Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Andrew Jackson summarizes and discusses Lance Taylor and Ozlem Omer's new book showing how the combination of wage suppression and growing inequality is the result of the conscious policy choice to weaken workers' collective bargaining power:

Taylor and Omer argue that the period since about 1980 has been one of persistent wage repression, the result of steadily falling union bargaining power and political influence over issues such as labour rights, the minimum wage and unemployment insurance benefits. Downward pressure on wages has meant that real inflation adjusted wages have risen little for the bottom 90%, and by less than the rate of growth of productivity. 

Taylor and Omer calculate that the share of capital in US national income has risen by eight percentage points of GDP since 1970. While the share of labour has correspondingly fallen. This has contributed massively to the rise of the income share of the top 1%, who have household incomes now averaging over $3 million per year and receive the majority of income from capital. 

The argument that extreme economic inequality is a major cause of economic stagnation is not new. But Taylor and Omer connect the dots in the data to confirm the diagnosis. Their analysis suggests that capital has become far too strong to sustain a robust economy and that an increase in labour bargaining power should be welcomed rather than resisted.

- Chuck Collins and Omar Ocampo point out that the billionaires seeing their fortunes grow thanks to pandemic profiteering can easily afford to share the spoils with the workers who enrich them - including by offering needed protection from COVID-19 rather than exposing them to injuries and illness. And Aidan Harper makes the case for a four-day work week (without a drop in salary) as a huge step in both increasing the relative power of workers, and allowing for desperately-needed balance between what's expected of workers and what they can realistically provide.

- Meanwhile, CBC News reports on the need for additional income supports to put an end to food insecurity. And Nick Falvo highlights how single people in particular face benefit amounts which are grossly insufficient.

- Eric Adams refutes the right-wing claim that there's some tension between Charter rights and effective public health measures. And Stephanie Taylor talks to Kyle Anderson about the desperate need for Saskatchewan to reduce viral spread as the holiday season approaches, even as the Moe government continues to drag its heels on any effective break in transmission.

- Patty Winsa reports on the increasing presence of poorly-regulated for-profit COVID test providers in Ontario. And Niclas Rolander reports on the vicious cycle of overwork and burnout among Swedish health workers facing the consequences of COVID-19.

- Finally, Emily Mertz reports that Saskatchewan ranks just behind Alberta as the provinces facing the most stress and the worst psychological health - even as the governments of both refuse to lift a finger to address either root causes or treatment. 

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