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Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Duncan Cameron discusses how Canada can respond to being stalled economically: In 2011 median earnings in Canada were $30,000. That means one-half of Canadian workers earned less than $30,000. What is more to the point is that earnings in 2011 were $1,800 below the level attained in 1977 (inflation adjusted 2011 dollars)! The pay packet for workers shrunk over that 24 year period.

It’s a big stall — an awful lot of Canadians are not getting ahead.…What has escaped economic stagnation, and gone up in value is what Thomas Piketty called patrimonial (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Alex Hunsberger argues that the Good Jobs Summit reflected a gap between labour strategies aimed merely at trying to take a slightly larger cut of a corporate-owned system, and those which actually propose and fight for something better: The most useful and engaging part of the weekend occurred not in the plenary sessions but during the small group discussions on Saturday, where participants had a chance to talk to one another in more depth about questions related to labour’s strategy to improve conditions for workers…Participants asked questions such as: Why bribe (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- The Star points out what the Cons have destroyed – including public assets and program spending – in order to chip away at the federal deficit caused in the first place by their reckless tax slashing. And Thomas Walkom discusses how their latest “job” scheme does nothing but handing free money to businesses, while Angella MacEwen notes that Canada as a whole is hundreds of thousands of jobs short of reaching its pre-recession employment rate.

- Meanwhile, Bruce Cheadle writes that the Cons’ attempt to build an economy solely around resource exploitation has (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Ezra Klein discusses how a corporate focus on buybacks and dividends rather than actually investing capital leads to less opportunities for workers. Nora Loreto offers her take on precarious work in Canada. And Lynne Fernandez and Kirsten Bernas make the case for a living wage in Manitoba and elsewhere.

- Paul Krugman writes that if the Republicans manage to take both houses of Congress, we can expect them to turn voodoo economics into the default means of evaluating policy choices.

- Murray Mandryk crunches some numbers and finds that the main effect (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Sean McElwee is the latest to highlight how only a privileged few benefit in either the short term or the long term from unequal economic growth: Milanovic and van der Weide decided to investigate how inequality affects growth across the income spectrum. They used a state-level survey conducted once every decade to estimate annualized income growth at different income percentiles. What the researchers find is that the old story of “trickle down” economics have no support in the data — instead, inequality boosts growth only for the rich.…When the authors dug deeper (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Andrew Jackson takes a look at some dire predictions about the continued spread of inequality, and notes that we need to act now in order to reverse the trend. And UN Special Rapporteur Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona discusses how more progressive tax policies – including a focus on maximizing revenue – are needed to support both greater equality and the effective exercise of human rights: States must realize the full potential of tax collection as a tool to generate revenue for the fulfilment of human rights obligations and to redress discrimination and inequality. Human (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Charlie Smith discusses – and then follows up on – Donald Gutstein’s work in tracing the connections between the Harper Cons and the shadowy, U.S.-based network of right-wing propaganda mills: In Harperism: How Stephen Har­per and His Think Tank Colleagues Have Transformed Canada (James Lorimer & Company Ltd.), Gutstein makes the case that neoliberalism is far more sinister than simply having a desire for smaller government. A central tenet of his new book is that Harper is undermining democracy by marshalling the power of government to create and enforce (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension: Conservative Prostitution Bill: Two Steps Back

Protest against Bill C-36, Toronto, June 14, 2014; photo by Jenn Peters.

Last year, Canada’s Supreme Court made a landmark decision for sex workers. A major step towards occupational health and safety, the decision was lauded by advocacy organizations across North America, and hailed as a progressive move forward. Now, Peter MacKay, the Minister of Justice, has proposed legislation that would take labour rights in Canada two major steps back. Why? Because those workers are sex workers.

The landmark ruling in December 2013 was the Bedford ruling, which determined that sections of Canada’s Criminal Code pertaining to prostitution are unconstitutional. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Following up on yesterday’s column, Michael Harris offers his take on how Stephen Harper refuses to accept anything short of war as an option: Stephen Harper talks as if this is yet another of those good-versus-evil fables he is always passing off to the public as deep analysis and sound policy.

More honest and experienced minds make a more rational case. In the United Kingdom, the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove said that politicians are merely taking advantage of a distortion towards Islamic extremism. That distortion was branded on the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Abdul Abiad, David Furceri and Petia Topalova highlight the IMF’s research confirming that well-planned infrastructure spending offers an economic boost in both the short and long term: (I)ncreased public infrastructure investment raises output in the short term by boosting demand and in the long term by raising the economy’s productive capacity.

In a sample of advanced economies, an increase of 1 percentage point of GDP in investment spending raises the level of output by about 0.4 percent in the same year and by 1.5 percent four years after the increase (see chart, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On deflection

Shorter Your Corporate Overlords: It turns out most of the information we supplied to get a free pass on importing disposable foreign workers was laughably inaccurate. And we’re outraged that anybody was foolish enough to believe us.

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig reminds us that while growing inequality may have different impacts on older workers as compared to younger ones, it arises based on fault lines which have nothing to do with age: (T)he suggestion that seniors as a group receive too much government support is absurd. Rich seniors, who need it least, are dramatically over-subsidized by government. Poor seniors — the ones who need more help — have been all but abandoned by the Harper government.

For that matter, the precarious financial situation faced by the young is part of the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Robert Reich discusses how our economic system is set up to direct risk toward the people who can least afford to bear it (while also directing the spoils to those who need them least): Bankruptcy was designed so people could start over. But these days, the only ones starting over are big corporations, wealthy moguls, and Wall Street.

Corporations are even using bankruptcy to break contracts with their employees. When American Airlines went into bankruptcy three years ago, it voided its labor agreements and froze its employee pension plan.

