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.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Musical interlude

Orbital - Belfast

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jim Stanford discusses the decline (PDF) of Australia's enterprise bargaining system (and associated lack of wage growth).

- Patrick Butler reports on the tens of thousands of people who will be homeless for the holidays in the UK due in large part to the Conservatives' austerity. And Jennifer Quesnel reports on the likelihood that Saskatchewan families will face the same fate due to the Moe government's slashing of support programs. 

- Chuck Collins and Helen Flannery discuss the dangers of relying on philanthropy rather than sustainable public systems to meet vital needs. And Marianne Bertrand, Matilde Bombardini, Raymond Fisman, Bradley Hackinen and Francesco Trebbi study how charitable donations are used to increase corporate influence over government decision-making.

- Gary Yohe and Michael Mann points out that the U.S. is already facing thousands of avoidable deaths due to climate change, with far more looming in the future if we don't change course quickly. And Cory Coleman reports on the Saskatchewan Environmental Society's blueprint (PDF) for a provincial plan which would actually lead to a sustainable, low-carbon economy.

- Finally, the Globe and Mail's editorial board notes that Doug Ford's arbitrary and evidence-free politics raise just as many concerns for businesses as for citizens. And Fatima Syed reports on retroactive cuts to the Ontario College of Midwives as yet another prime example.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Alex Hemingway and David Macdonald point out the appalling wealth gap between British Columbia's privileged few and most of the population.

- ProPublica reports that the IRS is being used to exacerbate the similar gap in the U.S. by focusing its limited resources on the working poor rather than on wealthy individuals and corporations thumbing their noses at any social obligations. And Elizabeth Thompson notes that Canada still hasn't seen a single charge or conviction arising out of the Panama Papers.

- Nick Saul rightly argues that Ontario needs to focus on raising wages and incomes in order to respond to rising food prices and other costs of living.

- Dan Leger writes that the rise of bigotry in politics is fueling a growing number of hate crimes. And George Monbiot highlights a UK example of how the Koch brothers are bankrolling the descent into barbarism.

- Finally, Ryan Meili makes the case for the Saskatchewan NDP's renewable energy plan as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while also providing tangible economic benefits for participants. Matthew Taylor reports on London's declaration of a climate emergency (matched with a push toward carbon neutrality by 2030). And Peggy Lam reports that plenty of businesses are calling for a rapid transition to zero-emission vehicles as another crucial step in averting climate breakdown.

New column day

Here, on the outside interference becoming the norm in elections everywhere - and the Saskatchewan Party's choice to avoid even the slightest steps to ensure that provincial elections are centered on citizens rather than corporate messaging.

For further reading...
- I've previously written about the need to address the dangers of corporate money in Saskatchewan politics.
- Graeme Gordon and Jonathan Goldsbie reported on the funding behind the Ontario Proud astroturf operation, while PressProgress has previously pointed out its corporate fund-raising pitch.
- And finally, Stuart Thomson reports on the House of Commons ethics committee's hearings into election integrity. And Carl Meyer notes that Ontario Proud left MPs with plenty of unanswered questions.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Joe Pinsker offers a reminder that the wealthiest individuals are primarily concerned with positional rather than absolute gains - meaning that nothing useful is accomplished by diverting wealth toward them other than to drive up the price of status symbols. And Thomas Piketty thoroughly debunks Emmanuel Macron's excuses for abolishing France's wealth tax and otherwise governing solely for the benefit of the wealthiest few.

- Abby Olena discusses the Great Dying to be expected when oceans warm up to levels intolerable for the species which live there. The Canadian Press reports on the obstacle Canada's oil and gas industry presents in any attempt to meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Carl Meyer reports that the existing TransMountain pipeline bought by the federal government may be a money sink even before a nickel is spent on any expansion.

- PressProgress exposes how Jason Kenney arranged for a sham candidate to enter the UCP's leadership race for the sole purpose of attacking Brian Jean.

- Mike Crawley reports on the dark corporate money behind Ontario Proud's bigoted anti-refugee advertising in that province's most recent election campaign. And Martin Regg Cohn examines the first proceedings of Doug Ford's kangaroo court, while Robyn Urback takes note of the high cost of Ford's false efficiencies.

- Finally, Rachel Langford discusses the risks of Ford's lowering of standards for child care in the name of profit. And Alex Hemingway comments on the importance of taking health and safety into account in establishing policy for ride-sharing services.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Decorated cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Thomas Piketty sets out a proposal to start addressing inequality across the EU. Derek Thompson discusses how the U.S.' economy has been designed to squeeze younger workers at every turn, while Sean Coughlan points out that UK youth are skeptical that social mobility is a realistic prospect. And Miles Corak proposes unconditional learning bonds for less-wealthy families as one means of leveling the playing field.

- Matt Price comments on the importance of pursuing a large-scale transition to a cleaner and fairer economy in Canada - though he does miss the reality that the labour movement is already leading the push in that direction.

