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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…)

wmtc: fast-food workers are on strike today. you can support their cause.

Fast-food workers all over the US are on strike today, demanding a living wage and the right to form a union without retaliation. Did you know that the majority of fast-food workers are adults trying to support families on those crap wages? Their pay is so low, they qualify for food stamps! So taxpayers are subsidizing McDonald’s, as the fast-food industries rakes in billions in profits.

If you’re in the US and you pass a fast-food outlet today, especially a McDonald’s, please stop by to show support for these courageous workers. They are the cutting edge of the labour movement (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Eve-Lyne Couturier discusses the rot in the state of Canadian labour negotiations, as workers outside of the 1% are being systematically denied any of the benefit of economic growth.

- Meanwhile, Dean Baker points out that it’s only by choice that the vast majority of jobs have been outsourced around the world for the sake of slashing wages, while executive and high-skilled positions have largely stayed put (with far more generous pay). And Margaret Simms highlights the effects of precarious work on workers and their families.

- Nick Carnes writes that the extremely (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Labour Day reading.

- Andrew Jackson discusses the future of Canada’s labour movement, while Gil McGowan highlights the fact that unionization can be no less important in Alberta and other booming areas than elsewhere. And Jerry Dias notes that there are some reasons for celebration this year.

- But Edward McClelland points out that far too many labourers who would benefit from organization are instead hostile to the idea of unions. And Timothy Noah finds another gap between labour and U.S. centrist liberals – which is mirrored by the relationship between unions and large-L Liberals (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Eric Reguly examines Apple as a prime example of how supposed market successes actually reflect the private capture of public investments – and suggests the public should benefit financially from its investments which facilitate corporate growth: Apple is such a runaway success that its profits pile up like snowdrifts in the Rockies. At last count, Apple was sitting on $165-billion (U.S.) in cash and securities. That’s more than the GDP of Hungary.

What to do with the windfall?…Here’s another idea: Give the surplus cash back to the taxpayer.

It will (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Gerald Caplan suggests that Rogers and Bell might be ripe for nationalization – though it’s also worth pointing out that we don’t have to guess what happens when a Crown delivers telecommunications services: The British Labour Party has begun to make the case that market fundamentalism, or neoliberalism, is not necessarily the best way for society to operate. Specifically, it’s been trying to show that private enterprise is not always superior to public enterprise.

Beginning with Margaret Thatcher, British governments have denuded the UK of almost all public enterprises, from British Airways to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Ralph Surette suggests that Nova Scotia’s tax and regulatory review pay close attention to the fact that it can do more than simply slash both: Nova Scotia already has relatively low corporate taxes and lower than average taxes for the highest earners. Yet none of this can seem to get into the conversation that has us as high-tax, anti-business and anti-everything. I invite the review committee to pin down where we actually stand on the comparative tax scale.

I also invite it to take note of what’s going on next door. New Brunswick (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- James Meek writes about the UK’s privatization scam, and how it’s resulted in citizens paying far more for the basic services which are better provided by a government which actually has the public interest within its mandate: Privatisation failed to demonstrate the case made by the privatisers that private companies are always more competent than state-owned ones – that private bosses, chasing the carrot of bonuses and dodging the stick of bankruptcy, will always do better than their state-employed counterparts. Through euphemisms such as “wealth creation” and “enjoying the rewards of success” Thatcher (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Matthew Yglesias writes that while increased automation may not eliminate jobs altogether, it may go a long way toward making them more menial. And Jerry Dias recognizes that we won’t see better career opportunities emerge unless we make it a shared public priority to develop them: (I)ncreasingly, the people I meet – both in the labour movement and outside (including in some business circles) – talk about the need for greater dialogue on the issues of the day, particularly as they relate to jobs and the economy. People have expressed to me (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Leonhardt offers a revealing look at the relative priorities of wealthier and poorer regions of the U.S. And Patricia Cohen discusses the disproportionate effect of inequality and poverty on women: It’s at the lowest income levels that the burden on women stands out. Not only are they more likely than men to be in a minimum-wage job, but women are also much more likely to be raising a family on their own. “Inequality is rising among women as well as men, but at the bottom, women are struggling with some dimensions (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Rebecca Vallas, Melissa Boteach and Shawn Fremstad write about the need for a new social contract. And Drew Nelles takes a look at the role of a guaranteed basic income in ensuring a fair standard of living for everybody: Although implementing basic income would undoubtedly require a reorganization of social assistance provision, with some programs being eliminated or absorbed, it cannot be used as an excuse to dismantle what’s left of the welfare state. Instead, it’s a hopeful idea because it could act as just the opposite: the beginning of a turn away (Read more…)