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Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Henry Mintzberg rightly challenges the myth of a “level playing field” when it comes to our economic opportunities: Let’s level with each other. What we call a “level playing field” for economic development is played with Western rules on Southern turf, so that the New York Giants can take on some high school team from Timbuktu. The International Monetary Fund prepares the terrain and the World Trade Organization referees the game. Guess who wins.

The rules of this game have been written by people educated in the economic canon of the already (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paul Krugman highlights the policy areas where we need to look to the public sector for leadership – including those such as health care and income security where we all have a strong interest in making sure that nobody’s left behind. And Andre Picard reminds us of one of the major gaps in Canada’s health care system, as expensive prescription drugs can make for a devastating barrier to needed care.

- Meanwhile, Paul Buchheit duly criticizes the combination of increasing wealth for the lucky few in the U.S., and increasing (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Lonnie Golden studies the harm done to workers by irregular schedules. And Matt Bruening comments on how Missouri, Kansas and other states are passing draconian restrictions on benefits by trying to get the middle class to envy the poor.

- Meanwhile, Scott Santens expands on the connection between increasing automation and a basic income which could ensure that people displaced from jobs by technological advancement aren’t left without a livelihood. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh talks to Guy Standing about a basic income as a means of relieving against reliance on precarious work: What is (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- PressProgress documents how the Cons are driving Canada’s economy into the ditch. And Michael Babad reports that economists with a better grounding in reality than Stephen Harper are begging the provinces not to impose the austerity demanded by the Cons.

- Kara Santokie writes that if the Cons’ balanced-budget legislation has any effect at all, it will be to attack Canada’s social programs when they’re needed most. And Louis-Philippe Rochon sees the false balance bill as standing out even among the Cons’ bad ideas.

- Dylan Matthews questions whether workers present and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- PressProgress exposes the Cons’ utter detachment from the realities facing Canadian workers. And Kevin Page, Stephen Tapp and Gary Mason all expose their balanced-budget legislation as being at best a distraction tactic, and at worst an incentive for governments to do exactly what they shouldn’t when the economy needs a boost from fiscal policy.

- Lu Wang reports on the ever-increasing gap between salaries and stock returns. Kaylie Tiessen points out the gap between the actual wages paid to far too many low-income workers, and the living wage required to get by (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Jim Prentice’s Budget: The Not-So-Subtle Language of Money

“There is no fortress so strong that money cannot take it.” — Cicero

On Mar 24, 2015 Jim Prentice sent Albertans a message of such heartless cynicism that only the most naïve amongst us would fail to understand.

Money talks.

Here’s what Jim Prentice’s Budget 2015* told Albertans.

Corporations matter, you don’t

When asked why the government did not raise corporate taxes, Finance Minister Robin Campbell replied “The corporate sector is going to do their part, but we have to do our part also.”**

This is utter nonsense.

Mr Campbell looking somber

The corporate sector did its part (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your long weekend reading.

- Jim Buchanan comments on the mountain of inequality looming over all of our political choices. Laurie Posner interviews Paul Gorski about the need for a vocabulary which accurately portrays inequality as the result of social conditions rather than merit or culture. And Robert Reich notes that if anybody can accurately be classified as having done nothing to earn a living, it’s the idle rich: In reality, a large and growing share of the nation’s poor work full time — sometimes sixty or more hours a week – yet still don’t earn enough (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Margot Sanger-Katz writes about the connection between inequality and poor health. Nicolas Fitz reminds us that even people concerned about inequality may underestimate how serious it is. And BJ Siekierski asks what will happen to Canada’s economy in terms of both growth and equity as unsustainable resource and real estate booms come to an end.

- Of course, we could help matters by not burning billions of public dollars where they’re needed least. On that front, David MacDonald compares the Cons’ actual budget plans to the far more productive uses of public (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On value assessments

The Great Budget Debate at the Progress Summit of course reflected a thorough clash in values. But there was one note of obvious agreement which makes the conservative position untenable once its implications are drawn out.

All four speakers spent plenty of time talking about the fact that some investments are worthwhile, and acknowledging that the role of government includes assessing which ones justify the use of public money. But Monte Solberg in particular neatly demonstrated how anti-government bias undermines any attempt to carry out that task.

Solberg spent plenty of time on the Cons’ usual jurisdictional dodges, arguing at (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the Saskatchewan Party’s choice to turn the graduate retention credit into a purely political goodie rather than a program which could conceivably retain Saskatchewan graduates, while at the same time devaluing the very concept of education for its own sake.

