sell off health provision to big business.

- Jenny Uechi reports that the response of corporate titans to the revelations as to how they pulled the strings in Christy Clark's B.C. Lib government is to claim that's how things should be. Meanwhile, Ross Marowits reports that the Trudeau Liberals are going along with SNC-Lavalin's self-serving plan to make sure that corporate criminality doesn't lead to meaningful consequences.

- Finally, Michael Geist writes that Bell is lobbying to turn NAFTA into a mechanism to attack consumers in the name of extreme copyright enforcement.

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