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Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the many problems with building social benefits and employment policies alike on a foundation of distrust.

For further reading…- Rick Mercer rants about the obstacles the Cons are throwing in the way of veterans. And the CP follows up on the Cons’ response to Paul Franklin’s case here.- CBC reports here on the Cons’ plans to slash existing sick leave for the federal civil service.  Kathryn May points out the complete lack of any justification for that course of action, and has since noted that the plan is further being extended to out-of-scope positions. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Carol Graham discusses the high financial and personal costs of poverty: Reported stress levels are higher on average in the U.S. than in Latin America. Importantly, the gap between the levels of the rich and poor is also much greater, with the U.S. poor reporting the highest levels of stress of all cohorts. Of course ‘stress’ is a complex phenomenon, however: “Good” stress is associated with the pursuit of goals, while “bad” stress is associated with struggling to cope. Bad stress, which is associated with an inability to plan ahead, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Janine Berg writes about the need for strong public policy to counter the trend of growing inequality. And Gillian White traces the ever-increasing divergence between worker productivity and wages in an interview with Jan Rivkin: White: Some say that the decrease of collective bargaining has played a role in creating the gap, how true do you think that is?

Rivkin: There are a number of causes, one is the underlying shift in technology and globalization. Another is systematic underinvestment in the commons, which is a set of shared resources that every business needs (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Still awaiting confirmation that his birth, prophesied by a swallow, ignited a bright star in the sky that immediately changed the season from winter to spring and caused an awe-inspiring double rainbow to appear

There are reasonable responses to a Prime Minister’s being unable to attend the Canada Winter Games. And then there’s Bal Gosal’s reply, which sounds much more like the type of understated message we’d expect from a toady of your neighbourhood megalomaniac dictator: Speaking at the Otway Nordic Ski Center Saturday, Gosal insisted Harper is “probably the greatest sports fan in our country.”

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Armine Yalnizyan counters the Cons’ spin on tax-free savings accounts. And Rob Carrick points out that raising the limit on TFSAs would forfeit billions of desperately-needed dollars to benefit only the wealthiest few in Canada: TFSAs are Swiss army knives – a financial knife, corkscrew, screwdriver and more. But doubling the annual contribution limit of $5,500 is a bad idea.

Message to the federal government: Please don’t, because we can’t afford it.…A report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer this week says the federal government would lose $14.7-billion a year in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Burning question

What exactly do we expect CSIS to do with a possible data dump of every piece of information held by every federal government agency when at last notice, it was struggling to find the capacity to check e-mails for malware?

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Frank Graves writes that we’re seeing the end of progress for all but the wealthiest few – and that we all stand to lose out if we come to believe that progress for the rest of us is impossible: There is a virtual consensus that a growing and optimistic middle class is a precondition for societal health and economic prosperity. This consensus position reflects the historical record of when nations succeed. Yet if this consensus is correct, we note with alarm that almost nobody thinks that these conditions are in place in Canada. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson link inequality and climate change as massive problems which are generated by political choices (and thus amenable to correction through the political system): Rising inequality is no more natural than global warming. And just as with global warming, our biggest fear should be that it becomes increasingly self-reinforcing — not because of some “natural” economic process, but because economic power begets political power, which can be used to further increase economic advantage. Look around, and the evidence that this is a real threat abounds. To cite just (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, condensing this post on the risks of allowing CSIS to self-assess the scope of Canadians’ Charter rights under C-51.

For further reading…- Again, the go-to source for analysis of C-51 is Craig Forcese and Kent Roach’s site here. – Clayton Ruby and Nader Hasan’s analysis is here.- John Mueller and Mark Stewart duly reject the attempt to invent some existential terrorist threat. – Dale Smith muses about the Cons’ rush to ram C-51 through without analysis here. PressProgress challenges the conventional wisdom as to the supposed popularity of the bill here. And the Star appeals for (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Nora Loreto rightly challenges the instinct to respond to tragedy with blame in the name of “responsibility”, rather than compassion in the interest of making matters better: Blame is the projection of grief, sadness or fear. It is the projection of our own inadequacies; of our own feelings of, “oh god, that could be my kid” wrapped up in “thank god I’m a better parent than that.” It pretends that all things are equal, that all family situations are equal and all children are essentially the same.

But it’s malicious. Blame, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On constitutional questions

Most of the analysis surrounding the Cons’ terror bill so far has assumed that CSIS’ powers will be interpreted based on a plain reading of the legislation. Under this reading of C-51, any action which could violate the Charter or other Canadian law would only be authorized by a warrant, meaning that deprivations of rights and freedoms would be subject to judicial oversight (however flawed the process itself may be). In contrast, CSIS’ authority to act unilaterally would be limited to intrusions on property or other matters which don’t affect Charter rights or legal entitlements.