For further reading…- The province’s explanation (such as it is) can be found here. And CBC reported on the changes here. – I allude in the column to Ontario’s choice to put tuition policy directly in the hands of employers as reported by Simona Chiose here. – And Kevin Milligan’s analysis of the problems with the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- In advance of this weekend’s Progress Summit, Robin Sears comments on the significance of the Broadbent Institute and other think tanks in shaping policy options: The Center for American Progress was the wakeup call for progressives around the world. Independent-minded, massively funded, deeply professional, it was created to develop winning agendas for a new Democratic president. Key Obamites trained there. Core strategies and goals were polished there. Their success helped to spawn a third generation of think tanks who understood that to have real impact, good ideas had to be married (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Danyaal Raza highlights how Canadians can treat an election year as an opportunity to discuss the a focus on social health with candidates and peers alike: Health providers are increasingly recognizing that while a robust health care system is an important part of promoting Canadians’ health, so is the availability of affordable housing, decent work, and a tightly knit social safety net. Upstream-focused clinical interventions, like the income security program available where I practice, are increasingly meeting that need – but no such program works in a vacuum.…Thinking differently requires speaking differently. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jim Stanford highlights the fact that a deficit obsession may have little to do with economic development – and calls out the B.C. Libs for pretending that the former is the same as the latter: I found especially objectionable the article’s uncritical cheerleading for expenditure restraint, praising the government for below-average per capita spending on health care and education, and for welfare rates that are “frozen in time.”  Why are these things assumed to be “good”? To the contrary, the lasting debts that B.C. is accumulating by underinvesting so badly (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jacques Peretti discusses how corporate elites rewrote our social contract in a concerted effort to the inequality we’re fighting today – and suggests it’s well past time to push back in the name of moral economics: Politicians have now, as then, conspired in their own diminishment — outsourcing foreign policy to Washington, saying there’s nothing we can do about global capitalism.

But it’s not up to them, it’s up to us to be uncompromisingly moral at a moment when the criminal immorality of 30 years of misguided economic policy has been revealed.

The (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Elizabeth Renzetti makes clear that we can’t count on one-time crowdsourcing to perform the same function as a social safety net: This is the problem with the wildly popular new online world of what you might call misery fundraising: It semi-solves one small problem while leaving the system in ruins. Crowdfunding someone’s personal tragedy is the equivalent of fixing a broken arm, but closing the hospital.

It used to be that crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter were wonderful places to raise money for cultural projects – movies, plays, even the occasional potato-salad (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Gregory Beatty reports on Saskatchewan’s options now that it can’t count on high oil prices to prop up the provincial budget. And Dennis Howlett writes about the need for a far more progressive tax system both as a matter of fairness, and as a matter of resource management: Just a few years ago, the question of tax fairness was relegated to the world of activists and progressive economists. But you know something has shifted when a U.S. president goes on national television and talks about the urgent need to eliminate tax loopholes (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- PressProgress notes that the Cons’ economic track record is one of eliminating well-paying jobs in favour of lower-wage, more-precarious work. And Jim Stanford follows up on why we shouldn’t believe the Cons’ spin about deficits: I think that a more fruitful and principled line of attack on the government’s approach would focus on these obvious fiscal and economic errors by the government: The October tax cuts were premature; it is tax cuts, not oil prices, which have jeopardized the attainment of a balanced budget.  The Conservatives broke their own promise in implementing (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jim Stanford reminds us that any drama as to whether Canada’s budget will be balanced this year is entirely of the Cons’ own making through pointless tax slashing: Running spending cuts since 2011 now total more than $14-billion a year. Canadians experience real consequences from those cuts every day: shuttered veterans’ offices, deteriorating statistical data, questionable railway and food safety, ridiculous waits for statutory benefits and more. Federal government employment has plunged by 47,000 jobs since 2011 – explaining much of Canada’s lousy job-market performance. These sacrifices were not necessary. Worse yet, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Kate McInturff and David Macdonald address the need for an adult discussion about how federal policies affect Canadian families. And Kevin Campbell writes about the importance of child care as a social investment. 

- Vincenzo Bove and Georgios Efthyvoulou study how public policy is shaped by political budget cycles – with more popular social spending getting emphasized around election time, only to face a threat as soon as the vote is held. And Scott Clark and Peter DeVries identify a distinct increase in the smoke and mirrors being used by the Cons (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the now-infamous story of Eric and Ilsa bears a disturbing resemblance to how Brad Wall has handled Saskatchewan’s finances.

For further reading…- Again, the original Eric and Ilsa story is here, with Rob Carrick following up here. And the story was picked up (with appropriate criticism) here, here and here among other places.- I’ve also commented in this post, and I’ll note that the point applies equally when it comes to Saskatchewan: in fact, Saskatchewan’s GDP has more than tripled since 1990 without generating much more than the insistence that we (Read more…)

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

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Mariana Mazzucato comments on the role of the innovative state – and the unfortunate reality that we currently lack anything of the sort due to corporatist thinking: (T)hanks in part to the conventional wisdom about its dynamism and the state’s sluggishness, the private sector has been able to successfully lobby governments to weaken regulations and cut capital gains taxes. From 1976 to 1981 alone, after heavy lobbying from the National Venture Capital Association, the capital gains tax rate in the United States fell from 40 percent to 20 percent. And in the name (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.

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Wray Herbert examines Lukasz Walasek and Gordon Brown’s work on the psychological links between inequality, status-seeking and reduced well-being. And Linda McQuaig writes about the harm increasing inequality has done to Canada both economically and socially: (The OECD’s recent) report puts actual numbers on how much growth has been reduced as a result of trickle-down. In the case of Canada, the reduced economic growth amounts to about $62 billion a year — which economist Toby Sanger notes is almost three times more than the estimated annual loss to the Canadian economy of (Read more…)