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Political Eh-conomy: The Greek canary in the European coalmine: An interview with Yanis Varoufakis

Over at Ricochet, I’ve transcribed my podcast interview with Yanis Varoufakis, economist and Syriza candidate in tomorrow’s Greek elections. With Syriza looking to get the most votes and possibly an outright parliamentary majority, I asked Yanis about the Greek economy, Syriza’s economic plans, his views on what these mean for Europe and how we can expect Greece to take its place in Europe come Monday. Here is the interview in full.

Michal Rozworski: I know this is an enormous topic but what is the current economic situation on the eve of the elections in Greece? Can you give a kind of snapshot?

Yanis (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne writes that by finally recognizing the unfairness and ineffectiveness of Alberta’s regressive tax system, Jim Prentice may be starting a needed national debate: Alberta Premier Jim Prentice talks up taxes for individuals including a sales tax (Alberta is the only province not to have one) and adjusting income taxes. But what about those oil companies? This might also be an ideal time to consider how the province can receive a bigger piece of the oil revenue when prices do bounce back. The prep work should start now.

When oil prices boom, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Amy Goodman discusses Barack Obama’s call to reverse the spread of inequality in the U.S. And Seumas Milne writes that the effort will inevitably challenge the world oligarchs have built up to further their own wealth and power at everybody else’s expense: In most of the world, labour’s share of national income has fallen continuously and wages have stagnated under this regime of privatisation, deregulation and low taxes on the rich. At the same time finance has sucked wealth from the public realm into the hands of a small minority, even (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Political Eh-conomy Radio: the left in Greece and Poland


I’ve been visiting family in Poland for the past few weeks so, fittingly, this week’s podcast deals with the situation of the left at two opposite ends of the European periphery: Greece and Poland. My first guest is Yanis Varoufakis, professor of economics at the University of Athens and candidate for SYRIZA in this Sunday’s parliamentary elections. Syriza is the main Greek left party and is poised to take the most votes, potentially even form a parliamentary majority, on Sunday. Yanis spoke with me about Greece’s economy on the eve of the elections and Syriza’s economic (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: The Syriza Challenge in Greece

Filed under: Austerity, Crisis, Eurozone crisis, Greece, Socialism, Southern Europe Tagged: Eurozone Crisis, Greece, Socialism, Syriza

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Tasini at Daily Kos discusses the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy’s finding that every single U.S. state has a regressive tax structure in the taxes imposed at the state and local level. And John Cassidy examines the Center for American Progress’ proposals for more inclusive prosperity: Based on a retelling of recent economic history that should by now be familiar, the report argues that more aggressive measures are needed to tackle wage stagnation and rising inequality. In the U.S. case, the report’s recommendations include raising the minimum wage, encouraging (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- Gerald Caplan writes that we all bear some responsibility for growing inequality – and how we’ll need to use our electoral power to reverse it: (S)elf-sacrifice is not going to be the key to reducing inequality, with all the great damage it inflicts on society. Government needs to act, and Mr. Mackenzie offers perfectly realistic policies to any party that is seriously committed to greater equality. For example, the tax break on stock options generously provided by our government is worth a cool half-trillion to the top 100 – a nice day’s “work,” (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: The EU must face facts: austerity has failed Greece – Equal Times

The EU must face facts: austerity has failed Greece – Equal Times.

By Paul De Grauwe

The Greek debt crisis that erupted in 2010 is back, and again threatens the stability of the eurozone.

A piece of anti-austerity street art featuring the Dalton Brothers from the Belgian comic Lucky Luke is seen in the Exarchia area of central Athens.

(AP/Dimitri Messinis)

That crisis was the result of two factors. First, an unbridled spending drift of both the private and the public sectors in Greece during the boom years of 2000-2010, which led to unsustainable large levels of debt.

Second, reckless (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: Parchment in the Fire: The EU must face facts: austerity has failed Greece – Equal Times

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Stephen Burgen reports on Thomas Piketty’s view that it’s long past time for voters to have anti-austerity options where none existed in the past. And along similar lines, Murray Dobbin sets out the stark choice facing Canadians: Canadians will have to continue to watch their Scandinavian neighbours use the wheel and prosper while we remain captives to the free market priesthood. Norway is the logical choice of neighbour to compare ourselves to, if you can stomach it. In Canada we have virtually given away our energy heritage through criminally low royalty rates over a (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…)

Alex's Blog: Why We Hate Taxes – and why we shouldn’t

A somewhat shorter version first appeared in albertaviews January/February 2015 as Taxes: a small price to pay for civilization

About a year ago, my son Jordan, some friends and colleagues and I put together a book on taxes in Canada, Tax Is Not a Four-Letter Word. We had quite different views about how high taxes should be, what kinds of taxes are best, who ought to be taxed more and who less, but one thing we all agreed on: we in Canada, as elsewhere, were having a dangerously distorted conversation on taxes. Taxes had come to be seen as a (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…)

Alex's Blog: The Year Taxes Made a Comeback

A slightly shorter version of this piece written with Jordan Himelfarb appeared here in The Toronto Star.

It’s just possible that 2014 will be seen as the year that taxes made a comeback in Canada.

Not so long ago Stéphane Dion tried to put a green “tax shift” on the table but apparently we weren’t ready. This is now often cited as proof that a politician would have to be nuts to take on tax reform and beyond nuts to propose any significant tax increase. But perhaps Dion was just a few years ahead of the curve.

Certainly tax phobia (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Thomas Walkom discusses why politicians have thus far failed to take any meaningful action on climate change. But it’s also worth noting that the question of whether voters are pushing for change may not be the only determining factor in government decision-making.

