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The Disaffected Lib: Send In the Slaves

When it’s completely boiled down what are robotics except the process of capital owning labour?  What are the implications of that if capital is given a free hand to dislocate human labour with its mechanized alternative?

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald claims that robots could replace half of human jobs in the next 20-years.  Something that radical usually results in guillotines in the public square.

University of Oxford Associate Professor in machine learning Michael Osborne has examined the characteristics of 702 occupations in the US, predicting 47 per cent will be overtaken by computers in the next decade (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Ryan Meili reminds us of the harmful health impacts of inequality. And Susan Perry discusses the effect of inequality on health in the workplace in particular: The rise in income inequality over the past three decades or so is taking a major toll on the general health of American workers — and not just because stagnant or falling wages have made it increasingly difficult for many workers to afford high-quality health care.

For, as a commentary published recently in the American Journal of Public Health points out, income inequality has also been (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Michael Babad writes that we should be glad to see jobs being created in the public sector since the private sector is doing nothing to offer opportunities for Canadians. And Andrew Jackson discusses how Quebec’s progressive economic model has served it well, while offering an example which other provinces should be eager to follow.

- Konrad Yakabuski weighs in on the need for pharmacare to make an essential element of health care universally accessible. But while Brent Patterson agrees that we should be pursuing pharmacare, he also warns that ill-advised trade agreements may (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Both Edward Keenan and the Star’s editorial board take note of Thomas Mulcair’s plan for urban renewal, with particular emphasis on its appeal across party lines: Speaking directly to Toronto city council and Mayor John Tory, who won election largely on the basis of his promised SmartTrack “surface subway,” Mulcair said he would be a partner on transit: “Together we will get the people of Toronto moving.”

No wonder Tory declared himself “gratified and pleased” with Mulcair’s approach. Other elements of the NDP’s urban agenda include: Appointing a minister responsible for urban (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Vognar argues that we should push for a guaranteed annual income not only as a matter of social equity, but also as a means of building human capital.

- Mike Benusic, Chantel Lutchman, Najib Safieddine and Andrew Pinto make the case for stronger sick leave policies across Canadian workplaces: Canada’s current sick leave policies are not supporting the health of individuals and communities. First, employees are forced to choose between staying home when ill (losing income and potentially placing their job at risk) or to go to work (worsening their health (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- CBC reports on the latest research showing that Canada would save billions every year with a national pharmacare plan. And Thomas Walkom argues that politics are standing in the way of what should be a no-brainer from a policy standpoint.

- Richard Gwyn writes that most Canadians seem to be willing to put up with nearly anything in order to keep a relatively secure job – even as it’s far from sure that many workers can count on that being available.

- Lawrence Martin discusses the Cons’ strategy of provocation, pandering and prejudice (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Harvey Kaye discusses how the rich’s class warfare against everybody else has warped the U.S. politically and economically. And PressProgress observes that the Cons’ reactionary politics have produced miserable results for Canadian workers.

- Which isn’t to say the Cons plan to learn any lessons anytime soon, as James Fitz-Morris reports on the PBO’s report showing how little anybody stands to gain from the massive cost of income-splitting. And Frances Woolley points out the utter frivolity of other vote-buying tax baubles, while also lamenting how much time is being spent studying (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jon Talton discusses how the increased automation of our economy stands to disempower workers and exacerbate inequality if it’s not combined with some serious countervailing public policy moves. Peter Gosselin and Jennifer Oldham comment on the broken link between productivity and wages. And Conor Dougherty and Quentin Hardy expose how employers are cheating employment laws by using game-style rewards for employees who overwork themselves.

- Meanwhile, Amien Essif points to Germany’s paid internship model as one way of ensuring people aren’t squeezed at their most vulnerable point while entering the workforce.

- Lucy (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Lydia DePillis and Jim Tankersley write that U.S. Democrats are recognizing the need for concerted pushback against the Republican’s attacks on organized labour – and rightly framing the role of unions in terms of reducing the inequality the right is so keen to exacerbate.

- And another obvious advantage to greater labour power would be a stronger push against the extractivist ideology that’s turning pensions and public utilities into corporate cash cows at our expense. 

- Sean McElwee and Catherine Ruetschlin discuss the multi-generational impact of systemic discrimination – while (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Michal Rozworski reminds us that while a shift toward precarious work may represent an unwanted change from the few decades where labour prospered along with business, it’s all too familiar from a historical perspective: (P)recarity is what it means to have nothing to sell but your labour power, to use Marx’s turn of phrase. Taken in this sense, precarity is wide-spread: today, the bottom 40% of Canadians today own a measly 2% of national wealth and the bottom 60% own just over 10%. The fact of owning relative peanuts gives precarity an (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Cam Dearlove writes a must-read column on the role of housing in building a healthy society: For housing advocates and researchers, our nation’s inability to make headway on homelessness and housing instability is not only a moral failure, but also a financial one. Studies have consistently shown a positive return on investing in ending homelessness – one program in Waterloo Region, which combats persistent homelessness, has estimated returns of $9.45 in value for every dollar spent.

Housing for each of us is about so much more than shelter, as the quality (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Tavia Grant, Bill Curry and David Kennedy discuss CIBC’s analysis showing that Canadian job quality has falled to its lowest level recorded in the past 25 years: Several reports have concluded that the country’s job market is not as strong as it looks and now a study from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce paints an even worse picture. According to the bank’s analysis, job quality has fallen to its lowest level in more than two decades. A CIBC index that measures 25 years worth of data on part-time versus full-time work, paid versus (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the many problems with building social benefits and employment policies alike on a foundation of distrust.