But that assumption may (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on the work done by the Broadbent Institute and Mariana Mazzucato to highlight the importance of publicly-funded innovation: According to a 2014 report by the International Monetary Fund, Canadian companies have been accumulating “dead money” at a faster rate than any other G7 country, rather than reinvesting profit into things like human capital or research capacity — suggesting that the rewards of innovative success are being captured by an increasingly narrow sliver of society, even when public money may well have been an early catalyst for achievement.  But in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On extended intrusions

There’s been plenty of discussion as to the similarities between the Cons’ terror bill and Pierre Trudeau’s 1970 invocation of the War Measures Act. And it’s certainly worth reminding ourselves that even in the face of an identifiable security concern, the impulse to attack civil rights tends to prove wrong upon reflection.

But there’s a key difference between the C-51 debate and Trudeau’s invocation of the War Measures Act – and it’s one which makes the present-day Cons and Libs look even worse than their predecessors.

Keep in mind that the War Measures Act was aimed at providing extreme but (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Sunday reading.

- Al Engler argues that it’s long past time to start raising taxes on the wealthy to make sure that Canada can fund the level of social development we deserve.

- Kevin Drum writes that we shouldn’t be satisfied with a temporary dip in inequality caused by the 2008 recession when longer-term trends suggest matters will get worse. And Lynn Parramore interviews Lance Taylor about the demand-side implications of exacerbated inequality: LP: Thomas Piketty’s work on inequality has generated enormous interest.  How does your analysis of how the rich grow richer differ from (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: Burning question

C-51, the Cons’ terror bill, allows CSIS to covertly intrude on personal freedoms in two obvious ways.

First, it enables CSIS effectively unfettered authority – without a warrant – to engage in any action which is not contrary to the Charter or other Canadian law, and which does not: (a) cause, intentionally or by criminal negligence, death or bodily harm to an individual; (b) wilfully attempt in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice; or (c) violate the sexual integrity of an individual. 

Second, it enables CSIS – with a warrant – to violate (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On oversight

Since one of the main issues talked about so far in relation to the Cons’ terror bill is the question of oversight, I’ll point back to what I said the last time we were told that the way to split the difference between abuses of power and a desire for secrecy was to allow only a small number of elected officials to know – but not act on – what’s going on: Remember that many of the worst abuses by the U.S. government under Bushco were defended later on the basis that Democrats were informed of their existence. And (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the Cons’ attempt to spin an election narrative out of a fictional bogeyman rather than protecting or helping Canadians.

For further reading…- The National Academy of Sciences offers a comparison of death rates from multiple causes in Canada and elsewhere, while Statistics Canada has more detailed data. And it’s also worth a reminder as to the large number of deaths caused by inequality.- In contrast to the real risks we face and accept every day, even the Cons’ attempt to fabricate a paper trail around terrorism resorts to labeling arrests as failures or dangers (rather (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jeffrey Sparshott discusses new research into how automation stands to displace workers and exacerbate inequality, while a House of Lords committee finds that 35% of the current jobs in the UK could fall prey to exactly that process. And Szu Ping Chan reports on Andy Haldane’s warning that a vicious cycle could prove disastrous for everybody: Mr Haldane warned that robots could soon replace workers en-masse.

“Intelligent robots could substitute for lower-skilled tasks. If the capacity of the machine brain approached, or surpassed, the human brain, higher-skilled jobs could also be at (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Garfield Mahood and Brian Iler discuss the challenge facing charities as compared to the special treatment of businesses in trying to advocate as to public policy: (T)he solutions to many of society’s problems do not need more research and the criticism-free public education that the CRA permits. They cry out for advocacy and changed law. Unfortunately, the CRA only allows NGOs to spend 10 per cent of their income on policy advocacy and law reform. Thus a charity has to be substantial in order to be large enough to fund meaningful advocacy.

In (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Tessa Jowell writes that we need to treat inequality as a disease which can be cured through effective public policy, but the Star points out that the Cons have instead gone out of their way to make it worse. Fair Vote Canada interviews J. Peter Venton about the toxic effect of inequality on our political system. And Sean McElwee notes that in the U.S. at least, the right has managed to turn the middle and working classes against exactly the type of redistribution which best serves their interests.

- Yanis Varoufakis (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: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Mariana Mazzucato argues that we need to change our conversation and our policy choices on public investment in Canada’s economy: As in many other countries, the conversation about government and public investment in Canada has for decades distorted and underplayed the role of the state as a crucial agent in shaping and creating markets.

In a country where inequality has grown as the progressive state has been dismantled, I learned that corporate tax rates have been reduced, and generous tax credits given out to promote R&D, all while Canadian corporations hoard (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On unclear motivations

Shorter Peter MacKay: We should tremble in our boots at the possibility that the people plotting a mass shooting in Halifax might have been susceptible to motivation by religious fervour. But if they’d instead carried out their actual plan, we should be willing to write off the resulting deaths as the price of free access to guns.

Update: Anna Mehler Paperny has more.

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to end your week.

- Simon Wren-Lewis nicely describes the austerity con (coming soon in extreme form to an Alberta near you): ‘Mediamacro’ is the term I use to describe macroeconomics as it is portrayed in the majority of the media. Mediamacro has a number of general features. It puts much more emphasis than conventional macroeconomics does on the financial markets, and on the views of participants in those markets. It prefers simple stories to more complex analysis. As part of this, it is fond of analogies between governments and individuals, even when those analogies are generally seen (Read more…)