Thursday, August 16, 2012

America Has Wiped Out Its Middle Class. Time for Canada to Follow Suit?

That's likely the message Harper FinMin and garden gnome Jim Flaherty will get when he gets together with his future employers top Canadian CEOs for his annual summer "policy retreat."   Flaherty, it seems, wines and dines the Big Boys and they return his generosity in the form of legislative wish lists.   Here's what they dished up last year.

According to documents obtained by the Globe and Mail, at last year's sessions the minister was urged to adopt measures to reduce the pay of Canadian workers, limit union power by enacting U.S.-style right-to-work legislation, and allow two-tier health care.

Labour issues surface in several discussion categories, with the general view that Canadian workers are overpriced.

"Need to address wage differentials in labor market among countries; we are losing jobs to other countries," reads a point-form summary of one of the discussions.

"Right to Work legislation should be pondered as it creates inequities in productivity; US example was provided."

There were also calls for a higher retirement age and to open Canada's shipping, telecom and airline industries to more foreign competition.

The CEOs are certainly bold enough but they know that, in Flaherty and Harper, they're dealing with the most corporatist government in Canadian history.


Troy said...

"(W)ith the general view that Canadian workers are overpriced."

I don't see how. We have provincial health care which hugely subsidizes labour costs. Plus, companies that hire Canadian workers don't need to train them with pictographs, because Canadians are mostly literate. That too is generally a huge saving. Not that the federal government has any control over any of that, considering wages and healthcare are controlled by the provinces. And from what I've witnessed of Harper is he's been burned too many times by the Premiers and is scared shitless at the thought of taking on any of them in a direct confrontation.

"Right to Work legislation should be pondered as it creates inequities in productivity; US example was provided."

Do they mean as in how in the US the states with Right to Work rules generally average higher unemployment in comparison with states that don't? Or are they speaking of other red states, like invisible ones?

As for the rest, I'm just shaking my head. These rich and powerful men are living in their own world, bereft of any actual experience in the real world. Or maybe they don't care about how their own lack of contribution to society impacts everyone but themselves. Or probably they don't know, and they don't care.

The Mound of Sound said...

This report sat uneasily on my mind overnight. Canadian workers are overpaid how exactly? In comparison to their American counterparts for starters. Yes those American white and blue collar workers who have steadily delivered significant productivity gains over the past thirty years even as their own real wages utterly stagnated. There's the deal, Troy. That's what our CEOs actually want, the end of the "living wage." You want that kind of money, work overtime, take a second or third part-time job. Globalization has set us on a race to the bottom.

Anyong said...

This is a little off topic but came to mind when reading this blog. Yesterday on CBC's The Current, a discussion took place that firmly put Canada in the driver seat regarding hiding money in off shore banks as in The Royal Bank and others located in the Carribean. This ought to be plastered all over the country as in big time. Between 20 - 30 trillion dollars which is owned by l.4% of the world population is hidden. World wealth is around 200 - 300 trillion. What is so disgusting about this is the fact Canada is losing billions in tax money and continually talks about the underground economy in Canada but never about off shore tax evasion. Since this began in Canada in the 60's and is strongly being continued by Mr. Harper, a person would think it's about time this government did soemthing about this wrong. However, it's a matter of "you scratch my back and I'll scatch yours" when the time comes. How is it people in politics manager to get jobs such as board members, ambassadors, and heads of banking? They are repaid for what they have done for multinationals and corporations. There are billions hiden by Canadians in off shore tax havens all while the government is now going to take away the right of educated Canadians to make a decent wage. Some Canadians do make a "living wage" but many, many do not. There is nothing but slave labour in places like MacDonalds and especially Wal-Mart.

Part Two of The Current

Offshore Bank Accounts - Tax Justice Network, James Henry

If you like sun and surf and hate taxes, the Cayman Islands may be for you. It's one of the few countries in the world that has no income tax. Finding employment may be a problem -- unless you're in the banking business. In that case, you might be overworked.

According to a new report, the amount of money hiding in off-shore tax havens is staggering -- between 20 and 30 Trillion dollars -- or about 10 per cent of all the money in the world.

The study also found all that money is held by just 1.4 per cent of the world's population. Since they pay no tax on it, governments all over the world -- including Canada's -- lose out as much as 280-Billion dollars in lost revenues.

Chana Joffe Walt from National Public Radio's Planet Money team spent some time digging into the world of off-shore tax havens. She found registering a company offshore required no heavy lifting, no closed door meetings, no secret handshakes -- just a phone call.

Chana Joffe Walt was told that once you have the company registered, these financial institutions can open up a perfectly legal bank account for that shell company ... confidential, tax-free and offshore.

(Thanks to the team at NPR's Planet Money for those clips.)

James Henry believes he knows just how much money is hiding -- tax-free -- in off-shore accounts. He's a former Chief Economist at the consultancy firm McKinsey and Company and the author of a new study (PDF) for the Tax Justice Network. James Henry was in Sag Harbor, New York.

Offshore Bank Accounts - Sociologist, Université du Québec

Our next guest says Canada played a significant role in setting up offshore tax havens. And the federal government is not doing enough today to stop Canadian individuals and businesses from hiding money in these offshore accounts.

Alain Deneault is a sociologist at the Université du Québec in Montreal and the author of Offshore: Tax Havens and the Rule of Global Crime. He joined us from Montreal.

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch.