Research and analysis to provoke public awareness and critical thinking

We contribute to the liberalisation of the democratic instituions of society, for they have been captured by the owners of the market. They work in tandem with their market agents, who, posing as public servants, are entrenched in the halls of government. The political class has betrayed its public mandate and instead operates to impose a marketocratic state to maximise the shareholder value of the institutional investors of international financial markets. They own the global corporations and think they own the world on behalf of their very private interest.

Our spheres of action: true democracy – true sustainability – living wage – basic income – inequality – ecological footprint – degrowth – global warming –human development – corporate accountability – civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, responsible consumption, sustainable autonomous citizen cells...

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Parting from an ethos of true democracy and true sustainability, We, the citizenry, work to advance the paradigm whose only purpose is to go in pursuit of the welfare of People and Planet and NOT the market.

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2018 Report: Living-wage assessment – PPP Wage rate gaps for selected "developed and emerging" economies for all employed in manufacturing workers (1996 up to 2016).

Overall, seven out of the twelve countries in this assessment are better off in 2016 than in 1996. Brazil shows no change and Canada, Mexico, Germany and the UK are worse than in 1996. East Asian economies record the greatest gains in their wage-rate position. Singapore and South Korea have recorded the most improvement in the reduction of their wage gaps since 1996. In contrast, Canada has recorded the greatest decline, followed by the United Kingdom. Both remain at their lowest point since 1996. Germany continues to have the best position with an actual advantage vis-à-vis the U.S. in PPP wage rates. Yet it remains with an index eight points below its best position.

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2018 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Argentina's wage rate gap 1996-2016

Our analysis of Argentina’s living wages in the manufacturing sector from a global perspective (purchasing power parities) can no longer assume that Argentina’s government will continue to regard the appreciation of real wages as a fundamental element of its economic policy. Unfortunately, with the Macri government, as we expected, we are already witnessing the opposite, given that its economic policies are clearly supply-side and completely committed to resuming the old centre-periphery relationship that applies a neocolonial ethos to Argentina’s economic policies. Unfortunately for him, his economic policies have proven disastrous and in two and a half years, inflation and devaluation have exploded, the country is nearly in default and real wages have collapsed. We are confident that the equalisation index for 2018 will drop very meaningfully and extend the number of years that it will take to close the living wage gap with equivalent workers in the US. In our report, the gap would have been closed in our mid-inflation projection by 2022, now it would take until 2025. As for the high-inflation the gap would have been closed by 2026, now it would take until 2032.

The above notwithstanding, the two projections included in this analysis clearly show that Argentina can achieve a living-wage equalisation in the manufacturing sector within fourteen years or less, “if” it is able to control inflation and generate a minimally meaningful economic growth, as outlined in the criteria applied in both projections.

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2018 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Brazil's wage rate gap 1996-2016

Brazil has no longer sustained the closing of its Eq-Idx due to the deep recession that has ensued in the last years. Furthermore, Brazil’s Temer government passed a new law (PEC 55) that freezes all public spending for 20 years, which implies that constitutionally-protected government expenditures in the areas of health, education and other social sectors would remain stunted until 2036. This has in practice ended Brazil’s minimum wage appreciation policy.

Parting from the implications carried by the —already abrogated— plan of Brazil’s government to increase minimum wages in a sustainable manner up to 2023 –and using as the benchmark Brazil’s workers in the manufacturing sector– it can be asserted that the policy to be applied would generate, in all certainty, rather meaningful social and economic benefits in all economic sectors if this policy were to be reactivated.

Although Brazil’s plan would have not closed whatsoever the living wage gap with the United States by 2023, it would have undoubtedly embodied a meaningful improvement that would have triggered different multiplying effects that would have generated the endogenous development of Brazil. This would have placed it closer to the socioeconomic indicators of developed than of developing countries. With Dilma Rousseff’s government ousted, the Temer government immediately changed the policy and applied increases to the minimum wage below inflation in 2017 and 2018. This may change if the new presidential election returns power to Brazil’s Workers Party. There is currently a major convoluted political crisis. Lula da Silva —the leading candidate in the election— has been put in prison, with a 12 year sentence— for alleged corruption charges that have not been proven yet— and barred from running in the election. The second in the race is Jair Bolsonaro —from the far right populist sector, who was stabbed in a recent rally and is convalescing from the injury. Consequently, given the deep political polarisation of Brazil’s society, it is impossible to foresee the outcome and how this will affect the minimum wage policy and manufacturing wages.

