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Northern Insight: The states of state affairs

Comparing remuneration of senior public officials in Washington State to BC counterparts can leave one astounded. The most obvious examples are at the publicly owned investment management agencies and the ferry operations. Despite paying substantially less to executives, both Washington State Investment Board and Washington State Ferries outperformed equivalents north of the border. In recent years, WSIB earned better investment returns than bcIMC and WSF had growing utilization while the opposite is true as BCF. My review of Washington’s senior civil servants is also demonstrating major differences.

I surmise that rules of open government in the neighboring State are great (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- David Atkins highlights how public policy and corporate strategy have both instead been directed toward squeezing every possible dime out of the public: The less noticed but potentially more consequential way that policymakers across the industrialized world set about accomplishing this goal was to push their middle classes to invest their wealth into assets, especially stocks and real estate, then use the levers of public policy to inflate the values of those assets in order to disguise the inevitable declines in wages. There was also a concerted effort to hide wage losses by (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Frances Russell writes about the corrosive effects of inequality. And Robert Reich points out one creative option California is considering to address inequality at the firm level: tying corporate tax levels to wage parity, under the theory that shareholders will then have an incentive to push for a fair distribution of wages.

- Peter Richardson reviews Matt Taibbi’s The Divide:  Taibbi explores why Wall Street bankers are seemingly exempt from criminal prosecution, even as New York City targets petty crime — much of it manufactured by police in minority neighborhoods — more (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Bill C-23: Accountability for Thee Not For Me

It’s not exactly news that Harper has never liked Elections Canada.  In fact, it’s less than news.  His outraged utterances about Elections Canada when he was head of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC) in the 1990s set the tone for the content of Bill C-23.

“The jackasses at Elections Canada are out of control.” 

In 2001, Stephen Harper was president of the National Citizens Coalition. That was his opening line in a fundraising letter. 

His loathing for the election overseers was almost pathological, recalls Gerry Nicholls, the conservative commentator who worked with Mr. Harper at the NCC. (Read more…)

Melissa Fong: #Urbanarium2014: How to build a truly “Engaged City”?

“Engaged City” was unanimously passed yesterday, and it seems like the pundits are all out criticizing the process. … Democratization of the planning process is a fundamental problem with bureaucratic institutions; government is fundamentally hierarchical. Do we target Vision Vancouver? NPA? Nah*- There is a problem with the plumbing and none of them are plumbers…. An Urbanarium, in its basic sense, is a three-dimensional model of the city. If a developer wanted to propose a development, they would have to create a 3-D model of the building(s) and place it on the model city for public review. I can still remember (Read more…)

Melissa Fong: DTES Local Area Plan- Speaker #5, on Amendments

We need to respect the experiential knowledge of DTES residents that understand how the plan violates their security. Not fundamentally opposed to Vision- but you have to realize reality. If you insist on the ideology of “social mix” you also have to set up the circumstances for dignity of all people- not just a veil. I wanted to make clear: 60/40 Would only be acceptable if all of the 60% was at welfare rates Microsuites in principle are okay- perhaps we need to deal with smaller living spaces; however the sizes proposed are unliveable. Some of the most dense housing (Read more…)

Melissa Fong: Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan- Summary

Like last time, I did some LiveTweeting of the evening- My strategy is to summarize the main point of all the voices; add in my OWN commentary (I can be […]

Melissa Fong: The facts on PHS scandal & following reactions of critics, boards and Jenny Kwan

…The fact is that PHS provides really important harm reduction programming that needs to be defended.

The scandal involves non-profit board members that are supposed to be working in the best interest of the DTES, not on #34KVacations.

Townshend and Small (Jenny Kwan’s ex) are implicated with irresponsible spending on administrative costs.

Any budget for programming and housing went to programming and housing, according to the audit. It is the administrative/executive budget spending that is in question.

Jenny Kwan (NDP) was NOT on the board of PHS and we can’t assume she knew about the expenses by Small. ….

Melissa Fong: Financial reform: Taking responsibility as public servants and otherwise…

Facts: I don’t hate Vision Vancouver. I’m indifferent to the overall career of Gregor Robertson. I actually like Andrea Reimer, from what I know of her. (Confession: I really like […]

LeDaro: His Highness Stephen Harper does not answer questions

Inconsiderate reporters waste the time of His Majesty Stephen Harper. Following video speaks volumes about Harper’s attitude. He is accountable to no one. It is a shame. Who would have thought that we will have dictatorship in Canada.

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Stealing Democracy Part X: How Far Does The Rot Go?

There is no doubt any more that Bill C-23 is deliberately designed to enable the CPC (or other political parties) to engage in the kind of electoral fraud that the CPC has attempted, and been caught out at repeatedly in the past.  Worse, it goes so far as to politicize the staffing of voting stations.  None of this can end well. Consider the following list of malfeasance on the part of the CPC since 2006: The “In and Out” Fundraising Scheme (Money Laundering Fraud) 2006 Dean del Mastro is facing charges relating to campaign spending in 2008 Peter Penashue forced (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Following up on yesterday’s column, David Atkins discusses his own preference for front-end fixes to poverty and inequality: The standard way you’ll hear most progressives address inequality issues is to allow the labor market to run as usual, but levy heavy taxes on the back for redistribution.

