Economists: Reduce Time Spent Working

Since roughly the end of the 70s productivity at workplaces has increased yet wages have stagnated (except for the top 1%) meaning that we are relatively worse off than before. All one has to do is look at the graph below to get the basic idea of this global issue.

Great-Prosperity-vs-Great-Recession

With this in mind, it’s great to see economists calling for a reduced work week. In North America, a standard full-time week is 40 hours, and the economists are calling for a 30 hour work week.

The benefits of working less are huge for individuals as well as society as a whole. Some may think that fewer working hours would mean lost productivity and GDP, but they’d be wrong. There’s no evidence that the reduction will have larger negative economic impacts.

Anna Coote, head of social policy at the NEF, an independent think-tank, said: “It’s time to make ‘part-time’ the new ‘full-time’.
“We must rethink the way we divide up our hours between paid and unpaid activities, and make sure everyone has a fair share of free time.”
Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany have shown it is possible to make changes like these without weakening their economies, the books claims.
It adds: “Time spent providing unpaid care constitutes an important civic contribution that is often unrecognised.
“A shorter working week would both ease the pressure on carers, most of whom are women, and enable their responsibilities to be more widely shared with men. It could therefore help tackle the entrenched domestic bases of gender inequalities.”

Read more here.

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Google Picks Up the Tab for Inequality

The New York Times is reporting that Google is going to start compensating its gay/lesbian employees in same-sex partnerships, for the tax charged on their partner’s employer health benefits; a tax which heterosexual married couples are exempt from. It’s a little thing, but it’s nice to see a corporation do something to right an injustice that has nothing to do with their bottom line.

So Google is essentially going to cover those costs, putting same-sex couples on an even footing with heterosexual employees whose spouses and families receive health benefits.

The company began to look at the disparity after a gay employee pointed it out, said Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice president for people operations (also known as human resources). Google, by the way, says its benefits team seriously considers any suggestions on how to expand its coverage. “We said, ‘You’re right, that doesn’t seem fair,’ so we looked into it,” Mr. Bock said.

Read the whole article at the New York Times

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Mark Your Calendars to Stand Up

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Next month, October (ROCKtober) 16 and 17, to be precise, people will stand up to draw attention to international poverty. You can join millions of people from around the world to send a message to politicians that you Stand Up and Speak Out against poverty and inequality.

In 2000, world leaders from 189 countries signed up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs ) — a global commitment to halve extreme poverty by 2015.

Last year, more than 23 million people in 87 countries stood up and took action to remind them of this promise. It was the largest single coordinated mobilization in the history of the Guinness World Records.

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Greenpeace Reveals Harsh Truths About the Boreal Rainforest

Now, you may think that ‘harsh truths’ doesn’t sound a lot like good news. But I beg to differ. I recently joined the Greenpeace e-mailing list, and by doing so I have been updated with some ‘harsh truths’ about our planet, but whats more this information is educating me on how to diminish my effect on the destruction of our planet and contribute to larger scale change. Which I feel is pretty good indeed.
My most recent e-mail was so very eye opening I felt the desire to share what detailed info I came across regarding Canada’s forests.
*Canada’s Boreal Forest is the largest ancient forest in North America and comprises 90% of the Countries remaining intact forest areas, providing habitat for endangered species like the woodland caribou, lynx, grizzly bear and wolverine. It also provides the largest storehouse of terrestrial carbon on the planet!
*The forest is home to nearly a million aboriginal peoples-many of these First Nations and Metis are currently in conflict with logging companies and governments over forestry in their traditional territories.
*Ancient forests are being detroyed at a rate of one football field every 2 seconds, and more than half of all forest destruction has taken place over the past 35 years.
*Consumers like us can make a difference by purchasing recycled paper products or FSC-certified products, refusing to buy from companies that use or sell products made from the destruction of the Boreal Rainforest and by taking action toward greener initiatives.
*In British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest many of these campaigns to stop deforestation, and the support of consumers and companies changing their ways, has led to the protection of great areas of the old growth forests totalling over 2 million hectares!!!!

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Lawsuits Champion the Environment

In the coming months many companies could face large fines from the damage that they have done to the environment. There is a growing trend in the USA and Europe to sue those responsible for environmental damage that as resulted in damage that went beyond just the environment. Confused? This example from the linked article should help you out:

In the United States, there are currently about a dozen cases involving demands for tighter regulation and claims for damages. Among them is a case brought by property owners in Mississippi against oil and coal companies they accuse of playing a role in Hurricane Katrina, which struck the region with devastating consequences in August 2005.

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