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Living-wage assessment – Table T5: 1996-2016 Real wage-gap rates for twelve economies, in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, for all employed in manufacturing. *(The base table used for all PPP real-wage gap analysis)

Nominal wage rates in dollars continued to decrease in 2016 at the same rate as in 2014, averaging a drop of 12,5%, vis-à-vis 12,6% in 2014. This is due to a great extent to the devaluation of these currencies against the dollar. Furthermore, most wage rates in local currencies increased at a lower rate than the 5,4% increase of the U.S. hourly wage rate. As a result, most equalisation indices continued dropping. Only Italy and South Korea sustained their 2014 indices and Singapore was the only one of the twelve economies selected that was able to increase its index in 2016.

Since 2012 only three economies did not increase their equalisation gaps. Germany kept the same index and Italy and Singapore improved their equalisation. Of the twelve selected economies, four are worse off than in 1996, Brazil did not change and seven are better off than in 1996.

Overall, East Asia economies have fared far better than the rest.

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2018 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Mexico's wage rate gap 1996-2016

Mexico’s fraudulent government, fixated on the precarisation of Mexican society, continues to deliberately violate the entire spectrum of civil, political, economic, social, environmental and cultural rights of their citizenry. However, things may change for the better very soon.

With the electoral victory of López Obrador in 2018, things are planned to marginally change for the better for workers. In his Government Plan, he states that the minimum wage will be increased by 15,6% annually, plus inflation, until reaching P$171,00 by the end of his six-year term. This is a plan similar to Lula’s plan in Brazil, and precisely what we have been proposing for over a decade.

For the first time in more than three decades, real wages across the entire economy may change for the better if the new government that starts on 1st December 2018, keeps its promise and increases the minimum wage as planned by 15,6% plus inflation annually. There is no doubt that powerful domestic business lobbies will attempt to exert maximum pressure to force the new government to increase nominal wages at a far lower pace than planned. For instance, COPARMEX, the National Confederation of Employers, is already pushing for an 11% increase for 2019 including inflation. However, given that it is widely known in Mexican society that, after 36 years of deliberate wage pauperisation, Mexico’s minimum wage has become one of the lowest in the world, as low as in Nicaragua, there is enormous pressure to change this immediately, In fact, after more than thirty years of a minimum wage increase below annual inflation or strictly in line with it, the current government was forced to raise the minimum wage for 2017 by 9,6% vis-á-vis a 2,8% inflation in 2016, and for 2018 by 10,4% vis-à-vis 6,6% inflation in 2017. We will see if the upcoming government will indeed comply with its promise and implement a well-articulated policy that meaningfully recovers real wages for the entire economy throughout its six-year term.

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2018 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Spain's wage rate gap 1996-2016

To put Spain’s living wage rate position in a European perspective, only four economies recorded gains in 2016 vis-à-vis 2014, two recorded no change, whilst Spain and fifteen others recorded a widening of their living-wage gap with equivalent U.S. wages. Overall, as with most countries, wage equalisation in Spain’s manufacturing sector has stagnated, but extremely high unemployment and the deliberate neoliberal job casualisation policy remain its most conspicuous features.

In line with the drastic government-induced depression of the Spanish economy –with the evident ulterior motive of imposing the further privatisation of its Welfare State– Spain’s planned process of convergence with the major economies of the EU has stalled since 2012. The Equalisation Index (Eq-Idx) of Spain’s manufacturing sector wage rates have reached a plateau, which, in line with Germany, France and Italy, have experienced little or no change since 2012. Only the United Kingdom seems to keep sliding its Eq-Idx further down.

There is, however, some gleam of hope for a change. The European Commission rhetoric changed in 2016 from wage erosion to increase competitiveness, resulting in a systematic depression of internal demand, increasing wage inequality and generating a sluggish economic recovery, to put some emphasis in the generation of internal demand, which requires the support of growth of real wages. This may explain why Spain’s minimum wages finally increased meaningfully in 2017 and 2018. However, further growth has been conditioned to a GDP growth of at least 2,5% and the creation of not less than 450 thousand new jobs, which makes it dubious that there will be the political will, even in the new socialist government, to support wage growth. Nonetheless, there is a strong push from the European Trade Union Confederation for a wage-led growth (and solidarity to reduce inequality), instead of internal devaluation for a sound economic recovery.

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Living-wage assessment Table T5: 1996-2016 Real wage-gap rates for twenty-one European economies.

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Living-wage assessment Table T5: 1996-2016 Real wage-rate gaps for eight Asia and Oceania economies.

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Living-wage assessmentTable T5: 1996-2016 Real wage-gap rates for the four largest economies in the Americas (Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina).

