Saturday, December 15, 2018

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Josh Bivens and Heidi Shierholz examine the source of a labour market which is offering little to workers, and conclude the issue is less increased employer power than the systematic destruction of workers' bargaining power:
  1. The biggest change in relative power between typical workers and their employers in recent decades has been a collapse of workers’ power. There is some evidence of increasing absolute employer power (e.g., through increased market concentration), but our view is that the bigger change remains the collapse of workers’ power.
  2. This collapse of worker power has been overwhelmingly driven by conscious policy decisions that have intentionally undercut institutions and standards that previously bolstered the economic leverage and bargaining power of typical workers; it was not driven simply by apolitical market forces.
  3. ...The lodestar for economic policy should be balanced—not necessarily competitive—labor markets. Many of the policy changes that have undercut workers’ power cannot be characterized as simply being “uncompetitive” per se. In competitive markets in economics textbooks, both employers and employees lack power. But in real-world labor markets, employers rarely lack for power, and our strong view is that policymakers should care more about balancing labor market power between employers and workers than about trying to create labor markets that are competitive in the textbook sense of the word.
- Meanwhile, Alex MacPherson reports on Scott Moe's feckless response to the predictable realization that corporate decisions have resulted in Saskatchewan losing the head office jobs that were supposed to have been preserved when PCS was sold.

- John Foster offers a reminder that pipelines won't help at all with the fundamental problem that oil has a finite lifespan as a viable industry - and that bitumen in particular doesn't hold much of a business case in the foreseeable future. The Economist points out that the tar sands are a particular barrier to Canada's climate change promises. And Normand Mousseau writes that while we're nowhere near a pace to reach even Canada's current unambitious emission reduction targets, it's entirely possible to get there with a reasonable amount of political will.

- Carl Meyer reports on Alberta's delays in implementing pollution restrictions. But in some promising news, Jeff Lewis reports on British Columbia's steps to clean up abandoned oil and gas wells.

- Finally, Nathan Jensen examines the general ineffectiveness of corporate incentives as a means of benefiting anybody other than the businesses looking to exploit the public.

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