Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Michel Husson and Stephanie Treillet write that reduced work hours could do wonders for the quality of life for both workers who currently have jobs, and those seeking them:
The question is not so much if working hours will decrease, but how. The reduction can be general, with or without retention of monthly salary and compensatory hires; it can be targeted (precarity and part-time); or it can be extreme (unemployment).

Working-time reduction, collective and enforced by law, is an alternative to the expansion of part-time. Both fundamentally contradict each other.

There is a close link between working-time reduction and distribution of income. There are many ways to do it, each with obviously different effects on the distribution of wealth. The thirty-five-hour week has left wages unchanged, contrary to employers’ complaints, which accuse it of increasing the costs of labor. This result was achieved in two ways: by reducing social security contributions and by raising work intensity, which has reduced the policy’s potential for creating new jobs.

In other words, employers never stopped skimming productivity gains, thereby maintaining or even increasing their profit margins. These profits were not used to invest more, but to pay out more dividends. In 2012, an employee worked an average of twenty-six days per year for shareholders, instead of nine days in 1980.

What is not paid out to employees in the form of wage increases or job creation through working-time reduction is directly seized by the shareholders. This is why the rise and solidification of mass unemployment and this form of shareholder takeover (a good indicator of financialization) are two sides of the same “medal.”
- Adam Weinstein points out that nearly half of Americans would be unable to come up with even $400 in cash or existing credit to meet an urgent need - meaning that precarious work is being paired with even more precarious personal finances. And Louis-Philippe Rochon points out that Canada and the U.S. alike seem to be headed for a recession, meaning that many people living on the edge of disaster will soon find themselves headed into the abyss.

- Alana Semuels discusses how NIMBYism stands in the way of the construction of affordable housing where it can do the most good.

- Meanwhile, Erin Anderssen writes about the importance of stable housing as a vital element of treating many mental health issues. And the Globe and Mail argues that public support for psychotherapy represents another necessary component of an effective mental health system, while Ashley Csanady reports on the Mowat Centre's identification of pharmacare as another program which should be included in our universal health coverage.

- Finally, Economy At Work compares SaskTel to Manitoba's privatized equivalent and highlights just how much better off Saskatchewan is for retaining ownership of its own essential infrastructure.

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