Work Less to Save the Planet

economic chart

You already know you’re working too many hours, so let’s change that and save the planet in the process. Economic growth has physical limits and we’re hitting those already as we run out of finite resources, or those resources are getting harder and harder to reach like oil. So to maintain growth we need to switch to a renewable energy based economy and fast. We can also just work less and focus on decreasing the growth of consumer capitalism.

This is where the idea of degrowth comes in. Degrowing our economy focuses on getting rid of things awe don’t need and are incredibly destructive to the environment (like fast fashion) and focusing our attention to bettering society as a whole (like free daycare). Another way to degrowth the economy is to reduce our working weeks to produce more jobs and give everybody more leisure. Aren’t we all working for the weekend anyway?

To get emissions to zero, it will involve a kind of “degrowth,” but one targeted specifically at fossil-fuel consumption. “That doesn’t mean we have to degrow everything,” Pollin said. “We really need to degrow the fossil fuel industry to zero, but massively expand the clean energy systems, the investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.” This is essentially the Green New Deal: a push to increase renewable energy while eliminating fossil fuels, and including an effort to create a just transition for the people who have jobs in that sector.

To Pollin, even this would be a radical improvement. A plan to get to zero carbon emissions in 30 years would mean shutting down one of the world’s most powerful industries. He thinks that that is ambitious enough without trying to implement other broad societal changes.

“If we take the climate science seriously, we only have a few decades to make huge progress,” Pollin said. “And whether I like it or not, we’re not going to overthrow capitalism in that time.”

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Cap Executive Pay for a More Productive Company

happy workers in a factory

John Driscoll is the CEO of a health care company and he sees value in paying people what they’re worth. A few years ago he turned around a company from a downward trajectory to a profitable and growing concern by raising the wages of the average worker and freezing the salaries of executives. In an age when inequality is growing due partially to increased executive compensation this story might sound out of place. Really, this story should be heard and shared everywhere because it shows that if you pay people fairly for doing their job then the whole company benefits. Just paying those at the top a lot of money while paying the minim for others does not equal success.

What that meant for our company was that if we just froze the wages of our most senior team – less than 20 executives – we could radically increase the wages and improve the lives of nearly 500 of our teammates.


Raising wages in the midst of a business turnaround was not easy. We needed our executive team to buy into a vision of business success where every employee had a fair shot at success. It worked.

Our business has tripled over the past five years. Our minimum wage is now approaching $16.50 per hour and last year we broadened profit sharing to all levels of the company.

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A High Minimum Wage is Good for Everybody

happy workers in a factory

Raising the minimum wage helps you no matter how much you earn. The next time the debate about whether or not your region of the world should raise wages you ought to argue for rating wages. The only downside of getting paid more is that…well, nothing really. Don’t believe the lies that raising minimum wage increases leads to job losses because there’s no evidence that that is the case.

Economist Arindrajit Dube of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who is perhaps the leading expert on the economic impact of the minimum wage, and his co-authors Doruk Cengiz (also at UMass), Attila Lindner of University College London, and Ben Zipperer of the Economic Policy Institute conducted the study. They used detailed data and advanced statistical methods to parse the effects of minimum-wage increases on low-skilled workers—including those making at or around the minimum wage—as well as on high-skilled workers and the economy as a whole.

The study finds that minimum-wage increases occurring over more than three-and-a-half decades resulted in higher wages for low-skilled workers, with no reduction in low-wage employment five years out. This was true overall, and separately for younger workers, less educated workers, and minorities. Low-wage workers saw a wage gain of 7 percent after an increase in the minimum wage.

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May Day: When Rules Don’t Apply

Unions have got a bad reputation in North America for reasons I don’t understand. Counterintuitively, large corporations have convinced millions of workers that their jobs are negatively impacted by workers helping each other. It’s been proven that when CEOs talk about how much they make their average wage goes up; those same CEOs don’t want their own workers doing the same. Indeed, silicon valley CEOs went out of their way to ensure that the people they hire cannot even get paid more at other companies.

Today is May Day and a good chance to think about the history and value of the labour movement. We still need to work together today for a better tomorrow and this is a chance to celebrate our successes.

Top executives of leading tech companies secretly agreed among themselves not to hire each other’s employees, thereby restricting wages and job opportunities of the very people to whom they owed their success.

Government investigators discovered the conspiracy and brought charges against the companies, using antitrust law to protect labor rights.

Read more and check out the film.

How Millennials can Recover from Boomer Economics

economic chart

We’ve all heard the refrain that millenials are lazy because they can’t afford to live and that they spend all their money on avocado toast (instead of something useful like diamonds?). The problem isn’t millenials but the world they were born into, crafted by their parents and grandparents. It is up to millenials and subsequent generations to literally clean up the mess. How do we do this though? Step one is admitting that we have a problem, then we can address the core issues causing that problem: unregulated hyper-capitalism. This is what author Malcolm Harris calls for in his newest book, here’s a quote from a recent interview he did with Vox:

I mean, that’s what neoliberalism is, right? We’re all individuals, not members of a class or a community. We’re all economic agents pursuing our self-interest. This is the basis of our whole society right now, and both Republicans and Democrats have signed on to it.

In the book, I talk about an Obama-era education policy that basically seeded this idea that education was all about job preparation. There was no other real justification for it. That puts you on a really dangerous course because that’s all about human capital production, and then you have a system where the schools set out to produce skills in children based on what people who own companies say they want those kids to have, what skills they’ll need from their workers.

So our entire lives are framed around becoming cheaper and more efficient economic instruments for capital. That, taken to an extreme, has pretty corrosive effects on society, particularly young people.

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