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Susan on the Soapbox: Air Horn Politics

“We’re all seriously suffering from a kind of Trump derangement syndrome…he uses up so much of the oxygen and it’s like having…a big air horn installed in your head and you just can’t get away from it.”— Garry Trudeau, the … Continue reading . . . → Read More: Susan on the Soapbox: Air Horn Politics

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- Graham Lowe and Frank Graves examine the state of Canada’s labour market, and find a strong desire among workers for an activist government to ensure improved pay equality and social supports. Oxfam reaches sim… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

– Bill Moyers writes about the conflict between the wealthy few seeking to preserve their privilege, and the balance of society seeking fairness for everybody:

I keep in my files a warning published in [The Economist] a dozen years ago, on the eve of George W. Bush’s second term. The editors concluded back then that, with income inequality in the United States reaching levels not seen since the first Gilded Age and social mobility diminishing, “the United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society.”

And mind you, that was before the financial meltdown of 2007–08, before the bailout of Wall Street, before the recession that only widened the gap between the super-rich and everyone else. Ever since then, the great sucking sound we’ve been hearing is wealth heading upwards. The United States now has a level of income inequality unprecedented in our history and so dramatic it’s almost impossible to wrap one’s mind around.

Contrary to what the president said at Rutgers, this is not the way the world works; it’s the way the world is made to work by those with the money and power. The movers and shakers—the big winners—keep repeating the mantra that this inequality was inevitable, the result of the globalization of finance and advances in technology in an increasingly complex world. Those are part of the story, but only part. As G.K. Chesterton wrote a century ago, “In every serious doctrine of the destiny of men, there is some trace of the doctrine of the equality of men. But the capitalist really depends on some religion of inequality.”

…The winners bought off the gatekeepers, then gamed the system. And when the fix was in, they turned our economy into a feast for the predators, “saddling Americans with greater debt, tearing new holes in the safety net, and imposing broad financial risks on Americans as workers, investors, and taxpayers.” The end result, Hacker and Pierson conclude, is that the United States is looking more and more like the capitalist oligarchies of Brazil, Mexico, and Russia, where most of the wealth is concentrated at the top while the bottom grows larger and larger with everyone in between just barely getting by. 

– Chris Lehmann reviews Brooke Harrington’s Capital Without Borders as a useful look at how “wealth management” serves to sever wealth from social responsibility. But Canadians for Tax Fairness point out some good news in the CRA’s response to the Panama Papers – including audits of 60 individuals and corporations caught in the offshoring scheme.

– Unfortunately, John Ivison suspects that the Libs are gearing up to push through the Trans-Pacific Partnership to further the trend toward corporate control.

– Phillip Inman reports on the latest study from Global Justice Now showing that corporations are pushing further up the list of the world’s largest economic entities, leaving an increasing number of countries behind. But there may be some opportunity to direct that news toward positive ends: if we’re going to need some outlet for Canadian national pride, surely staying ahead of Wal-Mart should be a reasonable minimum standard for global relevance.

– Finally, Kendall Worth offers some suggestions as to how to teach students about poverty in order to better understand the lives of people in their communities. Alana Semuels points out how the U.S. in particular has gone in the opposite direction by setting up institutional barriers to any serious economic study of inequality. And Peter Armstrong discusses how traditional economic policy is failing to produce the growth that would normally be expected – with a top-heavy distribution of wealth and power looming as the prime culprit. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Canadian Debt

Jeremy Harrison, minister of the economy pointed to the fact the average Canadian family needs 42.8 per cent of its pre-tax income for housing while the average in Saskatchewan is 28.6 per cent. “So I think that speaks as to the affordability of living here in this province,” said Harrison. John Hopkins, CEO of the […] . . . → Read More: Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Canadian Debt

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the connection between unionization and secure employment income – and the importance of encouraging the former if people otherwise face no real hope of achieving the latter.For further reading…- Again, Jake Rosenfeld, Patrick Denice and Jen… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

– Brendan Duke examines the connection between wage growth and worker productivity, and makes the case that the former may lead to the latter:

The 1929–1950 increase in wages was at first a result of several policies that directly raised workers’ wages, including the first federal minimum wage, the first federal overtime law, and the National Labor Relations Act, which made it easier for workers to join a union and bargain with their employers. The entry of the United States into World War II further drove investment higher, as the economy converted into what Gordon describes as a “maximum production regime.”

It is striking that during this period of rapid productivity growth, wages for production workers grew even faster than productivity growth did. The current debate about whether a typical worker’s compensation has kept track with the economy’s productivity typically envisions productivity growth as the precondition for wage growth. But Gordon’s research implies that the relationship can go both ways: Not only can productivity growth raise wages, but higher real wages also can boost productivity growth—the main reason for slow gross domestic product growth—by giving firms a reason to purchase capital.