Most obviously, debt and deficits (which are no less distant from the immediate interests of voters than climate change) are seen as demanding constant and immediate action even at the expense of anybody’s apparent short-term political interests – with unpopular and destructive policy choices regularly defended based on the accepted belief (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: Austerity and Trickle Down Meanness

Alex Himelfarb, former clerk of the Privy Council, was interviewed by Adam Kahane.


In this excerpt of Adam Kahane’s interview published here in the Globe and Mail I focus on austerity and trickle down meanness.

What keeps you up at night?

Himelfarb: The number one issue for me is inequality. Let’s think of the bottom, middle and top of society. On the bottom, even if, as some argue, over the past few years things aren’t necessarily getting worse, they aren’t improving and certainly not at the rate that we see in many other rich (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Collective Bargaining and the Eurozone Crisis

Since the beginning of the Eurozone crisis in 2008, most attention has been focused on the recurring and persistent struggles against ‘austerity’. Austerity, in this sense, refers to the politics of cutting public spending – primarily in the areas of social programs like unemployment benefits, disability benefits, ‘public goods’ such as legal aid programs, public housing, etc. – in order to bring down the deficit and service any outstanding debts. Insofar as the politics of austerity has been the product of elite dominated parties putting the squeeze on the public in order to pay for the socialization of private risk (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Austerity policies and trade unionism: A glance at Portugal ~ Global Labour Column

Austerity policies and trade unionism: A glance at Portugal ~ Global Labour Column.

By Elisio Estanque and Hermes Augusto Costa

Wage labour played and continues to play a central role in Western industrial societies, not just on the economic plane but above all as a vital support for social cohesion and the rule of law. The main advances of the last 200 years including the building of the welfare state and its important gains in the field of human rights (e.g. dignified work and social rights) are examples of the importance of struggles waged by organised wage labour. The (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On managerial lapses

Shorter Tony Clement: I believe there’s an art to managing public money. And that’s why I see no problem whatsoever with budgets which are works of fiction.

Parchment in the Fire: Revealed: how the wealth gap holds back economic growth | Business | The Guardian

Revealed: how the wealth gap holds back economic growth | Business | The Guardian.

The west’s leading economic thinktank on Tuesday dismissed the concept of trickle-down economics as it found that the UK economy would have been more than 20% bigger had the gap between rich and poor not widened since the 1980s.

Publishing its first clear evidence of the strong link between inequality and growth, the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development proposed higher taxes on the rich and policies aimed at improving the lot of the bottom 40% of the population, identified by Ed Miliband as the (Read more…)

Art Threat: Activist pasts, austere presents, queered futures: An interview with Emily Davidson

“Imagine a new relationship to every aspect of everything.”

“Capitalism has fallen; Art must be redefined.”

“You get to pick your gender when you come of age, but feel free to change your mind.”

“Living together is still hard; Art makes it better.”

These missives from the Inner City Artists’ Commune arrive to us from a post-capitalist future, as envisioned by Halifax-based artist and community organizer Emily Davidson as part of her contribution to the Activist Ink exhibition in early 2013 at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery.

“I was frustrated with seeing history repeat (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: A review of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything

I have another piece up at Ricochet: a review of Naomi Klein’s big book on climate change, This Changes Everything. It’s friendly but critical, looking at what the book’s themes of austerity, the local and extractivism mean for how we build politics against climate change. I’ve included it in full below…

Naomi Klein’s big book on climate change, This Changes Everything, is at once an extensive catalogue of climate change failures and a passionate defence of budding shoots of resistance. Much more than just an up-to-date account of where we are and how we got here, it is also a meditation on (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Dennis Raphael and Toba Bryant write about the devastating health effects of income inequality in Canada: Imagine the response, from industry, government and the public, if a plane was crashing every day. If there were something that killed as many people in a day as this kind of disaster, you’d expect it to provoke a similarly concentrated response.

A recent report by Statistics Canada highlights a preventable cause of premature death that is having exactly that kind of impact. This study demonstrates that income inequality is associated with the premature death of 40,000 (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: The Eurozone’s ‘New Austerity Model’ » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

The Eurozone’s ‘New Austerity Model’ » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.

by Jack Rasmus

In the coming weeks and months, as the Eurozone economy weakens still further, it is likely that debates and splits within the Eurozone capitalist elites will continue to intensify.

The Eurozone economy has never really recovered from the 2008-09 financial crash and recession. Austerity policies—that played a major role in preventing a sustained Eurozone economic recovery for the past five years—are now evolving into still newer forms.

Events in the recent past in Spain, measures approved in just the past week by the newly (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Paul Krugman discusses the U.S.’ multi-decade pattern of income stagnation. David MacDonald and Kayle Hatt study the price we’ve paid to suit the Cons’ political purposes, while Kristin Rushowy reports on two new calls for a genuine child care system. And Andrew Jackson notes that the Cons’ only real end goal has been to hand free money to people who don’t need it: The government forecasts a deficit of $2.9 billion in this fiscal year, (2014-15.) Yet there would almost have been a surplus this year if the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jenny Uechi and Warren Bell expose Canada’s embarrassing place as the only government participating in a climate-denial group pushing for a dirty war against the planet. But despite the Harper Cons’ worst efforts, there’s some good news on the climate front – as the use of solar energy is booming in the U.S., while a new bilateral deal between the U.S. and China is rapidly eliminating the Cons’ traditional excuses for blocking international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

- Kathryn May reports on some of the vital public services (Read more…)