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Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jay Baron Nicorvo discusses how the myth of U.S. meritocracy serves largely as a means of funneling profits toward the 1%. And Mary Hansen points out one way of fighting back against evolving forms of corporate power – being the development of new, cooperative alternatives to businesses designed to exploit workers.

- David Korten highlights a few of the most obvious dangers in the Trans-Pacific Partnership as just the latest and most draconian agreement intended to lock anti-democratic principles in as a restriction on government decision-making. And ICIJ and the Huffington Post (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Henry Mintzberg rightly challenges the myth of a “level playing field” when it comes to our economic opportunities: Let’s level with each other. What we call a “level playing field” for economic development is played with Western rules on Southern turf, so that the New York Giants can take on some high school team from Timbuktu. The International Monetary Fund prepares the terrain and the World Trade Organization referees the game. Guess who wins.

The rules of this game have been written by people educated in the economic canon of the already (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On foundational assumptions

Shorter John Geddes: Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed. And so the miserable results of Stephen Harper’s consistent privatization, free trade obsession and corporate tax slashing don’t count as a conservative record.

Accidental Deliberations: The definition of privilege

Connor Kilpatrick is right to observe that while we should be willing to take note of privilege in many forms, we should be especially concerned with organizing to counter the grossly outsized influence of the very few at the top whose whims are typically allowed to override the common good.

But there’s a handy dividing line available to assess the difference. After all, there’s already been plenty of work done in sorting out who has the most influence on the U.S. political system.

On the best evidence available, any privilege associated with middle-class status or involvement in mass movement (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, discussing James Coleman’s research paper on the different messages corporations send to regulators as opposed to shareholders when it comes to proposed regulatory policies – and how it signals the need to be extremely skeptical when the business lobby complains that a policy will affect jobs or economic development.

For further reading…- Isolda Agazzi discusses how the CETA is designed to force governments to take corporate spin at face value. – Matthew Yglesias points out how Jeb Bush figures to continue his brother’s habit of handing Wall Street everything it could possibly ask for.- And Robert (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Noah Smith writes that the renewable energy revolution is further along than was projected just a few years ago: Each of these trends — cheaper batteries and cheaper solar electricity — is good on its own, and on the margin will help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, with all the geopolitical drawbacks and climate harm they entail. But together, the two cost trends will add up to nothing less than a revolution in the way humankind interacts with the planet and powers civilization.

You see, the two trends reinforce each other. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Dean Baker reminds us that we shouldn’t let ourselves get distracted from the serious problems with inequality when defenders of the status quo try to change the subject to mobility: (M)any of the policies that would most obviously promote equality also promote growth. For example, a Fed policy committed to high employment, even at the risk of somewhat higher rates of inflation, would lead to stronger wage growth at the middle and bottom of the wage ladder, while also likely leading to more investment and growth.…It is also important to remember that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Saturday reading.

- Lana Payne writes that we’re seeing exactly the results we should expect from Stephen Harper’s foolish choice to push money upward: A recent Globe and Mail story, using data from Statistics Canada, pointed out just how poorly the job market is doing under Stephen Harper’s leadership.

“Employment growth has been below 1 per cent for 15 months in a row.  The longest stretch … outside of recessions in almost 40 years of record-keeping,” according to the article by economics reporter Tavia Grant.

At the same time, corporate Canada is flush with cash, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Margot Sanger-Katz writes about the connection between inequality and poor health. Nicolas Fitz reminds us that even people concerned about inequality may underestimate how serious it is. And BJ Siekierski asks what will happen to Canada’s economy in terms of both growth and equity as unsustainable resource and real estate booms come to an end.

