Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Income Support

Responding, again, to David W. Campbell, on  EI and local labour market distortions

First. A statement that something "has a distorting effect on local labour markets" suggests that there is some natural 'non-distorted' state of those markets. One wonders what that state would be - does it include the 'distorting' effects of gender equity, the 'distorting' effects of minimum wage, the 'distorting' effects of government employment in the region? Or - more logically - should we not just conclude that use of the phrase 'distorting effects' is shorthand for "I have no argument here but I want to make the case anyway."

Second. When you use the phrase "an income support program for seasonal workers" you suggest (as is typical in the media) that the primary beneficiaries are the employees. However, this "income support" mostly supports the industries that have been depending on governments to subsidize their operations, allowing them to hire people part time without vacation leave or other benefits. This is the sort of support large corporations and friends of the government routinely receive to subsidize their operations, but under a different guise.

Without reasonable access to EI, people are not going to stay in the region unless they absolutely have to. If you want to develop a region economically, the first thing you have to do is ensure that the workforce has income security. Without that - under whatever name you call it - you have nothing at all. Conversely, the removal of income support is a very clear statement that the government is not interested in economic development. Which raises the question, what *is* it interested in?

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