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Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how we should take Germany’s rightful concern over investor-state dispute settlement provisions as an opportunity to reevaluate what we expect to accomplish through trade and investment agreements such as CETA.

For further reading…- Peter Clark, Michael Geist and Scott Sinclair discuss Germany’s objections to new trade agreements with Canada and the U.S. in particular, while reminding us why we should be wary of handing undue power to the corporate sector as well. And Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder and Rhea Tamara Hoffmann discuss (PDF) Germany’s past experience with ISDS in detail.- Meanwhile, Patricia Ranald notes that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Trish Garner highlights the futility of trying to answer poverty, equality and other social issues with the empty promise of low-paying “jobs! jobs! jobs!”: The central “solution” in the government’s action plan is jobs. The little money dedicated to this initiative is all directed to employment inclusion and skills training. It’s not surprising. It’s the same answer we receive when our supporters throughout the province advocate for a poverty reduction plan for B.C.  There are two important points to make in response. First, many people with disabilities are unable to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Dennis Howlett discusses what we lose when corporations are able to evade taxes, and points to some positive signs from the NDP in combating the flow of money offshore: Federal and provincial governments lose an estimated $7.8 billion in tax revenues each year because of tax havens. The scale of the problem gets larger while the federal government cuts back on health care, food safety, rail inspections, the CBC and more.

True fiscal stewardship would recognize that staunching the flow of money offshore is the better solution. Canadian taxpayers pay the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, looking at the sad similarities between Regina and Detroit, and noting that the crucial step we should take to avoid the latter’s humanitarian tragedy is to fund our commitments to workers and residents while we have the means to do so.

For further reading…- Tom McKay and Wallace Turbeville each discuss how the decision to run Detroit under corporate principles made a bad financial situation far worse. – Jon Swaine reports on the recent move to shut off water for up to 100,000 residents. Monica Davey writes about the vote to slash already-meager pensions. And Dominic Rushe (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: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Paul Krugman calls out the U.S.’ deficit scolds for continuing to invent a crisis to distract from the real problems with middling growth and high unemployment. And Bruce Johnstone singles out a few of the Cons’ talking points which have somehow become conventional wisdom without having an iota of truth to them. But in case there was any doubt why the Cons aren’t being exposed to their own patent wrongness, William Watson’s (hardly people-friendly) column explains why – as Jack Mintz manages to qualify as the least corporate-biased member of a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz writes that while we should expect natural resources to result in broad-based prosperity, Australia (much like Canada) is now turning toward the U.S. model of instead directing as much shared wealth as possible toward the privileged few: There is something deeply ironic about Abbott’s reverence for the American model in defending many of his government’s proposed “reforms.” After all, America’s economic model has not been working for most Americans. Median income in the US is lower today than it was a quarter-century ago – not because productivity has been (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- The New York Times editorial board chimes in on how Kansas serves as an ideal test case as to illusory benefits of top-end tax cuts: The 2012 cuts were among the largest ever enacted by a state, reducing the top tax bracket by 25 percent and eliminating all taxes on business profits that are reported on individual income returns. (No other state has ever eliminated all taxes on these pass-through businesses.) The cuts were arrogantly promoted by Mr. Brownback with the same disproven theory that Republicans have employed for decades: There will (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Linda McQuaig discusses how a renewed push for austerity runs directly contrary to the actual values of Canadians, who want to see their governments accomplish more rather than forcing the public to settle for less: Their formula for achieving small, disabled government is simple: slash taxes (particularly on corporations and upper-income folk), leaving government with no choice but to cut spending — or risk deficits and the wrath of Moody’s, Ivison, the National Post, etc.

