Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Danyaal Raza and Edward Xie write that a well-designed city environment can make all the difference in enabling individuals to live healthy lives: What if city council took our health into account when designing neighbourhoods? An idea gaining favour in major cities around the world is “complete streets,” a city-planning concept that promotes development of streets usable by all citizens, whether they are pedestrians, cyclists, drivers or transit users. As things stand now, getting to schools, parks and stores without a car is only a dream for residents without the lush tree cover, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Pierre Beaulne discusses the inequality-related problems and solutions brought into the spotlight by Thomas Piketty, and notes that they can’t simply be swept under the rug: When all is said and done, the capitalist globalization has boosted economic growth for a certain time, but has by the same token greatly increased income inequalities and exacerbated wealth concentration. Tax breaks for the highest incomes and social spending cuts have intensified the trend. In Canada, for instance, the top marginal income tax rate at the federal level has gone down from 43% in 1981 to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig criticizes the Cons’ use of the tax system to try to silence charities who don’t match their political message: PEN now joins Amnesty International, the David Suzuki Foundation, Canada Without Poverty, the United Church and other groups that, having criticized an array of Harper policies, have been obliged to devote precious resources to defending themselves from a special probe of charities ordered by the Harper government.

This beefing-up of tax audits of charities is particularly striking when compared to Harper’s laid-back approach to auditing the real bad guys: corporations and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Vineeth Sekharan debunks the myth that a job represents a reliable path out of poverty, while reminding us that there’s one policy choice which could eradicate poverty altogether: A job alone does not guarantee freedom from poverty. In fact, in 2012, at least one member of the household was employed in a staggering 44% of all poor households. Even in situations where an individual is employed, there may still be the need for income supplements, as well as educational and employment supports.

This is partially because of the monumental changes that have occurred (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Sarah Jaffe examines the “bad business fee” proposal which would require employers who pay wages below public assistance levels – receiving work while forcing the public to subsidize their employees’ livelihood – to at least make up the difference: As inequality has become a hot-button issue, the solutions on offer tend to focus either on taxing the extremely wealthy or on raising workers’ wages. What makes the bad business fee particularly attractive is that it does both of those things. It makes the connection conceptually between the low wages at the bottom (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Mariana Mazzucato writes about the need for governments to shape markets through their own investments, rather than acting only to serve existing business interests: The idea that at best the public sector can fix “market failures” and “de-risk” business, means that when the banks become too active in an area, they are accused of “crowding out” the private sector. That is, of taking up too big of a share of total investments (all of which in the end must be financed from savings). While some Keynesians defend such investments by arguing they actually (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Katrina vanden Heuvel criticizes the U.S. Democrats’ move away from discussing inequality by in favour of platitudes about opportunity for the middle class. And while Matthew Yglesias may be correct in responding that the messaging change hasn’t resulted in much difference in Democratic policy proposals, it’s certainly significant when a political party makes the choice to take poverty and inequality off the table as a vital part of the argument for its policy consensus.

- Meanwhile, Stephen Elliott-Buckley reminds us that the 1% tends to get its way in policy debates (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Carol Linnitt observes that the Canadian public supports a shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy by a 76-24% margin – even as they overestimate Canada’s economic returns from oil and gas.

- Meanwhile, Alison takes a look at the spread of (primarily oil-funded) advertorials in Canadian media.

- Kate Heartfield writes that even if the Cons’ cuts to refugee health hadn’t crossed the line into unconstitutionality, we should still consider them to be unconscionable from a policy-making perspective: Even if you come away unconvinced of the soundness of the court’s conclusion, it (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jessica McDiarmid reports on the hazardous materials being shipped by rail across North America – and it’s particularly sad that Canadians can only learn about the risks being imposed on us through a U.S. guide. But lest we be under any illusions that our neighbours have an enviable record in managing their own risks, Claire Moser reports that even identified high-risk oil and gas wells in the U.S. aren’t being inspected.

- And of course, that figures to have much to do with the fossil fuel industry’s domination of politics (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Benjamin Shingler reports on the push for a basic annual income in Canada. And Christopher Blattman notes that cash serves as a valuable treatment for poverty wherever one diagnoses the disease: The poor do not waste grants. Recently, two World Bank economists looked at 19 cash transfer studies in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Almost all showed alcohol and tobacco spending fell or stayed the same. Only two showed any significant increase, and even there the evidence was mixed. You might worry handouts encourage idleness. But in most experiments, people worked more after (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Thomas Frank interviews Barry Lynn about the U.S.’ alarming concentration of wealth and power. Henry Blodget thoroughly rebuts the myth that “rich people create jobs”. And David Atkins goes a step further in discussing how hoarded wealth hurts the economy in general – with a particularly apt observation about how inequality erodes our social connections: It is not an accident that trust in major institutions has declined on a linear track with rising inequality. Study after study has shown that trust in our fellow citizens and in institutions at (Read more…)

Left Over: Our Home Is Native Land….

