Ontario Premier Doug Ford was elected earlier this year and already started implementing his plan to increase inequality in the province. Obviously, this is a bad a plan. One of the things Ford cancelled thus far was the basic income pilot program which was praised around the world, and before the study showed results Ford axed. As a response to this stupidity, CEOs have responded by demanding that the basic income pilot continue and that the concept of basic income needs support. The good thing here is that CEOs are openly supporting basic income despite the “pro-business” Ontario government stopping the basic income test.
Here’s part of the open letter from CEOs to Doug Ford:
As Canadian business leaders, we urge the Ontario government to continue the Ontario basic income pilot. We see a guaranteed basic income as a business-friendly approach to address the increasing financial precarity of our citizens and revitalize the economy.
It is urgent that we let this pilot run because we see basic income as part of a solution that could help Canadians stay competitive in the face of:
Accelerating technological job displacement due to advances in automation, software, and AI1
Globalization of jobs which has gone beyond manufacturing and textiles to entry and mid-level information work2
The ongoing transition of work to part time, contract, and gig-work3
Winner takes all markets where companies such as Amazon are absorbing greater shares of economic activity4
These global trends are causing structural changes to the economy that are depressing wages,5 reducing the number of middle class jobs available to Canadians, and affecting a decline in entrepreneurship.6
Attacks on unions isn’t anything new, even when workers are asking for safer conditions or a little job security. What is new is that economists are starting to realize that we need stronger worker groups to advocate for labour or the economy as a whole suffers. Over the last few decades we’ve witnessed the rise of massive corporations that bully governments and workers; inevitably this process will gut the productive parts of planet (with fantastic short-term gains!). So, if we want our economy to do well for decades on end we need to ensure that all people involved in it get a share of the benefits.
A complementary approach would be to increase workers’ power. Historically, this has been most effectively done by bringing more workers into unions. Across advanced economies, wage inequality tends to rise as the share of workers who are members of unions declines. A new paper examining detailed, historical data from America makes the point especially well. Henry Farber, Daniel Herbst, Ilyana Kuziemko and Mr Naidu find that the premium earned by union members in America has held remarkably constant during the post-war period. But in the 1950s and 1960s the expansion of unions brought in less-skilled workers, squeezing the wage distribution and shrinking inequality. Unions are not the only way to boost worker power. More radical ideas like a universal basic income—a welfare payment made to everyone regardless of work status—or a jobs guarantee, which extends the right to a government job paying a decent wage to everyone, would shift power to workers and force firms to work harder to retain employees.
We’ve all heard about how downtowns have failed in smaller cities while big box stores like Walmart succeed; what we don’t really talk about is why and what’s the solution. First we need to establish that suburban big box stores are horrible for people and the economy (which is easy); then we need to address those core issues. The folks over at Strong Towns do exactly that and recently published a great piece exploring how the costs of running a big box operation from the perspective of a city is high. The solution then should be easy: reinforce local economies for success.
And we should also recognize where our wealth really comes from. It comes from our downtown and our core neighborhoods (those within walking distance of the downtown). It certainly doesn’t come from people driving through those places. It doesn’t come from people commuting in. It doesn’t come from tourists or developers or the potential of land development out on the edge. Our wealth — the wealth built slowly over generations — is slowly seeping away in our downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods.
Put these things together — the need to build resilience and the historic wealth that still remains in our core — and the strategy becomes too obvious to ignore: We need to piece our economic ecosystem back together. We shouldn’t spend a penny on the mall — we should be willing to let it fall apart and collapse if the market can’t support it. But we should support those investments in the core that are already paying our bills.
And here’s the really sweet thing: the downtown doesn’t need millions of dollars of investment. There are some trying to force that down the city’s throat, but we don’t need it. It’s already the most successful area in the region. We just need to start reconnecting things.
Usually when economists talk about efficiencies they means firing people so executives can get better returns, this time efficiency is found by using electricity in smarter ways. The myth that increased energy consumption means a better economy has been “decoupled”. The global economy is using less energy for every dollar produced – a sign that economic progress doesn’t have to mean the destruction of the environment.
The EIA also measured energy productivity, which is the inverse of energy intensity, measuring units of economic productivity for every unit of energy consumed. The world also saw significant increases here over the past two and a half decades. China came out far ahead, with a 133 percent increase in energy productivity between 1990 and 2015, largely due to the fact that increases in economic output were twice that of increases in energy consumption. The US saw a 58 percent gain in energy productivity over the same 25 years as well.
When the Conservatives were in charge of Canada they didn’t conserve at all, instead they rallied behind fossil fuels to power Canada’s economy. That foolish gamble contributed to a lame economy (sent the country into massive debt) and a dying planet (even sabotaging global discussions about carbon and fossil fuel. Canadians are hopeful that the new government led by the Liberals will reverse the Conservatives anti-common sense approach to energy policy.
Last week, a federal think tank release a report on the near term growth of Canada’s economy and global influence. They project that fossil fuels will be less important to the global economy with every passing year and that the benefits of switching to renewable energy for the planet are obvious.
At the core of the report’s forecasts is a growing number of indicators that suggest growth in the world’s demand for electricity — particularly renewable-based electricity — will outpace other energy types, while the costs of its production and storage fall faster than previously believed.
The demand is expected to be driven largely by the emerging and rapidly urbanizing middle class in developing countries.
Wind and solar systems have the advantage of being “highly scalable and distributable,” the report states, making them appealing for communities of virtually any size, with or without an existing electrical grid.
As a result, emerging economies in Latin America and Africa may follow a different development path than the West and “leap-frog” directly to renewables as a primary energy source in a relatively short timeframe.