Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your long weekend reading.

- Jim Stanford highlights how anti-labour "right to work" policy is spreading from the U.S. into multiple Canadian provinces:
It’s clear we’re going to have to gear up our arguments on right-to-work laws, dues check-off, the Rand Formula, etc. In the last year three mainstream parties have introduced proposals for right-to-work style legal changes in Canada (Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party, the Wild Rose Alliance, and now yesterday Tim Hudak’s Ontario PCs).  This used to be terrain solely inhabited by the Fraser Institute and similar extremist camps, but no longer.  Clearly the postwar mainstream consensus that unionization was something to be at least tolerated (or, initially, actively supported) as a mechanism for managing income distribution and workplace relations is long defunct. 
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Some of the obvious conceptual points to counter Hudak and Co. would include:
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* There’s a strong anology to taxes: citizens make democratic majority decisions in elections for their government, which then levies taxes to pay for agreed programs.  If taxes were “voluntary” then we’d have no schools, hospitals, or roads, and society would collapse.  The true goal of right-to-work advocates is precisely that: to cause unions to collapse.
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* The link between declining unionization and growing inequality is strong and well-documented.  If we are concerned with inequality, then we should be working to strengthen collective bargaining relationships (as Newfoundland is doing, for example, with last week’s modest labour law reforms), not to destroy them.
- And Andrew Jackson notes that the most inclusive and democratic unions are also the most socially active.

- But kirbycairo points out that the "let's make things worse to make them better!" line of reasoning is a regular staple of apologists for an insular upper class - especially at the moment where their overreach becomes most obvious:
What conservatives consistently fail to understand are the basic social and economic relations of capitalism. Corporations seek to maximize profit and they do so primarily by reducing the cost of labor. Therefore capitalist enterprise seeks to minimize the number of people they employ while at the same time maximizing the number of products they sell. One needn't be an expert in algebraic equations to understand that there is a problem here. They are simultaneously reducing the very consumers that they need to have. Now, in a non-globalized context this process of capitalism can work moderately effectively for quite a while. But in a globalized context it is increasingly problematic. Furthermore, in a context of high levels of technology in which entrance to production can be exceptionally expensive, this problem deepens considerably.

As I have said before, as the revolution in France neared, the aristocracy attempted to entrench their power, to extract more wealth from the peasants, and it became fashionable to build ever larger, more elaborate carriages to show off their wealth. The results were predictable to anyone who had any sense. Today the results are equally predictable. Take away people's hope in the future, make them work evermore unstable and miserable jobs, while in the meantime the elite have ever greater amounts of wealth - and you'd have to be stupid not to be able to see what is coming.
- Finally, Dean Del Mastro is facing both photographic evidence and a growing number of witnesses refuting his claim to have had no idea about illegal campaign contributions and expenses.

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