- Of course, we could help matters by not burning billions of public dollars where they’re needed least. On that front, David MacDonald compares the Cons’ actual budget plans to the far more productive uses of public (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Kevin Carson discusses David Graeber’s insight into how privatization and deregulation in their present form represent the ultimate use of state power to serve special interests at the expense of the public: What mainstream American political discourse calls “deregulation” is nothing of the sort. There is no major constituency for deregulation in the American political system — just competing (and in fact considerably overlapping) agendas on what regulatory mix to put in place. There is not, and could not, be such a thing as an “unregulated” bank, Graeber argues, because banks “are (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Simon Wren-Lewis connects the UK’s counterproductive austerity program to the lack of any wage growth. And Gary Lamphier observes that Alberta is serving as a case in point that jobs generated through public policy rigged in favour of the wealthy are no less precarious than any other type, while Erin Anderssen comments on the connection between public-sector work and greater wage equality.

- Adam Liptak writes that the First Amendment’s protection for speech – like so many other rights which have been redefined to suit the powerful – is now serving primarily (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: About that "Of the People, By the People, For the People" Business? Forget About It.

Proof positive that America is a corporatist state saddled with a “bought and paid for” Congress.

The big US banks have given the Democrats an ultimatum – silence progressives like Elizabeth Warren or we’ll cut off our funding.  Salon.com calls it “Wall Street’s political shakedown.“

If ever you doubted that our obscene campaign finance regime constitutes a form of legalized bribery, consider this: Reuters reports today that officials at top Wall Street banks recently convened to discuss how they could convince Democrats “to soften their party’s tone” toward the financial industry, and among the options now (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: A seat at the table

Richard Trumka’s address and the subsequent response panel at the Progress Summit have aptly addressed issues in trying to strengthen the grassroots of the labour movement. But Trumka’s focus on trade agreements also raises a related question which may not easily be dealt with at the grassroots level.

As I alluded to in this week’s column, governments are increasingly presuming that big businesses need to be at the table in all kinds of policy development which is even ancillary to the economy.

It may not be easy to tell our corporate overlords that they can’t have direct access to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Dennis Howlett reminds us that we can raise enough money to strengthen our social safety net merely by ensuring that a relatively small group of privileged people pays its fair share. And Seth Stephens-Davidowitz examines the glaring nepotism which festers in the absence of some policy counterweights.

- But Robert Kuttner offers seven reasons why the 99% keeps losing on policy grounds despite having the obvious theoretical ability to ensure reasonable political outcomes. In a similar vein, Sean McElwee discusses the connection between racism and poverty politics in the U.S.

- Meanwhile, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Michael Babad writes that we should be glad to see jobs being created in the public sector since the private sector is doing nothing to offer opportunities for Canadians. And Andrew Jackson discusses how Quebec’s progressive economic model has served it well, while offering an example which other provinces should be eager to follow.

- Konrad Yakabuski weighs in on the need for pharmacare to make an essential element of health care universally accessible. But while Brent Patterson agrees that we should be pursuing pharmacare, he also warns that ill-advised trade agreements may (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: The Three Eras of Canada’s Democracy or How We Got to Where We Are Today.

I first voted in the 60s and I’ve watched Canadian democracy evolve, not always in a good way, ever since.

I’ve witnessed three political eras in my lifetime.

There was an era of rights and freedoms, the years of Diefenbaker, Pearson and Trudeau.  Some might not realize it but Diefenbaker was a true champion of human rights.  Pearson brought Canada to the world stage as honest broker and peacekeeper.  Trudeau, of course, patriated the constitution and left us with perhaps the most important legislative enactment in our country’s history, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  That was the zenith of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the need and opportunity to show some vision in our provincial budgeting and planning – even if the Wall government has no interest in bothering.

For further reading…- I posted previously on the Sask Party’s habit of locking Saskatchewan into ill-advised long-term contracts which serve nobody’s interests but the corporations involved. – Karri Munn-Venn discusses the UK Energy Research Centre’s report on which fossil fuels we can afford to exploint here. – Likewise, Ivan Semeniuk and Shawn McCarthy report on the Acting on Climate Change study showing how Canada can eliminate the use of non-renewable power (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Harvey Kaye discusses how the rich’s class warfare against everybody else has warped the U.S. politically and economically. And PressProgress observes that the Cons’ reactionary politics have produced miserable results for Canadian workers.

