Friday, February 02, 2018

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses the apparent destructive belief among Davos' elites that irrational exuberance and top-heavy economic gains are remotely sustainable:
The world is plagued by almost intractable problems. Inequality is surging, especially in the advanced economies. The digital revolution, despite its potential, also carries serious risks for privacy, security, jobs, and democracy – challenges that are compounded by the rising monopoly power of a few American and Chinese data giants, including Facebook and Google. Climate change amounts to an existential threat to the entire global economy as we know it.

Perhaps more disheartening than such problems, however, are the responses. To be sure, here at Davos, CEOs from around the world begin most of their speeches by affirming the importance of values. Their activities, they proclaim, are aimed not just at maximizing profits for shareholders, but also at creating a better future for their workers, the communities in which they work, and the world more generally. They may even pay lip service to the risks posed by climate change and inequality.

But, by the end of their speeches this year, any remaining illusion about the values motivating Davos CEOs was shattered. The risk that these CEOs seemed most concerned about is the populist backlash against the kind of globalization that they have shaped – and from which they have benefited immensely.
For the CEOs of Davos, it seems that tax cuts for the rich and their corporations, along with deregulation, is the answer to every country’s problems. Trickle-down economics, they claim, will ensure that, ultimately, the entire population benefits economically. And the CEOs’ good hearts are apparently all that is needed to ensure that the environment is protected, even without relevant regulations.

Yet the lessons of history are clear. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work. And one of the key reasons why our environment is in such a precarious condition is that corporations have not, on their own, lived up to their social responsibilities. Without effective regulations and a real price to pay for polluting, there is no reason whatsoever to believe that they will behave differently than they have.
- And Arwa Mahdawi comments on the "class-passing" needed for anybody to try to break through increasingly rigid class barriers.

- Polly Toynbee writes about the link between privatization, pollution and poor health in the UK. And Julia Conley discusses how Donald Trump's latest giveaway to polluters will put water quality at risk for Americans.

- Finally, Hayley Peterson reports on Whole Foods' use of stringent "scorecards" to control and punish employees, while Ellen Tannam reports on Amazon's plans to take constant monitoring to new extremes with bracelets to track warehouse employees' whereabouts at all times. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh points out how Ontario is continuing to allow employers to use temporary workers as a means of avoiding responsibility for health and safety.

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