Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Armine Yalnizyan comments on the need for a widespread and sustained challenge to the corporate powers which currently dominate political and economic decision-making:
(P)ublic and private investments are the twin engines that propel shared prosperity. But where will the money come from for the public role? Labour is taxed more heavily than capital, but labour’s share of GDP is falling in most places, and within labour’s share inequality is rising. Meanwhile, as fewer companies dominate more markets, globe-straddling corporations are becoming larger and more difficult to regulate and tax. In a period that begs for more international coordination, the backlash against globalization and rise of nationalism may hobble rather than strengthen protections of the weak against the strong.

The antidote — people more involved in the decisions that affect them, more diversity at the table — has challenges too. Social dialogue is the secret sauce of better, more durable decision-making; yet tripartite processes (labour, business, government) have limits.

Business interests are consistent and well-organized. Newly elected governments may be determined to undo the work of their predecessors. Labour does not speak with one voice, and the most exploited workers are rarely represented by a union or covered by basic social protections. In local or global processes, shared problem-solving is often dominated by corporate interests, bringing us back to the beginning: popular rejection of business-as-usual.

Still, history is laden with examples of the weak wresting power from the powerful, creating more bountiful futures for all. A century ago millions of women seeking equality, workers without protections, and a tsunami of immigrants collided with the interests of a handful of corporate titans and politicians.

Shift happened. It’s happening again. Women, workers and migrants don’t wield much power, but, as a new generation of leaders are showing the world, they are the people who change the power dynamics of societies that are stuck in a rut. Buckle up. It’s always a bumpy ride when the status quo is faced with a renewed vision of power and purpose.
- Franklin Foer discusses how kleptocracy has become the primary economic model in the U.S. and around the globe. And Marie-Danielle Smith reports that the OECD is understandably monitoring any preferential treatment of SNC-Lavalin as an indicator of the tolerance of corruption in Canada.

- Sarah Cox reports on British Columbia's massive liabilities attached to orphaned fracking sites - signalling that the problem already identified in Alberta is more widespread than previously publicized.

- Jim Stanford offers some observations on the renewed push for a living wage. And Robert Booth and Matthew Holmes report on the promising move toward a four-day work week among an increasing number of UK businesses.

- Finally, Raizel Robin discusses the case to treat secure access to food as a human right, rather than a market commodity which is out of reach for far too many.

[Update: Corrected day. It's Thursday somewhere, right?]

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