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Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Anne Manne discusses how extreme wealth leads to narcissism and a lack of empathy, while pointing out that to merely recognizing the problem goes some way toward solving it: Outside the lab, Piff found that the rich donated a smaller percentage of their wealth than poorer people. In 2011, the wealthiest Americans, those with earnings in the top 20%, contributed 1.3% of their income to charity, while those in the bottom 20% donated 3.2% of their income. The trend to meanness was worst in plush suburbs where everyone had a high (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Mark Taliano highlights the distinction between corporate and public interests (while pointing out that both military and economic policy are all too often based on the former). And Jamie Doward discusses how the perception that government is either unwilling or unable to serve anybody besides corporate masters is turning the next generation of UK youth away from politics: The picture that emerges from an Ipsos MORI questionnaire completed by almost 2,800 pupils aged 11 to 16 is of a generation that expects little help from politicians and which resolutely believes that it (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer respond to Joseph Stiglitz by pointing out that some of the inequality arising out of capitalism has nothing to do with rules further rigged in favour of the wealthy: Although there is certainly significant substance to Stiglitz’s argument – policy decisions can have profound impacts on economic outcomes – nevertheless capitalism is far more responsible for economic inequality because of its inherent nature and its extended reach in the area of policy decisions than Stiglitz is willing to concede. To begin with, in capitalist society it is (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz wraps up the New York Times’ series on inequality by summarizing how the gap between the rich and the rest of us developed, as well as how it can be reduced: The American political system is overrun by money. Economic inequality translates into political inequality, and political inequality yields increasing economic inequality. In fact, as he recognizes, Mr. Piketty’s argument rests on the ability of wealth-holders to keep their after-tax rate of return high relative to economic growth. How do they do this? By designing the rules of the game (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Harry Stein discusses how government policy is currently designed to exacerbate inequality by subsidizing the concentration of wealth: This issue brief puts aside the question of whether new policies, such as a global wealth tax, should be enacted to reduce economic inequality. Instead, it explores two existing policies that actually subsidize wealth inequality. First, reduced tax rates on capital gains and dividends increase the after-tax rate of return on wealth, which makes it more likely that the rate of return on capital will exceed the overall economic growth rate. Second, capital gains (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: 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: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Kathleen Geier discusses the U.S.’ culture of overwork and its human toll: There is abundant evidence that long working hours is incredibly dangerous from a public health perspective. Fatigued or sleep-deprived workers who drive or operate heavy machinery are an obvious menace to public safety, but there are other health costs associated with overwork as well. A 2004 Center for Disease Control report found that excessive overtime was associated with “poorer perceived general health, increased injury rates, more illnesses, and increased mortality,” and a 2008 study linked long work hours to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Katie Allen discusses the Equality Trust’s research into tax rates in the UK – which shows that the poor actually pay the highest share of their income in taxes, even as the public has been led to believe the opposite: The poorest 10% of households pay eight percentage points more of their income in all taxes than the richest – 43% compared to 35%, according to a report from the Equality Trust.

The thinktank highlights what it sees as a gulf between perceptions of the tax system and reality. Its poll, conducted with (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Neera Tanden points out that a wide range of citizens rely on a strong safety net at one time or another – and suggests that it’s long past time to start discussing how important social programs have been in our own lives: I believe we have a historic opportunity to address poverty today, because the interests of low-income people and the middle class are converging. Median wages—the wages of middle-income earners—have been stagnant for twelve years. People recognize there is growing inequality in this country and that something is amiss when companies are (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: An All Out Assault

The last couple of weeks of legislative activity in Ottawa have been distressing to say the least.  To call it an all out assault on Canada and Canadians is an understatement.

The Harper Government has been ramming through a series of legislation that comprise the single most overt attack on all that is good and reasoned in Canada.

I’ve already discussed my thoughts regarding Bill C-36, the Conservative response to the Bedford ruling on prostitution.  Unfortunately, what the Harper Government is ramming through is a more overt piece of legislation that makes a mess out of far more than (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- PressProgress digs into the PBO’s report on tax giveaways to look at what Canada has lost from the Cons’ cuts to federal fiscal capacity – and how little has been gained as a trade-off: (T)he Harper government, by starving the public coffers, is losing $43 billion that could be used to boost investments in axed services, build needed national programs, as well as balance the budget and pay down debt.…Finance Canada’s own data suggests every $1 billion spent on corporate tax cuts generates a measly 3,310 jobs. Not very effective.

And the (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: Jason Kenney, TFWs, and Canada’s Services Trade

When he announced the sudden moratorium on new Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) in the restaurant industry, Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney tried to reconcile this dramatic about-face with his government’s long-standing support for the whole idea of migrant guest-workers. So while strongly criticizing a few particular restaurants for their high-profile “abuses” of the program (even though it was usually hard to see what rules were actually broken), he at the same time mounted an energetic defense of the whole TFW program. (Here’s my Globe and Mail column on the political reasons for Kenney’s reversal.)

