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Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Angella MacEwen takes a look at the large numbers of unemployed and underemployed Canadians chasing a tiny number of available jobs. And Carol Goar calls out the Cons and the CFIB alike for preferring disposable foreign workers to Canadians who aren’t being offered a living wage: If employers want to talk about the government’s abrupt about-face, that is legitimate. If they want an “adult conversation” about work and remuneration, they should be ready to answer some key questions: Why should they be exempt from market discipline? The law of supply and demand provides (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Timothy Shenk discusses Thomas Piketty’s contribution to a critique of unfettered capitalism and gratuitous inequality: Seen from Piketty’s vantage point, thousands of feet above the rubble, the fragility of this moment becomes clear. Economic growth was a recent invention, major reductions to income inequality more recent still. Yet the aftermath of World War II was filled with prophets forecasting this union into eternity. Kuznets offered the most sophisticated expression of this cheerful projection. Extrapolating from the history of the United States between 1913 and 1948, he concluded that economic growth automatically reduced (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On vested interests

Shorter Linda Frum: As one of Stephen Harper’s hand-picked counterweights to the troublesome democratic rabble, I refuse to acknowledge any difference between “encouraging voter turnout” and “abetting electoral fraud”. The less people with a voice in how this country is run, the better.

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Will Hutton writes about Thomas Piketty’s rebuttal to the false claim that inequality has to be encouraged in the name of development – and the reality that we have a public policy choice whether to privilege returns on capital or broad-based growth: It is a startling thesis and one extraordinarily unwelcome to those who think capitalism and inequality need each other. Capitalism requires inequality of wealth, runs this right-of-centre argument, to stimulate risk-taking and effort; governments trying to stem it with taxes on wealth, capital, inheritance and property kill the goose that lays (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Ezra Klein comments on the U.S.’ doom loop of oligarchy – as accumulated wealth is spent to buy policy intended to benefit nobody other than those who have already accumulated wealth: On Thursday, the House passed Paul Ryan’s 2015 budget. In order to get near balance, the budget contains $5.1 trillion in spending cuts — roughly two-thirds of which come from programs for poor Americans. Those cuts need to be so deep because Ryan has pledged not to raise even a dollar in taxes.

As a very simple rule, rich (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Dayen discusses how prepaid debit cards are turning into the latest means for the financial sector to extract artificial fees from consumers. And Matt Taibbi reports on the looting of public pension funds in the U.S.: Nor did anyone know that part of Raimondo’s strategy for saving money involved handing more than $1 billion – 14 percent of the state fund – to hedge funds, including a trio of well-known New York-based funds: Dan Loeb’s Third Point Capital was given $66 million, Ken Garschina’s Mason Capital got $64 million and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Laura Ryckewaert looks in more detail at the continued lack of any privacy protection in the Unfair Elections Act. And Murray Dobbin is hopeful that the Cons’ blatant attempt to suppress voting rights will instead lead to a backlash among those who are intended to be excluded: (W)hatever the outcome, perhaps the best possible response of democracy activists would be to treat this loathsome piece of legislation as a useful crisis. This is exactly what leaders of the African-American and Latino communities have done in their fight against the blatant voter suppression efforts (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- David Dayen discusses the massive corporate tax giveaways handed out through the U.S.’ annual budget process. And in a system where lobbying by the wealthy is rewarded with a 24-to-1 return, it shouldn’t be much surprise if inequality is getting even worse than previously assumed, as Jordan Weissmann reports: Forget the 1 percent. The winners of this race, according to Zucman and Saez, have been the 0.1 percent. Since the 1960s, the richest one-thousandth of U.S. households, with a minimum net worth today above $20 million, have more (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Coyne sees the powerful impact of local forces on nomination contests as evidence that grassroots democracy is still alive and well in Canada – no matter how much the Cons and Libs may wish otherwise: What’s common to both of these stories is not only the willingness of local candidates and riding associations to defy the powers that be but their obstinate insistence that these races should be what party leaders claim they are: open nominations. With any luck, this obstreperousness will spread. Thanks to redistricting, there will be other ridings where (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Trish Hennessy’s latest numbers focus on the skills gap myth in Canada. And PressProgress documents a few of the Cons’ damaging public service cuts which kicked in yesterday, while Theresa Boyle reports on the end of Canada’s health care accords (featuring the observations of Roy Romanow on the end of meaningful federal participation in our health care system).

