Friday, September 07, 2018

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Paul Krugman writes that progressive voices need to reclaim the theme of freedom as it becomes increasingly obvious how deprivation and precarity deprive people of meaningful choices:
(L)arge economic players are dominating more and more of the economy. It’s increasingly clear, for example, that monopsony power is depressing wages; but that’s not all it does. Concentration of hiring among a few firms, plus things like noncompete clauses and tacit collusion that reinforce their market power, don’t just reduce your wage if you’re hired. They also reduce or eliminate your options if you’re mistreated: quit because you have an abusive boss or have problems with company policy, and you may have real trouble getting a new job.

But what can be done about it? Corey Robin says “socialism” – but as far as I can tell he really means social democracy: Denmark, not Venezuela. Government-mandated employee protections may restrict the ability of corporations to hire and fire, but they also shield workers from some very real forms of abuse. Unions do somewhat limit workers’ options, but they also offer an important counterweight against corporate monopsony power. 

Oh, and social safety net programs can do more than limit misery: they can be liberating. I’ve known many people who stuck with jobs they disliked for fear of losing health coverage; Obamacare, flawed as it is, has noticeably reduced that kind of “lock in”, and a full guarantee of health coverage would make our society visibly freer.
(T)here are no perfect answers to the inevitable sacrifice of some freedom that comes with living in a complex society; utopia is not on the menu. But the advocates of unrestricted corporate power and minimal worker protection have been getting away for far too long with pretending that they’re the defenders of freedom – which is not, in fact, just another word for nothing left to lose.
- Alister Doyle and Nina Chestney report on the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate's research showing that the global economy stands to benefit by trillions of dollars per year from low-carbon development. And Dale Marshall questions why we do anything but laugh about the "jobs" spin from a fossil fuel industry which already offers relatively few compared to other economic sectors, and is looking to "zero man" what's left.

- Jeremy Caradonna offers six reasons why proportional representation in British Columbia (and elsewhere) would produce better climate policy. And Mitchell Beer's worthwhile list of climate suggestions for Justin Trudeau is all too likely to be ignored by a government exercising false majority power for the benefit of the oil sector.

- Andre Picard discusses the latest data continuing to show widespread poverty, hunger and mental health concerns among Canadian children. And Clare Hennig comments on the struggle poor families face trying to meet the financial demands of an education system which lacks the resources needed to provide for children's needs.

- Finally, Peter Lozinski notes that in the midst of already-grim figures about family savings and debt in Canada as a whole, Saskatchewan stands out for a combination of low savings, high debt, and a lack of optimism that anything will improve.

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