Saturday, February 10, 2018

Friday, February 09, 2018

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jim O'Neill proposes an end to corporate free-riding (and an assurance of contribution to the society which allows for profit) through explicit "pay-or-play" rules:
Since proposing a pay-or-play scheme for the pharmaceutical industry, I have come to think that the same principle could be applied more broadly in business. Larry Fink, the CEO of the asset-management firm BlackRock, might agree. At a time when many people have come to doubt that the modern global economy serves their interests, Fink has called on all companies to do more to make a “positive contribution to society.”

In my view, all companies, particularly those that are publicly listed, need to embrace the principle of enlightened self-interest, and recognize that a healthy society is better for their own business in the long run. But until they do, policymakers should start thinking about how pay-or-play schemes could be used to address growing popular disenchantment with a corporate sector where only insiders seem to benefit from rising profits.

Here in the United Kingdom, there are a few areas where pay-or-play schemes could prove useful. For example, many companies now organize their affairs in such a way as to avoid paying UK corporate taxes, despite having conducted their business here. So, why not replace the tax on reported profits with a pay-or-play tax on a percentage of their overall sales?
To be sure, many corporate leaders would hate such an idea. But at a time when the public is increasingly skeptical of corporations, CEOs are hardly in a position to complain about the effects Brexit will have on their bottom line. They need to open their minds, take out their wallets, and have faith in the promise of enlightened self-interest.
- Meagan Day argues that it's time to end the habit of handing free money to corporations like Amazon based on nothing more than the faith-based belief that their profits will somehow serve the public good. And Jen Zielinski's report on Airbnb's long-overdue compliance with basic requirements for businesses should also serve as a reminder of how much of what's branded as innovation consists only of efforts to evade necessary regulation and taxation.

- Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura writes that the UK is paying a massive long-term price in both human and budgetary terms for its reckless privatization of services.

- Andrew Longhurst discusses the public health benefits of a fair minimum wage - meaning that there figure to be plenty of long-term benefits from British Columbia's newly-announced (albeit gradual) increases.

- Finally, Michael Harris discusses the Libs' empty promises of reversing the Cons' environmental damage - particularly in the case of right whales. And Tom Parkin comments on the gap between Justin Trudeau's forced attempts at progressive branding and his consistent conservative policy choices.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Michelle Chen takes note of the influx of young energy into the U.S.' labour movement:
(I)n contrast to the myth of millennials’ being economically and politically adrift, they’re stepping in readily to fill the union ranks that have hemorrhaged middle-aged workers over the years—2017 actually saw an increase in the overall number of unionized workers over the previous year. A movement that we’re used to thinking of as getting older and smaller is actually growing stronger and younger—and they may well be leading the next progressive voting bloc in tandem with the labor movement.
millennials may experience unique push-and-pull factors that drive them into unions. As EPI details in a separate analysis, unionization counters the characteristics that make jobs lousy today: gender and racial discrimination, wage gaps and lack of advancement opportunities.

Union jobs provide a net wage premium for women, especially in service-sector jobs that often lack stability and livable wages. Collective bargaining and union representation are associated with significantly higher wages for black and Latino workers. Nationwide, unionized workers are more than 50 percent more likely to have an employer-sponsored pension, and the vast majority have health insurance through their employer—a virtual financial unicorn for millennials who are often tracked into freelance and gig work with few benefits. Workers under age 25 who are unionized earn roughly a fifth more than their non-union counterparts.

Because unions give workers a voice in their workplace, unions offer young people a progressive support network at work, including legal support if they suffer harassment and want to bring a grievance against an abusive supervisor, and a community of solidarity for organizing colleagues against biased or inequitable treatment. 
(W)hether they just cast a union vote or just landed their first gig, millennials have a keen sense of what they’re up against in the new economy, understand the challenges and opportunities of taking action at work, and, see unions are a springboard into the jobs, and justice, that they need and deserve.
- Meanwhile, as a reminder of the long-term benefits of collective action by workers, Guy Chazan reports on one German union's success in winning both a 28-hour work week and a substantial pay increase.

- In contrast, Ellen Smirl studies Winnipeg's privatization of waste collection and finds that it's served mostly to reduce pay and job security for the workers delivering public services.

- Karolina Walczak and Fallon Hewitt write about the particular dangers faced by homeless women. And Blooms reports on the freezing death of one Portland woman in the immediate wake of her eviction from a home for seniors and people with disabilities.

- Finally, D.C. Fraser reports that after first dragging its heels establishing any policy to deal with the legalization of marijuana, the Saskatchewan Party still hasn't bothered to consider its budget impacts.

New column day

Here, on the latest threats to a free and open Internet for Canadians.

For further reading...
- Again, Canadaland broke the story of Bell's push to make regulatory restrictions on website access a default answer to copyright issues here, while the FairPlay scheme is here (PDF). Michael Geist discussed some of the problems with Bell's position, while OpenMedia is leading the charge against it. And Sameer Chidra reported on the implicit response from the CRTC's Chris Seidl.
- Matthew Braga reported on Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien's push for a right to be forgotten by multiple means. And both Geist's response and David Fraser's previous submission are worth a look in analyzing the proposal.
- Finally, Marianela Ramos Capela discusses what should be a far larger issue - being the impact of high prices on general access to basic information services.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Ed Finn reminds us that Canada has ample resources to bring about positive social change - just as long as we start taxing the wealthy fairly, including by collecting taxes owed on money currently being stashed offshore.

