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Bill Longstaff: The Pope, the Prime Minister and Naomi Klein

Pope Francis has made it very clear that he is profoundly concerned about what we are doing to life on our planet. He has particularly made it clear to Canadians. Earlier this month he gave an audience to our prime minister. It lasted all of 10 minutes and ended with an awkward photo op. The . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: The Pope, the Prime Minister and Naomi Klein

Bill Longstaff: Alberta woes—It ain’t the economy, stupid

Here in Alberta, energy superpower, we are going through the bust part of one of our infamous boom and bust cycles. The premier is weighing the government’s options. Cutting MLA salaries, imposing health-care premiums and hiking post-secondary tuition are some of the ideas mentioned. He has even floated the possibility of adjusting the province’s regressive . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Alberta woes—It ain’t the economy, stupid

Bill Longstaff: Are we gambling our economy on the tar sands?

Depending heavily for jobs, profits and taxes on our most rapidly increasing source of greenhouse gas emissions is environmental folly. It may mean more economic prosperity in the short term, but by contributing to global warming, it will undermine economic prosperity, and a lot else, in the long term. It is a dangerous dependence. And . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Are we gambling our economy on the tar sands?

Bill Longstaff: Saudi arms sales—the triumph of economics over morality

If nothing else, it illustrates how, in the world of international relations, economics trumps morality. I refer to General Dynamics Land Systems Canada landing a deal to sell light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. The deal was announced last month by International Trade Minister Ed Fast who praised it as a major success for Canadian diplomacy.

. . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Saudi arms sales—the triumph of economics over morality

Bill Longstaff: The global economy—a case of bad engineering

For a number of years I toiled in the oil industry as an engineer, and not infrequently lessons I learned from my engineering experience return to inform me in other contexts. Recently I have been thinking of the global economy in such terms, and it fails miserably to pass the test of good engineering.

When . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: The global economy—a case of bad engineering

Bill Longstaff: Capitalism—an irrational system in an age of climate change

Capitalism is generally recognized as having one great strength. That, of course, is as a creator of wealth. Aided by the remarkable advance of technology (some would say inspired and facilitated by capitalism) it has created wealth unknown before in human history.

Capitalism is also generally recognized as having one great weakness. It is a . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Capitalism—an irrational system in an age of climate change

Bill Longstaff: The free trade bust

Judging by the editorial hype in the corporate press and among Conservative politicians, the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement was the greatest boon to this country since the fur trade. When the agreement celebrated its 25th anniversary in October, International Trade Minister Ed Fast claimed opponents of such agreements are “denying Canadians an opportunity to benefit . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: The free trade bust

Bill Longstaff: Europe’s shrinking economy—bad news or good?

Once again the news of a shrinking economy leaves me with mixed feelings. According to the CBC, the economy of the European Union shrank by 0.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2012 after a flat first quarter.

Surely this is bad news. The EU is heavily in debt and suffers from record unemployment—grim . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Europe’s shrinking economy—bad news or good?

Bill Longstaff: Anti-austerity mood grows for better or worse

It seems only weeks ago that austerity opponents were crying in the wind. Their words were blowing away unheard. No more. The Greeks flatly rejected austerity in a recent election and attention had to be paid. France elected a new anti-austerity president, François Hollande, and now he has been welcomed by the leader of the . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Anti-austerity mood grows for better or worse

Bill Longstaff: Co-operatives—the proven alternative to capitalism

In this, the International Year of Co-operatives, we cannot remind ourselves too often of the tried and true alternative to conventional capitalism. Co-operatives have for generations offered a more humane approach to economic activity than competitive enterprise, even while competing successfully in a capitalist marketplace. They have provided a full range of economic services at . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Co-operatives—the proven alternative to capitalism