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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: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne discusses the need to address inequality through our political system. But that will require significant pressure from exactly the citizens who have decided they’re not well served by today’s political options – and Trish Hennessy’s look at Canadian voter turnout reminds us of the desperate need for improvement.

- Meanwhile, Tim Harford points out just how far we’ve gone in focusing on dollars over all other considerations – as even Scotland’s referendum on independence is being spun mostly as a matter of dueling fiscal projections rather than community, culture or other (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Michael Hiltzik writes about the efforts of the corporate sector – including the tobacco and food industries – to produce mass ignorance in order to preserve profits: Proctor, a professor of the history of science at Stanford, is one of the world’s leading experts in agnotology, a neologism signifying the study of the cultural production of ignorance. It’s a rich field, especially today when whole industries devote themselves to sowing public misinformation and doubt about their products and activities.

The tobacco industry was a pioneer at this. Its goal was to erode public (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Bill Kerry writes that extreme inequality serves to reinforce itself – and points out what needs to be done to counter the temptation to kick others down: One of the major difficulties in tackling inequality is the way it coerces many people into accepting and even promoting it. In a steep social hierarchy people will often choose to shore up their own precarious social position by kicking down on poorer, weaker folk rather than challenging the richer more powerful folk above them.…So what do we do about it?  Well, it’s quite straightforward if not (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Coyne sees the disproportionate influence wielded by the representatives elected by a minority of voters in Canada and the U.S. as evidence that both countries should move toward proportional representation: Two systems, both dysfunctional, in opposing ways. Is there nevertheless a common thread between the two? I think there is. Both have become hostage to small groups of voters, the objects of vastly disproportionate amounts of the parties’ time and attention. In both, the parties are sharply divided on regional lines. And in both, politics has become increasingly, corrosively nasty. I (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Tavia Grant reports on the most recent world happiness report from the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. And David Doorey points out a rather striking similarity among the countries at the top of the list, while Dan Gardner highlights Stephen Harper’s longstanding goal of removing Canada from the group.

- CBC reveals that thousands of Saskatchewan employers – including hundreds of restaurants – have received permission to use temporary foreign workers rather than paying a fair wage to attract local workers.

- David Climenhaga reveals which public servants are next on the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Paul Krugman points out that workers are receiving less and less benefit from technological advancements – and offers a simple policy prescription to ensure workers of all skill levels don’t suffer unduly based on forces far beyond their control: I’ve noted before that the nature of rising inequality in America changed around 2000. Until then, it was all about worker versus worker; the distribution of income between labor and capital — between wages and profits, if you like — had been stable for decades. Since then, however, labor’s share of the pie has (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Daniel Cohn theorizes that the only real problem with RBC’s outsourcing of Canadian jobs is that they called attention to the government policies which facilitated that outcome. But for those of us who think there’s actually a problem with an economy designed around minimizing wages and employment, Susan McIsaac and Matthew Mendelsohn offer some suggestions to turn the tide. And Tavia Grant points out that the Cons’ preference for cheap, disposable foreign labour might help employers, but certainly doesn’t produce positive results for Canada as a whole.

- In the same vein, Andrew (Read more…) discusses how the last great set of attacks on workers in the name of economic efficiency proved an utter failure in producing any policy outcome other than increased inequality: Thatcherism did not provide an enduring solution to the problem of how to attain stable growth. Business profitability was . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Paul Krugman discusses how a myopic focus on slashing taxes and services figures to cheat future generations out of desperately-needed social structure: You don’t have to be a civil engineer to realize that America needs more and better infrastructure, but the latest “report card” from the American Society of Civil Engineers — with its tally of deficient dams, bridges, and more, and its overall grade of D+ — still makes startling and depressing reading. And right now — with vast numbers of unemployed construction workers and vast amounts of cash sitting . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday 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

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Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Friday reading.

- Michael Moss writes about the amount of time and money spent by corporate conglomerates to push consumers toward eating unhealthy food: The public and the food companies have known for decades now — or at the very least since this meeting — that sugary, salty, fatty foods are not good for us in the quantities that we consume them. So why are the diabetes and obesity and hypertension numbers still spiraling out of control? It’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on

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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Murray Mandryk and Bruce Johnstone both thoroughly slam Gerry Ritz and the Cons for their food-safety negligence. But Johnstone hints at the larger issue: Ritz, for all his faults, is not the cause of this latest debacle. He’s merely a symptom of a bigger problem with the Harper government: specifically, it’s (sic) ideological fixation on smaller government, it’s (sic) blind faith in self-regulation and its tendency to micromanage every aspect of government policy.

- And Lana Payne reminds us why we should know better than to think there’s any merit to anti-regulatory

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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your weekend.

- For those wondering where progressive leaders are going with their policy proposals, the last week offered a couple of noteworthy examples. At home, Tom Mulcair’s Canadian Club speech commented on the importance of real roles for the government and the public in making economic decisions: A thriving private sector will, thankfully, always be at the heart of our national economy, and the engine of our economic growth.

But there’s also a commonsense role for government to play in building the fairer, more prosperous Canada that we all want.

There’s a commonsense role for

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Accidental Deliberations: On single issues

Apparently today is Stadium Cheerleading Day in the Leader-Post. But in correctly noting that this fall’s election will be decisive in determining whether a stadium goes ahead, Bruce Johnstone seems to me to give away the real choice voters face: Of course, this doesn’t mean that the stadium is the only issue in the coming municipal election. But it’s the biggest single issue to face this council and this city in a generation.

