Monday, March 05, 2018

Leadership 2018 Reference Page

A one-stop source for general links on the 2018 Saskatchewan NDP leadership campaign, to be updated as the race progresses. Please feel free to add additional suggestions in comments. (And note that new posts will appear below this one.)

General Information
Saskatchewan NDP Constitution (PDF)
Leadership Rules (PDF)
Leadership 2018

Candidate Information
Candidate Website Twitter Profile Platform Ranking
Ryan Meili @ryanmeili Profile

Trent Wotherspoon @WotherspoonT Profile

Other Resources

All Posts By Label

Twitter: #skndpldr

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Elizabeth Kolbert comments on the psychology of inequality, and particularly how the current trend in which a disproportionate share of gains goes to a small number of wealthy individuals produces no ultimate winners: 
As the relative-income model predicted, those who’d learned that they were earning less than their peers were ticked off. Compared with the control group, they reported being less satisfied with their jobs and more interested in finding new ones. But the relative-income model broke down when it came to those at the top. Workers who discovered that they were doing better than their colleagues evinced no pleasure. They were merely indifferent. As the economists put it in a paper that they eventually wrote about the study, access to the database had a “negative effect on workers paid below the median for their unit and occupation” but “no effect on workers paid above median.”

The message the economists took from their research was that employers “have a strong incentive” to keep salaries secret. Assuming that California workers are representative of the broader population, the experiment also suggests a larger, more disturbing conclusion. In a society where economic gains are concentrated at the top—a society, in other words, like our own—there are no real winners and a multitude of losers.
(Payne) has come to believe that what’s really damaging about being poor, at least in a country like the United States—where, as he notes, even most people living below the poverty line possess TVs, microwaves, and cell phones—is the subjective experience of feeling poor. This feeling is not limited to those in the bottom quintile; in a world where people measure themselves against their neighbors, it’s possible to earn good money and still feel deprived. “Unlike the rigid columns of numbers that make up a bank ledger, status is always a moving target, because it is defined by ongoing comparisons to others,” Payne writes.

Feeling poor, meanwhile, has consequences that go well beyond feeling. People who see themselves as poor make different decisions, and, generally, worse ones.
Preschoolers, brown capuchin monkeys, California state workers, college students recruited for psychological experiments—everyone, it seems, resents inequity. This is true even though what counts as being disadvantaged varies from place to place and from year to year...

Still, there are choices to be made. The tax bill recently approved by Congress directs, in ways both big and small, even more gains to the country’s plutocrats. Supporters insist that the measure will generate so much prosperity that the poor and the middle class will also end up benefitting. But even if this proves true—and all evidence suggests that it will not—the measure doesn’t address the real problem. It’s not greater wealth but greater equity that will make us all feel richer.
- Timothy Taylor charts the state of inequality in countries around the globe. And Branko Milanovic comments on the farce that is a discussion of inequality at Davos by the people who have put in place the policies most responsible for its spread.

-  David Olusoga discusses the return of Victorian-era slums to the UK, while Lucy Pasha-Robinson reports on declining life expectancies arising out of austerity.

- Rajeev Syal reports on a study from the UK's National Audit Office showing how privatization has resulted in the government paying more to get less. James Bloodworth notes that the Carillion privatization model amounted to little more than a Ponzi scheme which depended on a continually-increasing flow of public money to enrich its executives. Tom Pride observes that one of the prime culprits in (and profiteers from) Carillion's collapse has been rewarded by being put in charge of nuclear safety. David Climenhaga discusses the connection between Carillion, the Klein government and Alberta's privatized highways which rely on a now-failed corporation for their maintenance. And Will Hutton rightly questions why we'd ever trust the corporate sector to manage public services again.

- Finally, Thomas Walkom questions Justin Trudeau's determination to keep the NAFTA dispute resolution provisions which have been used primarily to tie the hands of Canadian governments.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

On permanent repercussions

When Trent Wotherspoon first announced that he was considering pursuing the Saskatchewan NDP's permanent leadership, I pointed out some of my concerns about how his previous tenure as interim leader - when he was elected after offering his assurance that he wouldn't seek the permanent position - might result in question marks over the leadership campaign. 

