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Parchment in the Fire: Mark Blyth: The Return Of Class Politics In The UK

Mark Blyth: The Return Of Class Politics In The UK.

For David Cameron, cutting spending in a highly unequal society works because it doesn’t affect those who matter to him. This used to be called class politics.

The prime minister’s speech at the lord mayor’s banquet last year was notable in part because its main message, that “we need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently,” was delivered from a throne bedecked in gold to applause from members of the financial elite. But it’s the other less commented upon aspects of last year’s speech that signal why the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Thomas Frank reviews Zephyr Teachout’s Corruption in America, and finds there’s even more reason to worry about gross wealth buying power than we could identify before: We think of all the laws passed over the years to restrict money in politics — and of all the ways the money has flowed under and around those restrictions. And finally, it seems to me, we just gave up out of sheer exhaustion. According to Teachout, however, it’s much worse than this. Our current Supreme Court, in Citizens United, “took that which had been (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: John Weeks: The EU Recovery That Never Was

John Weeks: The EU Recovery That Never Was.

Economic recovery in the Eurozone is not delayed. It is non-existent. The Financial Times for the first day of October carried several articles assessing the European economies, written as if a prize would go to the most pessimistic — stagnation and decline of EU manufacturing, the European Central Bank initiates asset purchases to prevent deflation from sweeping the continent, France and Italy sure to miss their fiscal targets, and the head of the IMF warns of global economic “mediocrity”. And, as the comics say, that’s the good news.

The (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Renzi budget has business ‘dreaming’ and unions worried – English – ANSA.it

Renzi budget has business ‘dreaming’ and unions worried – English – ANSA.it.

CGIL and FIOM metalworkers rally for jobs Redazione ANSA Rome

14 October 2014

(ANSA) – Rome, October 14 – Italy’s employers on Tuesday hailed Premier Matteo Renzi’s forthcoming 2015 budget bill as a dream come true while Italy’s largest CGIL labor federation slammed it as a recessive move that does not do enough for workers. The 30-billion-euro budget featuring 18 billion euros in tax cuts aims to kick-start the Italian economy, which is now its third recession in six years. It goes to the cabinet for ratification (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Alex Hunsberger argues that the Good Jobs Summit reflected a gap between labour strategies aimed merely at trying to take a slightly larger cut of a corporate-owned system, and those which actually propose and fight for something better: The most useful and engaging part of the weekend occurred not in the plenary sessions but during the small group discussions on Saturday, where participants had a chance to talk to one another in more depth about questions related to labour’s strategy to improve conditions for workers…Participants asked questions such as: Why bribe (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Linda McQuaig discusses the radical difference between how Canadians want to see public resources used (based on the example set by governments elsewhere), and the determination of the Cons and their corporate allies to instead fritter away every dime of fiscal capacity the federal government manages to find: Last week, Germany completed its plan to provide free university tuition to all its students. It’s an idea that no doubt would excite the hopes and dreams of young people in Canada — which explains the need to snuff it out before it catches on.

Certainly, (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Germany needs ‘small miracle’ to avoid recession after exports fall by 5.8% | Business | The Guardian

Germany needs ‘small miracle’ to avoid recession after exports fall by 5.8% | Business | The Guardian.

 

The fall in exports comes as sanctions between Russia and Europe and a flagging economy in the wider eurozone take their toll on Germany. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP

German exports suffered the biggest monthly fall in more than five and a half years in August, leaving Europe’s largest economy in need of “a small miracle” to avoid recession in the third quarter.

Exports fell by 5.8% compared with July to €92.6bn (£72.8bn). The decrease is the latest sign of (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Five charts that show Germany is heading into recession | Business | theguardian.com

Five charts that show Germany is heading into recession | Business | theguardian.com.

 

Germany is on brink of recession Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Germany is on the brink of recession. Recovery in Europe’s powerhouse went into reverse in the second quarter when the economy shrank by 0.2%.

All the evidence suggests the weakness persisted in the third quarter amid tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and a flagging recovery in the eurozone economy.

Here are five charts underpinning expectations of a fresh German recession.

Germany’s trade position is deteriorating

German exports fell by 5. (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Austerity has been an utter disaster for the eurozone | Business | The Guardian

Austerity has been an utter disaster for the eurozone | Business | The Guardian.