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Collapsed Progressivism in Iberian America, Brazil’s case — How social democracy in Europe is leaving a perfect situation for ultraconservative and quasi fascist governments

The electoral triumph of the far right in Brazil is due to multiple factors; yet the main factor, as the fundamental and priority task, is the failure of petismo (Workers Party), to transform the economic, political and social structures of the country. A failure attributable —as we will see in detail— to the fact that it never aimed at such a transformation, but, on the contrary, contributed to its strengthening and consolidation. This is how the gap between the poorest and the richest continued to increase: the richest continued to enrich themselves and the poorest continued to impoverish themselves. Even the publicised anti-poverty and indigence programs were a drop in the ocean of pauperism and destitution that persists in Brazil.

Other factors are the lack of class consciousness among the popular majorities that they failed to acquire due to the synergistic effects of their living conditions and the influence of social-democratic and "progressive" ideologies. And, incidentally, the unchallenged power of the dominant classes that contributed to the electoral result, which has used all the resources always at its disposal —media, judicial, political, economic, ideological, etc.— to ensure the continuity of the system, including in its most aberrant forms. Those who lament this use ignore —or pretend to ignore— that it is not circumstantial, but inherent to the dominant system, which includes pure and harsh violence when the system deems it necessary for its preservation.

Corruption has also exerted its weight, because regardless of the veracity of the accusations against Lula da Silva, corruption enjoyed total impunity during the PT (Workers’ Party) governments and contaminated all the powers of the State and all or almost all the political parties. Dilma Roussef was not dismissed because of corruption but for violating tax regulations, masking the budget deficit; a reason more than debatable to dismiss her, especially with the vote of parliamentarians who, for a good part, were notoriously corrupt, including Temer, who succeeded her in the Presidency. The issue of public sense of safety also influenced the decision of the voters, in a country where crime increases as a result, among others, of the increase —without any prospects for a solution— of unemployment and poverty.

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Brazil Goes Back to an Oligarchic Past — Return to the fazenda and gaucho whip — Post Lula, post Dilma Rousseff, power has shifted to powerful landowners aggressively asserting their rights over land they don’t use but don’t want to lose, and politically motivated violence is up

Since Congress removed President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 – in what the left called a ‘parliamentary coup’ – Brazil seems to have reconnected with a past many hoped was consigned to history. It is that of a country run by colonels and bandeirantes, powerful local figures who used violence against all who crossed them: the left, the poor, and the ‘landless’ occupiers of unused land which, according to the constitution, should be redistributed through agrarian reform.

Brazil will commemorate the 130th anniversary of its abolition of slavery on 13 May, yet a hated symbol of that era, the whip, reappeared on television screens when landowners used them on 22 March against members of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) waiting to see former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s motorcade. Senator Ana Amélia Lemos of the rightwing Partido Progressista expressed unabashed support for these ‘true gauchos who raised their whips’.

Lula, who has been in prison since 7 April, was able to travel throughout Brazil unimpeded during a political career of over 50 years. But this March he encountered blockades organised by armed militias using tractors, stones and rifles to hamper his campaign to mobilise opposition to his 12-year sentence for ‘passive corruption’. The sentence has been condemned not only by the left, but also by 122 Brazilian legal experts, who have published articles suggesting the charge was based more on the judge’s prejudices than hard evidence.

The police investigation into shots fired at Lula’s motorcade on 27 March has revealed they came from Leandro Bonotto’s fazenda (plantation). Since the 1990s, Bonotto has vehemently opposed the MST and land reclamation by the National Institute for Colonisation and Agrarian Reform (Incra), a federal government body. The source of the gunshots was not a surprise: associations of big landowners openly advocate violence against the MST.

Gedeão Ferreira, who heads the agriculture federation in Rio Grande do Sul, said when he took office: ‘We’re going to confront the MST and Incra. The sole aim of their occupations is to deprive rural producers of their properties.’ Ferreira denied Incra officials access to his property and was jailed in 2002 for ignoring the law and inciting criminal behaviour. He was released in 2003 by the regional federal court of Porto Alegre (TRF4), the body that convicted Lula on appeal.

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Global Wage Report 2016/2017

The 2016/17 edition examines inequality at the workplace level, providing empirical evidence on the extent to which wage inequality is the result of wage inequality between enterprises as well as within enterprises. The report also includes a review of key policy issues regarding wages.

