Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Afternoon Links

This and that to start your weekend.

- Robert Reich discusses how the increasing concentration of corporate wealth and power is undermining the U.S.’ democracy, while noting that there’s only one effective response: We entered a vicious cycle in which political power became more concentrated in monied interests that used the power to their advantage – getting tax cuts, expanding tax loopholes, benefiting from corporate welfare and free-trade agreements, slicing safety nets, enacting anti-union legislation, and reducing public investments.

These moves further concentrated economic gains at the top, while leaving out most of the rest of America.

No (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- John Abraham and Dana Nuccitelli discuss the worrisome spread of climate change denialism, particularly around the English-speaking developed world. But lest we accept the theory that declining public knowledge is independent of political choices, Margaret Munro reports that the Cons are suppressing factual scientific information about Arctic ice levels to avoid the Canadian public being better informed, while Tom Korski exposes a particularly galling example of their vilifying top scientists for reporting their results. And John O’Connor reminds us what’s been done to anybody who’s dared to speak out about the effect (Read more…)

My journey with AIDS...and more!: I’m Thinking, “This is Going to Hurt!”: On ‘How Not to Deal with Grief’

From my friend Betty Ann on her Facebook page: “This article deeply moved me…as I suspect it will for any of you who have been impacted by the kind of grief associated with multiple loss, deaths due to overdose and or HIV/AIDS. Rather than just clicking on “like”, can you write a few sentences in […]

My journey with AIDS...and more!: Sleep, no longer taken for granted, will soon be improving – hopefully

Early this month I had electrodes taped to my head, neck, chest and legs, then I was wished a good night for a sleep study to see why suddenly, to me at least, I couldn’t get a decent night of shut-eye. The results, which I received on Monday, showed that over the course of the […]

THE FIFTH COLUMN: Much Ado About Religious Accommodation

Much is being made of a decision by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) managers at Toronto’s Pearson airport to allow a small group of Hindu priests to avoid screening by female border guards to comply with their religious beliefs.

Apparently some female CBSA officers feel that they were discriminated against by this decision. I could understand an outrage if female officers were only allowed

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Steven Hoffman and Julia Belluz write that the current ebola outbreak – like many health catastrophes in the developing world – is traceable largely to the warped incentives facing medical researchers: (W)e’ve learned a lot about Ebola: that it’s spread through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, that we can stop it by using simple precautionary measures and basic hygiene practices. But every once in a while, these nightmarish outbreaks pop up and capture the international imagination. Worries about global spread are worsened by the fact that Ebola has (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Colleen Flood writes that our health care system is more similar to the U.S.’ than we’d like to admit – and that many of the most glaring inefficiencies within it are already the result of services funded through private insurance rather than our universal public system: The latest Commonwealth Study ranked Canada’s health care system a dismal second to last in a list of eleven major industrialized countries. We had the dubious distinction of beating out only the Americans. This latest poor result is already being used by those bent on (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Deirdre Fulton discusses the UN’s 2014 Human Development Report, featuring recognition that precarious jobs and vulnerable workers are all too often the norm regardless of a country’s level of development or high-end wealth. And as Dylan Matthews points out (h/t to David Atkins), the lack of worker benefits from increased corporate wealth figures to make a guaranteed annual income into a logical solution: So here’s my takeaway: a negative income tax or basic income of sufficient size would, by definition, eliminate poverty. We still don’t know if there’d be much of a (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…)

wmtc: federal court again rules in favour of health care and basic decency, against radical harper agenda

A few days ago, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that the Harper Government’s denial of health care to refugee claimants from certain countries is unconstitutional and cannot stand. In a surprisingly strongly worded statement Friday, the federal court ruled Ottawa’s cutbacks to health-care coverage for refugee claimants are unconstitutional because they constitute “cruel and unusual” treatment.

The decision was quickly lauded by many, including the Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and Justice for Children and Youth — groups that, along with two refugee claimants, challenged the law.

Of course the Government plans to (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: Chris Alexander and the Monstrous Cruelty of the Harper Regime

As I have mentioned before, the story of Chris Alexander reminds in some ways of the Oscar Wilde story The Picture of Dorian Gray.Where the portrait of the bright, boyishly handsome diplomat, morphs into something monstrous. After he sells his soul to the devil, or in his case Stephen Harper.And sure enough, in the latest chapter of Chrissy's descent into darkness, the picture grows even uglier. Read more »

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Carol Linnitt observes that the Canadian public supports a shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy by a 76-24% margin – even as they overestimate Canada’s economic returns from oil and gas.