 

Austerity has been an utter and unmitigated disaster, which has become increasingly apparent as European Union economies once again face stagnation, if not a triple-dip recession. Photograph: Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the theory,” goes the old adage. But too often it is easier to keep the theory and change the facts – or so German chancellor Angela Merkel and other pro-austerity European leaders appear to believe. Though facts keep staring them in the face, they continue to deny (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- In the context of Scotland’s referendum on independence, Polly Toynbee reminds us why fragmentation can only serve to exacerbate inequality – a lesson worth keeping in mind as the Cons look to devolve responsibility for taxation and public services in Canada: What’s to be done? The answer from all sides is “localism”. Westminster’s monstrous hegemony must be broken up with devolution. If Scotland goes, rump UK will be bereft and depleted. But if Scotland stays, monumental home-rule promises made in the last week’s panic will offer Scotland immense tax, spending and borrowing (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Spain prepares for an autumn of discontent by buying €1bn of riot gear | World news | The Guardian

Spain prepares for an autumn of discontent by buying €1bn of riot gear | World news | The Guardian.

The Spanish government is readying itself for an autumn of discontent, spending nearly €1bn on riot gear for police units as disparate protest groups prepare a string of demonstrations.

Since June, the interior ministry has tendered four contracts to purchase riot equipment ranging from shields to stab vests. The ministry also finalised its purchase of a new truck-mounted water cannon, an anti-riot measure used during Spain‘s dictatorship and the transition to democracy but little seen in recent years. Despite attempts (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Bryce Covert writes that U.S. workers are receiving a lower share of economic output than at any point since 1950 – and that the decline in wages has nothing to do with the quality or quantity of work: Workers aren’t earning less because they’re slacking off — just the opposite. Their productivity increased 8 percent between 2007 and 2012 while their wages actually fell, a trend that has been going on since at least 1979. And they’ve been speeding up since the recession, increasing their productivity last summer at the fastest pace (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Jackson writes that public investment is needed as part of a healthy economy, particularly when it’s clear that the private sector isn’t going to put massive accumulated savings to use. Bob McDonald notes that we’d be far better off using public money to fund basic research instead of funnelling it toward the business sector. And Ed Keenan looks to Ontario for examples of how far more money is flowing into questionable corporate handouts than toward basic human needs.

- Meanwhile, Lana Payne exposes the Cons’ efforts to both downplay and reduce (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Eurozone fears of stagnation grow as France and Italy suffer | World news | The Observer

Eurozone fears of stagnation grow as France and Italy suffer | World news | The Observer.

 

Francois Hollande and Paris’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, at a ceremony on 25 August marking the 70th anniversary of liberation. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

François Hollande removed his government’s leading anti-German, anti-austerity leftwinger last week. By the following day the French president had already co-opted part of the message of the departed disloyal firebrand, Arnaud Montebourg.

As France’s ambassadors from around the world converged on Paris for their annual presidential pep talk, Hollande launched a fresh broadside against Berlin and Brussels. He called for (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Why Italy’s stagnation could be the future for the entire eurozone | Riccardo Bellofiore | Comment is free | theguardian.com

Why Italy’s stagnation could be the future for the entire eurozone | Riccardo Bellofiore | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

This summer Italy fell into a triple-dip recession. After the 2008/09 collapse, the economy stagnated, heading back into recession during 2011 and never really recovering. The philosophy of Giulio Tremonti, who was the economic minister at the time, was to wait and see, until speculation killed Berlusconi’s government. Prime ministers Mario Monti and Enrico Letta followed Brussels’ self-defeating diktat for fiscal rigour, but even with moderate deficits the public debt/GDP ratio soared.

The situation remained under control only (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Ralph Surette suggests that Nova Scotia’s tax and regulatory review pay close attention to the fact that it can do more than simply slash both: Nova Scotia already has relatively low corporate taxes and lower than average taxes for the highest earners. Yet none of this can seem to get into the conversation that has us as high-tax, anti-business and anti-everything. I invite the review committee to pin down where we actually stand on the comparative tax scale.