Over the past few years there has been a growing recognition of the need to monitor wage trends and implement sustainable wage policies that prevent wage stagnation, raise levels of pay for the millions of working poor around the world, ensure fair distribution, reduce excessive wage and income inequalities, and buttress consumption as a key pillar of sustainable economies. Where incomes have grown and income inequality has been reduced, this has frequently come about as the result of a combination of more jobs in paid employment for low-income households and a more equitable wage distribution. The role of labour markets and wages in reducing poverty and inequality has also been highlighted in the first edition of the World Bank’s annual flagship report, Poverty and shared prosperity (World Bank, 2016).

Second, wages matter for economic and political reasons. At the level of enterprises, the wages of paid employees represent a cost. But at the macroeconomic level, sustainable wage growth is central to maximizing aggregate demand. While excessive wage growth may lead to price inflation and declining exports or investment, weak wage growth can represent a drag on household consumption and domestic demand – a prospect that is particularly relevant in the current global economic context characterized by slow growth. Excessive inequality tends to contribute to lower economic growth and less social cohesion (Ostry, Berg and Tsangarides, 2014; d’Hombres, Weber and Elia, 2012). It can also lead to political polarization: a recent IMF report pointed out that in some countries the nature of political discussions had shifted as a result of “growing income inequality as well as structural shifts, some connected with globalization, that are seen as having favoured economic elites while leaving others behind” (IMF, 2016a, p. xiii).

Last but not least, wages are about more than money; they matter from the point of view of fairness and human dignity. The ILO has long emphasized that “labour is not a commodity” and that, this being so, the price of labour cannot be determined purely and simply through the application of the rule of supply and demand (see ILO, 1944 and 2014a). As pointed out by Piketty, “the price system knows neither limits nor morality” (2014, p. 6). Minimum wages play an important role in ensuring that workers are treated in a way that is fair and compatible with notions of human dignity and respect. Over and above minimum wage levels, policies in the areas of wages, hours and other conditions of work can contribute substantially to fostering social dialogue and collective bargaining, and ensuring a just share of the fruits of progress to all (ILO, 2008a). Fairness includes equal remuneration for work of equal value, and the elimination of pay discrimination between men and women, or between other groups.

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Human Development Indices and Indicators — 2018 ststitical update

Inequalities in human development —a grave challenge to progress. — Going beyond the average achievements, the IHDI and disaggregated assessments reveal large inequalities across human development dimensions. When the HDI is adjusted for inequalities, the global HDI value falls 20 percent


Human development is about human freedoms. It is about building human capabilities—not just for a few, not even for most, but for everyone. In 1990 UNDP published the first Human Development Report (HDR). Since then, it has produced more than 800 global, regional, national and subnational HDRs and organized hundreds of workshops, conferences and other outreach initiatives to foster human development. These activities have extended the frontiers of analytical thinking about human progress beyond economic growth, firmly placing people and human well-being at the centre of development policies and strategies.

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The Degrowth Alternative

Both the name and the theory of degrowth aim explicitly to repoliticize environmentalism. Sustainable development and its more recent reincarnation “green growth” depoliticize genuine political antagonisms between alternative visions for the future. They render environmental problems technical, promising win-win solutions and the impossible goal of perpetuating economic growth without harming the environment. Ecologizing society, degrowthers argue, is not about implementing an alternative, better, or greener development. It is about imagining and enacting alternative visions to modern growth-based development. This essay explores such alternatives and identifies grassroots practices and political changes for facilitating a transition to a prosperous and equitable world without growth.

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Debunking the myths behind US malice towards Mexico –The less than one percent bi-national agreement behind the myths supporting Trump’s Mexico bashing

The US has customarily conveyed an image of Mexico using blatant lies or manipulated facts that can only elicit disdain or hatred among US citizens. In this narrative, succinctly, Mexico is a perennially poor country with lots of violence and corruption that puts it on the brink of becoming a failed state, which is having a negative social and economic impact on the US. Yet the US has deliberately plundered Mexican socioeconomic structures and destroyed Mexico’s social fabric. This has been performed through a closely-concerted connivance with Mexico’s corrupt elites as part of the US so-called national interest: global imperialism. Through this evidently perverse and corrupt partnership the US has unambiguously and unrelentingly played a major role in the Machiavellian crafting of the root causes explaining Mexico’s disastrous situation. This has resulted in an increase of inequality, corruption and violence. However, the US narrative plays it as if Mexico’s northern neighbour has had nothing to do with this. Now Trump has vitriolically defamed Mexico by trying to exponentially exploit the worst and least sustainable stereotypes of Mexico and its people. This paper will debunk all the deliberately malicious myths advanced by the US’ equally-corrupt elites with a vested interest in denigrating its southern neighbour and present the true facts behind the lies.

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