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Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Leonhardt offers a revealing look at the relative priorities of wealthier and poorer regions of the U.S. And Patricia Cohen discusses the disproportionate effect of inequality and poverty on women: It’s at the lowest income levels that the burden on women stands out. Not only are they more likely than men to be in a minimum-wage job, but women are also much more likely to be raising a family on their own. “Inequality is rising among women as well as men, but at the bottom, women are struggling with some dimensions (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Bert Olivier is the latest to weigh in on Paul Verhaeghe’s work showing that the obsessive pursuit of market fundamentalism harms our health in a myriad of ways: What does the neoliberal “organisation” of society amount to? As the title of the book indicates, it is market-based, in the tacit belief that the abstract entity called the “market” is better suited than human beings themselves to provide a (supposedly) humane structure to the communities in which we live. But because neoliberal capitalism stands or falls by the question, whether profit is generated (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jack Peat argues for trickle-up economics to ensure that everybody shares in our common resources (while also encouraging economic development): Good capitalism is the ability to promote incentives and opportunity in equal measure. Sway too far one way and the potential of human capital is stifled, sway too far in the other direction and the willingness to realise this potential also goes amiss. Of late, bad capitalism has manifested itself in incentives over opportunities, and has become a parasitic drag on our economic growth as a result.

A recent IMF study has (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- John Millar writes that a determined effort to eliminate poverty would be a plus as a matter of mere public accounting (even without taking into account the improved lives of people avoiding the burden of poverty and income insecurity): According to many studies, the Canadian poverty rate remains high. A recent OECD report shows that the very rich are taking an ever greater share of income. And a new study from three leading Canadian academics shows the rich obscure the total extent of their individual wealth through private companies, which means they (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Colleen Flood writes that our health care system is more similar to the U.S.’ than we’d like to admit – and that many of the most glaring inefficiencies within it are already the result of services funded through private insurance rather than our universal public system: The latest Commonwealth Study ranked Canada’s health care system a dismal second to last in a list of eleven major industrialized countries. We had the dubious distinction of beating out only the Americans. This latest poor result is already being used by those bent on (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Paul Krugman calls out the U.S.’ deficit scolds for continuing to invent a crisis to distract from the real problems with middling growth and high unemployment. And Bruce Johnstone singles out a few of the Cons’ talking points which have somehow become conventional wisdom without having an iota of truth to them. But in case there was any doubt why the Cons aren’t being exposed to their own patent wrongness, William Watson’s (hardly people-friendly) column explains why – as Jack Mintz manages to qualify as the least corporate-biased member of a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Reich proposes that the best way to address corporate criminality is to make sure that those responsible go to jail – rather than simply being able to pay a fine out of corporate coffers and pretend nothing ever happened.

- And Shawn Fraser suggests that Regina developers should pick up the tab for the costs they impose on the city – even as the city itself has opportunities to both better shape residential growth, and turn a profit through its own own development corporation.

- Meanwhile, the CP reports on the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Neil Irwin highlights the reality that top-heavy economic growth has done nothing to reduce poverty in the U.S. over the past 40 years: In Kennedy’s era, [the "rising tide lifts all boats" theory] had the benefit of being true. From 1959 to 1973, the nation’s economy per person grew 82 percent, and that was enough to drive the proportion of the poor population from 22 percent to 11 percent. But over the last generation in the United States, that simply hasn’t happened. Growth has been pretty good, up 147 percent per capita. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Frances Russell rightly asks whose freedom is supposed to be protected by free trade agreements such as CETA: Once Canada signs CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) with Europe, federal, provincial and municipal governments will suddenly find their hands and feet tied. Suddenly, they will experience real push-back from foreign multinationals should they try to use their historic right to maintain civic, provincial and national autonomy in governmental decision making.

