Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Noah Smith comments on the damaging effects of corporate concentration for workers, consumers and even the financial sector:
The biggest threat from the increasing dominance of big companies isn’t to Goldman Sachs, or even to retirement plans; it’s to workers and consumers. When companies squelch wages and raise prices, it reduces economic activity. It pushes workers out of the labor force entirely, sending them home to play video games on the couch as their job skills and work ethic rot. And it can result in lower output too -- fewer plane rides, fewer people buying broadband internet, few people buying new cars.
The risk is that economy becomes trapped in a toxic cycle. As industries grow more concentrated, dominant companies become a bigger piece of the stock market, and their profit margins push stock valuations higher. Politicians naturally will be less willing to take steps to make markets more competitive, allowing superstar companies to become even more powerful. All the while, retirement accounts do OK, but workers’ wages and the economy suffer from decreasing competition.

It’s important to reverse this vicious cycle before the problem becomes too severe. A bit of antitrust now would go a long way toward preventing oligopoly from turning into oligarchy.
- Meanwhile, Jennifer Wells writes that the stripping of workers' pension funds demands action, not Trudeauvian platitudes. And Mio Tastas Viktorson discusses some of the alternative models of ownership which can ensure that economic development is structured with positive social outcomes in mind.

- But Andrew Kurjata reports on the Libs' establishment of a democracy-free zone in Prince George which looks like a prime example of government allowing the corporate sector to operate without making any contribution to the public good.

- And Nav Persaud and Andrew Boozary note that opioid manufacturers who have faced crackdowns in the U.S. for misleading marketing have been allowed to keep operating without scrutiny in Canada.

- Finally, Mitchell Anderson points out the lack of any case for pipeline expansion based on anything other than wishful thinking. And Tzeporah Berman comments on the Libs' warped definition of a "public interest" in allowing biased assessment processes to govern the building of pipelines.

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