- Sharon Riley reports that most of the oil well sites certified as being "reclaimed" even under Alberta's already-insufficient regulatory system fall far short of meeting the definition. And the CP reports on a new study showing that the vast majority of oil sector emissions will get a free pass in the Libs' carbon pricing scheme.

- Meanwhile, Nick Falvo offers some considerations for Alberta's budget - including the importance of finally taking in a reasonable amount of tax revenue.

- Finally, Noah Smith writes about the impending battle over corporate monopolies, with particular attention to the effect of corporate dominance on workers in addition to consumers.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Avi Lewis contrasts the real crises which demand our attention against the manufactured ones which are instead promoted by far too many of our political leaders:
Even for those of us who have not yet experienced personal loss and trauma from climate catastrophe, the juxtaposition of our genuine planetary emergency with cynically manipulated fake crises is getting painful. It’s gaslighting on a national scale. We are bombarded by endless coverage of the fake crisis in the oil patch while the real crisis of all life everywhere is so often rendered invisible.

We are living in a state of planetary emergency. It has been declared by scientists, Indigenous leaders, social movements, and communities that were already living in a state of daily emergency long before the extent of the climate catastrophe became clear. We have solutions that will truly benefit everyone — especially those most marginalized and under attack by the current extractive system, and those currently working in industries that need to be wound down.

But we can’t get started until this emergency is felt — viscerally — by a great many more people, especially the hardest to reach: our political leaders. That’s precisely what is happening in the United States, where a generation of complacent corporate Democrats is suddenly being challenged by a crowd of impatient millennials, bursting with the urgency of their generation, creating an emergency for the political status quo. Apparently, losing power is the only crisis that politicians can really understand.
 - David Moscrop argues that it's long past time for climate change defeatists to get out of the way of the people with the hope and vision necessary to do the work to avert total climate breakdown.

- Stephen Cornish observes that Husky's uncontrolled SeaRose oil spill shows how reckless it is to approve offshore drilling and other projects which threaten water with contamination. And Andrew Nikiforuk confirms that fracking operations have been the cause of earthquake activity in B.C., leading to at least a temporary shutdown. 

- George Monbiot exposes how the Koch brothers are buying political influence in the UK and elsewhere - and choosing to do so by funding hate. And Monia Mazigh comments on the resulting increase in hate crimes in Canada and the U.S. - even as right-wing parties blithely ignore the dangers they've created and exacerbated for minority-group members.

- Hamid Dabashi notes that Justin Trudeau's Potemkin progressivism is no better for our long-term hopes than the reactionary politics of Donald Trump and his ilk.

- Finally, Sam Pizzigati examines who stands to lose and gain from GM's massive job cuts.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Charles Smith and Larry Savage write that Justin Trudeau's use of back-to-work legislation against postal workers may have far more significant consequences than he seems to have anticipated. And Christo Aivalis examines the next steps for Canada's labour movement - as well as their importance for the country as a whole:
...In a time of growing inequality, all Canadians need to think about the questions unions face: At what point does the concentration of economic power in the hands of massive multinational corporations limit workers’ ability to respond through the traditional means of collective bargaining? At what point does this power threaten to control the destinies of entire communities and regions, rendering the democratic will of Canadians, if not irrelevant, then certainly compromised? And will endemic automation – even if it’s farther away than some people fear – only serve to disenfranchise the masses in favour of an ever-consolidating elite with more control than ever? These were the essential forces that led to these setbacks for UNIFOR – after all, how could an American company unilaterally decide to gut a Canadian town, leaving both workers and government holding the bag? – but those issues will come to workplaces and communities everywhere before long.
When it comes down to it, we need economic systems that reflect the democratic principles we so cherish, the ones through which we define so much of our Canadian identity. Unions have been a force for generations, giving workers at least some input into the operation of their workplaces, and organized labour will always have an irreplaceable role in building and preserving a democratic spirit that goes beyond the ballot box. It is in all our interests that unions succeed in organizing the workplaces of the present and future, that our governments enact policies that assist in this process, and that we as citizens retain a skeptical eye towards the further concentration of economic power in unaccountable private hands.

If unions fail, our democracy may well be at stake.
- Helia Ebrahimi discusses the connection between economic stressors and a hundred thousand suicide attempts in the UK in the last year alone. And Kwame McKenzie points out how it's only the people already facing the most challenges who are being asked to sacrifice by Doug Ford's government.

- Henry Grabar writes about Minneapolis' decision to end single-family zoning which has long served as a major source of housing segregation. And Douglas Todd comments on the complex relationship between immigration and housing in Vancouver - including the reality that more for-profit development does nothing to ease the lack of housing availability for the people who most need it, regardless of their place of origin.

- Roberta Lexier and Avi Lewis argue that it's long past time for Canada's corporate welfare bums to start paying their fair share for a country that serves the best interests of its citizens. And Yanis Varoufakis and David Adler highlight the need to fundamentally reshape and empower sources of collective decision-making - including international institutions - in order to be able to respond to our common problems.

- Finally, Peggy Nash and Tracey Raney point out how more equitable representation and power-sharing is a necessary component of any plan to end gender-based violence.