It wasn’t long ago when a series of Canadian federal elections saw Stephen Harper and his Conservatives take more and more power – culminating in over four years of a false majority government – even as upwards of 60% of voters opposed virtually everything it stood for.
Some of us then figured it was worth . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On false prophets
This and that for your Sunday reading.
– Christopher Ingraham points out that while many luxuries are getting cheaper with time, the necessities of life are becoming much more difficult to afford:
Many manufactured goods — like TVs and appliances — come from overseas, where labor costs are cheaper. “International, global competition lowers prices directly from lower-cost imported goods, and indirectly by forcing U.S. manufacturers to behave more competitively, with lower prices, higher quality, better service, et cetera,” Perry said.
On the flip side, things like education and medical care can’t be produced in a factory, so those pressures do not apply. Compounding it, many Americans are insulated from the full costs of these services. Private and public insurance companies pay most medical costs, so there tends to be little incentive for individuals to shop around for cheaper medical care.
In the case of higher education, the nation’s massive student loan industry bears much of the upfront burden of rising prices. To the typical 18-year-old, a $120,000 tuition bill may seem like an abstraction when you don’t have to start paying it off until your mid-20s or later. As a result, the nation’s college students and graduates now collectively owe upward of $1.3 trillion
in student loan debt.
“Prices rise when [health care and college] markets are not competitive and not exposed to global competition,” Perry said, “and prices rise when easy credit is available.”
Hence, our current predicament. We can afford the things we don’t need, but we need the things we can’t afford.
– Alex Usher notes how one of the same cost pressures applies in Canada, as universities losing public funding are squeezing students for massive tuition increases. And Lindsay Kines reports that the Clark government’s decision to make life less affordable for people with disabilities in British Columbia has led to 3,500 people giving up their transit passes.
– Natalia Khosla and Sean McElwee discuss the difficulty in addressing racism when many people live in denial of their continued privilege.
– Paul Wells comments on SNC Lavalin’s long track record of illegal corporate donations to the Libs and the Cons.
– Finally, Gerry Caplan points out how Justin Trudeau is dodging key human rights questions. And Mike Blanchfield reports that the Libs’ willingness to undermine a treaty prohibiting the use of cluster bombs represents just another area where they’re leaving the Cons’ most harmful policies untouched. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links
This and that for your Sunday reading.
– Chris Hamby starts off what looks to be a must-read investigation on the effect of ISDS rules by discussing how they’re used to prevent governments from punishing corporate wrongdoing:
(A)n 18-month BuzzFeed News investigation, spanning three continents and involving more than 200 interviews and tens of thousands of documents, many of them previously confidential, has exposed an obscure but immensely consequential feature of these trade treaties, the secret operations of these tribunals, and the ways that business has co-opted them to bring sovereign nations to heel.
Reviewing publicly available information for about 300 claims filed during the past five years, BuzzFeed News found more than 35 cases in which the company or executive seeking protection in ISDS was accused of criminal activity, including money laundering, embezzlement, stock manipulation, bribery, war profiteering, and fraud.
Among them: a bank in Cyprus that the US government accused of financing terrorism and organized crime, an oil company executive accused of embezzling millions from the impoverished African nation of Burundi, and the Russian oligarch known as “the Kremlin’s banker.”
Some are at the center of notorious scandals, from the billionaire accused of orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme in Mauritius to multiple telecommunications tycoons charged in the ever-widening “2G scam” in India, which made it into Time magazine’s top 10 abuses of power, alongside Watergate. The companies or executives involved in these cases either denied wrongdoing or did not respond to requests for comment.
Most of the 35-plus cases are still ongoing. But in at least eight of the cases, bringing an ISDS claim got results for the accused wrongdoers, including a multimillion-dollar award, a dropped criminal investigation, and dropped criminal charges. In another, the tribunal has directed the government to halt a criminal case while the arbitration is pending.
– And Dharna Noor interviews James Henry about the need for international cooperation – at both the government and public level – to crack down on tax evasion.
– Tyler Hamilton discusses the health effects of climate change. And Joseph Erbentraut examines how a changing climate is affecting both the quantity and quality of the water we depend on.
– Kev responds to the spread of #goodriddanceharper by pointing out that as satisfying as it was to turf the Cons from office, we’re still facing most of the same anti-social policies with a more media-savvy face. And Doug Nesbitt reminds us that the Trudeau Libs are no friends of labour – with Canada Post’s appalling attacks on vulnerable workers serving as just the latest example.
