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Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Matthew O’Brien is the latest to pick up on the connection between pre-transfer income equality, redistribution and sustainable economic growth: Redistribution overall helps, and at least doesn’t harm, growth spells. That’s because the positive effects of less inequality add to or offset the negligible, or negative, effects of redistribution itself. When redistribution is in the bottom 75 percent, these positive effects are the only ones, and growth lasts longer. And when redistribution is in the top 25 percent, these positive effects make up for the negative ones from taxing-and-transferring so much—it’s a statistically (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Alison and PressProgress both discuss how Brad Butt’s attempt to defend voter suppression is based on what even he had to concede was nothing short of legislative fraud. And Stephen Maher notes that the Cons’ unilateral rewrite of election rules figures to force Elections Canada to cover up the Cons’ pattern of illegal activity.

- Meanwhile, Jason Fekete reports on the Cons’ deliberate ignorance of deputy ministers’ advice that the government can’t keep stonewalling against action on climate change – and follows up by pointing out the NDP’s work to challenge the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the link between personality politics and the culture of scandal that’s developed around Stephen Harper, Rob Ford and other political figures.

For further reading…- Once again, Dan Leger and Leslie MacKinnon provide the column’s starting point in discussing the central focus on scandals in 2013.- Eric Grenier’s year-end political grades offer a prime example of the type of election-results-only evaluation that feeds into the problem.- And Frank Graves discusses the Canadian public’s waning trust in its current crop of politicians.

Accidental Deliberations: Fool me twice

Andrew Coyne has a suggestion as to how the Cons might extort some increased adherence to free-market fundamentalism from the provinces: It’s the balance between spending and revenues, not just the totals, that matters. The federal government, as the PBO numbers show, will have substantial fiscal “room,” revenues in excess of what it needs to pay its bills, while the provinces will be in substantial structural deficit. Ottawa has the money, in other words, and the provinces need it — desperately.

This puts the feds in a very strong bargaining position. Rather than simply hand over the loot, as the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Charles Campbell discusses Robert Reich’s work to highlight the importance of a fair and progressive tax system. And while Lawrence Martin is right to lament the systematic destruction of Canada’s public revenue streams under the Libs and Cons alike, his fatalistic view that nobody can stem the tide doesn’t seem to match the evidence that the public – in Canada and the U.S. alike – sees inequality as a problem to be solved rather than a fair result of corporate-friendly policies.

- Mark Taliano writes about the Harper Cons’ distaste for (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Paul Krugman writes about the right-wing belief that “freedom’s just another word for not enough to eat”: (Y)ou might think that ensuring adequate nutrition for children, which is a large part of what SNAP does, actually makes it less, not more likely that those children will be poor and need public assistance when they grow up. And that’s what the evidence shows. The economists Hilary Hoynes and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach have studied the impact of the food stamp program in the 1960s and 1970s, when it was gradually rolled out across the country. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paul Kershaw highlights what’s most needed to support Canada’s younger generations: Even with all this personal adaptation, most in Gen X and Y can’t work their way out of the time and income squeeze when they start families. Since two earners bring home little more today than what one breadwinner often did in the 1970s, we’ve gone from 40 hour work weeks to closer to 80 hours. The result? Generations raising young kids are squeezed for time at home. They are squeezed for income because housing prices are nearly double, even though (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On patterns of behaviour

Sure, it’s tempting to treat Pamela Wallin’s role as a director of a failed oil sands firm as a personal commentary on the Cons and their Senate appointees. But the story is far more closely connected to another theme that’s popping up in news stories on a daily basis.

There’s ample question as to how honest Oilsands Quest was with the public (and the settlement of the class action suit against it effectively ensures that nobody will be pushing for further answers). And the complete disconnect between corporate self-interest and the public good is turning up all over the resource (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne comments on the biggest of the Cons’ many lies about the role and capacity of the federal government: Canada’s $18.7-billion deficit has (its) roots in failed economic policies, decisions made before the world financial crisis, including reckless corporate tax cuts.

