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Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Duncan Cameron writes that Canada needs a new political direction rather than just a new government – and offers some worthwhile suggestions as to what that might include: The inter-generational bargain needs to be renewed. Today’s workers pay for their past studies and future retirement. Investing in youth and providing for retirement has social benefits and requires collective support. Much can done through a serious progressive income tax, but notable additional sources of revenue for student grants and other social spending exist. A financial transaction tax for instance could raise an estimated (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Livio Di Matteo discusses the wasted opportunity to improve Canada’s health care system through concerted national investments. And Ryan Meili asks who will provide future direction now that the Cons have scrapped the Health Council of Canada: Now we see the federal government making a bad situation worse by walking away from the process of rebuilding a national health system entirely instead of negotiating a more robust agreement with targets and timelines for innovation and cost-savings.

The elimination of the Health Council only further underlines this movement away from national planning for (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Coyne sees the powerful impact of local forces on nomination contests as evidence that grassroots democracy is still alive and well in Canada – no matter how much the Cons and Libs may wish otherwise: What’s common to both of these stories is not only the willingness of local candidates and riding associations to defy the powers that be but their obstinate insistence that these races should be what party leaders claim they are: open nominations. With any luck, this obstreperousness will spread. Thanks to redistricting, there will be other ridings where (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, looking at a $396 million annual benefit in the form of lower wireless rates for Saskatchewan residents serves as a prime example of the value of public enterprise – and pointing out a few other public options which could help ensure that the interests of citizens are better reflected in the marketplace.

For further reading…- CBC reported on the wireless rate increases which hit every province except the two with strong Crown competition. Aside from the $55 per month cost difference reported there, the other number leading to my estimate in the column is SaskTel’s customer base (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: A mystery that won’t go away: Why do Alberta patients still face such long waits for lung surgery?

A horse with a silver blaze, curried mutton and a dog that did nothing in the night-time helped Sherlock Holmes get to the bottom of a mysterious death. Will it take a legendary detective to uncover the problem with lung surgeries in Alberta? Below: Dr. Verna Yiu; Dr. Raj Sherman; Dr. Ciaran McNamee.

Scotland Yard Detective: “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

Sherlock Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

Detective: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

Holmes: “That was the curious incident. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Trish Hennessy’s latest numbers focus on the skills gap myth in Canada. And PressProgress documents a few of the Cons’ damaging public service cuts which kicked in yesterday, while Theresa Boyle reports on the end of Canada’s health care accords (featuring the observations of Roy Romanow on the end of meaningful federal participation in our health care system).

- Scott Stelmaschuk’s latest post fits nicely with the theme of yesterday’s comment on the importance of seeing politics first and foremost as a means of improving the world around us – rather than a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paul Krugman expands on the Republicans’ insistence on privileging inherited wealth over individual work: (N)ot only don’t most Americans own businesses, but business income, and income from capital in general, is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people. In 1979 the top 1 percent of households accounted for 17 percent of business income; by 2007 the same group was getting 43 percent of business income, and 75 percent of capital gains. Yet this small elite gets all of the G.O.P.’s love, and most of its policy (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the cult of “lean” is just part of the most damaging Saskatchewan Party belief which is undermining our health care system and other public services.

For further reading…- Murray Mandryk has had plenty to say about “lean” in his previous columns. – And the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses has weighed in with its own criticism of “lean”, making it abundantly clear that a large number of health care workers are far from convinced that it’s a panacea.

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Eduardo Porter writes about the rise of inequality in the U.S., while Tracy McVeigh reports on the eleven-figure annual cost of inequality in the UK. And Shamus Khan discusses the connection between inequality and poverty – as well as the policy which can do the most to address both: While a tiny fraction of Americans enjoy almost all the spoils of our national growth, the majority of Americans have a radically different experience. About 40 percent of Americans will live in poverty at some point in their lives, and many (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Ian Welsh discusses the connection between one’s view of human nature and one’s preferred social and economic policies – while noting that policies themselves serve to shape behaviour: The fact is this: incentives work.

The second fact is this: using strong incentives is usually idiocy, because they do work.

What happens with incentives is that people’s behaviour is warped by them.  A normal doctor who does not get paid more per test he orders, orders less tests.  A doctor who owns the facility which does the testing, does more tests.  (Read more…)

wmtc: not a funny story: ned vizzini, youth fiction, and suicide

It’s so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself.

That’s the first line of Ned Vizzini’s excellent 2006 youth novel, It’s Kind of a Funny Story. By the time I read the book this year, the author was already dead. Vizzini committed suicide last December; he was only 32 years old.

Those facts alone are tragic. But now that I’ve read this book, I find Vizzini’s death even sadder. On some level, I chide myself for that: every person’s life is of equal value, and every early death is a loss. But we feel the way we feel, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The New York Times editorial board points out that a higher minimum wage can produce clear economic benefits for businesses as well as for workers: One 2013 study by three economists — Arindrajit Dube, T. William Lester and Michael Reich — compared the experiences of businesses in neighboring counties in different states and found less turnover in states that had raised the minimum wage. Workers were less likely to leave on their own, and managers were more likely to keep the workers they had on staff to avoid the cost of recruiting and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Michael McBane highlights one of the less-discussed changes in the Cons’ 2014 budget – as it officially eliminates the federal distribution of health care funding based on provincial need in favour of handing extra money to Alberta: The Harper government is eliminating the equalization portion of the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and replacing it with an equal per capita transfer. This means that less populous provinces with relatively larger and more isolated populations will have more and more difficulty delivering more expensive universal health services.