- Pierre Fortin reviews the effects of Quebec's universal affordable child care program - and the reality that providing a similarly popular and effective program throughout Canada could similarly represent a net positive for public budgets (as well as a social benefit).

- Richard Partington examines the UK's growing inequality in the lead up to its Brexit vote. And Leonardo Bursztyn, Bruno Ferman, Stefano Fiorin, Martin Kanz and Gautam Rao study (PDF) the connection between a desire for status goods such as platinum credit cards, and a lack of self-esteem.

- Celine McNicholas, Heidi Shierholz and Marni von Wilpert discuss the new dangers to Americans after a year of Donald Trump's deregulation.

- Finally, Doug Cuthand comments on the clash between the Gerald Stanley murder trial and First Nations traditions, as well as the lack of representation on a jury where all Indigenous people were summarily excluded. And Murray Mandryk offers a reminder that there was only one victim in the shooting.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Tuesday Evening Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Aditya Chakrabortty comments on the stunning turnaround experienced by the UK city of Preston after it started making a concerted effort to use public money to benefit citizens and local development.

- Meanwhile, CNN Wires notes that in contrast, massize Amazon warehouses don't do anything to add to net employment. The Hamilton Spectator laments the fact that Ontario's government has decided to hand Loblaws an effective monopoly on transit cards. And Landon Thomas Jr. writes about the World Bank's new role pushing P3s as an added means of extracting wealth from countries which are already short on resources of their own.

- Amina Zafar reports on some cuts to Canadian generic prescription drug prices arising out of an agreement not to pursue a tendering process for a few years. But Vik Adhopia notes that we'll still end up paying far more than in New Zealand among other jurisdictions where tendering processes are actually used - meaning that there's still every reason to push for a more fair deal for the public.

- Tom Parkin discusses the need for stronger protection against sexual harassment beyond what the Libs have introduced so far. And Nathan Heller points out that precarious and gig workers are particularly vulnerable.

- Finally, the Globe and Mail questions the Libs' decision to shield incumbents from any accountability in their ridings.

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Coiled cats.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Joe Romm discusses new research showing that man-made greenhouse gas emissions have ended an 11,000-year era of climate stability.

- Thomas Walkom points out the contradictions in Justin Trudeau's declaration that there will be no federal climate policy without new pipelines. And David Climenhaga writes about the complete lack of any sustainable climate plan from the corporations profiting the most from the tar sands, while Kevin Orland reports that they're also putting off the work needed to remediate tailings ponds and otherwise clean up the damage already done to Alberta's environment.

- Meanwhile, James Wilt notes that a consensus against offshore drilling off the coast of Nova Scotia was apparently given no weight by the Libs as they decided to allow BP to drill oil wells. And Robert Cribb's report on the dangers of an unknown gas in Unity causing headaches and other health problems seems to have been needed for the provincial government to even acknowledge that anything was happening.

- Mariana Mazzucato and Gregor Semieniuk discuss the importance of actually shaping the economy through public policy and government investment, not merely treating government's role as one of fixing a system controlled by the corporate sector.

- Finally, Helaina Gaspard and Kevin Page offer some suggestions to ensure that the public has some say in Canada's federal budget process - both in having proposals included in budgets, and being able to track their progress.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Victor Cyr discusses the problems with a public policy focus on capitalism without any concern for human well-being. And Ann Pettifor highlights the concentrated wealth and power arising out of corporate monopolies, while noting that political decisions are behind those realities.

- Alan Freeman points out that Canada is facilitating tax evasion due to a gross lack of corporate transparency. And Marco Chown Oved reports that the federal government is more interested in pointing fingers at the provinces than working toward solving that problem.

- Stephanie Smith examines the problems with British Columbia's faith-based regulatory system which (like many others) is increasingly based on corporate self-monitoring and self-reporting. And Alex Hemingway offers some suggestions for John Horgan's next provincial budget to bring needed progressive change.

- Finally, Ian MacKenzie makes the case for B.C. to approve a proportional electoral system so that all votes count. Stephen Tweedale notes that proportional representation can help to remedy the control leaders now exercise over their parties by creating a stronger prospect that new parties can be viable. And Paul Wells sets out how Justin Trudeau's petulant refusal to consider any electoral system other than one which would promote even more false majorities for his party contrasts against the promises he made to win power:
What did Trudeau’s platform say? Here is the section on electoral reform, in its entirety:

“We will make every vote count.

“We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system. We will convene an all-party Parliamentary committee to review a wide variety of reforms, such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting. This committee will deliver its recommendations to Parliament. Within 18 months of forming government, we will introduce legislation to enact electoral reform.”

And you know, it’s funny, because the Liberal platform of the day was both voluminous—88 pages—and capacious in its margins, in the manner of an undergrad essay formatted to fill as many pages as possible. And yet in all that white space, the Liberals could not, apparently, find room to add “which we very clearly believe would be harmful to Canada” after the words “proportional representation” in the excerpt above. Formatting is such a delicate thing.

It would have been handy if the Liberal leader had specified before people voted, and before his ministers spent a year consulting them, that he had already privately discarded one of the leading systems of electoral reform.