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Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Ezra Klein comments on the U.S.’ doom loop of oligarchy – as accumulated wealth is spent to buy policy intended to benefit nobody other than those who have already accumulated wealth: On Thursday, the House passed Paul Ryan’s 2015 budget. In order to get near balance, the budget contains $5.1 trillion in spending cuts — roughly two-thirds of which come from programs for poor Americans. Those cuts need to be so deep because Ryan has pledged not to raise even a dollar in taxes.

As a very simple rule, rich (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Linda McQuaig responds to the CCCE’s tax spin by pointing out what’s likely motivating the false attempt to be seen to contribute to society at large: Seemingly out of the blue this week, the head honchos of Canada’s biggest companies, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, put out a media release insisting that their taxes are not too low.

This defensive posture — who mentioned murder? — reveals they fear others may be slowly catching on to the massive transfer of wealth to the richest Canadians that’s been going on for the past (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Laura Ryckewaert looks in more detail at the continued lack of any privacy protection in the Unfair Elections Act. And Murray Dobbin is hopeful that the Cons’ blatant attempt to suppress voting rights will instead lead to a backlash among those who are intended to be excluded: (W)hatever the outcome, perhaps the best possible response of democracy activists would be to treat this loathsome piece of legislation as a useful crisis. This is exactly what leaders of the African-American and Latino communities have done in their fight against the blatant voter suppression efforts (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Coyne sees the powerful impact of local forces on nomination contests as evidence that grassroots democracy is still alive and well in Canada – no matter how much the Cons and Libs may wish otherwise: What’s common to both of these stories is not only the willingness of local candidates and riding associations to defy the powers that be but their obstinate insistence that these races should be what party leaders claim they are: open nominations. With any luck, this obstreperousness will spread. Thanks to redistricting, there will be other ridings where (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Robert Reich discusses the Koch brothers and their place in the U.S.’ new plutocracy: The Kochs exemplify a new reality that strikes at the heart of America. The vast wealth that has accumulated at the top of the American economy is not itself the problem. The problem is that political power tends to rise to where the money is. And this combination of great wealth with political power leads to greater and greater accumulations and concentrations of both — tilting the playing field in favor of the Kochs and their ilk, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Jim Stanford writes that union-bashing has proven to be political poison for many of the parties who have tried to distract from increasing inequality with attacks on workers: (T)he biggest problem for Mr. Hudak’s crusade was a deeper sentiment in Canadian public opinion regarding unions and the role they play in society. No matter their warts, unions ultimately reflect their members: typical Canadians just trying to earn a decent income, support their families, and (hopefully) retire with some security, in an economy which rewards the rich and powerful more than ever before. Unions (Read more…)

Progressive Proselytizing: The "Fair" Elections Act isn’t just bad, its being implemented in a bad way

Changes to our electoral system – changes, that is, to the very core of our democracy – are not to be taken lightly. Regardless of where you lie on the political spectrum, we should be able agree on process. We should be able to agree that such changes must be taken with an open and transparent process that engages a genuine debate in Canada.

I dislike many aspects of the proposed electoral reform bill. Pouring more money into elections – asymmetrically advantaging the Conservatives – is a terrible idea. Making it harder to vote – asymmetrically advantaging the Conservatives – (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the importance of letting voters decide among a full range of potential political candidates – rather than imposing rules or conventions which prohibit senior military leaders, public servants or others from participating in politics.

For further reading…- The column is largely a response to Andrew Coyne (who argues that personal decisions of military and civilian leaders should be evaluated differently based on their potential interest in politics) and Adam Chapnick (who argues for a five-year moratorium against political involvement which would exclude recently-retired military professionals from participation in the democracy they’ve fought to defend).- And (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: The political aspects of the minimum wage

Discussion of the minimum wage can easily slide into a technocratic back-and-forth that ignores the vital political aspect at play. We can see this in much of the response to the report just released by the Ontario government’s Minimum Wage Advisory Panel (MWAP). Andrew Coyne, for example, once again argues that a basic income is a better solution to poverty than increases in the minimum wage. The question, however, should not be one of which single tool is best for fighting poverty, but how we can build the most effective toolkit, one that also puts political power into the hands of the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jo Snyder discusses how poverty makes everybody less healthy, and recognizes the need for higher basic wages as a result. And Laurie Penny highlights the futility of trying to badger young adults into service jobs which offer no opportunity for personal, professional or financial progress: The British gov­ernment, like many others, is no longer even pretending to care about how or if the next generation gets to thrive. It is demonstrably content to sacrifice its young. That quality is not just spiteful; it is a recipe for social and cultural self-annihilation.

What (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Robert Reich laments the indecency of gross inequality (and the economic policies designed to exacerbate it): (F)or more than three decades we’ve been going backwards. It’s far more difficult today for a child from a poor family to become a middle-class or wealthy adult. Or even for a middle-class child to become wealthy.

The major reason is widening inequality. The longer the ladder, the harder the climb. America is now more unequal that it’s been for eighty or more years, with the most unequal distribution of income and wealth of all developed nations. (Read more…)

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Andrew Coyne: The Case For Heartlessness

After coming to the aid of James Moore after the Industry Minister’s display of rabid child eating hate, Andrew is working up a new column in defense of Canada Post’s Deepak Chopra, another Harper appointee, who stated recently that that seniors would welcome the exercise brought about by the discontinuation of door-to-door mail service and the introduction of community mailboxes.

I have recieved a copy of the first draft of Andrew’s column, which I reproduce below without comment:

We can argue about the causes and about whether it is a worthy metric, but it is at least worth noting that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how James Moore’s disinclination to care about his neighbours is par for the course from the Harper Cons – and how we should learn the lesson about caring and compassion that Moore and his party are so studiously avoiding.