Can higher wages raise productivity growth in 2017? Basic economic theory and common sense suggests that an increase in the price of labor—wages—achieved through higher labor standards will cause firms to invest in more capital, raising the economy’s productivity.

– Guy Caron points out that international tax agreements which should serve to facilitate enforcement are instead allowing the greedy rich to evade meaningful taxes everywhere, while the Star argues that no corporation should be able to avoid social responsibilities through sweetheart tax deals. And James Wright warns of an impending deal on services which may tie the hands of governments seeking to work in the public interest more directly than any existing trade agreement.

– James Walsh reports on the devastating effects of the UK Conservatives’ efforts to push people out of social housing – which will of course sound far too familiar for many in Saskatchewan.

– Finally, Michelle Chen comments on the gigantic ecological deficit being imposed on future generations through unchecked climate change, while David Roberts discusses the environmental devastation (and cleanup costs) which figure to be borne by the public as the coal industry ceases to be viable. And Brent Patterson highlights a noteworthy study on the lasting effects of the Husky oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

The Canadian Progressive: Canada-EU trade deal CETA a major threat food safety: Report

A new report warns that the Canada-EU trade deal CETA could threaten food safety and the greater public interest. Meanwhile, a group of Germany NGOs have launched a massive constitutional lawsuit against the deal. The post Canada-EU trade deal CETA a m… . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Canada-EU trade deal CETA a major threat food safety: Report

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- Owen Jones discusses the UK’s experience with privatized rail as yet another example of how vital services become more costly and worse-run when put in corporate hands.- Sean McElwee highlights still more resea… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- Owen Jones discusses the UK’s experience with privatized rail as yet another example of how vital services become more costly and worse-run when put in corporate hands.- Sean McElwee highlights still more resea… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here (via PressReader), on how Brad Wall is preaching neglect and delay as a response to violent racism (even as he’s fully prepared to use as much political capital as he can muster pitching the idea of a SaskTel selloff). For further reading…- Wall… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how Brad Wall is preaching neglect and delay as a response to violent racism (even as he’s fully prepared to use as much political capital as he can muster pitching the idea of a SaskTel selloff). For further reading…- Wall’s comments which … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.- Owen Jones discusses the importance of the labour movement in ensuring that workers can get ahead in life, rather than drowning in debt:Nights spent staring at the ceiling as worries dance manically around the … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.- Martin Jacques writes about the inescapable failings of neoliberalism, along with the question of what alternative will come next: (B)y historical standards, the neoliberal era has not had a particularly goo… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.- Paolo Giuliano and Antonio Spilimbergo study (PDF) how the economic conditions an individual’s youth influence enduring values – and find that the experience of an economic shock tends to lead to a greater apprec… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.- PressProgress points out that a large number of Canadians are justifiably concerned about our economy, with a particular desire to rein in income and wealth inequality. And Guy Caron notes that there’s no reason for … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.- Branko Milanovic points out how the commodification of our interactions may create an incentive for short-term exploitation:Commodification of what was hitherto a non-commercial resource makes each of us do m… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.- Owen Jones interviews Ha-Joon Chang about the foreseeable harm caused by the UK’s austerity, as well as the false claims used to push it. – The Stoney Creek News rightly argues that Canada Post should move toward pos… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Mind Bending Politics: China’s Economic Espionage Against Canada Refuses To Be Dealt With By Government

(China’s Artificially Created Housing Bubble In Canada Set To Burst Warnings Suggest) It’s been no surprise that Canada has long been in a housing bubble. Foreign investors from China have been buying up property in Canadian cities for years, and reselling them to Canadians for way more than the property is worth. China seems to […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: China’s Economic Espionage Against Canada Refuses To Be Dealt With By Government

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.- Joseph Stiglitz writes about the continuing need to rein in the excesses of corporate-dominated globalization:The failure of globalization to deliver on the promises of mainstream politicians has surely unde… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.- Michael Wasser comments on the importance of unions – and the need to ensure that corporate-dominated politics don’t stand in the way of worker organization. And Ben Sichel rightly argues that Ontario’s widesprea… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- Mariana Mazzucato discusses (JPG) the importance of an intelligent industrial strategy. And David Kotz argues that neoliberal capitalism has reached the point where there’s no plausible path toward sustainable … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.- Larry Elliott discusses how the rise of Donald Trump and other exclusionary populists can be traced to the failed promises of neoliberal economics:The fact is that the US middle class, which in Britain we would c… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.- Stephen Hawking discusses the crucial distinction between seeing money as a means of pursuing worthy ends versus treating it a goal in and of itself – and notes that we should be wary of political choices bas… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- Branko Milanovic argues that there’s plenty of reason to be concerned about inequality even if one puts aside a utilitarian comparison of individual needs and benefits:(I)nequality of opportunity affects negati… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- Andrew Jackson discusses the challenge of ensuring that stable jobs are available in Canada:Good jobs are a central mechanism in the creation of shared prosperity.What matters for workers is not just b… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links