Simultaneously supporting (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: TFWP: Yet Another Reason To Shut It Down

The consequences of the Harper Government’s widening of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program over the last several years keeps going from bad to worse. At first it was employers choosing to hire TFWs over Canadians.  Then we started finding out that not only were the companies forcing them to living in company-owned apartments and deducting the rent off the payroll, but we also started hearing of cases where the TFWs themselves were being charged significant sums of money to get here.

Today, we have allegations of a company in BC abusing the program and all but engaging in extortion and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- The Globe and Mail joins the chorus calling for Canada to welcome more citizens, rather than exploiting cheap and disposable workers. But Bill Curry reports on yet another corporate lobby group demanding that the Cons actually expand the flow of temporary labour to secure profits at the expense of workers.

- Andy Radia discusses the laughable attempt of the Cons to rebrand themselves as anything other then enemies of the environment after eight years of constant attacks on regulations and advocates alike. And Daniel James Wright points out that the organization chosen (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Polly Toynbee looks at how the UK is now treating children in need as investment opportunities to be exploited by investors, rather than people to be assisted. And Mark Taliano writes that privatization is a problem rather than a solution when it comes to providing public services.

- Geoff Leo uncovers still more stories about the abuse of temporary foreign workers. And David Climenhaga looks behind the business lobby’s insistence on being granted a low-wage, no-rights pool of disposable foreign labour to replace Canadians who may expect to have lives outside of work (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Explaining the screams for easy-to-exploit Temporary Foreign Workers: Canadians are just too uppity for many low-wage employers

Chinese workers building Canadian railways – another sordid story of “temporary foreign workers.” Below: B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark rose in that province’s Legislative Building in Victoria yesterday and apologized for a stream of racist laws and policies that began to be introduced almost a century and a half ago to control and exploit Chinese immigration.

“While the governments which passed these laws and polices acted in a manner that was lawful at the time, today this racist discrimination is seen by British Columbians – represented (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jared Bernstein takes a look at after-tax inequality, and finds that it fits neatly with Thomas Piketty’s prescription to address the concentration of income and wealth through strong public policy: (W)hile the progressive taxes and transfers that don’t show up in Mr. Piketty’s data reduce the level of inequality at any point in time, they don’t have that much impact on its growth. The share of comprehensive income going to the top 1 percent grew 6 percentage points before taxes and transfers from 1979 to 2010, and 5.4 points after taxes and (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: New CCR Report shows established refugees now face loss of status in Canada

by: Canadian Council for Refugees | Press Release | May 7, 2014

The Canadian Council for Refugees today released its report “Cessation: stripping refugees of their status in Canada”. The report provides case examples and shows that, following recent changes to the law, refugees now live in fear of loss of status and removal from Canada, in a process that is arbitrary, draconian and absurd.

“Unfortunately, our concerns about the change in the law regarding cessation have proven to be well-founded,” said Loly Rico, CCR President. “We are seeing a dramatic increase in cessation applications, including against long-term permanent (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the conflict between Canadian values including a reasonable quality of life and freedom from an employer’s total control, and the explicitly anti-Canadian message of employers seeking to expand and exploit a temporary foreign worker underclass.

For further reading…- Once again, Dan Kelly’s comments were caught by PressProgress, while Geoff Leo reported on the TFW recruiter’s advice to keep distance between workers and Canadian values. And Cathie beat me to the punch in raising the recruiter’s contempt for anything Canadian.- Tim Harper writes about the layers upon layers of problems with the temporary foreign worker program. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Polly Toynbee writes about the continued spread of privatization based solely on corporatist dogma even in the face of obvious examples of its harm to the public: In the Royal Mail debacle, shares sold at £1.7bn rose to £2.7bn. The 16 investors chosen as “long-term” custodians included the most wolfish hedge funds, who sold the shares at once. Let’s hope that ends any pretence that shareholders look after companies. What’s more, the investment arm of Lazards, key adviser to Vince Cable, was also given “priority” status. But Lazard Asset Management (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- David Atkins highlights how public policy and corporate strategy have both instead been directed toward squeezing every possible dime out of the public: The less noticed but potentially more consequential way that policymakers across the industrialized world set about accomplishing this goal was to push their middle classes to invest their wealth into assets, especially stocks and real estate, then use the levers of public policy to inflate the values of those assets in order to disguise the inevitable declines in wages. There was also a concerted effort to hide wage losses by (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- D.L. Tice writes that it’s becoming more and more difficult for the right to ignore the spread of income inequality – and the reality that only public policy, not faith in the market, can produce a more fair distribution of income. Which is particularly important in light of Doyle McManus’ recognition that an overly high level of inequality is unsustainable.

- Simon Kiss and Peter Graefe discuss the connection – and in some cases the tension – between populism and progressive values: Left populist campaigning around cost-of-living issues on significant non-discretionary (at (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Crawford Kilian discusses the growing influence of Thomas Piketty’s observations about wealth inequality and the unfairness of a system which inherently perpetuates privilege: What I take away is this: We are playing in a rigged game. The deck has always been stacked against us, and against our parents and grandparents, world without end. Why? Return on investment has always been higher than economic growth, and you can live well on just a fraction of that return while saving the rest for your offspring to inherit. They in turn will build the family (Read more…)