Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Alberta Diary: Ex-leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk vows to pen tell-all book on Alison Redford’s rule

Your blogger with budding author Thomas Lukaszuk, back during the former deputy premier’s campaign to lead the PC Party. Below: Former PC premier Alison Redford; current PC Premier Jim Prentice.

I’ve gotta say, I’m really looking forward to my free copy of Thomas Lukaszuk’s tell-all book about how he tried to save the Redford Government but the premier just wouldn’t let him. A great review is almost guaranteed!

Seriously, I’m assuming this literary endeavor means Mr. Lukaszuk has decided he doesn’t have much of a career in the government of Premier Jim Prentice. At any rate, it seems unlikely he (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: A Petition of Academics Against the CCPA Audit

A guest blog post from Mario Seccareccia and Louis-Philippe Rochon.

After learning that the Canada Revenue Agency is auditing the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on the grounds that it allegedly engages in politically partisan, biased and one-sided research activity, a number of university professors have drawn up an open letter asking the Minister of National Revenue place a moratorium on its audits of all the various think-tanks that claim charitable status, until such time when truly neutral criteria can be implemented in the selection and conduct of fair, transparent and even-handed periodic audits. Audits should be focused on the financial management and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ethan Corey and Jessica Corbett offer five lessons for progressives from Naomi Klein’s forthcoming This Changes Everything.

- Following up on this post, Andrew Jackson fact-checks the Fraser Institute on its hostility toward the CPP. And the Winnipeg Free Press goes further in challenging the motives behind the “study”: Since the authors started out believing that the Canada Pension Plan and its investment arm are a “self-serving bureaucracy,” it was predictable that they would find something objectionable about CPP administration. The surprise in the study is that the authors produced no (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On active demolition

Shorter Fraser Institute: It has come to our attention that due to the Canada Pension Plan, the rabble might actually enjoy the benefit of high-return investments normally reserved to our corporate overlords. Clearly this must end.

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Eric Reguly examines Apple as a prime example of how supposed market successes actually reflect the private capture of public investments – and suggests the public should benefit financially from its investments which facilitate corporate growth: Apple is such a runaway success that its profits pile up like snowdrifts in the Rockies. At last count, Apple was sitting on $165-billion (U.S.) in cash and securities. That’s more than the GDP of Hungary.

What to do with the windfall?…Here’s another idea: Give the surplus cash back to the taxpayer.

It will (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The ‘research’ the Fraser Institute produces is junk – have a happy Labour Day!

An unidentified Fraser Institute “fellow” explains to a couple of young Manning Centre interns how giving workers the right to bargain collectively stunts job growth, and also how dinosaurs and men walked the earth at the same time. Actual Fraser Institute employees may not appear or act exactly as illustrated. Below: Economist Andrew Jackson ,who debunked a misleading Fraser Institute “study” on this topic in 2012.

While the conclusions of the Fraser Institute’s annual Labour Day attack on labour unions and the rights of working people to bargain collectively are predictably in tune with the market fundamentalist nostrums of (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Conservative Misinformation and the Public Sector Debt Problem #nlpoli

There is no limit to how selectively provincial Conservatives will read a document in order to find some microscopic filament that might possibly confirm that they have really been running the most magnificent administration in the history of the galaxy.

They still insist, for example,  that they are the tops in leadership and accountability even though the most recent poll shows that 77% of the people in the province don’t think so.

Conservatives also insist they have done financial miracles.  No less a personage than the party’s vice president took to the Twitter on Monday to tell everyone that:

According to Fraser Institute, SK and NL are the only provinces that reduced their public debt since 2007.

