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Strikes losing historic leverage

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Jun 20 2011
Union membership has steadily declined over the past three decades, to a current 30.8 per cent of the non-agricultural workforce. The comparable figure for the U.S. is a mere 12.3 per cent. The sharp drop in union membership is cited as a leading cause of the flatlining of inflation-adjusted middle-class incomes in Canada and the U.S… A 17-month strike at Caterpillar Inc. in 1994 marked a turning point in North American labour relations… striking workers eventually returned to work without a contract. Employers have been playing hardball ever since.

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Posted in History | 3 Comments »


America, the world’s sweatshop

Friday, May 20th, 2011

May 19 2011
U.S. and a few Canadian manufacturers have long been relocating in the low-wage U.S. South. They’ve now been joined by European multinationals, most of which also operate in Canada. The Euros leave behind the social-justice practices of their homelands, as keen to squeeze blood from a stone as the most avaricious business operator… The irony here is that employee denigration does not work. German manufacturing pay averages 50 per cent higher than that of the U.S. Yet Germany enjoys a massive trade surplus. And America suffers a ruinous trade deficit..

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Where do our taxes go? Only receipts will tell

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Apr 20 2011
There’s a movement afoot in the U.S. to introduce tax receipts, and I hope it migrates here. That way I’d know my share of the cost of the RCMP, mandatory flu vaccinations, street repair, maintaining our armed forces, and my contribution to our foreign aid… The hostility to taxes and government that many of us feel might be lessened if we knew the necessary uses to which our money is being put. And of course we’d also be better able to demand that spending on ineffectual programs stop… with this simple device of tax receipts for all, we could slay a few myths.

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An ailing Ireland’s lessons for Canada

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Apr 23 2011
Economists are loath to attempt to measure the job-creation impact of corporate tax rates. Common sense tells you there can’t be much of a connection between the two if Germany, by far the healthiest European economy, imposes a rate of 30 per cent to Ireland’s 12.5 per cent. There are simply too many factors guiding business decisions to suss out the influence of federal tax rates on corporate profits. And Ireland is a prime example.

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Inept regulation fingered in Great Recession

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Jan 26 2011
In the aftermath of the Great Recession, we have learned for the umpteenth time that it’s wrong to trust the private sector to do the right thing without rigorous government oversight… The bottom line is that epic disasters – like an unsupervised greed on Wall Street that cost eight million Americans and 400,000 Canadians their jobs in the Great Recession – usually have inadequate or corrupted regulation as a root cause.

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Short-term pain for long-term pain

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Jul 09 2010
With unemployment still at intolerably high levels, Canada has begun to engage in “fiscal consolidation.” This is the new euphemism for austerity. For cutbacks in jobless benefits and pensions, for tax increases on the working class, and reductions in social-service spending… Governments understandably are concerned about mounting deficits… But the way to eradicate those deficits is by creating jobs, and the tax revenues they generate, until the private sector feels confident enough to take back the 400,000 jobs it eliminated in Canada since the recession began…

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World leaders embracing austerity are playing with fire

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Jun 24 2010
Canada will urge fellow G20 members to slash their deficits in half in just three years. Britain’s new Conservative-led government just tabled a budget with the most severe cutbacks since the Second World War… In Europe, the eurozone debt crisis earlier this year has nations differing only in the speed and severity of their austerity measures… Myopic deficit-eradication nostrums, while not defunct, have been thoroughly debunked.

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More than meets the eye in pharmacy fight

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Apr 18 2010
It’s not the purpose of the taxpayer-financed Ontario Drug Benefit Plan to act as a come-on to customers who boost Shoppers’ sales volume of Doritos, eyeliner, tobacco (yes, tobacco!) and other “front of store” items. These high-margin goods account for more than 51 per cent of sales at Shoppers, accurately described in a recent Toronto Life profile as “Canada’s new general store.”

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Five bright ideas to save the Liberal party

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Apr 02 2010
Human capital is our only significant resource… Common sense dictates that under-investment in our people is a drag on our economy, diverting public funds to welfare payouts and the criminal-justice system. It impedes our progress in nurturing the creativity by which wealth is created, with our inability to tap the latent strengths of so many Canadians in distress whom we casually neglect… It’s time to define ourselves by what we do, becoming home to the world’s most prosperous aboriginal population, the world’s best-run health-care system, the go-to nation for learning how to use social justice as a test for all we do.

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Innovation out of our hands in a branch-plant economy

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Mar 23 2010
If it feels at times that we’re living in someone else’s country, in some degree we are. With one of the least domestically owned economies among our industrial peers, it’s long past time we confronted the implications of foreign ownership on our lack of control over productivity, on which our prosperity very much depends.

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