- Which isn’t to say the Cons plan to learn any lessons anytime soon, as James Fitz-Morris reports on the PBO’s report showing how little anybody stands to gain from the massive cost of income-splitting. And Frances Woolley points out the utter frivolity of other vote-buying tax baubles, while also lamenting how much time is being spent studying (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jon Talton discusses how the increased automation of our economy stands to disempower workers and exacerbate inequality if it’s not combined with some serious countervailing public policy moves. Peter Gosselin and Jennifer Oldham comment on the broken link between productivity and wages. And Conor Dougherty and Quentin Hardy expose how employers are cheating employment laws by using game-style rewards for employees who overwork themselves.

- Meanwhile, Amien Essif points to Germany’s paid internship model as one way of ensuring people aren’t squeezed at their most vulnerable point while entering the workforce.

- Lucy (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- For those looking for information about today’s day of action against C-51, Leadnow and Rabble both have details.

- Meanwhile, CBC reports that a professor merely taking pictures on public land near a proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline site is already being harassed by the RCMP under current law. Tonda MacCharles notes that lawyers currently involved in dealing with classified-evidence cases have joined the call to rein in the Cons’ terror bill, while PressProgress points out that airlines are also raising serious concerns about the unfettered power handed to a single minister to dictate (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Following up on last week’s column, Frances Ryan laments the UK Conservatives’ choice to inflict needless suffering on anybody receiving public benefits: During seven weeks of undercover work at a universal credit contact centre in Bolton, Channel 4 journalists witnessed a farcical mess of centralised IT failure. But what really stood out were the underhand tactics DWP staff were found to use against claimants: from deliberately withholding hardship payments from people struggling after having their benefits sanctioned, to hiding the flexible fund put in place to pay for clothes or a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On unwanted obligations

Mike McKinnon reports that austerity elsewhere isn’t being applied to continued seven-figure spending on a Lean tour. But it’s particularly worth noting how that particular money pit is still drawing Saskatchewan citizens’ money even as the provincial government cries poor at every other opportunity: The Saskatchewan government’s freeze on non-essential travel does not include costly trips to the United States for staff to be trained in Lean methods.

Seven of the so-called “Lean tours” were planned between Jan. 1 and Mar. 31, at a cost of $8,900 per person, per trip. With 20 people on each tour, the total cost (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Emily Badger discusses Robert Putnam’s work on the many facets of increasing inequality in the U.S.: For the past three years, Putnam has been nursing an outlandish ambition. He wants inequality of opportunity for kids to be the central issue in the 2016 presidential election. Not how big government should be or what the “fair share” is for the wealthy, but what’s happening to children boxed out of the American dream.

His manifesto, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” will be published Tuesday. It places brain science, sociology (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Robert Reich discusses how outsized corporate influence in the U.S. has kept the general public from sharing in any nominal economic improvements: The U.S. economy is picking up steam but most Americans aren’t feeling it. By contrast, most European economies are still in bad shape, but most Europeans are doing relatively well.

What’s behind this? Two big facts.

First, American corporations exert far more political influence in the United States than their counterparts exert in their own countries.

In fact, most Americans have no influence at all. That’s the conclusion of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Carol Graham discusses the high financial and personal costs of poverty: Reported stress levels are higher on average in the U.S. than in Latin America. Importantly, the gap between the levels of the rich and poor is also much greater, with the U.S. poor reporting the highest levels of stress of all cohorts. Of course ‘stress’ is a complex phenomenon, however: “Good” stress is associated with the pursuit of goals, while “bad” stress is associated with struggling to cope. Bad stress, which is associated with an inability to plan ahead, (Read more…)