Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz writes about the need to learn from past mistakes in order to build a sustainable economy for the future:
To someone like me, who has watched trade negotiations closely for more than a quarter-century, it is clear that US trade negotiators got most of what they wanted. The problem was with what they wanted. Their agenda was set, behind closed doors, by corporations. It was an agenda written by, and for, large multinational companies, at the expense of workers and ordinary citizens everywhere.

Indeed, it often seems that workers, who have seen their wages fall and jobs disappear, are just collateral damage – innocent but unavoidable victims in the inexorable march of economic progress. But there is another interpretation of what has happened: one of the objectives of globalisation was to weaken workers’ bargaining power. What corporations wanted was cheaper labour, however they could get it.

This interpretation helps explain some puzzling aspects of trade agreements. Why is it, for example, that advanced countries gave away one of their biggest advantages, the rule of law? Indeed, provisions embedded in most recent trade agreements give foreign investors more rights than are provided to investors in the US. They are compensated, for example, should the government adopt a regulation that hurts their bottom line, no matter how desirable the regulation or how great the harm caused by the corporation in its absence.
American capitalism in recent years has been marked by unbridled greed – the 2008 financial crisis provides ample confirmation of that. But, as some countries have shown, a market economy can take forms that temper the excesses of both capitalism and globalisation, and deliver more sustainable growth and higher standards of living for most citizens.

We can learn from such successes what to do, just as we can learn from past mistakes what not to do. As has become evident, if we do not manage globalisation so that it benefits all, the backlash – from the New Discontents in the north and the Old Discontents in the south – is at risk of intensifying.
- Meanwhile, Martin Wolf comments on the Republican tax plan which is built to benefit nobody besides plutocrats. And Michelle Goldberg notes that there's every reason for millenials to hate a capitalist system which is creating nothing but obstacles to basic security and personal progress.

- Heidi Shierholz discusses the Trump administration's latest move to reward the worst of the worst exploiters, this time by allowing employers to pocket employees' tips.

- Brian Doucet and David Hulchanski both write that the Libs' much-ballyhooed "housing strategy" falls far short of earning that title.

- Finally, Mike Crawley reports on the massive amounts of consumer money going to Ontario's private power generators for inappropriate expenses. And Don Pittis discusses how Canada's electrical system is already far over the amount of generating capacity it needs - with the public purse bearing the cost of old and inefficient generation through corporate-friendly fixed contracts.

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