Simultaneously, Canada’s sub-national governments will suddenly discover they have lost the ability to protect the environment, create well-paying, long-term jobs and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Marc Lee writes that British Columbia has learned nothing about the dangers of staple economics. But Christy Clark has certainly learned something from her predecessor’s playbook: one term after Gordon Campbell’s promise not to impose an HST fell by the wayside immediately after he’d secured another four years in office, Clark is abandoning her supposed concern for the environment in order to facilitate wholesale shipment of oil products by pipeline, rail and tanker.

- Meanwhile, Dallas MacQuarrie discusses the heavy-handed RCMP response to peaceful protestors challenging fracking on First Nations land in Rexton, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On meaningless spin

Far too many people who should know better have tried to find some significance in the B.C. government’s submission to the Harper Cons’ Northern Gateway rubber-stamping process. So in case anybody needs a refresher course, here’s why we shouldn’t see it as an important development.

To start with, B.C.’s announcement doesn’t represent a “decision” in any meaningful sense of the word. After all, the B.C. Lib government signed an equivalency agreement (PDF) three years ago in which they agreed to let Stephen Harper decide any environmental questions related to the Northern Gateway pipeline – meaning that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- To the extent corporatist voices are pushing increased private involvement in funding Canadian health care, their main argument generally involves the claim that private insurers will be more willing to fund expensive courses of treatment which might be rationed out of public plans. But Don Butler reports that at least one of the major private insurers is taking exactly the opposite view in describing the future of private prescription drug insurance: Private drug plans that provide coverage to 19 million Canadians are not sustainable in their current form, according to an executive at (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Michael Babad takes a look at Bureau of Labor Statistics data on wages and employment levels – reaching the conclusion that the corporatist effort to drive wages down does nothing to improve employment prospects. But the absence of any remotely plausible policy justification hasn’t stopped the Sask Party from “modernizing” the province’s rules governing work by setting them back upwards of half a century.

- Meanwhile, Pat Atkinson rightly notes that the most important problem with the Cons’ push for temporary foreign workers is the “temporary” part. And Nicholas Keung and Dana Flavelle (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how all of Canada could lose out if Christy Clark’s B.C. Liberals are able to follow through on their plans to eliminate the Therapeutics Initiative which has provided needed information about the effectiveness of prescription drugs.

For further reading…- More background about the current status of the Therapeutics Initiative is available here and here. – And the efforts to reduce public purchasing costs for generic drugs discussed in the column include the national initiative reported on by CBC, as well as Alberta’s more recent push. – But hopefully my concern will be rendered moot by (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Broadbent Institute’s “Union Communities, Healthy Communities” report discusses the significance of the labour movement in achieving positive social outcomes. And Rick Smith concurrently writes that the right’s attacks on unions represent a solution in search of a problem: (W)hen unions are strong, the gains that they make for their members in terms of decent wages and benefits spill over into non-union workplaces. In the face of Canadian conservatives trying to portray unions as some kind of impediment to economic growth and productivity, actually examining this empirical evidence is instructive.

Economists agree (Read more…) the rapidly rising share of all income going to the top 1% in the US and Canada since the early 1980s is explained in significant part by declining unionization. US-style de-unionization would clearly make Canada a much more unequal society than is already the case.

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

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Jason Fekete reports on the growing recognition that tax evasion and avoidance are serious global problems – and the Cons’ attempt to be seen nodding at the issues. Needless to say, that posturing would be far more plausible if the same Cons weren’t simultaneously announcing their intention to slash the Canada Revenue Agency’s enforcement capability even further (in keeping with their past moves to attack the CRA).

- Meanwhile, the fallout from Peter Penashue’s acceptance of illegal corporate campaign donations continues. And it’s well worth highlighting the fact that the financial agent

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

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has unveiled its alternative federal budget – which highlights the choice between the Cons’ needless austerity, and the 200,000-300,000 extra jobs which could be created alongside important social improvements which could be brought about through well-placed public action.

