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Accidental Deliberations: Staying the flawed course

John Ivison is right to note that the Cons’ latest ad reflects the Harper braintrust sticking to what seems to have been a long-established plan. But it’s worth highlighting how that plan has been overtaken by events – and how even the Libs may be able to use the message to their advantage if they’re smart in the approach to this fall’s federal election.

In principle, a “just not ready” message is tailor-made for a two-party race where a party’s ability to attach a single personality flaw to the opposing leader can make all the difference between victory and defeat.

(Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Heather Boushey writes about the Great Gatsby Curve showing a direct correlation between equality and social mobility – and conversely, that high inequality severely limits opportunity for large numbers of people. And Vikas Bajaj discusses how high inequality also harms overall economic development.

- But of course, we’ll never get policies to address those problems without a government willing to highlight the need for change and acknowledge that there are no non-controversial answers – as Sadiq Khan points out in discussing the U.K. Labour Party: (I)nsecurity reaches right up the income scale, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Michael Schwartz and Kevin Young make the case for a greater focus on influencing corporations and other institutions first and foremost – with the expectation that more fair public policy will be possible if a dominant business sector doesn’t stand in the way. David Wessel points out that many states’ tax systems are set up to exacerbate inequality. And Matthew Yglesias notes that a typical set of slap-on-the-wrist fines against banks for massive market manipulations call into question whether the U.S.’ current regulatory structure is anywhere close to sufficient to protect (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, expanding on this post about the new challenges the Cons are facing heading into this fall’s election.

For further reading…- Geoffrey Stevens offers his own take on the Cons’ weaknesses. – Meanwhile, Nik Nanos (as reported by Theophilos Argitis) focuses on the possibility of vote splitting working to the Cons’ benefit. But that analysis seems to miss the point that no amount of vote-splitting between two competitors can get the Cons into majority territory if their own support levels remain stuck in the low 30s.- And on a more interesting note, Robin Sears wonders whether the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Elizabeth Warren reminds us (PDF) that previous trade agreements were packaged with the same promises of labour and environmental standards being used to sell the latest versions – and that there’s been no enforcement whatsoever of the elements of the deals which were supposed to protect the public.

- Kriston Capps discusses the unfairness of New York’s property tax system which makes it easy for the obscenely rich to avoid paying their fair share. And Jon Stone notes that even following an election in which the Conservatives won a majority, UK voters (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Frances Woolley reminds us of some of the hidden advantages of the rich, and suggests that they point toward the fairness of taxing wealth in addition to consumption: The greatest freedom money offers is the freedom to walk away. Your bank doesn’t offer you unlimited everything with no monthly fees? Walk away. There’s always someone else who wants your money. Your phone plan is too expensive? Walk away (o.k., that may not be the best example).

People with money have alternatives, which makes their demand for goods and services elastic. Food (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Brad Delong discusses the two strains of neoliberalism which dominate far too much political discussion – and the reason why the left-oriented version doesn’t offer any plausible analysis of where we stand: (Bill) Clintonian left-neoliberalism makes two twin arguments.

The first is addressed to the left: it is that market mechanisms–properly-regulated market mechanisms–are more likely than not a better road to social democratic ends than command-and-control mechanisms.

The second is addressed to the right: it is that social democracy is the only political system that can in the long run underpin a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne writes that the great Canadian revenue debate is well underway, with far more leaders willing to push for needed taxes than in recent years: There is new political space to talk corporate taxes again, to talk about raising them. Rachel Notley, the new NDP premier of Alberta, won on a platform that promised fair taxation, raising corporate taxes, and getting a fair share of resources for citizens.

Newfoundland and Labrador must have the same conversation and review of resource royalties.

Even the federal Liberals have realized that the tide is turning (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On complexities

Bruce Anderson writes that as some of us have long suspected, a true three-party federal race is developing which will create some new complications for the Cons and Libs alike. But it’s worth pointing out one area where the Cons are in much worse shape than they’ve ever been.

Before the 2008 and 2011 elections, the Cons managed to render Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff radioactive with voters – with those leaders’ approval ratings running far below the Libs’ party polling results. And over the course of the campaign, an expected convergence between those numbers led to a natural (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Time for some adult supervision

The latest Con dodge on greenhouse gas emission regulations for the oil and gas industry is to say that they’ll promise to deal with a few collateral activities, just as long as actual production continues to receive a free pass: Aglukkaq also announced new rules to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, such as industrial leaks and gas flares, which makes up a significant portion of the industry’s total emissions.

Notably omitted, of course, is the rest of the industry’s total emissions.

So how does that painful level of parsing to avoid what has to be done (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Matthew Yglesias points out that a particular income level may have radically different implications depending on an individual’s place in life, and that we can only address inequality by formulating policy accordingly: The median household income in the United States is about $52,000. So go ahead and picture a median-income household. What did you picture?

Did you picture a 25-year-old with a decent job who’s maybe worried about student loans but is basically doing okay? Or did you picture a married pair of 45-year-olds who are both full-time workers stuck in kinda crappy (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz laments the corporate takeover of policy-making processes, including by imposing trade rules which impede democratic decision-making: The real intent of [investor protection] provisions is to impede health, environmental, safety, and, yes, even financial regulations meant to protect America’s own economy and citizens. Companies can sue governments for full compensation for any reduction in their future expected profits resulting from regulatory changes.  This is not just a theoretical possibility. Philip Morris is suing Uruguay and Australia for requiring warning labels on cigarettes. Admittedly, both countries went a little further than (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On democratic blockages

I’ve previously pointed out a few of the worrisome ways in which the Cons might try to cling to power after the next federal election even if they’d stand to lose any fairly run confidence vote.

