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Alex's Blog: Why we have no time for politics

Samara recently published yet another study showing that Canadians, especially young Canadians, are profoundly disengaged from formal politics. Not only are citizens voting less and participating less in political parties, they are not writing, reading or even talking with friends about party politics. While many are still donating money and time to causes, they don’t have much use for politics.

Of course this is not the first such study. With every passing year, we get more evidence that trust in politicians, government and our democratic institutions is in sharp decline. Every election seems to bring a new low in (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: The Trouble With Austerity: Economics as Ideology

A somewhat abridged version of this post first appeared in The Toronto Star here

Governments here and elsewhere are increasingly preoccupied with cutting even as evidence piles up of its harmful consequences on people and the economy. Austerity is not even delivering the balanced budgets its advocates promise. Even the IMF is now preaching balance rather than a single-minded focus on cuts. Yet, austerity’s adherents hold fast, deny the evidence or double down. Why is that?

Of course a few at the top benefit from austerity, at least in the short term, and though few, they exert considerable influence. And

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Alex's Blog: The Age of Austerity

Notes: Keynote talk, CCPA Post-Austerity session, Toronto, January 9, 2013

We are living in the “Age of Austerity” or at least so says David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister. He made this announcement in 2009 at the Conservative convention just before becoming prime minister. This meant, he explained, that he would have to fix the errors, the folly of previous governments. He would restore the economy by cutting spending, reducing the size of government, and shifting resources from public to private.

In 2010, the G20 met in Toronto and, apart from arresting citizens, they were also talking austerity. Canada led

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Alex's Blog: The mean test: how we measure success

Chief Theresa Spence (by Regina Southwind, Rabble, December 17)

As we enter 2013, how is Canada doing? How do we stack up against other rich countries? Emerging from the year of the 50th anniversary of medicare, the 30th anniversary of the Charter, are we making progress? Do we even have any shared notion of what progress would look like?

How we measure our success as a country matters. It tells us a lot about what we value most. It shapes what we ask of our politicians and how we judge the performance of our governments. It shapes

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Alex's Blog: Going, Going, Gone: Dismantling the Progressive State

“An Auction”. William Pyne and William Combe (1808).

Now that some time has passed since the federal budget it might be useful to step back and assess what it says about where the government is taking us. Reaction has been pretty muted. The “centrist punditry” generally see this as an incremental budget, business as usual, “balanced” and “mature”. For our Globe editorialists, for example, this was not the transformative budget the government promised and a majority government supposedly made possible. According to them, the budget was OK; it earned a passing grade but had no vision, not much transformation. Canadians,

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