Sunday, April 05, 2015

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Joe Gunn argues that it's long past time for Canada to live up to its climate commitments. And Carol Linnitt writes that further delay will do nothing but damage to our economy and our democracy as well as our planet:
Taking meaningful climate action would mean increasing green infrastructure, prioritizing sustainable cities and investing in renewable and low-carbon sources of energy.

It would also mean slowing the rate of expansion of oil and gas projects including the oilsands, which would eventually put a stop to new pipeline projects. That would come with the added benefits of respecting the rights of local municipalities fighting pipelines and First Nations actively engaged in legal battles against both the provincial and federal governments for industrial incursions on traditional territory.

These are called co-benefits. They're something the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted in a recent report, saying climate action comes with a host of "co-benefits, synergies and tradeoffs" that naturally result from responsible and practical long-term thinking.

In general, countries getting serious in the fight against climate change are setting themselves up to enjoy all sorts of co-benefits that Canada might miss out on, like energy efficiency, clean energy, pollution reduction, water conservation, greener cities, increased recycling, sustainable agriculture, forest preservation, healthier communities, stronger human rights practices, better protection for indigenous peoples and their way of life, cleaner oceans, more democratic and collaborative politics and more.
- Paul Krugman reminds us that it's entirely possible to push for fair wages while helping the broader economy:
(T)he market for labor isn’t like the markets for soybeans or pork bellies. Workers are people; relations between employers and employees are more complicated than simple supply and demand. And this complexity means that there’s a lot more wiggle room in wage determination than conventional wisdom would have you believe. We can, in fact, raise wages significantly if we want to.

How do we know that labor markets are different? Start with the effects of minimum wages. There’s a lot of evidence on those effects: Every time a state raises its minimum wage while neighboring states don’t, it, in effect, performs a controlled experiment. And the overwhelming conclusion from all that evidence is that the effect you might expect to see — higher minimum wages leading to fewer jobs — is weak to nonexistent. Raising the minimum wage makes jobs better; it doesn’t seem to make them scarcer.
(I)t shouldn’t be all that hard to raise wages across the board. Suppose that we were to give workers some bargaining power by raising minimum wages, making it easier for them to organize, and, crucially, aiming for full employment rather than finding reasons to choke off recovery despite low inflation. Given what we now know about labor markets, the results might be surprisingly big — because a moderate push might be all it takes to persuade much of American business to turn away from the low-wage strategy that has dominated our society for so many years.

There’s historical precedent for this kind of wage push. The middle-class society now dwindling in our rearview mirrors didn’t emerge spontaneously; it was largely created by the “great compression” of wages that took place during World War II, with effects that lasted for more than a generation.

So can we repeat this achievement? The pay raises at Walmart and McDonald’s — brought on by a tightening job market plus activist pressure — offer a small taste of what could happen on a vastly larger scale. There’s no excuse for wage fatalism. We can give American workers a raise if we want to.
- Amy Minsky reports on the Cons' cuts to transport safety, while Kelsey Johnson exposes the Cons' concurrent cuts to meat inspection which are raising the risk of another listeria crisis. And Andrea Huncar reports on Alberta's actions to cut injured temporary foreign workers off from needed health care, while Ethel Tungohan introduces us to some of the people the Cons have declared to be illegal in Canada.

- Susan Delacourt argues that a focus on the Duffy bribery scandal is largely serving to distract us from more important issues. And Marina Hyde laments that the UK's election seems to be running on little more than auto-pilot in terms of both candidates' actions and the press' coverage.

- But the Independent writes that at least UK voters are enjoying far more choice as a result of years of coalition government.

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