But let’s add one more which the Cons have now publicly sanctioned: security “slippage” which has the potentially convenient effect of preventing MPs from voting in Parliament.

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Andrew Nikiforuk offers his suggestions as to how Rachel Notley can improve Alberta’s economy and political scene in her first term in office. And thwap comments on the right’s more hysterical responses to Notley’s victory.

- Meanwhile, Duncan Cameron writes that Albertans have joined the rest of Canada in rejecting a regressive tax system. And Louis-Philippe Rochon reminds us that there’s still plenty more which needs to be done on that front at the federal level.

- Justin Ling discusses how C-51 fits into a wider pattern of intrusive surveillance plans – even (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On powers of appointment

Andrew Coyne has rightly pointed out the gall the Senate is showing in nixing Michael Chong’s watered-down Reform Act (even if there’s something to a few of the criticisms). But let’s not miss the most absurd suggestion of all as to who should be given increased power over a party’s leadership (emphasis added): “I just don’t think this kind of things should be left in the hands of caucus, when our process for electing leaders [is] in the hands of the grassroots,” [Con Senator David] Wells said. He suggested the bill be amended to require a minimum consent of 50 (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Will McMartin highlights the fact that constant corporate tax slashing has done nothing other than hand ever-larger piles of money to businesses who have no idea what to do with it. But Josh Wingrove reports that Justin Trudeau is looking for excuses to keep up the handouts to the corporate sector.

- Joseph Stiglitz offers (PDF) a thorough review of our options in lessening corporate hegemony, while Elizabeth Warren and Rosa Delauro ask why citizens should accept trade agreements being written in secret by and for the corporate sector. And David Dayen (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh highlights how Ontario employers are exploiting temporary workers rather than making any effort to offer jobs which can support a life: Under Ontario’s antiquated Employment Standards Act, which is currently under review, there is no limit on how long a company can employ a worker as temporary before giving him or her a permanent job.

There is nothing to stop employers from paying temp workers less than their permanent counterparts, nothing to prevent them from hiring their entire workforce on a “temporary” basis if they so choose.

“If the employer knows (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: The oppressive market

Shorter Cons: Talking about not buying goods is officially a punishable offence.

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- The Vancouver Sun interviews Andrew MacLeod about his new book on inequality in British Columbia. And Tanara Yelland talks to Guy Standing about the need for governments responsive to the needs of the precariat: One central demand Standing makes is for the establishment of a universal basic income. Having the Canadian government provide all citizens (or all residents regardless of citizenship status, if you want to get really radical) would allow people to live without fear of things like starvation and homelessness, and would actually, according to research done on the subject, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- CBC follows up on the connection between childhood poverty and increased health-care costs later in life. And Sunny Freeman points out how the living wage planned by Rachel Notley’s NDP figures to benefit Alberta’s economy in general.

- Meanwhile, William Gardner laments our lack of accurate information on health and well-being in the wake of the Cons’ census shredding, particularly among exactly the marginalized communities who are most likely to need help.

- And Richard Thaler reminds us why it’s foolish to assume that people and economies can be treated as if they’ll (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- PressProgress weighs in on corporate Canada’s twelve-figure tax avoidance, while noting that the Cons’ decision to slash enforcement against tax cheats (while attacking charities instead) goes a long way toward explaining the amount of money flowing offshore. And Oxfam is working on its own Canadian fair tax campaign.

- Robert Frank highlights the complete disconnect from reality which results in most American millionaires claiming that they’re in the middle class, rather than representing a privileged few. And Stephen Gordon writes that there’s a similar sleight of hand at work in the Libs’ “middle (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Michael Kraus, Shai Davidai and A. David Nussbaum discuss the myth of social mobility in the U.S. And Nicholas Kristof writes that inequality is a choice rather than an inevitability: Yet while we broadly lament inequality, we treat it as some natural disaster imposed upon us. That’s absurd. The roots of inequality are complex and, to some extent, reflect global forces, but they also reflect our policy choices. In his new book, “The Great Divide,” Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, includes two chapters whose titles sum it up: “Inequality (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lynne Fernandez properly labels the Cons’ federal budget as the “inequality budget”. Andrew Jackson discusses how we’ve ended up in a new Gilded Age in Canada, and what we can do to extricate ourselves from it. And BC BookLook reviews Andrew MacLeod’s new book on inequality by pointing out some of the important facts which seldom seem to surface elsewhere.

- Speaking of which, Andrew Nikiforuk exposes how the Alberta PCs handed the oil industry $13 billion in free money by failing to correct a miscalculation as to how royalties would change with (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Robert Reich offers a long-form look at the relationship between inequality and policies designed to extract riches for the wealthy at everybody else’s expense: The underlying problem, then, is not that most Americans are “worth” less in the market than they had been, or that they have been living beyond their means. Nor is it that they lack enough education to be sufficiently productive. The more basic problem is that the market itself has become tilted ever more in the direction of moneyed interests that have exerted disproportionate influence over it, while (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Louis-Philippe Rochon reviews the Cons’ track record as irresponsible economic and financial managers. Statistics Canada looks at the debt picture facing Canadians and finds young workers and families in particular fighting against increasing debt loads. And Forum finds that no matter how many hangers-on trumpet the theme of budget management, Canadians aren’t at all impressed by the Cons’ choice to funnel wealth upward and leave everybody else to fend for themselves.

- Meanwhile, John Ivison writes that the Cons aren’t even trying to pretend that their tax baubles serve any public policy purpose (Read more…)