Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.- Carolyn Shimmin discusses the connection between inequality and social ills, while Sarah Khapton reports on new research showing part of the biological explanation.- Rachelle Younglai documents the growing nu… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Politics and its Discontents: Time To Reject Magical Thinking

Canadians, along with the West in general, have been fed a neoliberal diet of propaganda and policy for so long that far too many have succumbed to magical thinking, the belief that we can have it all with only minimal pain, the later in the form of lo… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Time To Reject Magical Thinking

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Alex Himelfarb writes about the urgent need to reverse the vicious cycle of austerity. And Toby Sanger takes a look at the economic records of Canada’s political parties, and finds that the NDP ranks at the top of the class not only for balancing budgets, but also for reducing unemployment and raising wages.

- Meanwhile, Shawn Katz calls out the Libs for being all PR and no substance when it comes to progressive values: In the media echo chamber, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s most substantive claim to the mantle of “change” in this (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- Alex Himelfarb highlights the vicious circle the Harper Cons have created and driven when it comes to public services: Today’s austerity is not a response to fiscal crisis. The 2012 budget demonstrated that it’s about redefining the purpose of government, about dismantling, brick by brick, the progressive state built by governments of quite different stripes in the decades following the Second World War. Implied is a very different notion of our shared citizenship, of what binds us together across language, region and community. The message was clear: government will ask less of Canadians (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Alex Himelfarb writes about the corporate push to treat taxes as a burden rather than a beneficial contribution to a functional society – and why we should resist the demand to slash taxes and services alike: How is it that we don’t now ask of these tax cuts upon tax cuts: What will be the consequences for these public goods, goods that most of us continue to value, that demonstrably contribute to the general welfare? In part the answer may be that we devalue public goods because they are not priced and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Alex Himelfarb and Jordan Himelfarb write about the growing appetite for stronger public services and the taxes needed to fund them in 2014 – even if we’re a long way from having that translated into real policy changes: Certainly tax phobia has framed our politics and shaped our governments. Our politicians of every stripe seem to believe that Canadians want tax cuts, whatever the costs, and won’t accept tax increases, whatever the benefits. This austerity mindset stunts the political imagination, making us doubt that we can do great things or much of anything (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Ryan Meili examines why Craig Alexander of the TD Bank is calling for a move toward greater income equality in Canada: The OECD reports that income inequality is at the highest level in 30 years, and that economic growth has been slowed by as much as 10 per cent in some countries as a result. A 2014 IMF study showed that redistributive policies through tax and transfers not only do no harm to the economy, but can improve performance in the long-term. In fact, it appears that public investments in child care and (Read more…)

OPSEU Diablogue: Thank you Danielle for reminding us what this country is worth

It wasn’t one of her three big ideas to improve health care, but it was a brief moment of brilliance. During Monday’s RamsayTalks at the University of Toronto, Dr. Danielle Martin had just been asked by the Rotman School’s Mark Stabile how she … Continue reading →

Politics and its Discontents: Two Takes On Taxation

The contrast couldn’t be more striking. As announced by federal Fiance Minister Joe Oliver the other day, Ottawa is well on its way to posting a $9 billion surplus, but Canadians shouldn’t expect any massive new spending programs. Instead, he plans to reduce taxes once the deficit is eliminated in the 2015-16 budget, likely next winter.

On the other hand, the Ontario government, under Premier Wynne, proposes a host of new spending and moderate tax increases under the budget it brought down yesterday.

Progressive measures include raising the wages of home care workers, more money for infrastructure, welfare hikes, new (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Alex Himelfarb and Jordan Himelfarb comment on the dangers of failing to talk about taxes: The tax debate is often muddied by disagreement about whether taxes have actually gone up or down. As the economy grows, so too do tax revenues and spending, which is why many (though not all) prefer to measure tax as a percentage of the economy (GDP). The only good data on this come from StatsCan in a survey discontinued in 2008. These numbers show a decline in the scale of tax and spending over the last several decades, (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: A Reading Recommendation.

I have a deep respect for Alex Himelfarb, the director of the Glendon School of International and Public Affairs and tireless proponent of responsible, progressive taxation. The latter, as one can well-imagine, likely makes him persona non grata in many circles, but those are likely the same circles that close out responsible thought or discussion on any topics that might threaten to puncture the artificial and insular world they encase themselves in.

It is, of course, easy to take the expedient route, as have politicians like Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and Thomas Mulcair at the federal level, and, here (Read more…)

OPSEU Diablogue: We won’t have Medicare II without federal leadership — Himelfarb

Alex Himelfarb understands the 2004 10-year health accord better than most. At the time it was negotiated, he was the highest ranking civil servant in Ottawa. The $41.3 billion Accord was supposed to fix health care for a generation. It would … Continue reading →

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Scott Doherty recognizes that Saskatchewan’s failure to collect a reasonable royalty rate for potash and other natural resources is directly responsible for the province crying poor when workers are laid off. And Alex Himelfarb points out that the magical theory behind perpetual tax cuts is purely a matter of illusion rather than reality. We are more than just consumers and taxpayers. We are citizens with responsibilities for one another; we undertake to do some things together, things that we could never do alone or that we can do much better collectively. Taxes are (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Alex Himelfarb and Jordan Himelfarb comment on Canada’s dangerously distorted conversation about public revenue and the purposes it can serve: As we argue in our new book, Tax Is Not a Four-Letter Word, the Canadian tax conversation has become dangerously distorted. Any reasonable discussion of taxes must take into account the highly valued public services they buy. But in Canada, and throughout much of the Anglosphere, these inextricably linked concepts — taxes and public services — have somehow become divorced. We now live in an environment in which the first question we (Read more…)

OPSEU Diablogue: Ontario’s austerity policies self-defeating — Hennessy

There are many ways to tell a story. For Trish Hennessy, Ontario director at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, one way is to look at the most searched word annually for the on-line Mirriam-Webster dictionary. Speaking last night at the … Continue reading →

Politics and its Discontents: A Tuesday Night Thought

From one of my favourite writers, speakers, thinkers and bloggers, Alex Himelfarb.