I also invite it to take note of what’s going on next door. New Brunswick (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: An austerity revolt has broken the French government. Will the EU follow? | John Palmer | Comment is free | theguardian.com

An austerity revolt has broken the French government. Will the EU follow? | John Palmer | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

If there were any lingering doubts about the seriousness of the crisis hanging over the future of the euro – and potentially of the European Union itself – the shock announcement of the dissolution of the French government should remove them.

The tensions within the French socialist government have been building up for months as the economy has threatened to “double dip”. But it has been public criticism by the French economy minister, Arnaud Montebourg, of Paris’s compliance (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Merkel seeks Spanish support for unpopular austerity measures | In English | EL PAÍS

Merkel seeks Spanish support for unpopular austerity measures | In English | EL PAÍS.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to Spain on Sunday for a two-day trip aimed at securing Spanish support for her austerity policies, now under fire in the European Union.

In return, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is seeking Merkel’s help to place two of his officials in top European positions. Specifically, Rajoy wants former agriculture minister Miguel Arias Cañete to receive a relevant economic portfolio, and current economy minister Luis de Guindos to head the Eurogroup, or gathering of European finance chiefs.

Merkel is currently under (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Afternoon Links

This and that to start your weekend.

- Robert Reich discusses how the increasing concentration of corporate wealth and power is undermining the U.S.’ democracy, while noting that there’s only one effective response: We entered a vicious cycle in which political power became more concentrated in monied interests that used the power to their advantage – getting tax cuts, expanding tax loopholes, benefiting from corporate welfare and free-trade agreements, slicing safety nets, enacting anti-union legislation, and reducing public investments.

These moves further concentrated economic gains at the top, while leaving out most of the rest of America.

No (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Green looks at Quebec as a prime example of selective austerity – with tax cuts and other goodies for the wealthy considered sacrosanct, and well-connected insiders being paid substantial sums of public money to tell citizens they’ll have to make do with less: In a move that seems perfectly symbolic of the sort of politics his government represents, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announced this week that the five members of the government commission charged with reviewing government programs and recommending where to make cuts will be paid the tidy sum of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Robert Reich muses about how our economy would look if we actually paid people based on their contribution to society rather than their ability to exploit others. In related news, the Broadbent Institute’s next Progress Gala is looking all the more fascinating with the announcement that Reich will be the keynote speaker.

- David MacDonald studies the distribution of income from the tar sands, and predictably finds that the 1% has managed to suck up obscene amounts of income while leaving crumbs for everybody else. But let’s also note that the smallish gains (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Rick Perlstein observes that Ronald Reagan’s most lasting contribution to American politics may be his admonition not to recognize flaws or past sins which might require serious responses – and that democratic discourse in the U.S. and elsewhere has yet to recover: (T)he baseline is this moment in 1973 when the Vietnam War ends, and that spring, Watergate breaks wide open, after basically disappearing from the political scene for a while. You have this remarkable thing, where Sam Ervin puts these hearings on television. And day after day the public hears White (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Danyaal Raza and Edward Xie write that a well-designed city environment can make all the difference in enabling individuals to live healthy lives: What if city council took our health into account when designing neighbourhoods? An idea gaining favour in major cities around the world is “complete streets,” a city-planning concept that promotes development of streets usable by all citizens, whether they are pedestrians, cyclists, drivers or transit users. As things stand now, getting to schools, parks and stores without a car is only a dream for residents without the lush tree cover, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig criticizes the Cons’ use of the tax system to try to silence charities who don’t match their political message: PEN now joins Amnesty International, the David Suzuki Foundation, Canada Without Poverty, the United Church and other groups that, having criticized an array of Harper policies, have been obliged to devote precious resources to defending themselves from a special probe of charities ordered by the Harper government.

This beefing-up of tax audits of charities is particularly striking when compared to Harper’s laid-back approach to auditing the real bad guys: corporations and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz writes that while we should expect natural resources to result in broad-based prosperity, Australia (much like Canada) is now turning toward the U.S. model of instead directing as much shared wealth as possible toward the privileged few: There is something deeply ironic about Abbott’s reverence for the American model in defending many of his government’s proposed “reforms.” After all, America’s economic model has not been working for most Americans. Median income in the US is lower today than it was a quarter-century ago – not because productivity has been (Read more…)