Now, a prime example of the problem with Wotherspoon's about-face has turned into a campaign flashpoint, as the administrators of the Save Saskatchewan Libraries group have issued an endorsement of Wotherspoon which couldn't be any more closely tied to his role as interim leader.

To be clear, I don't take issue with the administrators themselves taking a position in the NDP's leadership campaign.

The NDP should be eager to hear new voices participating in the leadership campaign, particularly ones who have so effectively marshaled widespread support for Saskatchewan's key public institutions. And the fact that a group was generally intended to be non-partisan doesn't mean its administrators should have any hesitation in applying their experience and opinions to the leadership campaign.

But that's an entirely separate issue from the need for fairness in the leadership campaign itself. And to see how that's been affected, here's Christine Freethy's own account as to how she came to endorse Wotherspoon:
I literally GOOGLED “Saskatchewan NDP” and said to the first person who answered the phone “I am running that library facebook group and I think you guys need to get your shit together and help us” Later that day was the first time I ever talked to Trent Wotherspoon.

At the time, Trent Wotherspoon was interim leader. And I am a political nobody who lives in Rabbit Lake. But he had seen the group and was plugged in enough with Carla Beck and the staff to know I was reaching out. I told him my plan - a non-partisan movement to bring attention to the library cut and force Brad Wall to reverse his decision. Trent listened and said “What can I and the NDP do to help your group?”
Needless to say, there's little reason to think Ryan Meili (or any other person who might plausibly have held a leadership position) would have done any differently given the opportunity. But only Wotherspoon enjoyed that. 

Because Wotherspoon was in the interim leader role based in part on his promise not to seek the permanent leadership, he was charged with leading the NDP's communication with Freethy, with the party's staff assisting him in that effort. And he was thus able to build a close relationship with an outside group which was doing widespread organizing complementary to that of the party - resulting in an endorsement which reached a wide range of actual and potential members just in time for the membership deadline.

There may not be much which can be done to alleviate that gap now. But in comparing the candidates, the NDP's members will need to test their own impressions of Wotherspoon to see how they might reflect the advantage he captured in the interim role. And there may be significant legitimacy issues for the party as a whole if the race ends up turning on a candidate's gaining an advantage from a broken promise.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Jesse Winter is the latest reporter to tell the stories of a few minimum-wage workers who will see a raise as a result of improved employment standards. And Erika Shaker points out that a substantial minimum-wage increase is a long-overdue response to outdated statutory standards and stagnant wage levels, not a meaningful imposition on employers:
(W)hat’s truly surprising is that so many businesses didn’t seem to see it coming, even after a two-year $15 minimum wage campaign in Ontario. After all, increases have been studied, debated and implemented in several American states, Britain, and Australia (to name a few), not to mention Alberta. All this strikes me as something that might be considered “market research” or simply “planning ahead” for a business concerned with its bottom line.

So while this is certainly a significant change, Ontario businesses had time to rethink their decision to pursue a low-wage business plan in the broader socio-economic and political context (the Changing Workplaces Review was initiated back in February 2015 “to consider issues brought about in part by the growth of precarious employment”), seven months to adjust to being compliant with the legislation (if the mere desire to treat their workers well wasn’t strong enough), and another year before $15/hr kicks in.
The increase to the minimum wage shouldn’t be seen as a shock, but rather a long-fought-for correction…which suggests that those businesses arguing loudest had perhaps become too comfortable counting on an outdated business model whose profit margins depended on low-wage employees. The much-publicized decision by a few (“rogue”, according to Head Office) Tim Hortons franchises to find ways to gouge their workers betrays a somewhat Dickensian nostalgia for a time when the highest costs of doing business were borne by the worker — not the cutting-edge, forward-looking business acumen that we’re often told tax breaks will encourage.
- Lydia Dobson criticizes Ontario employers whose reaction to an improved minimum wage is to steal employees' tips. And Heidi Shierholz, David Cooper, Julia Wolfe, and Ben Zipperer document the billions of dollars workers stand to lose from Donald Trump's plan to let U.S. employers do exactly that.

