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Political Eh-conomy: Podcast: Inequality, global and Canadian


I have two guests to talking about inequality today. First up is Branko Milanovic, who speaks with me about global inequality as well as the rise of a global plutocracy. One of the world’s foremost experts on inequality, Branko is professor at the CUNY Graduate Centre, where he also heads the local affiliate of the Luxembourg Income Study Centre, former chief economist at the World Bank’s research unit and author of the The Haves and the Have-nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality. He blogs regularly; it’s always interesting.

I’m also happy (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Free trade to blame for growing income inequality in Canada

A study recently released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that the modern free trade era has exacerbated income inequality in Canada.

The post Free trade to blame for growing income inequality in Canada appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: What’s this "fat" and "gravy" they speak of anyway?

Are schools and hospitals fat? Are veterans’ pensions gravy?

So what have we cut already? 32% of Veterans Affairs staff supporting disability, death and financial benefits for veterans. One-fifth of Canadian food inspector positions. One-third of Statistics Canada’s data analysts. One-quarter of positions in the department that handles EI claims. And in other news, Canada Revenue Agency is slated to kill 3,000 positions in a division specializing in offshore tax avoidance at the same time as it ramps up what increasingly looks to be politically motivated audits of progressive and environmental charities.

And those are cuts at the federal level. (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Child poverty a problem worth eliminating in wealthy Alberta

Tweet November 24, 2014 marked 25 years since members of the Canadian Parliament voted unanimously to end child poverty in our country. The motion introduced by then-NDP leader Ed Broadbent supported of abolishing child poverty in Canada by the year 2000. Twenty-five years later, we are far away from reaching this goal. Although Alberta has benefited from rapid […]

Northern Reflections: On the QT


Canadians like to think that income inequality is an American problem. But, Linda McQuaig writes, on that meme, Canada is a close second behind the United States:

It’s true that the U.S. has the most extreme inequality, but a recent OECD report noted that Canada has the second-largest share of income growth going to top earners.

However, even that OECD report understates the drift of wealth to the top in Canada — according to dramatic data from a recent academic study which received relatively little attention.

That study presents some pretty stark numbers:

It (Read more…)

Northern Reflections: What To Do With The Surplus?


There’s going to be one. And, if the Harper government gets its way, it will go to tax cuts. That happened under the Liberals, too. Linda McQuaig writes:

The trick is to make surpluses disappear quickly by doling them out in tax cuts — before there’s time for a serious national debate about what the electorate actually wants to do with their money. So when Ottawa started generating big surpluses in the late 1990s, it (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Managers justify generous treatment of managers

In 2013, the consulting firm Ernst & Young was hired to review trends in compensation across the BC Public Sector. It is now available through the Legislature’s public documents.

Reports of this kind are almost worthless documents of political propaganda. The only important question asked of the executives who commissioned it was the one aimed at determining what the report should say. Inevitably, consultants who hope for more assignments, pander to the interests of the senior managers who hire them. That leads to recommendations like this: “Based on the market reviews, it is possible that some of the lower levels (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: They’re Buzzards, But You’re Their Carrion.

We all know that average Americans have been reeling financially since the Great Recession. We know that the post-recession recovery has gone mainly to the richest of the rich and, this time, it’s pretty clear there’s been no ‘trickle down’ to the plebes.

A new study by the Russell Sage Foundation in conjunction with Stanford University shows the hit ordinary American families have taken since the recession. In 2003, the median American household wealth stood at $87,992. A decade later that figure had plummeted to just $56,335. In other words, ordinary Americans (the median family) became 36% poorer in the (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Class Warfare CAUSED Income Inequality, Not the Opposite

Horatio Alger mythology is designed to make us leave the 1% alone and shut the fuck up.

If you haven’t yet seen John Oliver’s amazing rant about the perils of inequality and how the rich shame us out of talking about it by suggesting we’re trying to invoke class warfare, you can see it below.

The truth is, income inequality doesn’t just happen one day, then the classes fight each other. Class warfare is what creates the conditions for income inequality.

But as long as the 1% can keep us from talking about class issues, we can say income inequality (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Message From Orwell: "I Warned You" – A Mound Of Sound Guest Post

You don’t have to dig very deep to get a pretty clear picture of the decline of today’s global civilization. The good times are gone, over, finished. We’re out of stuff, plain and simple. The game today is for one select group of people to employ its considerable advantages to mine the remaining wealth out of everyone else. We’ve become the last, best natural resource and the system has been rigged to effect the greatest unearned transfer of wealth ever. It has symptoms – inequality of income, of wealth and of opportunity; the wholesale theft of political power through “capture” (Read more…)

Pushed to the Left and Loving It: I’m so Damn Sick of Junk Politics and Hopefully Trudeau is Too

There is a good book by Benjamin DeMott Junk Politics: Trashing of the American Mind

DeMott laments the loss of intelligent debate in the political arena, being replaced, in part, with “touchy, feely personal testimonials” and “feel your pain” forced empathy.

In the current Ontario election campaign we’ve heard party leaders tell us that they worked their way through school, were a grandchild of immigrants and like to run.

Who cares? How is that relevant? Any identification we may have with them should end there. Our concern before we give them control of our money and in some respects, our (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: What Would Jesus Occupy?

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” John 2:13-16

Who would Jesus whip and flog?

Ask Occupy.

Happy (Read more…)

Northern Reflections: Not Seeing The Other Half

For some time now, Robert Reich writes, the United States has been devolving into a We and Them Society — as in, Why should we pay for them? He sites several examples:

The middle-class and wealthy citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, for example, are trying to secede from the school district they now share with poorer residents of town, and set up their own district funded by property taxes from their higher-valued homes.

