Friday, May 04, 2018

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Terry Schwadron writes about Donald Trump's war on the poor, while Rosemary Feurer and Chad Pearson highlight how U.S. businesses and their political pawns have undermined the labour movement. And David Climenhaga and PressProgress point out that we should expect exactly the same from Jason Kenney should he get the chance to make life worse for Albertans.

- Meanwhile, Matt Bruenig suggests that workers learn from the corporate consolidation of power to push for coordinated wage levels:
In theory, setting wages across the economy in a coordinated way through centralized labor agreements can solve both of these problems. It can make it to where you can employ everyone normally without risking inflation and can stop the wage suppression caused by low population and job-seeking frictions.

To understand why centralized labor agreements can solve the inflation problem that [a job guarantee] can’t, it is useful to conceptualize wage-price inflation as a classic collective action problem. Each individual, acting alone, has an incentive to maximize their wage, but if all individuals do it simultaneously and beyond a certain level, it sets off unsustainable wage-price inflation that ends up biting the workers one way or another. Coordinated wage-setting can solve this problem by ensuring that workers, and their representatives, hash out appropriate wage levels every few years. If the worker groups act responsibly, they will take note of what sort of wages productivity growth will permit and restrain their wage growth accordingly. In theory, this sort of wage price-fixing means that you can nip wage-price inflation in the bud and push unemployment all the way down without the need for jobseekers to bid down wages.

Centralized labor agreements also solve the employer market power problems that antitrust cannot. Rural workers will never have that many employers to choose from, but if those employers are forced to abide by the central wage agreements, the workers will be still be compensated fairly. Additionally, the diminished power that results from job-switching frictions need not suppress wages where strong unions can provide countervailing power that does not rely upon the threat of switching jobs.
- Neela Banerjee discusses how the U.S.' regulatory apparatus - and particularly the EPA under Scott Pruitt - has been turned into a servant of the corporate interests it should be regulating. And Carl Meyer reports on how the power of the state is being used to stifle reporting on public protests in Canada.

- Luke Savage reviews two new books on the causes and implications of increasingly authoritarian right-wing parties. 

- Finally, Sachin Jain comments on the role social interaction plays in individual health.

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