- Meanwhile, Alison takes a look at the spread of (primarily oil-funded) advertorials in Canadian media.

- Kate Heartfield writes that even if the Cons’ cuts to refugee health hadn’t crossed the line into unconstitutionality, we should still consider them to be unconscionable from a policy-making perspective: Even if you come away unconvinced of the soundness of the court’s conclusion, 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: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Gar Alperovitz suggests in the wake of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century that it’s long past time to reconsider who controls capital – and make a concerted effort to democratize that control: The name of the game — Piketty’s book fairly screams it — is capital: who gets to own it, benefit from it and derive political power from it. Accordingly, it may be of some interest to note that in significant part because of the pain and failure of our current reality, many of those local laboratories of democracy (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: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Bryce Covert rightly challenges the claim that poverty bears any relationship to an unwillingness to work – along with other attempts to blame the poor for their condition: In fact, the majority of able-bodied, adult, non-elderly poor people worked in 2012, according to a data analysis by economist Jared Bernstein. There were about 21 million non-disabled, poor adults that year, and about half of them, or 11 million, worked. Another 3 million didn’t work because they were in school. If those in school are taken out of the picture, 57 percent (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…)

The Canadian Progressive: Harper’s “racist” changes to health care for refugees has threatened lives

by: Adrienne Silnicki | First published by The Council of Canadians on June 12, 2014

Another June 16th, is almost upon and we’re once again offering our support and solidarity to incredible organizations like Canadian Doctors for Refugees who are organizing yet another day of rallies and protest against the racist and discriminatory cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program (aka health care for refugees).

This June 16th, the Council of Canadians will once again join health care professionals, lawyers, students,labour brothers and sisters, and civil society to yell “shame!” at a government that feels no shame in (Read more…)

OPSEU Diablogue: Two-thirds of Ontarians would vote for a strong health care platform — Nanos

It was a curious decision by the media conglomerate putting on the Tuesday’s leaders debate. Limiting viewer questions to six, you’d have thought one of them would have dealt with Ontario’s struggling health care system. As it was, health care … Continue reading →

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Health Insurance Is Becoming A Scam

I have long been suspicious of health insurance plans of any sort.  Even short term health insurance for travel seems to be written in such a way that it is weighted quite firmly in favour of the insurer than the insured.

Recently, three cases in Canada came to light that underscore the point. “They hold all the cards in their hand. It’s a poker game, and I don’t think we are the winners,” said Jean Tetiuk, of Toronto, whose $12,000 claim was rejected by CIBC. 

In each case, the medical emergencies abroad had nothing to do with any pre-existing conditions they (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Jim Stanford looks into the fine print of the Hudak PCs’ assumptions about corporate tax slashing and finds that even their own numbers show that most of the money gifted to corporations would be thrown away (emphasis added): On second reading there are other interesting aspects to the Conference Board simulation of corporate tax reductions.  The one that jumped out at me was their estimate of increased business capital spending after the tax cut (reported in Table 5, and the main driver of economic benefits in the simulation), reported in the fifth (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Alex Usher Needs to Consider Taxation

My debate with Alex Usher on tuition fees continues, over at the Academic Matters web site. In my latest post, I make the case that Mr. Usher needs to consider Canada’s tax system when suggesting that reducing tuition fees is “regressive.”

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Bill Moyers interviews Richard Wolff about inequality – featuring Wolff’s observation that anybody trying to justify inequality as an inevitable byproduct of unregulated markets manages only to make those markets indefensible: Bill Moyers: When you say that there’s no economic argument that people should be kept at the– should not share in the gains of economic growth, the response is, “Well, that’s what the market bears.”

Richard Wolff: Well, you know, in the history of economics, which is my profession, it’s a standard play on words. Instead of talking about how the (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Alex Usher is Wrong on Tuition Fees

Earlier today, over at the Academic Matters web site, I addressed the issue of whether Canada’s current system of high tuition fees and means-tested student aid is in fact “progressive.” My post was a response to a Alex Usher‘s May 9 blog post. My blog post can be found here.

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Reich calls out four fundamental lies used to push corporatist policies. But perhaps more interesting is the truth which no amount of concentrated wealth seems to be able to suppress: But the more interesting thing here is the memo’s concession of a hurdle AFP faces: That people support the idea of “taking care of those in need and avoiding harm to the weak.” That this is seen as a messaging problem is telling.… As it happens, the AFP memo is right. Majorities of Americans do see the economy as rigged for the (Read more…)