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Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Frances Russell writes about the corrosive effects of inequality. And Robert Reich points out one creative option California is considering to address inequality at the firm level: tying corporate tax levels to wage parity, under the theory that shareholders will then have an incentive to push for a fair distribution of wages.

- Peter Richardson reviews Matt Taibbi’s The Divide:  Taibbi explores why Wall Street bankers are seemingly exempt from criminal prosecution, even as New York City targets petty crime — much of it manufactured by police in minority neighborhoods — more (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Duncan Cameron writes that Canada needs a new political direction rather than just a new government – and offers some worthwhile suggestions as to what that might include: The inter-generational bargain needs to be renewed. Today’s workers pay for their past studies and future retirement. Investing in youth and providing for retirement has social benefits and requires collective support. Much can done through a serious progressive income tax, but notable additional sources of revenue for student grants and other social spending exist. A financial transaction tax for instance could raise an estimated (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Michael Harris writes that the Cons’ primary purpose while in power has been to hand further power and wealth to those who already have more than they know what to do with: These corporations and their political mouthpiece, the Republican Party, are Stephen Harper’s heroes. He has spent his entire political career marching Canada down the same corporate road that leads to oligarchy. He is less the prime minister of a country, than a super-salesman of corporate interests. That’s why his policies often look so wacky but aren’t. They do exactly what they (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Charles Demers points out the impact Svend Robinson has had on Canadian politics – and suggests that he should be the model for fellow progressives: Not only did Svend embody something different from the usual electioneering pabulum [sic] — a genuine belief in the righteousness and effectiveness of indigenous, environmentalist, and social movement direct action, for starters — but, as Truelove’s wonderful and readable and extremely well-researched book shows, he also showed how gadflies could still exercise real power and affect people’s lives. The episode in which Svend leads the successful campaign (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Friday reading.

- Robert Kuttner discusses Karl Polanyi’s increasingly important critique of unregulated markets and corporatist states. Sarah Kendzior writes about the latest cycle of workers stuck in poverty who are striking back against a system designed to suppress their standard of living. And Michael Rozworski examines the effect of the Cons’ temporary foreign worker focus on Canadian workers: (W)hile food attendants made up 9% of all TFW Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) issued in Canada in 2012, they comprised 17%, or almost double, of TFW LMOs in Alberta, the province that has the tightest labour market. (Read more…)

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: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Michael Harris observes that the Cons’ vote suppression tactics match the worst abuses we’d expect from the Tea Party: Stephen Harper would make a good governor of Arizona.

In addition to the lies and sleaziness his government has been serving up during its majority, its sickening reliance on marketing over truth, its dishonest use of technology in political matters, and its shameful abuse of language, the prime minister is blighting democracy in the name of political advantage.

When Stephen Harper gave Canada fixed elections dates, no one expected a whole lot more “fixing” (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Linda McQuaig responds to the CCCE’s tax spin by pointing out what’s likely motivating the false attempt to be seen to contribute to society at large: Seemingly out of the blue this week, the head honchos of Canada’s biggest companies, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, put out a media release insisting that their taxes are not too low.

This defensive posture — who mentioned murder? — reveals they fear others may be slowly catching on to the massive transfer of wealth to the richest Canadians that’s been going on for the past (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Paul Krugman’s review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century includes his commentary on our new gilded age: Still, today’s economic elite is very different from that of the nineteenth century, isn’t it? Back then, great wealth tended to be inherited; aren’t today’s economic elite people who earned their position? Well, Piketty tells us that this isn’t as true as you think, and that in any case this state of affairs may prove no more durable than the middle-class society that flourished for a generation after World War II. The big (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: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Mitchell Anderson discusses Canada’s woeful excuse for negotiations with the oil sector – particularly compared to the lasting social benefits secured by Norway in making the best of similar reserves: Digging through the numbers, it seems Norway is considerably more skilled at negotiation. By charging higher taxes and investing equity ownership in their own production, the Norwegian taxpayer was paid $46.29 BOE in 2012. That same year, the U.K. taxpayer realized only $20.08 per BOE — less than half as much.

What about Canada? Much of our production is bitumen, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Macdonald studies Canada’s massive (and growing) wealth gap, and proposes some thoughtful solutions to ensure that growth in wealth results in at least some shared benefits: Attempting to limit inequality through traditional measures like restricting RRSP contributions or introducing new tax brackets for high income individuals generally won’t apply to substantial wealth holdings. The wealth generated by The Wealthy 86 was done through creating or trading assets, mostly companies, not through saving and investing money in the middle-class sense.

One the largest legal loopholes for the wealthy in Canada is that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On lasting influence

Murray Dobbin continues his quest to push for more big ideas from the federal NDP here. But it’s worth dividing his take into one theory well worth applying, and one which would be entirely counterproductive.

At the outset, I’ll agree with Dobbin’s take that a number of the NDP’s current policy themes reflect defensive positions or basic oppositional choices rather than a bold push into new political space: Megan Leslie lists a number of NDP policies which she describes as “bold,” but with all due respect, most are defensive, involve resisting Stephen Harper’s anti-democratic agenda, or are long-standing policies that (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: 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: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Joe Fiorito discusses the spread of income inequality in Canada. And Doug Henwood reviews Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, while wondering what will follow from the empirical observation that accumulated wealth tends to perpetuate itself to the detriment of most of the population: The core message of this enormous and enormously important book can be delivered in a few lines: Left to its own devices, wealth inevitably tends to concentrate in capitalist economies. There is no “natural” mechanism inherent in the structure of such economies for inhibiting, much less reversing, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paul Krugman expands on the Republicans’ insistence on privileging inherited wealth over individual work: (N)ot only don’t most Americans own businesses, but business income, and income from capital in general, is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people. In 1979 the top 1 percent of households accounted for 17 percent of business income; by 2007 the same group was getting 43 percent of business income, and 75 percent of capital gains. Yet this small elite gets all of the G.O.P.’s love, and most of its policy (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: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Edward Robinson laments the willingness of European centre-left parties to abandon any attempt to argue against austerity even when the evidence shows that’s the right position to take: Centre-left parties in Europe appear to have completely lost the argument for pragmatic fiscal policy, much in the way that US Democrats seemed to lose their own case precisely at the moment when stimulus was working. Consider again how little financial commitment it would have taken to have shored-up confidence in Greek sovereign debt via Eurobonds. Greek debt in 2010 represented only 3.6% (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…)