Likewise, provinces with relatively larger proportion of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Nora Loreto offers an important reminder as to why we contribute taxes to social well-being: (T)axes still pay for things we need. Everyone benefits from a universal system of healthcare. Everyone is touched by the birth of someone and nearly everyone will rely on the system in the moments that precede their death. These moments are expensive.…User fees exchanged for public services limits access; those who can pay are separated from those who cannot. The introduction of every new user fee will result in fewer people able to afford to access (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Small changes may signal glimmer of awareness of trouble ahead among rank and file Tory MLAs

Members of Alison Redford’s brain trust plan the latest hashtags in the Twitter war with AUPE … No! Wait! That’s Bob MacNamara telling LBJ about his plans for the war in Vietnam! What the hey? Below: That rude info-graphic; Red House Chief of Staff Farouk Adatia; White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

Opposition political operatives in Alberta spent an entertaining weekend poking through the entrails of the Progressive Conservative government’s Sunshine List, noticing cool things to mention like the fact Premier Alison Redford’s chief of staff earns $144,000 a year more than the guy who does the same thing (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- In keeping with the theme of this week’s column, the Star-Phoenix questions the Wall government’s choice to neglect existing school infrastructure. And Lana Payne’s message about how leaders react in a crisis also looks to be closely intertwined with the need to plan ahead before a crisis actually starts.

- But then, governments do have to choose their priorities. And once again, the Cons’ choice is to spend tens of millions of public dollars on public relations for a tar-sands sector which could easily afford to pitch its own products, while standing (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Thomas Walkom points out that many Canadians can expect to lose jobs without any social supports due to the Cons’ focus on political messages over real-life impacts. And Blake Zeff offers a reminder that while progressive economic policy may be receiving more attention over the last year, it’s always been extremely popular among the public (even as it’s been ruled out by policy-makers who focus primarily on serving corporate interests): Way back in 1992, President Clinton ran an explicitly populist campaign, telling voters, “The rich get the gold mine and the middle (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Fred Horne’s flu-jab count: thoughtful response to a health problem or quick fix to a political crisis?

Albertans line up for flu shots at Bonnie Doon Mall in Edmonton yesterday. Actual vaccination lines may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Heath Minister and de facto Alberta health Services chief executive Fred Horne.

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne, who nowadays doubles as the unofficial chief executive officer of Alberta Health Services, held a news conference in an Edmonton drugstore yesterday and told the respectfully gathered media that not enough Alberta health care workers are immunized against influenza.

Indeed, he claimed, only an alarming and startlingly precise 46 per cent of them have had the flu jab!

A drugstore (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Polly Toynbee discusses how the public shares in the responsibility for a political class oriented toward easily-discarded talking points rather than honest discussion: Intense mistrust of parties is growing dangerously with each generation: with fewer than 1% of the population members of a political party, people understand less about the necessary compromises. Our poll’s “angry” voters say they want politicians to say what they believe, not mouth the party line-to-take. Too many MPs are pitifully thin on vocabulary and imagery, short on wit, warmth, passion or imagination. Some exceptions – the TUC’s Frances (Read more…)

wmtc: after eight years, i have a less-than-ideal observation about ontario health care

Since moving to Canada in 2005, my experiences with Ontario’s health care system have been extremely positive. Through the public system, my partner and I have been able to access health care whenever we needed it, in convenient and pleasant settings, at no cost – that is, paid for with our taxes. The quality of care has been at least as good, and often superior, to anything I experineced in the United States.

I love our public health care system, and I would love to see it expanded.* Single-payer, nonprofit health care is the only system that makes any (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Grant Gordon rightly criticizes the “taxpayer” frame in discussing how public policy affects citizens: (T)here’s a difference between being smart with our money and just being cheap.

Conservatives are fond of saying they wish government ran more like a business. Well, sometimes it’s better business to invest in R&D, in new technology, in a new employee. You can’t cut your way to success in business, and the same is true in government.

Our government needs to invest in transit and education. It’s the best way to stay competitive. It’s dangerous to reduce (Read more…)

Blevkog: The Ultimate Responsibility

I am not a parent. It’s not that I didn’t want to be, I love children, and they seem to tolerate me well enough; events in my life have thus far prevented me from being a father. Which, of course, does not preclude it from happening in the future, and as time marches on, I […]

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Sean McElwee discusses the crucial distinction between wealth and merit – while recognizing which actually serves to improve the condition of those around a particular individual: Because the wealthy are no longer willing to use their wealth for good, they have decided to glorify the wealth itself as good, thus, Harry Bingswanger writes in Forbes, Imagine the effect on our culture, particularly on the young, if the kind of fame and adulation bathing Lady Gaga attached to the more notable achievements of say, Warren Buffett. Or if the moral praise showered on (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: More chaos at top of Alberta Health Services: CEO out after 1 month; 2-headed replacement found

Is this the management model in the Alberta Health Services executive suite? Actual Alberta health ministers or AHS administrators may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: AHS Administrator John Cowell, ex CEO Duncan Campbell, new co-CEO Brenda Huband and new co-CEO Rick Trimp (no relation).

This just in! Alberta Government replaces Alberta Health Services CEO …. again!

The revolving door to the AHS executive suite is now spinning so quickly somebody’s going to get hurt. Unless, that is, everybody stays calm….

Now, it’s true that Duncan Campbell, who was put in the top job at AHS just 30 days (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Alex Himelfarb and Jordan Himelfarb comment on Canada’s dangerously distorted conversation about public revenue and the purposes it can serve: As we argue in our new book, Tax Is Not a Four-Letter Word, the Canadian tax conversation has become dangerously distorted. Any reasonable discussion of taxes must take into account the highly valued public services they buy. But in Canada, and throughout much of the Anglosphere, these inextricably linked concepts — taxes and public services — have somehow become divorced. We now live in an environment in which the first question we (Read more…)