Who isn’t in favour of building a new water treatment plant, or fixing the roads or broken watermains, or recycling, or keeping taxes down? The stadium project

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Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- Gerald Caplan weighs in on Jack Layton’s legacy: It seems to me that Jack Layton’s enduring legacy is twofold. First, he set a standard of doing politics that, if followed by others, would change the entire tone of public life for the country. You could see his influence in the decorum that characterized the leadership contest to choose his successor. The media saw only tedium. The party understood it was Jack’s insistence on civility that was at work.

Jack regarded those he disagreed with as democratic opponents, not as dishonorable, even treasonous enemies

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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for a sunny Sunday.

 - Mitchell Anderson’s second article on Norway’s success in converting oil resources into a massive source of public wealth focuses on the country’s history of resistance to outside ownership. But I wouldn’t see much reason why Canada couldn’t turn its own sense of hard-earned independence from the world’s dominant powers (which has always defined our relationships to the U.K. and U.S.) toward our corporate overlords.

- And in a guest post at Progressive Economic Forum, Tony Clark highlights why there’s reason to be skeptical of the demands of our oil

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Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- David Olive comments on the world food crisis, making the point that what we’re lacking is some link between more-than-sufficient productive capacity and the nutritional needs of less wealthy people around the globe: (A) permanently higher price for oil spurred successful innovation to reduce our reliance on petroleum products in realms outside of transportation and energy, along with a determined effort to find new sources of oil in increasingly remote places.

The global food crisis, by contrast, has not made us think differently about how we produce and use the fruit of the

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Accidental Deliberations: On failed strategies

Let’s follow up with one more point from Bruce Johnstone’s attempt to justify ramming through a stadium deal without any serious public input – which speaks less to the stadium project than to the bona fides of the politicians who are pushing it: Is it perfect? No, because unlike some places, like Texas or Indiana, we don’t have rich sugar daddies, like Jerry Jones, who helped bankroll the $1-billion-plus Cowboys Stadium in Dallas or Forrest Lucas of Lucas Oil, who bought the naming rights for Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for $121 million.

Roughriders football fans, Saskatchewan taxpayers, in general,

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Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Dave Coles comments on Brad Wall’s attempts to erase a century’s worth of gains when it comes to labour rights, but recognizes that we instead have an opportunity to again lead the way toward social progress: During this moment of relative prosperity in the province, Saskatchewan is perfectly placed to once again lead the way towards greater equality for families, youth, seniors and all members of our communities. Rather than moving backwards, this overhauling of labour legislation should be a moment to advance workers’ rights.

How about making Saskatchewan the first province

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Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Bruce Johnstone and the Star-Phoenix editorial board both join the voices decrying the Cons’ decision to throw parliamentary democracy under their omnibus budget bill. And Gerald Caplan points out the Harper Cons’ more general tendency to silence dissenting views: (T)here’s little doubt the government was deliberately crippling many of Canada’s best and brightest, including many groups who upheld the country’s good reputation abroad that the Harper government was cavalierly undermining. In any event, the groups weren’t targeted because of their actual achievements, which were often exemplary.

Something entirely different was going on here.

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Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your Saturday.

- Susan Delacourt’s mention of “likeonomics” as a branding strategy offers an interesting reference point for Canadian politics (particularly since our political scene has been radically reshaped by one obvious example of it in the 2011 election). But I’m not sure there’s much new in the Cons’ division of labour between Stephen Harper’s attempt to portray himself as above political debate, and his designated attack dogs who work tirelessly at dumping partisan muck on any and all opponents. And David Climenhaga documents a few glaring examples of how “when in doubt, make it up”

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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Bruce Johnstone reminds us that much of Stephen Harper’s low-wage, anti-worker agenda has been rather poorly hidden for a long time: Everything from growing trees for farmers to processing immigration applications to inspecting meat to examining evidence in criminal investigations, all of the activities being cut are providing an important, even critical, service to the public. How does that increase efficiency, reduce redundancy or improve service?

The short answer is: it doesn’t. That’s not even the point.

The point is Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants Canadians off the federal feed bag. Whether its

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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your long weekend reading.

- While some of us may recognize that there’s little reason to lend much credence to the talking points spewed out by any Con spokespuppet, others have tried to give the benefit of the doubt as long as possible. But Lawrence Martin notes that even by those standards, John Baird is losing any pretense of credibility. And Susan Delacourt notes that the Cons – while never known for maturity or reasonableness – are getting more childish by the day.

- Doug Saunders offers a look at what a Canada of 100 million people

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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your weekend.

- Brian Mason makes the closing argument for Alberta’s NDP in tomorrow’s provincial election:

- Meanwhile in Ontario, Keith Leslie reports that the McGuinty Libs are still dragging their heels on Andrea Horwath’s entirely reasonable set of budget requests. But while Martin Regg Cohn calls on them to match the NDP’s willingness to reach a deal, Adam Radwanski theorizes that based on the relative public appeal of the provincial parties’ leaders and platforms, it’s the PCs that have the most to lose from a possible spring election in any event.

- Scott Feschuk comments

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Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

This and that for a sunny Saturday.

- Paul Wells discusses the clash shaping up between the Cons and the NDP: Some 57 per cent of respondents said they’re dissatisfied with the Harper government, compared to 36 per cent who like it. Last month’s federal budget drew more unsatisfied reaction than satisfied, and respondents who associated themselves with “the left” outnumbered those sympathizing with “the right” everywhere except Ontario (where they tied) and the three Prairie provinces.

Those numbers don’t spell Conservative doom. They do suggest a non-Conservative alternative has a fighting chance. So too does another poll from Environics

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