Saturday, April 04, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Grace Blakeley points out the importance of putting our relief and recovery funding toward public investments, rather than the further enrichment of people with already-appalling concentrations of wealth:
We cannot rely on this crisis to undermine the ideology of shareholder value, which has become so entrenched within the UK’s – and indeed the world’s – largest corporations over the last several decades. If we want corporations to behave well – to treat their staff and suppliers well, to operate sustainably and to invest productively – then we must organise to demand more from both businesses and the state. 
(W)e must also organise to demand more from the state. At present, the government is simply dishing out free money to some of the country’s largest businesses with no strings attached – much as it did to the largest banks in the wake of the financial crisis. The government’s refusal to stipulate that the banks must lend to the rest of the economy in the wake of the crisis undoubtedly exacerbated the credit crunch. 

Government action is unlikely to stop at subsidies and loans – we will see a wave of corporate bailouts as this crisis progresses. We must demand that conditions be attached. Any companies in receipt of government support should be expected to retain as many of their workers as possible, cutting dividends payouts and senior salaries before undertaking layoffs. Longer term, they should be tasked with reducing pay differentials, promoting environmental sustainability and undertaking productive, rather than speculative, investment.

However this crisis plays out it is likely to transform both the UK’s corporate environment, and the governance of its major corporations. Either we will see the deepening of the logic of shareholder value, rendered much more powerful by the substantial support provided to large corporations by the state; or, we could lay the foundations for a new model of corporate governance – one that places the interests of stakeholders alongside, or even before, those of creditors and shareholders.
- Angela Carter and Keith Stewart extend the same logic to the fossil fuel sector, where we should be looking to support workers and communities rather than oil barons. But Kieran Levitt and Alex Boyd write about Jason Kenney's blinkered insistence on pouring money into shareholders' pockets, while Mitchell Anderson calls out the willingness of so many governments to facilitate the spread of the coronavirus through cramped work camps in the name of resource extraction.

- Kristen Pue writes that having failed to act to end homelessness before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we should be redoubling our efforts to make sure everybody has a secure place to stay (and distance themselves) now.

- On the bright side, Moira Wyton reports on British Columbia's move to boost the pay of long-term care workers.

- And finally, Jordan Himelfarb weighs in on the hopeful signs of improved social cohesion as we respond to a crisis.

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