Tsilhqot’in First Nation granted B.C. title claim in Supreme Court ruling Top court’s decision today resolves legal questions following 2012 B.C. Court of Appeal ruling

CBC News Posted: Jun 26, 2014 9:59 AM ET Last Updated: Jun 26, 2014 11:21 AM ET

As I’ve always sung it, and now I can feel a bit more smug about it:

Oh Canada – Our home is native land

Thanks to the Supremes, once again, for their ruling, and for so not being the US Supreme Court, and not politicizing, but instead voting unanimously for the right decision…

Now (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Harry Stein discusses how government policy is currently designed to exacerbate inequality by subsidizing the concentration of wealth: This issue brief puts aside the question of whether new policies, such as a global wealth tax, should be enacted to reduce economic inequality. Instead, it explores two existing policies that actually subsidize wealth inequality. First, reduced tax rates on capital gains and dividends increase the after-tax rate of return on wealth, which makes it more likely that the rate of return on capital will exceed the overall economic growth rate. Second, capital gains (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Suzanne Goldenberg discusses the World Bank’s findings that a smart set of policies to combat climate change can actually improve global economic growth. And Duncan Cameron makes clear that the perpetual austerity demanded by the same parties who insist we can’t afford to act on climate change serves only to make sure that growth doesn’t benefit workers: Dating back to the 1980s, CUPE studies by John Calvert and his successor Toby Sanger, have shown how wages have consistently lagged economic growth. Both Andrew Jackson, and now Angela McEwan of the CLC have (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Bryce Covert rightly challenges the claim that poverty bears any relationship to an unwillingness to work – along with other attempts to blame the poor for their condition: In fact, the majority of able-bodied, adult, non-elderly poor people worked in 2012, according to a data analysis by economist Jared Bernstein. There were about 21 million non-disabled, poor adults that year, and about half of them, or 11 million, worked. Another 3 million didn’t work because they were in school. If those in school are taken out of the picture, 57 percent (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Happy [REDACTED] Day!

Building on Nickie’s idea, I figured we’ll all feel a bit more festive this Canada Day using a Canadian flag as approved and redacted by the Cons and their Public Safety department.

Enjoy!

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Rick Salutin discusses how corruption has become endemic in the global economy as an inevitable consequence of me-first values: You wouldn’t have those CEO pig-outs absent neo-liberalism’s moral model: get rich not just quick but hugely. As Kevin O’Leary loves saying, and CBC plasters on its promos: God put us here to get rich. Note it’s a public broadcaster where he barks that and no one contests it. (I consider Amanda Lang’s ripostes pro forma.)

Since there’s no counter model (excluding, maybe, the pope) it becomes almost embarrassing not to grab for (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: !!!***BREAKING***!!! THE FIX IS STILL IN!!!

Plenty of commentators theorized this week that the Cons might pay some heed to public opinion when it comes to the Northern Gateway pipeline.

But let’s remember where this process all started: from the beginning, the Cons consistently decreed that nobody was permitted to say “no”. And we can hardly be surprised that they’ve ended a review process which was never intended to allow for any other answer by decreeing that Enbridge shall have its way.

Accidental Deliberations: On greatness

Plenty of commentators have pointed to Dean Beeby’s report on public consultations about Canada’s most inspiring people as evidence that Stephen Harper and his Cons couldn’t be much further from the mark. And that point is fair enough on its own.

But it’s worth noting something else as well: respondents to the Canadian Heritage Department’s survey seem to have drawn a close link between political greatness, and signature achievements in institution-building: The Canadian Heritage Department extracted a Top 10 list for an April 29 briefing note for the minister, Shelly Glover.

Only one clearly identifiable Conservative appears: Sir John A. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne discusses the need to address inequality through our political system. But that will require significant pressure from exactly the citizens who have decided they’re not well served by today’s political options – and Trish Hennessy’s look at Canadian voter turnout reminds us of the desperate need for improvement.

- Meanwhile, Tim Harford points out just how far we’ve gone in focusing on dollars over all other considerations – as even Scotland’s referendum on independence is being spun mostly as a matter of dueling fiscal projections rather than community, culture or other (Read more…)

Left Over: Hey MacDougall, Try Google!

OPINION

Commenters snipe from sidelines, but the kids in short pants are all right It’s time to name and shame anonymous commenters who insult people working to improve Canada

By Andrew MacDougall, for CBC News Posted: Jun 13, 2014 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Jun 13, 2014 5:00 AM ET

 

MacDougall, finish eating that big ol’ hunka steamin’ Ontario crow before you whine about anything else…and BTW, although I may use a nom de plume when commenting (don’t tweet, that’s for twits) or blogging, any time you want to find out who I am, just go to one of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Richard Shillington studies the Cons’ income-splitting scheme for the Broadbent Institute, and finds that it’s even more biased toward the wealthy than previously advertised: • The average benefit of income splitting across all households is only $185, though nine out of 10 households will receive nothing. When one factors in the $3 billion cost in lost federal revenues that will result from this tax policy, income splitting stands to impose net costs on many Canadian households.

• To gain from income splitting, a family with children under 18 must have two parents in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Buttonwood weighs in on the disproportionate influence of the ultra-rich when it comes to making policy choices which affect all of us: But the analysis backs up earlier work by Larry Bartels of Princeton, author of a book called “Unequal Democracy”, and the general thesis of the late political scientist, Mancur Olson, that government can be in hock to special interests. This may be truer in America than elsewhere since its campaign-finance laws are so liberal: $6 billion was spent on the 2012 elections. This system forces candidates to spend much of their (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Emmett Macfarlane and Justin Ling both weigh in on the Cons’ newly-unveiled prostitution legislation – which seems downright calculated to exacerbate the risks to sex workers’ lives and safety that resulted in the previous version being struck down as unconstitutional.

- And on the subject of policy designed entirely out of prejudiced desire to punish and exclude marginalized groups, Christopher Ingraham writes about a study showing that restrictive voter ID laws arise out of discriminatory intent.

- Newsweek takes note of the Harper Cons’ gag order against meteorologists informing the public about (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Neil Irwin highlights the reality that top-heavy economic growth has done nothing to reduce poverty in the U.S. over the past 40 years: In Kennedy’s era, [the "rising tide lifts all boats" theory] had the benefit of being true. From 1959 to 1973, the nation’s economy per person grew 82 percent, and that was enough to drive the proportion of the poor population from 22 percent to 11 percent. But over the last generation in the United States, that simply hasn’t happened. Growth has been pretty good, up 147 percent per capita. (Read more…)