Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Matthew Sears writes that we would be much better off prioritizing more than just cutting short-term costs and prices in making choices:
Are we really unwilling to pay more for our coffee as we are on our way to our well-paid and comfortable jobs (as mine certainly is) in order to ensure that workers are paid a liveable wage?

Can we really not summon enough social and economic imagination to think that businesses, and the real human beings that are in charge of them, can’t be at least encouraged to, well, behave a little less like businesses? I don’t know.

If it’s not cheap coffee, it’s cheap goods made through cheap labour in foreign countries that greases our wheels and to which we turn a blind eye. We no longer have chattel slaves or actively rule an empire (though, in practice, there are many in the world to whom these semantic distinctions make little difference).

But our democratic way of life, which we tend to think of as the freedom to do and live as we please and have what we want, seems awfully dependent upon others not enjoying those things.
The legacy of the Classical world isn’t all bad. Despite his faults (and he had many), we could learn a great deal from Aristotle’s ideas. These include ideas such as: The state is natural (an idea that social contract theories largely reject); we humans are at our best when we come together to ensure the flourishing, the eudaimonia, of all of society’s members.

I for one will be doing a great deal of thinking to figure out how I can help those who currently work minimum-wage jobs to be better off. I will start by not letting businesses — or politicians — off the hook simply for acting as we expect them to.
- Karen Weese comments on the high price of being poor in the U.S., while Aleksandra Sagan reports on the trickle-up economic effects of improved wages for lower-income workers. And the New York Times' editorial board points out how corporate tax cuts are mostly leading to raises only for bosses.

- Eric Levitz discusses the political cost the U.S. Democrats have paid for failing to recognize the importance of organized labour. And while Erik Loomis' response raises some questions about the feasibility of reaching better outcomes, the desirability of doing so seems beyond dispute.

- The BBC reports on Carillion's maneuvers to wriggle out of making pension contributions, ensuring that workers would bear the brunt of its failure.

- Finally, Robin Sears offers his take on how Jagmeet Singh can lead the way toward a more inclusive Canada, while Nora Loreto hopes that the memory of the Quebec City anti-Muslim massacre will spark a movement against bigotry. And Singh's message on the the anniversary of the mosque shooting goes a long way toward addressing both.

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