Remember, because the Conservatives would like us to forget, that this is a government that inherited $13 billion in surpluses.

They quickly emptied the cupboard with one tax cut after another.

Harper’s deficit has become, in many ways, a manufactured and convenient bogeyman. Bogeymen are useful especially when your goal (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Marc Lee takes a high-level look at the absurdity of our destructive economic choices: Exhibit one: the North Pole at the moment is a one-foot-deep aquamarine lake. After reaching record low ice cover and thickness at the end of summer 2012, an ice-free arctic in the summer is coming sooner rather than later. All of that blue water absorbing solar radiation instead of ice reflecting it back to space will compound global warming. And as it melts it releases the greenhouse gas, methane, which will further increase warming in one of those bad (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Dean Beeby reports on the utter uselessness of the latest set of publicly-funded Con propaganda. But more importantly, John Ibbitson notes that most of the provinces have little use for the lone new announcement – meaning that it’s for the best if Canadians have indeed tuned out the Cons rather than relying on promises which likely won’t come to pass.

- Meanwhile, Dan Leger writes that we should be just as concerned about the Cons’ list of friends should be of just as much concern as the enemies lists which have received so (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Reich asks a few impertinent (but important) questions about plutocratic encroachment on the U.S.’ political system.

- Catherine McKenna explains why it’s important to try to make a difference in our political system. But Chris Cobb reports on what happens to those who try under the Cons’ regime.

- Gerald Caplan wonders whether anybody involved in the Clusterduff – including Stephen Harper, his chief of staff, his hand-picked senators and his core office staff – has ever told anything approaching the truth. But I think we’ve already established the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz makes the case for free trade talks to be based on the public interest rather than the further entrenchment of corporate power and siphoning of wealth to the top. But there’s little reason to expect a meeting of corporate and government figures to produce that result – particularly when (as the New York Times editorial board points out) the main area of agreement between the U.S.’ main political parties involves a mutual willingness to make public services and regulatory bodies subservient to the immediate interests of the business (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: The death of plausibility

“It doesn’t have to be true. It just has to be plausible.”

Tom Flanagan’s unusually candid statement about the Harper Cons’ view of politics received plenty of attention. And rightly so, given how it signals a party and government with absolutely no interest in anything approaching honest discussion or debate.

But the Flanagan view of the world now looks to have been only a first step toward something else entirely. Now, the Cons can’t even be bothered to try to be plausible – even in areas where their immediate self-serving assertions can be refuted through evidence which is bound (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- The Canadian Labour Congress calls out Jim Flaherty for stalling on his promise to work on boosting the Canada Pension Plan. Meanwhile, in attempting to keep profits flowing to the financial sector, several Fraser Institute drones find that increased CPP contributions…substantially increase the total amount saved for retirement by the middle class notwithstanding any substitutional effects. (Which leaves them stammering “ummm…choice!” “er….markets!” “aaah….FREEDOM!” in a desperate attempt to pretend workers are somehow better off with less of a secure public pension.)

- Alison is (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that to end your weekend.

- Dave Coles introduces readers to the Cons’ latest attack on labour – with a backbencher’s private member’s bill again serving as an excuse to introduce unprecedent restrictions on union organization.

- Michael Harris suspects that the Cons’ attempt to delay any public review of their burgeoning Senate slush fund scandal by a referral to the Auditor General is doomed to fail. And Karl Nerenberg discusses exactly what the slush fund means – including the holes it highlights in Canada’s party financing system.

- Martin Regg Cohn rightly calls out Jim Flaherty for (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Jillian Berman reports on research showing that the predictable effect of decreased unionization is a transfer of wealth from workers to shareholders: The jump in corporate profit over the past few decades can be explained largely by a decline in union membership over the same period, according to a study by Tali Kristal, a sociologist at the University of Haifa in Israel. The boost in companies’ bottom line comes at workers’ expense, Kristal wrote in an email to The Huffington Post.

