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Accidental Deliberations: On destructive preconditions

Shorter Elizabeth Nickson: I’ll consider accepting the need for policies to preserve the environment just as soon as we’ve seen exactly how much gets destroyed in their absence.

(h/t to PressProgress.)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- James Baxter discusses why there’s no reason to buy into the Harper Cons’ fearmongering in the first place: Let’s accept a basic truth: There’s only so much money we’re willing to ‘invest’ in having the government to protect us from bad things and, when you get out of bed in the morning, terrorism is very, very far from the top of the list of dangers you’re likely to face.

The budget for the Department of Public Security and Emergency Preparedness is more than $6 billion and growing by leaps and bounds. Add to that the Department (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: On blissful ignorance

Shorter Lawrence Herman: Just because Newfoundland and Labrador learned the hard way that Stephen Harper can’t be trusted doesn’t mean it has any right to warn anybody else that Stephen Harper can’t be trusted.

(For a more reasonable take on how we should expect countries to react to the Cons’ duplicitous negotiations and undue preference for corporate power, see the Telegram’s editorial.)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Will Hutton writes about the connection between inequality and the loss of any moral or social purpose in public life: Britain is beset by a crisis of purpose. We don’t know who we are any longer, where we are going or even if there is a “we”. The country is so passionately attached to past glories because there are so few to celebrate in the present. The crisis is compounded since we have been told for 30 years that the route to universal wellbeing is to abandon the expense of justice (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: #DefineHarper

A couple of earlier posts have started a bit of a discussion about the messages which will be most effective in convincing voters – and particularly swing voters – to shift their votes away from the Harper Cons. But I’ll take the opportunity to turn the discussion over to a wider audience through Twitter.

In addition to ideas for overall themes, I’d also think it’s worth showing how they can be to use. Here’s an example as to how one suggested by Sub-Boreal might be applied in practice:

[Message based on the work done by End Immigration Detention.]

Obviously, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On common messaging

It shouldn’t come as much surprise that the new election year is bringing out the usual, tiresome round of calls for strategic voting and candidate withdrawals.

In the past, I’ve responded by suggesting that if Canada’s opposition parties have enough common ground to cooperate, they should consider working with joint messages rather than trying to carve up the electoral map. And I’d still be curious to see how that type of arrangement would work if there was any interest in pursuing it.

But I wonder now whether the best course of action may have nothing to do with party arrangements (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne writes that by finally recognizing the unfairness and ineffectiveness of Alberta’s regressive tax system, Jim Prentice may be starting a needed national debate: Alberta Premier Jim Prentice talks up taxes for individuals including a sales tax (Alberta is the only province not to have one) and adjusting income taxes. But what about those oil companies? This might also be an ideal time to consider how the province can receive a bigger piece of the oil revenue when prices do bounce back. The prep work should start now.

When oil prices boom, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Amy Goodman discusses Barack Obama’s call to reverse the spread of inequality in the U.S. And Seumas Milne writes that the effort will inevitably challenge the world oligarchs have built up to further their own wealth and power at everybody else’s expense: In most of the world, labour’s share of national income has fallen continuously and wages have stagnated under this regime of privatisation, deregulation and low taxes on the rich. At the same time finance has sucked wealth from the public realm into the hands of a small minority, even (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Paul Rosenberg writes about the high-priced effort to undermine public institutions and the collective good in the U.S. And Paul Krugman highlights how the Republicans’ stubborn belief in the impossibly of good government (regardless of large amounts of evidence that such a thing is possible and desirable) has produced the U.S.’ combination of waste and gridlock: On issues that range from monetary policy to the control of infectious disease, a big chunk of America’s body politic holds views that are completely at odds with, and completely unmovable by, actual experience. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- Gerald Caplan writes that we all bear some responsibility for growing inequality – and how we’ll need to use our electoral power to reverse it: (S)elf-sacrifice is not going to be the key to reducing inequality, with all the great damage it inflicts on society. Government needs to act, and Mr. Mackenzie offers perfectly realistic policies to any party that is seriously committed to greater equality. For example, the tax break on stock options generously provided by our government is worth a cool half-trillion to the top 100 – a nice day’s “work,” (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jeff Begley criticizes the Cons and the Quebec Libs for their refusal to even recognize inequality as an issue – which of course results in their only exacerbating the gap between the rich and the rest of us: While Couillard and Harper find the “courage” to attack workers, starting with those in the public sector, they are completely silent when it comes to the growing social and economic inequalities. Worse still, they are working actively to heighten those inequalities!

In our video message over the holidays, I indicated that we hoped this (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Hugh Segal discusses the need for an open and honest conversation about poverty and how to end it. And to better reflect Canadians’ continued desire for a more fair society, Roderick Benns makes the case for a basic income as Canada’s next major social program.

