Saturday, March 04, 2017

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne questions whether Justin Trudeau's brief nod to precarious work and burgeoning inequality will be reflected in any action. But Sheila Malcolmson notes that Trudeau's say-anything approach includes turning himself into a human shield for Donald Trump, while PressProgress reports on the record-breaking petition to push Trudeau to keep his promise of electoral reform after he's tried to weasel his way out of it.

- Meanwhile, Mike Seccombe highlights how Australian labour policy is effectively designed to make it difficult for younger workers to find secure employment. And Marc Montgomery writes about the many existing jobs which are in danger of being automated out of existence in the near future. 

- Steve Roth points out how shared wealth is an essential part of economic development:
There’s a curious fact about the wealth and growth of nations that you rarely see mentioned: No country has ever joined the modern, high-productivity, rich-country club without massive doses of redistribution, and universal government programs for social support and financial security. Not one. Ever.
An explanation is perhaps not far to find. Market capitalism — especially modern “holding-company capitalism,” in which corporations own corporations which own corporations, ad infinitum — inevitably concentrates wealth and income into fewer and fewer hands. It’s just the nature of the beast. Along with its immense, world-changing, manifest benefits, market capitalism labors under that inescapable burden.

Then add an Econ 101 notion that is pretty much universally accepted, because it’s strongly supported by theory, empirics, and just plain sensible intuition: decreasing marginal propensity to spend. A poorer person is more likely to spend an extra dollar (in wealth or income) than a richer person. Because: the “utility” (or just benefit) purchased by that extra dollar is so much higher for the poorer person. The fourth ice cream cone, iPhone, or Lamborghini just isn’t as enjoyable as the first. So greater concentration into a few hands means less spending — in economic terms, lower “velocity,” or turnover, of wealth.
“Share the wealth” is a phrase that is very anathema to libertarians and free-market conservatives. But sharing — pretty much the defining act of of altruism and cooperation — lies at the very heart of humanity’s success as a species. Cooperation, altruism, and sharing are what got us to the top of the food chain. (We’re not talking here about the techno-utopians’ faux-“sharing economy,” in which you “share” your car and driving services — in return for money. We have another word for that: we call it trade.)
To put it simply: Yes. Prosperity requires a welfare state.

Or to put it another way: Widespread prosperity both causes and is greater prosperity.
- Finally, Laurie Monsebraaten reports on the Ontario NDP's effort to ensure that child care funding is about more than corporate profit centres - along with the Libs' refusal to consider the possibility.

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