After it emerged (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Linda Tirado writes about life in poverty – and the real prospect that anybody short of the extremely wealthy can wind up there: I haven’t had it worse than anyone else, and actually, that’s kind of the point. This is just what life is for roughly one-third of Americans and one in five people in Great Britain. We all handle it in our own ways, but we all work in the same jobs, live in the same places, feel the same sense of never quite catching up. We’re not any happier about exploding (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- In the context of Scotland’s referendum on independence, Polly Toynbee reminds us why fragmentation can only serve to exacerbate inequality – a lesson worth keeping in mind as the Cons look to devolve responsibility for taxation and public services in Canada: What’s to be done? The answer from all sides is “localism”. Westminster’s monstrous hegemony must be broken up with devolution. If Scotland goes, rump UK will be bereft and depleted. But if Scotland stays, monumental home-rule promises made in the last week’s panic will offer Scotland immense tax, spending and borrowing (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Dan Lett discusses Stephen Harper’s callous disregard for missing and murdered aboriginal women – and how it should serve as a call to Canadians generally to take a broader look at the causes of social inequality: Why so much resistance to a broader, sociological analysis? A national inquiry of that kind would pose awkward questions and reveal uncomfortable realities about the diminishing role of the federal government in the lives of all Canadians.

A national inquiry would delve into questions such as familial dysfunction, child welfare, substance abuse, sexual exploitation, economic disparity and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Rick Smith discusses the growing public appetite to fight back against burgeoning inequality – along with the need to make inequality a basic test for the fairness of any policy: (I)t is significant that a finance minister of our decidedly right-wing government showed the political courage to criticize a policy that will clearly make inequality worse. This test — whether a policy choice will exacerbate inequality — should be the test for any government in making political choices. … [The Broadbent Institute's wealth inequality] data, though disheartening, can help focus the minds of Canadians (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On intended consequences

Shorter Joe Oliver: Hey, I’ve got a bright economic idea! Let’s pay businesses not to pay workers!

If there’s any long-term bright side to the Cons’ announcement, it’s that it should serve so nicely to undercut any “job creation” or “better off” narrative: surely every opposition party can identify workers who end up being denied jobs or raises to keep employers below the EI contribution threshold, and point to the Cons as the source of the problem. But on the balance, surely we’d all be better off if Oliver simply walks this one back.

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- The Broadbent Institute studies wealth inequality in Canada, and finds not only that the vast majority of Canada’s capital resources remain concentrated in very few hands but that the disparity continues to grow: The new Statistics Canada data show a deeply unequal Canada in which wealth is concentrated heavily in the top 10% while the bottom 10% hold more debts than assets.

The majority of Canadians, meanwhile, own almost no financial assets besides their pensions. The top 10% of Canadians accounted for almost half (47.9%) of all wealth in 2012.

In (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Scott Clark and Peter DeVries criticize the Cons’ choice to prioritize right-wing dogma over sound economic management: What should Canada do? For starters, the passive approach isn’t working. In the face of global economic uncertainty and a secular decline in growth, Canadian policy makers need to get at the levers that can strengthen growth at home.

…Of course we have options — they just happen to be ones that clash with the Conservatives’ hands-off economic orthodoxy. The Harper government is committed to lower taxes, lower spending, balanced budgets and smaller government. But why (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On advance notice

Between Joan Bryden’s report, Paul Wells’ interview and Murray Dobbin’s column among other coverage, there isn’t much room for doubt that the federal NDP’s economic focus – including a national minimum wage alongside a restored retirement age of 65 and reversal of corporate tax cuts – is earning some media and public attention. And we can surely expect plenty more as Thomas Mulcair fleshes out the details as he’s promised to do this fall. But what can we take from both the substance of the NDP’s policy proposals unveiled so far, and the choice to introduce them a year (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Bryce Covert writes that U.S. workers are receiving a lower share of economic output than at any point since 1950 – and that the decline in wages has nothing to do with the quality or quantity of work: Workers aren’t earning less because they’re slacking off — just the opposite. Their productivity increased 8 percent between 2007 and 2012 while their wages actually fell, a trend that has been going on since at least 1979. And they’ve been speeding up since the recession, increasing their productivity last summer at the fastest pace (Read more…)

wmtc: 150 cities + 500 arrests = whatever it takes for $15

Last Thursday, fast-food workers in more than 150 US cities went on strike. Some 500 workers were arrested for civil disobedience, including this man, José Carillo, an 81-year-old McDonald’s worker.

In Detroit, there were so many arrests that the police gave up: they ran out of handcuffs.

There’s a very short video compilation of some highlights from the day here on Facebook. And here’s another good video, this one of the Chicago action, where 51 workers were arrested.

wmtc: thank you, charley richardson! your legacy lives on

On Labour Day, I happened to see this on Twitter:

I am on my union’s labour-management committee, the group that meets monthly with management to discuss members’ concerns and try to resolve issues. I was intrigued and followed the link that Rank and File had posted.

To my surprise, the original “how to” advice was written by the late Charley Richardson, who passed away in 2013. I knew of Charley, mostly by his outsize reputation, from another part of his life: along with his wife Nancy Lessin, he co-founded Military Families Speak Out.

MFSO is now defunct, but the organization (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jordan Brennan examines the close links between strong organized labour and improved wages for all types of workers: U.S. scholars have found that higher rates of state-level unionization help reduce working poverty in unionized and non-unionized households and that the effects of unionization are larger than macro performance and social policies in those states. Research shows that the decline of U.S. unions between 1973 and 2007 explains one-fifth to one-third of the growth in U.S. wage inequality—a magnitude comparable to the growing stratification of wages by education. A 2010 study (Read more…)