Recommend this Post

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Evening Links

This and that to end your Thursday.

- The Huffington Post discusses a study showing how poor Canadians pay the highest marginal tax rates on income that pushes them over benefit thresholds. But it should be fairly obvious that the solution is to set up rational models for social programs which avoid counterproductive incentives – rather than following the C.D. Howe Institute’s apparent preference to freeze them in place. And indeed, Jordon Cooper writes that strategies based on the principle of investing where it’s needed most can go a long way in propelling citizens out of poverty for the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Jillian Berman reports on research showing that the predictable effect of decreased unionization is a transfer of wealth from workers to shareholders: The jump in corporate profit over the past few decades can be explained largely by a decline in union membership over the same period, according to a study by Tali Kristal, a sociologist at the University of Haifa in Israel. The boost in companies’ bottom line comes at workers’ expense, Kristal wrote in an email to The Huffington Post.

“It’s a zero sum game: whatever is not going to workers, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Michael Harris rightly points out that a steady stream of scandals and incompetence from the Cons says plenty about Stephen Harper’s own judgment (or lack thereof): Sooner or later, the country is going to realize that there is something terribly wrong with Stephen Harper’s judgment.

And sooner or later, the Conservative party is going to realize one-man bands are great until the tuba player runs out of breath.

At the moment, judged only by his record in Senate appointments, Harper’s eye for talent appears to be made of glass.

Patrick Brazeau and

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

That and that for your Sunday reading.

- Alex Himelfarb weighs in against gratuitous austerity by pointing out the dishonest cycle of excuses used to push destructive policy: (T)he consequences of cuts are increasingly visible, first for the most vulnerable: aboriginal communities struggling to meet basic needs, higher tuitions and student debt, refugees who cannot get needed medicine, more unemployed Canadians thrown onto inadequate welfare because they cannot access insurance. Some consequences will play out more slowly: weaker environmental regulations, cuts to education and science, neglect of crumbling infrastructure, eroding public services will all make our economy less competitive, less

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Friday reading.

- In addition to providing my latest tagline, Alex Himelfarb takes aim at the austerians who seem happy to attack social well-being and economic development alike in the name of government-slashing: (A)usterity had never been driven by fiscal policy or economics or evidence.  It was driven by ideology.  Market fundamentalism.  A desire to make government much smaller, eliminate or reduce, as much as politics allowed, so-called entitlements, create a “pro-business” climate of less regulation, less government, and, above all, lower taxes.

Think about the irony of this: that the huge recession-induced deficits

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Barbara Yaffe lets Hugh Segal make the case for a guaranteed annual income to end poverty in Canada: (Hugh Segal) says it could be arranged by way of a tax credit through the income tax system, to top up income of anyone falling below Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cutoff (LICO).

LICO for a single person is about $22,200; for a family with three children, roughly $47,000.

“In other words,” writes Segal, “being poor would become a problem we all buffered in the same way as we buffer all Canadians relative to health

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Politics and its Discontents: To Read, Perchance To Think

Shakespeare purists will perhaps forgive my titular, out-of-context paraphrasing of a famous line from Hamlet, but it occurred to me yesterday and today as I read two fine essays published in The Toronto Star.

The first, by former Globe writer Michael Valpy (strange how that ‘newspaper of record’ has either lost or terminated so many good writers in the past decade), appeared in yesterday’s edition. Entitled Canada’s new politics of discord could carry a heavy price, it reflects on the implications of the breakdown in Canadian social cohesion both promoted and exploited by the Harper government as it works

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: To Read, Perchance To Think

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- No, the aftershocks of an e. coli outbreak which has unfortunately given both Canadians and export markets reason for concern about the safety of some of our major food sources aren’t about to end simply because the Cons are again pretending everything’s fine. And the president of the union local representing XL Foods workers points out one of the major steps needed to ensure problems aren’t allowed to fester due to managerial neglect: Under the UFCW’s collective agreement, O’Halloran said, line workers can inform a supervisor only if they spot a safety issue,

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Politics and its Discontents: ‘Where Is The Outrage?’ Asks Alex Himelfarb

I have written two previous posts about Alex Himelfarb, Director of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs at York University, former Clerk of the Privy Council, and fellow blogger. He is a man whose passion for democracy and societal fairness I deeply admire.

I was therefore pleased to see him sharing his thoughts on the state of our democracy in today’s Star as part of a series that began yesterday with a piece by Allan Gregg entitled In Defence of Reason.

Today, Himelfarb begins with an observation with which I think most of us would agree:

We ought

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: ‘Where Is The Outrage?’ Asks Alex Himelfarb