- Meanwhile, Murray Dobbin worries that the use of interest rates alone as an economic growth strategy is feeding an unsustainable housing bubble – offering anpther indication as to why we should work on expanding socially productive activities rather than hoping that unfettered (and indeed exacerbated) market forces

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

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Bea Vongdouangchanh reports on Kevin Page’s concerns that the Cons are set to effectively destroy the PBO. And the Star’s editorial board slams Stephen Harper’s war against transparency and accountability in general: Stonewalling, foot-dragging and contempt for Parliament pay. At least that’s what the federal government appears to have concluded in the wake of the 2011 election. Toppled two years ago after being found in contempt of Parliament for failing to disclose fiscal information, the Conservatives were nonetheless rewarded in the polls with a majority government — a victory that has served as . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Lawrence Martin discusses how the B.C. Libs, Harper Cons and other governments have responded to transparency requirements by deliberately refusing to record what they’re doing and why: News from the government of British Columbia. Sorry citizens, we have no files. There is no written record of our decisions. You want to know how we operate? Sorry.

It’s no joke. A report from Elizabeth Denham, the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, says the rate of ‘no records’ responses to freedom of information requests is soaring. At the premier’s office, no less

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

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Chrystia Freeland comments on the disproportionate influence of the super-rich in a democratic system which is supposed to value citizens equally: “I think most Americans believe in the idea of political equality,” Callahan told me. “That idea is obviously corrupted when in 2012, one guy, Sheldon Adelson, can make more political donations than the residents of 12 states put together.”

The Demos study draws in part on the quantitative research of Martin Gilens, a professor of politics at Princeton University and author of “Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in

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

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Tim Harper writes about Scott Vaughan’s final report as the federal environmental commissioner: Scott Vaughan doesn’t have the profile of some of his contemporaries but as the environmental commissioner bowed out with a final report Tuesday, he reminded official Ottawa how much he will be missed.

Vaughan is leaving after five years of what he calls — in typical understatement — identifying “gaps” in the environmental policies of the Conservative government. More often than not, those gaps are more like chasms.

He also departs at a time when the environment and the economy

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

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Raz Godelnik challenges the all-too-conventional wisdom that corporations (and indeed individuals) should see tax avoidance and evasion as virtues: One of the most common arguments is that the tax-avoidance techniques used by corporations like Starbucks or Google are legal and therefore they’re not to be blamed, but the tax systems that make them possible.

Apparently these techniques are indeed legal, but here are couple of other things that are legal, such as: cutting down trees in rainforests, sourcing blood minerals from Congo, working with suppliers in China that release hazardous materials into rivers

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: On dubious partners

I’ve mostly avoided commenting on the federal Libs’ leadership race based on the need for the party’s own membership (and supportership in this case) to decide on a future direction for itself. But with one of the candidates explicitly running on a platform of cross-party dealings, I’d think there’s some room to analyze whether she has much prospect of reaching out to other parties.

Which brings us to this: With one lonely exception, the top tier of contenders for the Liberal helm has veered sharply to the right, much to the private consternation of some of the stalwarts of

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On dubious partners

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the Gateway pipeline serves as a prime example as to why governments shouldn’t be too quick to minimize environmental assessment processes.

For further reading…- Robyn Allan’s latest discussion of the Gateway pipeline is here.- Kevin Logan documents Christy Clark’s position prior to her latest desperate call for attention.- And David Anderson delivers his view of Enbridge and the Gateway pipeline.

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Evening Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Robyn Allan notes that there’s plenty of weakness in Christy Clark’s position on the Gateway pipeline. But Barbara Yaffe writes that Clark has little choice but to stick to at least the requests she’s made so far – and Vaughn Palmer points out that those alone may be enough to derail the project. And there figures to be little that shadowy committees of oil barons and Alberta and federal politicians can do to change that political reality in British Columbia.

- John Ibbitson and Janyce McGregor both discussed some fascinating Nanos polling

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