Well,  they said a lot more than that,  but evidently Mark Whiffen and didn’t need to read anything but that. Since the rest of us are not obliged or inclined to . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Conservative Misinformation and the Public Sector Debt Problem #nlpoli

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Rebecca Vallas, Melissa Boteach and Shawn Fremstad write about the need for a new social contract. And Drew Nelles takes a look at the role of a guaranteed basic income in ensuring a fair standard of living for everybody: Although implementing basic income would undoubtedly require a reorganization of social assistance provision, with some programs being eliminated or absorbed, it cannot be used as an excuse to dismantle what’s left of the welfare state. Instead, it’s a hopeful idea because it could act as just the opposite: the beginning of a turn away (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: About Those Taxes…

Responding to the latest propaganda piece about taxation levels from The Fraser Institute, Star readers weigh in with their own perspectives, one of which includes taking the paper to task for publishing news of the report with no critical comment:

Re: Families pay more for taxes than basics, Aug. 13

This report of a study from a conservative think tank could be a verbatim quote from the authors’ press release, with no editorial comment or critical opinions included. The Star does us a disservice (and, rather atypically, gives the conservative cause a boost) by publishing it in this fashion. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Nora Loreto reviews the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights’ Unions Matter: Unlikely to convince someone who is anti-union on its own, Unions Matter provides the fodder for union activists to be able to make important arguments in favour of unionization. Even more important, the statistics and arguments in Unions Matter could be used by labour activists to convince the ambivalent of the fact that, yes, unions matter.

Section one, “Reducing Income Inequality Through Labour Rights,” gives an impressive overview of the role that unions have played to reorganize wealth in Canada. (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Debunking Fraser Institute’s latest contortion on taxes

The Fraser Institute’s annual Consumer Tax Index report generated some media buzz with its outlandish claims about just how much taxes have risen since 1961. Before you get worked up about this, consider that 1961 was over half a century ago, before the time of universal health care that we all benefit from, before the Canada Pension Plan and the Guaranteed Income Supplement that hugely reduced poverty for seniors, before the Canada Child Tax Benefit which is helping lower child poverty (though not enough!).There are big problems with the Fraser Institute report’s methodology which lead them to grossly (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Green looks at Quebec as a prime example of selective austerity – with tax cuts and other goodies for the wealthy considered sacrosanct, and well-connected insiders being paid substantial sums of public money to tell citizens they’ll have to make do with less: In a move that seems perfectly symbolic of the sort of politics his government represents, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announced this week that the five members of the government commission charged with reviewing government programs and recommending where to make cuts will be paid the tidy sum of (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Let’s hear a big welcome for Preston Manning, a fresh new voice in Canadian satirical writing!

Preston Manning admonishes the Children of Alberta for abandoning the principles of Social Credit. Actual right-wing patriarchs may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Manning and, speaking of patriarchs, the sainted Ernest Manning, Ron Paul, the crazy uncle of the American right, and Ukip Leader Nigel Farage.

“Cancer and lightning go where they want. So does political corruption.” — JAMES LEE BURKE, Wayfaring Stranger, 2014

In all the brouhaha over former Alberta premier Alison Redford’s appalling misuse of airplanes and architecture, there haven’t been many light-hearted moments.

Thank God, then, for Preston Manning, patriarch of the (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…)

Alberta Diary: What the Fraser Institute’s numbers actually show, minus the spin: Alberta has a revenue problem, not a spending problem

The Fraser Institute: peddling conclusions that don’t match the evidence and have enough holes to store captured carbon. Actual Fraser Institute “fellows” may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: A piece of Swiss cheese, which may actually resemble the claims in a Fraser Institute press release, metaphorically speaking.

If the Fraser Institute told the whole truth, or if the mainstream media did its job, here’s the what the first sentence of the Edmonton Journal’s story about the institute’s most recent “report” could have said:

“Alberta’s finances are in better shape than other energy-producing provinces and states, says a report released (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: You could drive one of those tar sands heavy haulers through the gaping holes in the latest Fraser Institute ‘study’ of Alberta’s finances

A worker in Fort McMurray prepares to drive this truck through the holes in the Fraser Institute’s “report,” which claims Alberta’s finances are in worse shape than those of places like Texas, North Dakota and Louisiana. Below: The Norwegian oil port of Stavanger, which, according to the Fraser Institute, doesn’t exist!

