Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jim Stanford discusses the need to inoculate citizens against shock doctrine politics, as well as the contribution he's hoping to make as the second edition of Economics for Everyone is released:
I suppose it is fitting (if tragic) that this new edition is being released into an economic environment that is still marked by fear, fragility and hardship. And this highlights a key theme of Economics for Everyone – and one of my key personal motivations as an economist whose career has been rooted in trade union and social justice settings (rather than in academia or business). Things will not get better for working people, if only the economy could recover, deficits be eliminated, and stability attained. Because this pattern of repeating crisis and growing polarisation is hard-wired into the DNA of modern capitalism: an economic system organised around the self-serving decisions of a surprisingly small and privileged segment of society. This crisis, no different from the last or the next, was not an unpredictable, unpreventable, one-off occurrence: a “black swan” event. Rather, it was the predictable, preventable result of an economy that puts the interests of financial wealth above the interests of the vast majority in working and supporting themselves. And it will happen again, unless and until we change the fundamental rules of the game.
(U)nemployment, stagnation, precarity, and austerity are not inevitable. They are the consequence of conscious choices by economic elites more concerned with protecting their privilege than with “growing the pie.” We possess the collective capacity to work and produce, and hence “pay for,” the consumption and services that we need for a decent life. The biggest hurdle may be political, not economic. How can we inspire, prepare, and mobilise large numbers of people into a common cause that puts people and the planet first on the economic pecking order, and fights for a world of sustainable full employment?

I believe that a central ingredient in our strategy must involve a deliberate strategy to build popular economic literacy among our communities and movements. For starters, we must have our own analysis of the current crisis: what happened, why it happened, what can be done to insulate working and poor people from its effects, and how to prevent it from happening again. We must have enough knowledge, and enough confidence, to reject false claims about why we are suffering, and what we can and can’t do about it.

And then we must go further. We need an inclusive, accessible and activist system for training our leaders and activists in the broader fundamentals of critical economics and political economy. And we need to do it systematically and energetically. Every social movement (unions, anti-poverty groups, equality campaigns, environmentalists, and others) needs to build this kind of education work into their overall movement-building strategy. This will strengthen our collective understanding of how the specific challenges we face stem from a common source: the structures and dynamics of financialised, globalised, aggressive capitalism. That understanding, in turn, will strengthen our collective ability to resist the regressive demands of employers and governments, and to fight for progressive change – both incremental and transformative.
- Meanwhile, Harsha Walia writes that Canada's immigration is doing exactly what the Cons want it to in handing a ready supply of disposable labour while limiting the opportunity for immigrants to find a place in Canadian society. But Ava Tomasula Y Garcia offers an example as to how our governments can create incentives for better corporate behaviour by pointing to Connecticut's new legislation requiring employers to pay back double any wages wrongly withheld from employees.

- Katie Hyslop, Chris Wood and David Ball are examining the challenges facing Canadians who are fighting a losing battle to find affordable and acceptable housing.

- Jim Bronskill reports that the Cons' intrusion into personal privacy through their new terror bill goes far beyond anything CSIS ever saw as necessary for public safety purposes. And Aaron Wherry looks at what comes next now that C-51 has been passed with Con and Lib support - though it's worth asking questions not only about how new secret police powers and information sharing might be treated after this fall's federal election, but also how they might be used to intrude on the election itself.

- Finally, Paul Jay interviews Kevin Zeese about the the TPP as the latest means of concentrating power in corporate rather than public hands, while Amy Kapcynzki writes (PDF) about its effect on health policy. And Brent Patterson discusses how the CETA be an obstacle to any meaningful action to combat climate change.

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