The Harper government, deeply committed to this ideology, has followed the formula closely. It has slashed taxes (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

 - Joseph Heath responds to Andrew Coyne in noting that an while there’s plenty of room (and need) to better tax high personal incomes, there’s also a need to complement that with meaningful corporate taxes: (A) crucial part of the Boadway and Tremblay proposal is to increase the personal income tax rate on dividends and capital gains. That’s where the “soak the rich” part comes in. The argument — and it is an interesting argument — is that dividends are currently taxed at a lower rate in the hands of individuals, in order (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: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Mark Taliano highlights the distinction between corporate and public interests (while pointing out that both military and economic policy are all too often based on the former). And Jamie Doward discusses how the perception that government is either unwilling or unable to serve anybody besides corporate masters is turning the next generation of UK youth away from politics: The picture that emerges from an Ipsos MORI questionnaire completed by almost 2,800 pupils aged 11 to 16 is of a generation that expects little help from politicians and which resolutely believes that it (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Reich discusses how a reasonable balance of economic and political power is necessary to any protection of meaningful personal freedom: In reality, corporate free speech drowns out the free speech of ordinary people who can’t flood the halls of Congress with campaign contributions.

Freedom is the one value conservatives place above all others, yet time and again their ideal of freedom ignores the growing imbalance of power in our society that’s eroding the freedoms of most people.…The so-called “free market” is not expanding options and opportunities for most people. It’s extending (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer respond to Joseph Stiglitz by pointing out that some of the inequality arising out of capitalism has nothing to do with rules further rigged in favour of the wealthy: Although there is certainly significant substance to Stiglitz’s argument – policy decisions can have profound impacts on economic outcomes – nevertheless capitalism is far more responsible for economic inequality because of its inherent nature and its extended reach in the area of policy decisions than Stiglitz is willing to concede. To begin with, in capitalist society it is (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Atkins highlights Gallup’s latest polling showing that U.S. trust in public institutions continues to erode. And Paul Krugman notes that there’s reason for skepticism about the snake oil being peddled as economic policy in order to further enrich the already-wealthy: Why, after all, should anyone believe at this late date in supply-side economics, which claims that tax cuts boost the economy so much that they largely if not entirely pay for themselves? The doctrine crashed and burned two decades ago, when just about everyone on the right — after claiming, speciously, (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: 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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz wraps up the New York Times’ series on inequality by summarizing how the gap between the rich and the rest of us developed, as well as how it can be reduced: The American political system is overrun by money. Economic inequality translates into political inequality, and political inequality yields increasing economic inequality. In fact, as he recognizes, Mr. Piketty’s argument rests on the ability of wealth-holders to keep their after-tax rate of return high relative to economic growth. How do they do this? By designing the rules of the game (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Paul Krugman offers a response to the assertion that accumulated wealth should be considered as costless capital: (I)f there’s one thing I thought economists were trained to do, it was to be clear about opportunity cost. We should compare accumulation of dynastic wealth with some alternative use of resources – not assume, as Mankiw in effect does, that if not passed on to heirs that wealth would simply disappear. Maybe he’s assuming that the alternative would be riotous living by the current rich, but that’s not a policy alternative. In fact, what we’re (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Thomas Frank discusses the corporate takeover of U.S. politics – and how even nominally left-oriented parties are willing to go along with the corporate position even as voters regularly demand something else: One of the reasons the phrase appealed to me, 17 years ago, was my belief back then that there was something essentially brutal about raw capitalism; if the nation was to suppress the regulations and the workers’ organizations that had tamed the beast over the years—even if we did so with the best of intentions—the economy would return quite naturally (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Jackson reviews the OECD’s economic recommendations for Canada – featuring a much-needed call for fair taxes on stock options: Special tax breaks for stock options primarily benefit senior corporate executives, especially CEOs of large public companies who are commonly given the right to buy shares in the future at heavily discounted prices. Options make up a big slice of the total compensation of senior corporate executives.

90% of the benefits of the stock options tax break go to the top 1% of taxpayers. The stock options tax break costs the federal government (Read more…)

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: New column day

Here, offering a suggestion as to how to give Saskatchewan workers significantly more control over their working hours than they hold today.

For further reading…- Again, the OECD report recommending a “right to ask” for flexible hours is here (PDF). And the UK already has similar legislation.- The Saskatchewan Employment Act is available online here. And of particular note for the purposes of today’s column, see sections 2-11 to 2-14 which provide the only protection for working hours, as well as section 2-63 which creates an employee notice requirement.- Finally, for those wanting to delve into (Read more…)