Similar efforts are underway in Memphis, Atlanta, and Dallas. Over the past two years, two wealthy suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama, have left the countywide (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Inequality For All

I am a big fan of the documentary. Unlike the products of years gone by, today’s films are engaging and provocative, frequently providing us with a window to a world we may previously have had only a passing acquaintance with. Whether political, social, or environmental in nature, documentaries are truly useful tools for educating us about the world we live in.

Much has been written about the decline of the middle class, that socio-economic stratum to which we were all taught to aspire. Yet, for a variety of reasons, that goal is now fast becoming unattainable for millions of people. (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: A Faint Ray Of Hope?

Those of us who write blogs on a regular basis, I suspect, have a high tolerance for the uglier aspects of humanity that we regularly confront in our exploration of the political arena. Greed, deception, avarice and rampant egoism seem pervasive, concern for the collective good little more than a platitude. Yet we continue on, in part buoyed by the hope of a better future landscape where demagoguery and ideology are supplanted by reason and empiricism. One lives in hope.

Over at Northern Reflections, Owen, as usual, has an excellent post, this one on how the American politicos in (Read more…)

Northern Insight: Investment in society and in human beings?

A paper published in the journal International Political Science Review considered if the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was “Democracy’s Friend or Foe.” It noted that reforms required by the American based IMF, “may create an economically and politically marginalized population whose government is unwilling or incapable of responding to their needs. This may undermine the legitimacy of democracy for those who are marginalized…”

The article said research showed a declining proportion of Latin Americans preferred democracy to any other form of government. In emerging economic powerhouse Brazil, citizens of the world’s fifth most populated country showed only (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Joseph Stiglitz On Income Inequality

Nobel Memorial Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz recently gave a powerful speech at the annual AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles. Watching this video leaves one little choice but to feel a deep dissatisfaction with the status quo:

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The Canadian Progressive: Conservatives attack on unions a threat to shared prosperity in Canada, says Broadbent Institute

By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive: The right-wing’s regressive anti-union rhetoric and U.S.-styled attacks on the labour movement threatens Canada’s prosperity, says a report recently released by the progressive Canadian think tank Broadbent Institute. The report expresses grave concern about the Conservative government’s current political agenda and “highly-organized right-wing campaign to import American-style [...]

The post Conservatives attack on unions a threat to shared prosperity in Canada, says Broadbent Institute appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Politics and its Discontents: Puncturing Right-Wing Mythology

I hope everyone will take five minutes to watch this video, originally considered too controversial for TED Talks. The speaker, entrepreneur Nick Hanauer, very deftly cuts through the mythology perpetuated by the right wing that the super-rich are our job creators and hence must be treated with taxation kid gloves.

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Northern Insight: Income disparity grows

Incomes of bottom 90 percent grew $59 in 40 years, Natasha Lennard,

“Pulitzer Prize-winner David Cay Johnston has highlighted yet more statistics that illuminate the spike in income inequality in the U.S. in recent decades. Flagging Johnston’s analysis, HuffPo noted Monday, ‘Incomes for the bottom 90 percent of Americans only grew by $59 on average between 1966 and 2011 (when you adjust those incomes for inflation)… During the same period, the average income for the top 10 percent of Americans rose by $116,071.’ …

“Plot those numbers on a chart, with one inch for $59, and

. . . → Read More: Northern Insight: Income disparity grows

The Canadian Progressive: Canada’s tax system is in dire need of “fairness” reform: Report

By Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive | Jan. 26, 2013: A new study by two economists from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), an independent left-leaning policy research institute, says Canada’s tax system is in dire need of “fairness” reform. Marc Lee and Iglika Ivanova argue that “ad-hoc tax changes over the last two decades have seriously weakened the redistributive role READ MORE

The Canadian Progressive: Canada failing to close the income inequality gap

by Conference Board of Canada | Feb. 4, 2013: OTTAWA – Canada has been unable to reverse the rise in income inequality – and poverty rates – that occurred in the 1990s. Low rankings on these social equity measures mar an otherwise solid “B” grade in The Conference of Canada’s Society report card, released today. Canada places 7th in the How Canada Performs: Society analysis, READ MORE

Northern Reflections: Regression

The Conference Board keeps churning out reports which should embarrass the Harper government. The Board’s latest report ranks Canada 7th out of 17 developed countries in terms of quality of life. It’s interesting that, in terms of falling crime rates, we are doing very well — although, if you believe what the government tells us, it’s not well enough.

But what is truly disturbing is the growing rate of income inequality:

In Canada, the gap between rich and poor has widened over the past 15 years, and the board says all age groups have felt the change — with both

. . . → Read More: Northern Reflections: Regression

The Canadian Progressive: Canada’s richest 1% grabbed 10.6% of all income, rich-poor gap widened: StatsCan

by Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive, Jan. 28, 2013: Remember Occupy, Canada? A new Statistics Canada analysis of income trends among Canadian taxfilers from 1982 to 2010, released today, confirms three of the many concerns Occupy protesters expressed in late 2011. Concerns relating to income inequality, poverty, corporate greed, etc. First, members of the exclusive club of the top READ MORE

Northern Insight: A road to inevitable unrest

Libs’ ‘Job Plan’ not enough to tackle poverty, Trish Garner, The Province, Dec 2012

“…B.C. has the largest gap between the rich and the poor, and the highest poverty rate in Canada. Over half-a-million British Columbians live below the poverty line, and most of them have a job, sometimes several, in the paid labour force.

“…In the last 10 years the average household income of the top one per cent in B.C. has increased by 36 per cent while, for the rest of us, real median incomes have stagnated, even though we’re working harder…”