Alberta should adopt a sales tax, according to the latest press release from the Fraser Institute.

But don’t worry, the latest piece of far-right puffery from the market-fundamentalist “think tank” – which prefers to refer to this bumpf as a “study” or a “report” – only advocates a consumption (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Michael Hiltzik points out new research showing that business-focused policies do nothing at all to encourage any positive economic outcomes: in fact, a higher rating from ALEC for low-tax, low-regulation government correlates to less economic growth. But Kevin Drum highlights what the corporate agenda is really intended to accomplish: (A)lthough a high ALEC-Laffer ranking may not stimulate any actual growth,…it does correspond to reduced taxes on the wealthy and slashed spending on state services that benefit the poor and working class. In other words, it may not affect growth, but it (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…)

Political Eh-conomy: Published elsewhere: Ontario is no California when it comes to debt

The Toronto Star just published an article I wrote in response to claims made by the Fraser Institute and the Toronto Sun that Ontario has a runaway debt problem worse than California’s.

The short version: I call BS. The slightly longer version: California has constraints, such as limits on the size of debt and difficulties in raising new taxes, that have severely hampered its ability to take on and manage debt. It has a smaller debt than Ontario on all measures but much worse credit standing. Ontario, on the other hand, still has a lot of flexibility to deal with (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: Flaherty bribes automakers—globalization at work

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s $500-million handout to the auto industry has engendered a bit of controversy. Dino Chiodo, president of the union representing hourly workers at Chrysler’s Windsor assembly plant, says it isn’t enough. Mark Milke of the Fraser Institute says it’s way too much, claiming corporate welfare is a bad idea and the money would be better spent on social welfare programs

Alberta Diary: Alberta’s 13 most under-reported political news stories of 2013

Another aircraft takes off from Fort McMurray International Aerodrome loaded with CO2 captured from Alberta’s Athabasca bitumen sands. The gas will be stored in the basements of Russian buildings as part of a deal worked out through the province’s $2-billion “carbon capture” program. Actual Alberta carbon capture boondoggles may not operate exactly as described. Below: A Lethbridge student continues studying as hydraulic fracking operations take place next to her school; why is this doctor smiling? Hint: He runs a Family Care Clinic.

Soon it’ll be 2014 and the mainstream media can get back to doing what it does best: panicking (Read more…)

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Can’t Argue With It

OTTAWA ― The Canadian Labour Congress says that a study released by the Fraser Institute, which attacks the pensions paid to men and women who provide public services to Canadians, is hypocritical.“The Fraser Institute claims to be independent and non-partisan,” says CLC President Ken Georgetti. “But the Institute is well known for taking millions of dollars in contributions from right wing American think tanks and multinational corporations then producing studies that conveniently push their agenda. Who paid for this one, big oil, big pharmaceutical companies, tobacco companies, or the business leaders in Canada who regularly donate to the Conservative (Read more…)

OPSEU Diablogue: Fraser got it wrong — StatsCan says little real difference in public-private absenteeism rates

Contrary to the much publicized Fraser Institute press releases accusing the public sector of abusing sick leave allowances, earlier today Statistics Canada issued a report suggesting there is in fact very little real difference in absenteeism rates between the public … Continue reading →

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Annie Lowrey reports on the still-spreading blight of income inequality in the U.S.: An updated study by the prominent economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty shows that the top 1 percent of earners took more than one-fifth of the country’s total income in 2012, one of the highest levels recorded in the century that the government has collected the relevant data.

The top 10 percent of earners took more than half of all income. That is the highest recorded level ever.

The figures underscore that even after the recession the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Reich discusses how we’d all better off if we acted in the public interest and insisted that our representatives did the same: A society — any society — is defined as a set of mutual benefits and duties embodied most visibly in public institutions: public schools, public libraries, public transportation, public hospitals, public parks, public museums, public recreation, public universities, and so on.

Public institutions are supported by all taxpayers, and are available to all. If the tax system is progressive, those who are better off (and who, presumably, have benefitted (Read more…)