Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thursday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Des Cohen discusses how economic inequality has developed - and how it's now rewarding people for doing nothing more than worsening its effects. And Chase Burghgrave interviews Elizabeth Anderson about the employer-based power which is used to keep American workers in line:
You describe the authority of employers as like that of dictators, capable of micromanaging employees’ actions at the workplace as well as reprimanding them for their off-hour activities. Many conservatives and libertarians would probably take issue with workplaces being described in this way, citing the employee’s agreement to the employment contract as evidence of no wrongdoing on the part of the employer. Why should we see authority in the workplace as a form of governance and not as a contractual agreement between equals?

The case of the employer-employee relation is similar [to historical marriage contracts]. The state has determined the default terms of the employment relation through employment law. These establish a regime of “employment at will“: the employer can fire the employee for any or no reason, with very few exceptions, mostly having to do with discrimination. This grants bosses almost complete authority over workers, not only on the job but off duty as well.

Since the state has already put its thumbs very heavily on the scales in favor of employers, it is absurd to suppose that the employment contract is a product of negotiation between equals. Very few employees get a chance to negotiate at all.

While it is technically possible for the worker to negotiate better terms, in practice employers reject negotiation over the scope of employer authority out of hand, except for employees at the very top of the worker hierarchy and those represented by labor unions. Since they, like nineteenth-century husbands, have been dealt all the authority cards by default, why would they negotiate to give any of them to their employees?
- Joe Mihevc rightly argues that anger is an entirely justified response to the continued acceptance of poverty by political leaders. And Geoff Tily writes about the Bank of England's recognition that perpetually rising consumer debt can't be the foundation of a sustainable economy.

- Jacquie Maund and Hazel Stewart point out how a lack of public dental coverage leads to health and social harms.

- Shiri Pasternak writes that the Trudeau Libs are looking to impose a cultural of permanent austerity on First Nations (while dressing it up in rhetoric about self-governance). And Nancy Macdonald tells the story of Barb Kentner, who faces imminent death after a racist attack in Thunder Bay.

- Finally, Andrew Nikiforuk discusses the dangerous abandoned wells left behind by decades of Alberta PC fealty to the oil industry. And Sharon Kelly notes that  Saskatchewan isn't the only jurisdiction which has sunk billions into the false promise of "clean coal", as a Mississippi power plant initially designed as another attempt to whitewash coal power is instead converting entirely to natural gas (at a $3.4 billion loss).

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