– Finally, the Canadian Press reports on a much-needed push for resources to address mental health in Canada. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links
This and that for your Sunday reading.- Chris Hamby starts off what looks to be a must-read investigation on the effect of ISDS rules by discussing how they’re used to prevent governments from punishing corporate wrongdoing:(A)n 18-month BuzzFeed News … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- Mary O’Hara reviews Daniel Hatcher’s new book on the U.S.’ poverty industry which seeks to exploit public supports for private gain:(A) new book published last week by law professor and advocate Daniel… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links
Assorted content to end your week.- Murray Dobbin is hopeful that we may be seeing corporate globalization based on unquestioned neoliberal ideology come to an end: There is no definitive way to identify when an ideology begins to lose its grip on the… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links
Miscellaneous material to start your week.- Tyler Hamilton offers a roundup of the growing threat of climate change – and Canada’s shameful contribution to making it worse. – Andy Blatchford reports on the Libs’ plans for a massive selloff of federal p… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links
This and that for your Tuesday reading.- Glen Pearson makes the case for transcending cynicism in our politics, including the choice to stay involved once an election is done. And Ian Welsh reminds us that our definition of property is socially establi… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links
This and that for your Sunday reading.- Steve Roth discusses how inequality and excessive concentration of wealth result in less growth for everybody – even as the researchers finding that correlation try to report the opposite. – Meanwhile, Davide Fur… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links
Miscellaneous material to start your week.- Claire Provost writes that corporate trade agreements are designed to make it more difficult to pursue fair tax systems:Governments must be able to change their tax systems to ensure multinationals pay their… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links
Here, expanding on this post as to Nathan Cullen’s proposal to make sure the outcomes of all plausible electoral systems are taken into account in designing a new one. For further reading…- Again, Cullen’s proposal was reported on here, and discussed… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: New column day
CC offers one noteworthy takeaway from Jenni Byrne’s attempt to deflect blame for the Cons’ election loss:Wherein Jenni Byrne openly admits that the CPC *needs* vote splitting to stay relevant. https://t.co/HrQDeH058x pic.twitter.com/BpUFBmezhz— CC (… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On warped incentives
Assorted content for your weekend reading.- Robert Atkinson discusses the need for corporate tax policy to encourage economic development rather than profit-taking and share inflation. And Jim Hightower notes that it’s an anti-democratic corporate mind… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links
Assorted content for your weekend reading.- Duncan Brown discusses the connection between precarious work and low productivity. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh examines how Ontario’s workers’ compensation system is pushing injured individuals into grinding pove… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links
This and that for your Sunday reading.- Lana Payne highlights how Kevin O’Leary’s obliviousness to inequality makes him a relic. But Linda McQuaig notes that however distant O’Leary may be from the public, he’s not that far removed from all too many Co… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links
Christopher Kam’s series of posts on political parties’ strategy surrounding electoral reform is definitely worth a read. But I’ll stand by the view that there’s another alternative interpretation of the likely outcomes – particularly based on the like… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On strategic choices
Others have duly criticized the Star’s editorial on electoral reform. But I’ll argue that it can be brought in line with reasonable expectations with one important change.Simply put, it’s not a problem to insist upon “broad consensus” on a new electora… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On standards for reform
Assorted content to end your week.- John O’Farrell argues that a basic income provides a needed starting point for innovation and entrepreneurship by people who don’t enjoy the advantage of inherited wealth:But in fact it is the current situation that … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links
Assorted content to start your new year.- Paul Krugman points out that as tends to be the case, the U.S.’ modest increase in high-end tax rates in 2013 managed to produce both more fair taxation and strong economic growth.- But Michael Hudson notes tha… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Afternoon Links
This and that for your Thursday reading.- Owen Jones writes that the UK’s flooding is just one example of what happens when the public sector which is supposed to look out for the common good is slashed out of short-term political calculation. And J. B… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links
Not surprisingly given my previous comments on the Libs’ electoral reform promise, it’s a plus that they’re sticking with it rather than giving in to any demand for a referendum. And hopefully the temporary diversion raised by the Cons will lead the pa… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On failed diversions
This and that for your Sunday reading.- Andrew Jackson makes the case for a federal budget aimed at boosting investment in Canada’s economy:Public infrastructure investment has a much greater short term impact on growth and jobs per dollar spent than … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links