Monday, July 30, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Robert Reich examines how a concerted attack on organized labour has pushed the vast majority of American workers into living paycheque-to-paycheque (or worse) while income and wealth have become increasingly concentrated at the top end of the spectrum:
Almost 80% of Americans say they live from paycheck to paycheck, many not knowing how big their next one will be.

Blanketing all of this are stagnant wages and vanishing job benefits. The typical American worker now earns around $44,500 a year, not much more than what the typical worker earned in 40 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Although the US economy continues to grow, most of the gains have been going to a relatively few top executives of large companies, financiers, and inventors and owners of digital devices.
(T)he share of total income going to the richest 10 percent of Americans over the last century is almost exactly inversely related to the share of the nation’s workers who are unionized. (See chart below). When it comes to dividing up the pie, most American workers today have little or no say. The pie is growing but they’re getting only the crumbs.

Over the same period time, antitrust enforcement has gone into remission. The US government has essentially given a green light to companies seeking to gain monopoly power over digital platforms and networks (Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook); wanting to merge into giant oligopolies (pharmaceuticals, health insurers, airlines, seed producers, food processors, military contractors, Wall Street banks, internet service providers); or intent on creating local monopolies (food distributors, waste disposal companies, hospitals).

This means workers are spending more on such goods and services than they would were these markets more competitive. It’s exactly as if their paychecks were cut. Concentrated economic power has also given corporations more ability to hold down wages, because workers have less choice of whom to work for. And it has let companies impose on workers provisions that further weaken their bargaining power, such as anti-poaching and mandatory arbitration agreements.
The combination of high corporate profits and growing corporate political power has created a vicious cycle: higher profits have generated more political influence, which has altered the rules of the game through legislative, congressional, and judicial action – enabling corporations to extract even more profit. The biggest losers, from whom most profits have been extracted, have been average workers. 
- William Davies points out how the trumped-up complaints about campus free speech peddled by the right serve primarily to distract from the takeover of most other spaces by the corporate sector. And Nora Loreto comments on the deliberate choice by right-wing pundits to stoke fear and hatred in the wake of the Toronto Danforth shooting.

- Robert Booth exposes how a UK right-wing "think tank" has been actively selling both research outcomes, and access to the Con government. 

- Alan Freeman points out the fiscal price of mindless populism. And Tom Parkin highlights the need for a plan for citizens to organize against the authoritarian tendencies of the likes of Doug Ford.

- Finally, Edward Keenan calls out Ford's choice to gratuitously undermine municipal democracy for the sole purpose of wreaking vengeance against perceived political opponents.

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