No doubt that is the simplest way of doing it. But it also creates some problems, including a perception of unfairness, the potential to simply lower the tax rates when conservatives are put in charge, and capital mobility in which the richest people simply leave (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- David Atkins emphasizes the need for progressive parties and activists to discuss big ideas rather than settling for the path of least short-term resistance: Both the poor and the middle class feel threatened and increasingly pessimistic. Opinions of elite institutions across the board are at an all time low. Whether on the right or left, few believe anymore that anyone in government, business, or politics is actually looking out for their interests. In a world like this, the move to ensure that every single individual in society has an equal, infinitesimal chance to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your weekend.

- Nick Kristof writes that the growing gap in income reflects a similarly growing gap in social perception – and that there’s plenty of need to reduce both: There is an income gap in America, but just as important is a compassion gap. Plenty of successful people see a picture of a needy child and their first impulse is not to help but to reproach. … There may be neurological biases at work. A professor at Princeton found that our brains sometimes process images of people who are poor or homeless as if they were (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ken Georgetti discusses how the corporate tax giveaways of the past 15 years have hurt most Canadians: The Conservative government and special interest groups claim incessantly that cutting corporate income taxes is good for the economy and for individual Canadians. We have been led to believe that tax giveaways to corporations would lead companies to reinvest in research and development as well as machinery and staff training to boost productivity. This is supposed to stimulate economic growth and create better paying and more secure jobs. But that is not what has happened (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses the link between perpetually-increasing inequality and the loss of social trust: Unfortunately, however, trust is becoming yet another casualty of our country’s staggering inequality: As the gap between Americans widens, the bonds that hold society together weaken. So, too, as more and more people lose faith in a system that seems inexorably stacked against them, and the 1 percent ascend to ever more distant heights, this vital element of our institutions and our way of life is eroding.

The undervaluing of trust has its roots in our most popular economic traditions. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how Michael Chong’s Reform Act privileges members of Parliament over party members and supporters – and how there’s far more reason for concern about a lack of genuine grassroots input as matters stand now than about the influence of MPs.

For further reading…- I’ll point to Andrew Coyne passim as the main cheerleader for the Reform Act. I refer in the column to some of the points made by Alice Funke and Don Lenihan. And Aaron Wherry surveys a few more responses – including Jeff Jedras’ proposal for a standardized primary system (which would seem to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jim Stanford reminds us that even Statistics Canada’s already-galling numbers showing increased inequality in Canada understate the problem, as they fail to reflect capital gains (and the preferential tax treatment thereof): Yesterday’s release from Statistics Canada on the income share of the wealthy generated some interesting coverage and commentary.  It reported that the top 1%’s share of total income in Canada remained steady in 2011 in Canada, at 10.6 percent — but still significantly higher than in the 1980s.

Most observers did not mention, however, that this oft-cited income share statistic does (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Alison chronicles how the definition of “accountability” has changed since the Cons’ own actions started to come under the microscope, while Paul Wells writes about the three different interests at play in the Cons’ scandal. And Tonda MacCharles explores how the Senate bribery scandal developed – though her willingness to take Con talking points at face value seems questionable given how consistently they’ve crumbled when compared to actual evidence, particularly when the likes of Chantal Hebert and Don Martin are eviscerating the Cons’ ever-more-farcical spin.

- Meanwhile, Don Lenihan discusses why gratuitous secrecy (Read more…)

Blevkog: A quote from a former opposition leader:

At worst, he personally ordered it done and chose the people who executed the plan. At the very least, he fostered an attitude within the party [...], chose the managers of the people who committed these crimes and completely and utterly failed to exercise any oversight, supervision or leadership. In the end, it doesn’t really […]

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Frances Russell finds that authoritarianism and bozo eruptions are two of the defining characteristics of right-wing politics in Canada: Put simply, the double standard states “ I can do it but you can’t because…” followed by a lengthy list of inequalities: because I’m better than you; because I’m older than you; because I’m smarter than you; because I’m richer than you; because I have more power than you; because I’m a man and you’re a woman;…because, because, because.

The double standard holds different people more, less, or not at all accountable for their (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- George Monbiot writes that corporate control over a political system may be a huge factor in limiting public participation – even as it makes a substantial counterweight all the more important: The political role of business corporations is generally interpreted as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy. In reality they belong on the inside. They are part of the nexus of power that creates policy. They face no significant resistance, from either government or opposition, as their interests have now been woven into the fabric of all three main political parties in (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Mother Jones’ Modest Proposal

Like me, you probably share that sinking feeling that privacy is gone for good, dead without so much as a fight.  If you want a reasonable degree of privacy any more you have to live self-sustainably in a cabin on a lake deep in the forest and hope you’re not outside when the satellite passes overhead snapping pictures.  If, on the other hand, you’re reading this, somewhere that’s being noted and added to everything else that has been noted about you including your utility bills, medical records and that last credit card statement.

 At times it seems our (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Don Braid comments on Alberta’s complete lack of credibility when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental issues. And Andrew Leach nicely sums up the PC/Con position in trying to put a happy face on growing emissions: Suppose you run into an old friend whom you haven’t seen for some time. You notice that he looks a little thicker than you remembered around the waist, but, since you aren’t one of those academics who shuns basic manners, you keep mum.

“How are you doing?” you say, “What’s new? (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: There Is No Honour Among Thieves

Make no mistake about it, I have little sympathy for Mike Duffy.  When I caught wind of his political aspirations several years before he became a Senator, he ceased to be among the journalists that I had much respect for.  

That said, Duffy’s last couple of speeches in the Senate speak volumes.  Today, he revealed the existence of yet another cheque originating within the CPC apparatus to bail him out of the financial quagmire that he found himself in.

Senator Mike Duffy set Ottawa abuzz Monday with his latest revelations from the Senate floor. Duffy says Conservative party lawyer (Read more…)