- Scott Stelmaschuk’s latest post fits nicely with the theme of yesterday’s comment on the importance of seeing politics first and foremost as a means of improving the world around us – rather than a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Sarah Ayres discusses the value of the social safety net as a matter of both social and economic policy: A significant body of evidence supports the view that, far from creating a so-called poverty trap, the safety net actually reduces poverty, increases economic mobility, and strengthens our national economy. Moreover, studies have shown that many antipoverty programs, especially those that target children, offer an excellent return on investment to taxpayers.…An analysis by the Council of Economic Advisers shows that when safety net programs are taken into account, the poverty rate actually fell from 26 percent in 1967 (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Paul Krugman compares the U.S.’ longtime recognition that concentrated wealth can do massive social harm to the Republicans’ recent efforts to claim that raising any revenue from the rich is somehow un-American: The truth is that, in the early 20th century, many leading Americans warned about the dangers of extreme wealth concentration, and urged that tax policy be used to limit the growth of great fortunes. Here’s another example: In 1919, the great economist Irving Fisher — whose theory of “debt deflation,” by the way, is essential in understanding our current (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Dean Starkman writes about the media’s failure to see and report on the culture of corruption and manipulation that led to the 2008 economic meltdown: Was the brewing crisis really such a secret? Was it all so complex as to be beyond the capacity of conventional journalism and, through it, the public to understand? Was it all so hidden? In fact, the answer to all those questions is “no.” The problem—distorted incentives corrupting the financial industry—was plain, but not to Wall Street executives, traders, rating agencies, analysts, quants, or other financial (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Robert Reich discusses the Koch brothers and their place in the U.S.’ new plutocracy: The Kochs exemplify a new reality that strikes at the heart of America. The vast wealth that has accumulated at the top of the American economy is not itself the problem. The problem is that political power tends to rise to where the money is. And this combination of great wealth with political power leads to greater and greater accumulations and concentrations of both — tilting the playing field in favor of the Kochs and their ilk, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- The Star-Phoenix discusses how the Cons are systematically attacking the independent institutions which are necessary to ensure a functioning democratic system: When a handful of Conservative MPs from Saskatchewan attacked the integrity of the province’s electoral boundaries commissioners last year in an attempt to subvert the democratic process, it may have seemed to be a rogue act of an outlier group of politicians concerned with their electoral future.

But when you consider the tactics of the MPs, who accused Justice Ronald Mills and political scientist Prof. John Courtney on the commission of attempting (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Thomas Walkom writes that the Cons’ economic prescriptions are doomed to fail because they’re based on a fundamental misdiagnosis: (T)hat half of the Conservative theory is correct. There is still persistently high unemployment.

But the other half, the study found, does not hold water: With the possible exception of Saskatchewan, Canada does not suffer from a surfeit of unfilled jobs.

In reaching this conclusion, the parliamentary watchdog looked at evidence compiled by the Bank of Canada and the Conference Board of Canada, a centre-right think tank.

This evidence shows that an undue (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the Cons’ explanations for the Unfair Elections Act reflect a disturbing attempt to rule out any voter motivation other than partisan interests – while excusing future Robocon-style deceit by placing all responsibility for accurate information on Elections Canada alone.

For further reading…- Alison documents the Con MPs who have already been caught fabricating stories to excuse vote suppression.And James Di Fiore apologizes for a single experiment which is now being pointed to ad nauseum as the basis for preventing hundreds of thousands of Canadians from voting.- Pierre Poilievre’s talking points are here (among (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Yves Smith notes that a short-sighted focus on returns for shareholders generally represents a poor allocation of resources even on the level of a single corporation – while also pointing out what that mindset does when shared across the business sector: As the Occupy Wall Street movement correctly recognized, the concentration of income and wealth of the economic top “one percent” of society has left the rest of us largely high and dry. Corporate profits are increasingly going to share buybacks or dividend distribution, but very little is going back into research and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Tim Harford proposes four first steps to start combatting income inequality. And the Star’s editorial board makes clear that there’s tax room available for Ontario (among other jurisdictions) to pursue in order to serve the public good: Sousa promises to protect the “middle class” — whatever that is. But he need not fear a backlash if his spring budget increases the burden on those making substantially more than the average, whether that starts at $150,000 or some higher level. Four other provinces — including B.C., whose government leans right — have (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On foreseeable dangers

The NDP is in the midst of its cross-country consultations on the Unfair Elections Act – with Charlie Angus’ visit to Regina today just one of the many stops along the way. But while the Cons’ insistence on ramming through changes to Canada’s elections law makes it unlikely that we’ll be able to work through all of the effects of the bill, let’s look at just a few as-of-yet-unexplored consequences of one of the more familiar provisions.

Here’s the language which rewrites the definition of an “election expense” to exclude communication with past donors: 376(3) The commercial value of services (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Stewart Prest writes about the Cons’ war against experts: (I)n modern democratic states one of the most important sources for non-partisan information and expertise is the government itself. Government bureaucracies are the only institutions in the world today with the access, the resources, and the motivation to systematically monitor and study the entirety of a country’s population and the extent of its human and natural environment.

Examples are legion, from statisticians to health officials to diplomats to environmental scientists. They exist throughout the much maligned but nonetheless vital bureaucracy of the country. Crucially, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Bruce Livesey discusses Tony Blair’s role in corporatizing social democracy. And Stephen Elliott-Buckley writes that there’s little reason to listen to the policy prescriptions of a financial elite class which is conspicuously ensuring that its future bears no resemblance to that of the general population.

- Jane Taber interviews Donald Savoie about the importance of our public service – and the decline it’s seen in recent years: What happened?

It was wrong to think that we could make the public sector look like the private sector. Well, frankly, it started with Margaret (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Nafeez Ahmed writes about the dangers of combining growing inequality and increased resource extraction: By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.

These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Eduardo Porter writes about the rise of inequality in the U.S., while Tracy McVeigh reports on the eleven-figure annual cost of inequality in the UK. And Shamus Khan discusses the connection between inequality and poverty – as well as the policy which can do the most to address both: While a tiny fraction of Americans enjoy almost all the spoils of our national growth, the majority of Americans have a radically different experience. About 40 percent of Americans will live in poverty at some point in their lives, and many (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how Brad Wall is again joining Stephen Harper in putting oil lobbying over the public interest – making excuses for doing absolutely nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.

For further reading…- I’ve written before about the federal Cons’ apparent strategy of standing in the way of consensus on action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And lest there be any doubt, the Cons have been well aware of both the need for action in order to keep their own promises – and have  responded by slashing Environment Canada for telling inconvenient truths.- (Read more…)