“It’s a zero sum game: whatever is not going to workers, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- David Cay Johnston and Miles Corak both discuss the results of a study which compares economic outcomes in technologically advanced countries, and shows that tax giveaways to the wealthy exacerbate inequality without doing anything at all to contribute to economic development.

- And Paul Krugman highlights the fact that all the evidence in the world won’t stop the Republicans from trying to take away what few supports are left in the U.S., with a particular focus on food stamps: Food stamps have played an especially useful — indeed, almost heroic — (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- A new Ipsos-Reid poll shows that nearly 90% of Canadians support higher taxes on the rich generally, and million-dollar incomes in particular. And there’s an obvious need for change based on how distorted tax systems already are – as Reuters reports on a Congressional Budget Office study showing that U.S. tax deductions, credits and exclusions primarily benefit the wealthy.

- Of course, tax policy is far from the only area of corporatist decision-making designed primarily to benefit those who already have the most. Jeremy Nuttall discusses how the federal government’s cover-ups succeeded (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Juxtaposition

From Warren Bell’s devastating comparison between the Peter Kent of yesteryear and the embarrassment he’s become, here’s Canada’s environment minister on why we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about the environment effects of the tar sands: “One of the opposition parties has taken the treacherous course of leaving the domestic debate and heading abroad to attack a legitimate Canadian resource which is being responsibly developed and regulated,” Kent told reporters.

So what is Kent doing to any system of responsible regulation which might once have existed? Let’s ask James Munson: The federal government is quietly removing in situ (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading…

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses the abuse of intellectual property law to turn publicly-funded research into privately-held profit centres (no matter how many people die as a result): (A) Utah-based company, Myriad Genetics, claims more than that. It claims to own the rights to any test for the presence of the two critical genes associated with breast cancer – and has ruthlessly enforced that right, though their test is inferior to one that Yale University was willing to provide at much lower cost. The consequences have been tragic: Thorough, affordable testing that identifies high-risk (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Distinction without a difference

Erin is right to question Doug Elliott’s attempt to split hairs between a “slowdown” and a “deceleration”. But Elliott’s parsing ranks a distant second behind Russ Marchuk in the field of evasive dissembling.

Shorter Marchuk: It’s outrageous that anybody would suggest we’re imposing a disastrous policy like universal standardized testing on students. Instead, our policy is one of (flips through thesaurus) unified province-wide (flipflipflip) regular (flipflip) assessments for individual pupils. Which I’m sure you can see is something totally different.

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Sunday reading.

- Daniel Kaufman notes that the EU is on the verge of implementing new standards for transparency in oil extraction – while recognizing that big oil has fought the effort every step of the way in an effort to keep its activities secret. And Shaun Thomas discusses the no-knowledge zone set up around the Northern Gateway pipeline, as Nathan Cullen’s questions within the review process revealed that the federal government hadn’t so much as talked to First Nations or affected industries about the possible impact of an oil spill.

- But then, the Cons (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Sunday reading.

- Daniel Kaufman notes that the EU is on the verge of implementing new standards for transparency in oil extraction – while recognizing that big oil has fought the effort every step of the way in an effort to keep its activities secret. And Shaun Thomas discusses the no-knowledge zone set up around the Northern Gateway pipeline, as Nathan Cullen’s questions within the review process revealed that the federal government hadn’t so much as talked to First Nations or affected industries about the possible impact of an oil spill.

- But then, the Cons (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Peter Gillespie discusses the problems with tax cheats (and the overseas tax havens which encourage them): Multinational corporations and banking and financial institutions routinely use tax havens to lower or eliminate their tax obligations, avoid regulation, and shield themselves from liability. Tax havens host more than two million “international business corporations,” often little more than shell companies with a postal address. The British Virgin Islands, with a population of 30,000, hosts an estimated 460,000 business corporations. One modest building in the Cayman Islands is home to more that 18,000 of these entities.

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