- Matt Bruenig writes about the U.S.’ income inequality as compared to other developed countries- and it’s well worth noting that Canada’s distribution is only slightly less distorted than the U.S.’.

- Margo McDiarmid reports on the Cons’ latest steps to block any (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Stephen Burgen reports on Thomas Piketty’s view that it’s long past time for voters to have anti-austerity options where none existed in the past. And along similar lines, Murray Dobbin sets out the stark choice facing Canadians: Canadians will have to continue to watch their Scandinavian neighbours use the wheel and prosper while we remain captives to the free market priesthood. Norway is the logical choice of neighbour to compare ourselves to, if you can stomach it. In Canada we have virtually given away our energy heritage through criminally low royalty rates over a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On predictable arrangements

Aaron Wherry nicely summarizes the possible outcomes of the next federal election so the rest of us don’t have to. But let’s take a moment to consider what we can expect if we indeed have a hung Parliament, requiring parties to deal with each other to determine who will hold office.

To start with, Michael Den Tandt’s theory about the NDP having any interest in propping up continued Con government is utterly out to lunch. But CuriosityCat’s Lib spin is far from the right way to look at the NDP’s position as well.

No, Jack Layton’s tenure as leader (and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Joan Walsh discusses Elizabeth Warren’s work on improving wages and enhancing the strength of workers in the U.S., while Jeremy Nuttall interviews Hassan Yussuff about the labour movement’s work to elect a better government in Canada.

- Bob Hepburn argues that getting rid of the Harper Cons is a first step toward regaining some faith in our political system. And Scott Reid worries that Stephen Harper’s cynical view of government in anybody’s hands may have spread to Canada’s electorate – though while there’s plenty of work to be done in the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

 - Emma Woolley discusses how homelessness developed into a social problem in Canada in large part through public neglect. Judy Haiven is the latest to emphasize that charity is no substitute for a functional society when it comes to meeting people’s basic needs. And Ed Lehman is rightly concerned that Brad Wall and company are still determined to avoid acknowledging the fact that there are plenty of Saskatchewan residents trying to make do with nowhere near enough.

- Emily Badger reminds us how inequality early in life can shape – and block – opportunities (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Alex Himelfarb writes about the corporate push to treat taxes as a burden rather than a beneficial contribution to a functional society – and why we should resist the demand to slash taxes and services alike: How is it that we don’t now ask of these tax cuts upon tax cuts: What will be the consequences for these public goods, goods that most of us continue to value, that demonstrably contribute to the general welfare? In part the answer may be that we devalue public goods because they are not priced and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Robin Sears offers his theory that the upcoming federal election could represent a meaningful referendum on competing visions for Canada – and Paul Wells seems to expect much the same. But while that might make for a useful statement of the actual consequences of electing the anti-government Cons as opposed to having a progressive coalition materialize, it’s hard to see a clash of visions represent the core of the campaign – particularly when the party currently in power won’t admit to its active hostility toward social programs and the environment, while another (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how we’ll soon be seeing both federal and provincial governments alike try to block out their real history with glossy ad campaigns – and why we shouldn’t let them get away with the plan.

For further reading…- Torstar reported here on the Cons’ use of public money to generate fake news and how it fits in to the broader federal advertising machine. And Gregory Thomas discussed their shift toward using public money for communications rather than programs here. – Mike De Souza wrote about the CRA’s newly-ordered destruction of employees’ text records here. And Paul McLeod (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that to start your year.

- Ian Welsh comments on the challenges we face in trying to turn wealth increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few into a better world for everybody: The irony is that we have, again, produced a cornucopia.  We have the potential to create an abundance society, the world over and eventually off this world.

We have much of the technology necessary, and we could direct our research and development towards the remaining technology we need.

Instead, we rely on markets controlled by oligarchs and central banks captured by oligarchs to make (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On limited victories

Truly, I wish Andrew Coyne’s latest actually described policy-making in Canada, and not merely the state of theoretical political debate.

But in fact, we live in a country where “let’s consider whether a trade agreement actually has benefits, rather than signing whatever gets shoved in front of us” has been shouted down by two national parties and the corporate press as an extreme view.

In fact, the “progressive” premier put forward as the paragon of leftism is from a government which brags about both trashing regulations for the sake of trashing regulations, and imposing perpetual real-money cuts to the public (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- David Foot and Daniel Stoffman discuss Thomas Piketty’s role in highlighting the need to work toward greater equality, while pointing out a few options to increase public revenues from people who can afford to pay them. And Ezra Klein interviews Paul Krugman about inequality (along with a wider range of issues): Ezra Klein: Do you worry more about wealth inequality or income inequality?

Paul Krugman: Income inequality, but I don’t think they’re separable issues. We need to worry a lot more about lagging incomes in the bottom half or bottom two-thirds of the (Read more…)