For further reading…- Again, Sara Norman’s original story is here, while PressProgress and Laura Payton both helped to put it in context. – My recap of Moore’s other events from the week is drawn from his activity in Monday’s Hansard, as well as his office’s most recent statements as of the time the column was (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Joan Walsh discusses how employers are exploiting the U.S.’ wage supplement policies by taking the opportunity to severely underpay their employees – resulting in both insecure income and employment, and significant public expense to reduce the poverty suffered by full-time workers. And Lana Payne comments that the Cons’ anti-worker policies figure to further exacerbate inequality in Canada as well.

- Meanwhile, lest anybody doubt the disproportionate effect of corporate power in politics, Juliet Eilperin writes that the Obama White House delayed the introduction of health, safety and environmental regulations until after (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Mr. Coyne’s Flaccid Critique

Andrew Coyne’s latest column starts off with a clear enough statement of how the Harper Government has engaged in tactics which prevent the engines of parliament from holding those in power accountable. Not only was the House of Commons conveniently shuttered, but neither the minister responsible, Lisa Raitt, nor any Canada Post executives were on hand to answer questions regarding this drastic reduction in public services. But then, in this they were only following the example set by the prime minister, who has for months avoided answering questions about the scandal that is slowly destroying his government.

Then he promptly (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…)

Politics and its Discontents: Back To Earth

I had planned this to be my first piece post-holiday, but Nelson Mandela’s passing yesterday prompted my post about that giant who walked among us. I purposely kept it brief, since thousands upon thousands of words will be written about him in the days to come, a testament not only to his stature throughout the world but also, I suspect, to the rarity of such dignity, integrity, and moral greatness.

On to other matters.

One of the advantages to a week-long sojourn in Cuba, from which we returned late Wednesday night, is the fact that the Internet there is both (Read more…)

BigCityLib Strikes Back: The Reform Act: The Pro-Life View

Some quotes from a vvvvery interesting Lifesite piece:

Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition, said that while he saw positive aspects of the bill, it could hamstring a good leader from working towards pro-life-and-family legislation.And, my favorite:Though Chong is deemed “not supportable” by Campaign Life Coalition because of his support for abortion up to 20 weeks gestation, the bill could come as a boon to pro-life-and-family advocates seeking to run as candidates.Outspoken pro-life advocates have a history of being rejected from the top as candidates for a riding.In 2007 Conservative party brass in Ottawa (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…)

kirbycairo: Harper, Conspiracies, and Camel’s Backs . . . .

In light of the 50th anniversary of the death of Jack Kennedy, and the media discussion that the event motivated, I want to open this post with a few words about so-called “conspiracy theories.” The simple fact is that while many people belittle any talk of a conspiracy concerning almost anything, there is a simple and understandable motivation for such ideas. When any “official” explanation is not believable or stretches the boundaries of credibility, people look around for other possible explanations. Such is the case with the Kennedy assassination. There are so many strange coincidences, so many difficult to (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: At Issue: Harper’s Obfuscation

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary offers the following definition of obfuscate: to make obscure; to confuse. As an intransitive verb, it means to be evasive, unclear, or confusing.

I suspect that those engaged citizens following the details of the Senate scandal that continues to dog the Prime Minister and shows no sign of abatement would agree that both forms of the verb apply to the sad Nixonian performance of Stephen Harper and his operatives. During both Parliament’s Question Period and TV interviews with the likes of his Parliamentary Secretary, Paul Calandra, the refrain is always the same: “I told Mr. Duffy (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Toby Sanger highlights how the Cons (following in the footsteps of the Libs before them) have already slashed federal government revenues and expenses to levels not seen since the first half of the 20th century – even as they continue to call for more blood: Total federal government spending as a share of the economy is projected to drop to a 14% share of the economy by 2018/19.  This would be the lowest since at least 1948.  Because the government has tied the federal public service up in knots, actual spending will (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- In case anybody hasn’t yet seen Andrew Coyne’s takedown of anti-intellectual populism, it’s well worth a read: (T)here Mr. Ford sits, immovably: disgraced, largely powerless, but still the mayor. Is that his fault? The city’s? Or is it the fault of those who put him there in the first place, and sustained him through the long train wreck that followed: the staff who failed to report his misdeeds; the commentators who excused them; the partisans who ignored them. Disasters on the Ford scale, we are taught, do not just happen, and while (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Murray Dobbin recognizes that there’s more at stake on the federal political scene than merely replacing the Harper Cons – and that the most important debate may be found within the NDP. Meanwhile, Tim Harper is concern trolling on that front, demanding that Thomas Mulcair silence Linda McQuaig and anybody else whose principles might not align perfectly with Fraser Institute talking points.

- Carol Goar makes the case (as I’ve done before) to deal with the Senate through a new convention which simply avoids future appointments. But Andrew Coyne proposes a far (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Shorter Coyne On Senate Reform: Give All The Power To The PMO

In the wake of this week’s Supreme Court Hearings on the Senate Reform consultation questions that the Harper Government posed last spring, the National Post’s Andrew Coyne has postulated that the provinces shouldn’t be part of the amending formula.

The government’s lawyers have gamely maintained that much of tis short-term agenda for Senate reform – term limits, consultative elections and so on – could be pursued unilaterally.  At the other extreme, abolition, they submit, could be achieved under the Constitution’s general amending formula:  seven provinces with 50% of the population. 

The consensus view is that the feds are out (Read more…)