For further reading…- Rick Mercer rants about the obstacles the Cons are throwing in the way of veterans. And the CP follows up on the Cons’ response to Paul Franklin’s case here.- CBC reports here on the Cons’ plans to slash existing sick leave for the federal civil service.  Kathryn May points out the complete lack of any justification for that course of action, and has since noted that the plan is further being extended to out-of-scope positions. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Edward Keenan is the latest to point out that any reasonable political decision-making process needs to include an adult conversation about taxes and why we need them: This week, when asked about the prospect of raising taxes beyond the rate of inflation in coming years, John Tory called the idea “an admission of failure.”

This is distressing to hear. Consider the context: Tory’s current budget turns out to require a lot of dipsy-doodling that edges the city perilously close to its debt ceiling while hiking TTC fares and garbage fees. Meanwhile the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Janine Berg writes about the need for strong public policy to counter the trend of growing inequality. And Gillian White traces the ever-increasing divergence between worker productivity and wages in an interview with Jan Rivkin: White: Some say that the decrease of collective bargaining has played a role in creating the gap, how true do you think that is?

Rivkin: There are a number of causes, one is the underlying shift in technology and globalization. Another is systematic underinvestment in the commons, which is a set of shared resources that every business needs (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Bryce Covert weighs in on the IMF’s latest study showing a connection between stronger trade unions and greater income equality: While it can be hard to say for sure whether the decline in unionization is a direct cause of growing income inequality, they found that it is a “key contributor” to steep increases in income at the top, which holds true even after they controlled for other factors such as shifts in political power, labor market trends like the growing power of Wall Street and deindustrialization, and top marginal tax rates.

The authors (Read more…)

wmtc: update: mississauga library workers vote to form independent cupe local

When people are denied independence and told that they cannot govern themselves, it only makes them more determined to achieve their independence.

This simple principle repeats itself in matters large and small, throughout all history and all cultures.

The struggles of 430 library workers in the sprawling suburban city of Mississauga, Ontario are not exactly global news. But in the microcosm, we rocked the world. Our members voted overwhelmingly – 98.6% – to separate from the larger, merged local and become our own CUPE local.

As I mentioned a while back, the composite local was pulling out all (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson link inequality and climate change as massive problems which are generated by political choices (and thus amenable to correction through the political system): Rising inequality is no more natural than global warming. And just as with global warming, our biggest fear should be that it becomes increasingly self-reinforcing — not because of some “natural” economic process, but because economic power begets political power, which can be used to further increase economic advantage. Look around, and the evidence that this is a real threat abounds. To cite just (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Nora Loreto rightly challenges the instinct to respond to tragedy with blame in the name of “responsibility”, rather than compassion in the interest of making matters better: Blame is the projection of grief, sadness or fear. It is the projection of our own inadequacies; of our own feelings of, “oh god, that could be my kid” wrapped up in “thank god I’m a better parent than that.” It pretends that all things are equal, that all family situations are equal and all children are essentially the same.

But it’s malicious. Blame, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on the work done by the Broadbent Institute and Mariana Mazzucato to highlight the importance of publicly-funded innovation: According to a 2014 report by the International Monetary Fund, Canadian companies have been accumulating “dead money” at a faster rate than any other G7 country, rather than reinvesting profit into things like human capital or research capacity — suggesting that the rewards of innovative success are being captured by an increasingly narrow sliver of society, even when public money may well have been an early catalyst for achievement.  But in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Sunday reading.

- Al Engler argues that it’s long past time to start raising taxes on the wealthy to make sure that Canada can fund the level of social development we deserve.

- Kevin Drum writes that we shouldn’t be satisfied with a temporary dip in inequality caused by the 2008 recession when longer-term trends suggest matters will get worse. And Lynn Parramore interviews Lance Taylor about the demand-side implications of exacerbated inequality: LP: Thomas Piketty’s work on inequality has generated enormous interest.  How does your analysis of how the rich grow richer differ from (Read more…)

wmtc: walmart increases wages: workers united are winning, and the struggle must continue

Workers in the US have won a significant victory in their struggle for dignity and a living wage.

This week Walmart announced that within one year, all current Walmart employees will be paid at least $10/hour, and that newly-hired workers will start at $9.00/hour, with a real opportunity to earn $10/hour with six months.

While still far below a basic living wage of $15/hour, the increase does represent a recognizable improvement over the poverty-level $7.25/hour (the US federal minimum wage) that most Walmart workers now earn. And because Walmart is the largest private employer in the country – (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Danyaal Raza highlights how Canadians can treat an election year as an opportunity to discuss the a focus on social health with candidates and peers alike: Health providers are increasingly recognizing that while a robust health care system is an important part of promoting Canadians’ health, so is the availability of affordable housing, decent work, and a tightly knit social safety net. Upstream-focused clinical interventions, like the income security program available where I practice, are increasingly meeting that need – but no such program works in a vacuum.…Thinking differently requires speaking differently. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Nicholas Kristof discusses how U.S. workers have suffered as a result of declining union strength. And Barry Critchley writes that Canada’s average expected retirement age has crept over 65 – with that change coming out of necessity rather than worker choice.

- Alex Andreou rightly slams the concept of “defensive architecture” intended to eliminate the poor from sight rather than actually addressing poverty: “When you’re designed against, you know it,” says Ocean Howell, who teaches architectural history at the University of Oregon, speaking about anti-skateboarding designs. “Other people might not see it, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jeffrey Sparshott discusses new research into how automation stands to displace workers and exacerbate inequality, while a House of Lords committee finds that 35% of the current jobs in the UK could fall prey to exactly that process. And Szu Ping Chan reports on Andy Haldane’s warning that a vicious cycle could prove disastrous for everybody: Mr Haldane warned that robots could soon replace workers en-masse.

“Intelligent robots could substitute for lower-skilled tasks. If the capacity of the machine brain approached, or surpassed, the human brain, higher-skilled jobs could also be at (Read more…)