- Matt Bruenig points out the problems with fetishizing small businesses, rather than focusing on the importance of workers' protections and needs regardless of the size of their employer.

- The Star's editorial board argues that Google and Facebook should be required to pay a fair share of taxes proportional to the corporate revenue they accumulate from their Canadian operations.

- And finally, Mary Papenfuss reports on the Koch family's six-figure payout to Paul Ryan (and other donations which represent a small portion of the Republicans' tax giveaway) as a prime example of the corruption inherent in politics dominated by big money.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Simon Ducatel writes about the unfairness of attacking people living in poverty rather than looking for ways to improve their circumstances:
(I)n the real world, it is unfortunately not unheard of for some employers to financially or otherwise exploit workers, albeit legally mind you, by offering substandard living wages or clawing back benefits despite accumulating record profits.

And I would like to think anyone who cares the slightest about his or her fellow human being would be concerned by this kind of exploitive behaviour.

Ever since slavery was abolished, child labour was ended, labour rights were created and 40-hour workweeks introduced, titans of industry shrieked furiously every single step of the way, predictably declaring all of the above would destroy the economy. Yet last I checked, multinational behemoths are doing better than ever before.
So many people seem to get all upset over the dastardly proposition to ensure anyone earning the minimum wage doesn’t live in abject poverty. Yet they have no objection to the obscene accumulations of mass, unprecedented wealth that pools up in offshore havens.

They’ll blame the poor for failing to pull up their bootstraps and work hard enough — despite the fact many people who struggle to make ends meet work multiple jobs — while making every excuse possible for the 0.01 per cent, who have not enjoyed such a bountifully flowing gravy train since the gilded age of robber barons.

There’s apparently no problem with average wages stagnating or barely growing over the past few decades while top-paid CEOs see their compensations skyrocket
- Nick Purdon offers a glimpse at the stories of a few people struggling to get by on minimum wage. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on the growing protests against Tim Hortons after its stores used a long-overdue minimum wage increase as an excuse to slash their already-meager benefits.

- Meanwhile, Kathryn May takes note of PSAC's push for paid domestic violence leave to ensure workers aren't trapped in abusive situations. And Haroon Siddique points out how unrealistic work demands clash with the needs of parents.

- Jennifer Wells discusses how the collapse of Carillion offers a reminder of the dangers of privatization and corporate outsourcing. And Heather Stewart and Anushka Asthana report on Jeremy Corbyn's plans to put public services back in public hands in the UK.

- Finally, Lana Payne sets out just a few of the reasons why people are starting to take to the streets through the World Women's March and similar action.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Thursday, January 18, 2018

On last chances

I'll offer one last reminder that tomorrow at 5 PM is the membership deadline for the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership race.

Sure, the Saskatchewan Party will soon be deciding on a new hood ornament for their continuing trip to nowhere. But only the NDP's leadership campaign offers the prospect of a much-needed change in direction - and whether one is partial to either of the candidates or still undecided, it'll be well worth the investment to participate in helping to shape it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Kenneth Rogoff writes about the dangers of presuming that economic growth (at least in stock markets if not wages) can withstand political upheaval. Marco Chown Oved reports on the strong support for Democracy Watch's petition to raise corporate taxes and close loopholes. Rajeshni Naidu-Ghelani reports on the latest consumer survey showing a large number of Canadians barely managing to keep afloat financially even in the face of what's supposed to be good economic news. And Stella Lord offers a how-to guide to fight poverty through improved wages and benefits.

- Meanwhile, Erika Shaker and Trish Hennessy list a few of the reasons why we shouldn't let anti-worker voices dictate the terms of our minimum wage debate. And Jeremy Nuttall confirms that the arguments to suppress wages lack any basis in reality. 

- Vann Newkirk argues that the arguments being used by Republicans to strip health care and other necessities from people who can't find work would be far better applied toward a jobs guarantee. 

- Marc Lee discusses the small steps being taken by the federal and B.C. governments on housing - as well as the compelling need to do much more.

- Finally, Andre Picard makes the case for clearing criminal records based on the possession of marijuana.