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Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Natasha Luckhardt examines what we can expect from Burger King’s takeover of Tim Hortons – and the news isn’t good for Canadian workers and citizens alike. But Jim Stanford reminds us that we’re not without some public policy options by following up on the employment effects of an increased minimum wage.

- Of course, that would require a government committed to ensuring that the benefits of public policy go where they’re needed. And we plainly can’t count on that as long as the Cons are in power – as Kathleen Lahey, Jennifer (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Oxfam studies the spread of extreme inequality around the globe, as well as the policies needed to combat it: Oxfam’s decades of experience in the world’s poorest communities have taught us that poverty and inequality are not inevitable or accidental, but the result of deliberate policy choices. Inequality can be reversed. The world needs concerted action to build a fairer economic and political system that values everyone. The rules and systems that have led to today’s inequality explosion must change. Urgent action is needed to level the playing field by implementing policies (Read more…)

Progressive Proselytizing: Government’s dominant role: redistributing wealth

The dominant effect of government on society is to redistribute wealth from the richer members of society to the poorer. One can support or oppose this idea, but as a simply descriptive point about what the effect of governments are, this is by far the dominant one. We live in a capitalist society that has a lot of forces which create inequality (which, again, one can support or oppose) and governments act as a partially countervailing measure, reducing the degree of inequality but hardly eliminating it.

There are two major sides: taxation and spending. From a taxation perspective the point (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Sarah Lazare reports on UNICEF’s research showing an appalling increase in child poverty in many of the world’s richest countries: “Many affluent countries have suffered a ‘great leap backwards’ in terms of household income, and the impact on children will have long-lasting repercussions for them and their communities,” said Jeffrey O’Malley, UNICEF’s Head of Global Policy and Strategy.

In 23 of the 41 wealthy countries examined, the rate of child poverty has increased since 2008. In some countries, this rise was drastic: Ireland, Croatia, Latvia, Greece, and Iceland saw child poverty climb by (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman look into the spread of wealth inequality in the U.S., and find that it may be worse than we already knew. And Paul Krugman discusses how toxic anti-government ideology is preventing the U.S. from both getting its economy on track in the short term, and investing in infrastructure it will need down the road: More than seven years have passed since the housing bubble burst, and ever since, America has been awash in savings — or more accurately, desired savings — with nowhere to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Erika Shaker points out how condescending attitudes toward public benefits are both making it unduly difficult to develop new programs which would benefit everybody, and threatening existing social safety net. Sean McElwee writes that inequality only figures to grow as an issue as the wealthy try to disassociate themselves from everybody else. And Scott Santens discusses how the U.S.’ social benefits are needlessly costly and difficult to access because they’re designed more to exclude than to include: As citizens, we are doing everything we can. Some of us are even tragically (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Tony Burman comments on the increasing recognition of the dangers of inequality even among corporate and financial elites: (I)t is significant that the policy debate among many decision-makers seems to be changing. Rather than the nonsense about “the makers versus the takers,” there is increasing focus on the notion that income inequality could be a key factor in why overall economic growth has been sluggish in recent years.

There has always been a “common sense’ element to this argument. The wealthy tend to save a larger percentage of their income because they (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Paul Krugman writes that the ultra-wealthy’s contempt for anybody short of their own class is becoming more and more explicit around the globe – even when it comes to basic rights like the ability to vote: It’s always good when leaders tell the truth, especially if that wasn’t their intention. So we should be grateful to Leung Chun-ying, the Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, for blurting out the real reason pro-democracy demonstrators can’t get what they want: With open voting, “You would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: On childcare in Ricochet

I forgot to post the piece I wrote on the NDP’s universal childcare proposal for Ricochet. Here it is belatedly. It was published last weekend and tries to situate the childcare proposal in the context of broader changes to the welfare state.

Why the NDP’s childcare proposal has irritated all the right people

The NDP’s universal childcare proposal has the right wing up in arms. Political opponents are playing up the spectre of big government. Their mouthpieces in the media are also predictably upset. The proposed program will be big spending, freedom limiting and unaffordable, they say. Social media (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Thomas Frank reviews Zephyr Teachout’s Corruption in America, and finds there’s even more reason to worry about gross wealth buying power than we could identify before: We think of all the laws passed over the years to restrict money in politics — and of all the ways the money has flowed under and around those restrictions. And finally, it seems to me, we just gave up out of sheer exhaustion. According to Teachout, however, it’s much worse than this. Our current Supreme Court, in Citizens United, “took that which had been (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Blog Action Day 2014: Examine Inequality

This year for Blog Action Day they are tackling inequality, which is great to see! Inequality manifests in various ways that aren’t alway obvious. By having so many global participants today it shows a diversity of thinking and approaches to providing solutions to this global problem.

Be a part of blog action day and post about inequality on your site or share a post with your friends online!

Blog Action Day Livestream.

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Michal Rozworski responds to idealized views of Canadian equality with the reality that we fall well short of the Scandinavian model: Canada appears on many accounts much closer to the US than Sweden, the stand-in for a more robust social democratic and redistributive state. Indeed, looking at the three top rows of the table, there is a clear link between the higher share of income going to the top (inequality) and the higher share of taxes paid for by those at the top (redistribution a la Vox authors Martin and Hertel-Fernandez). On both (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Duncan Cameron discusses how Canada can respond to being stalled economically: In 2011 median earnings in Canada were $30,000. That means one-half of Canadian workers earned less than $30,000. What is more to the point is that earnings in 2011 were $1,800 below the level attained in 1977 (inflation adjusted 2011 dollars)! The pay packet for workers shrunk over that 24 year period.

It’s a big stall — an awful lot of Canadians are not getting ahead.…What has escaped economic stagnation, and gone up in value is what Thomas Piketty called patrimonial (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Is Canada the Sweden of anything?

There was an odd article last week on the explainer site Vox that argued Sweden doesn’t achieve its relative equality with very progressive, “soak the rich” taxation. While Matt Bruenig and Mike Konczal have already provided excellent, US-centred rebuttals to this argument, I thought this would be a good occasion to take a look at some comparative facts about Canadian inequality and overall redistribution.

First, notice that on the chart in the original article, Canada is very close to the US, as being among the “least redistributive”. This goes against the national image of a kinder, gentler capitalism more akin (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- The Star points out what the Cons have destroyed – including public assets and program spending – in order to chip away at the federal deficit caused in the first place by their reckless tax slashing. And Thomas Walkom discusses how their latest “job” scheme does nothing but handing free money to businesses, while Angella MacEwen notes that Canada as a whole is hundreds of thousands of jobs short of reaching its pre-recession employment rate.

- Meanwhile, Bruce Cheadle writes that the Cons’ attempt to build an economy solely around resource exploitation has (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Linda McQuaig discusses the radical difference between how Canadians want to see public resources used (based on the example set by governments elsewhere), and the determination of the Cons and their corporate allies to instead fritter away every dime of fiscal capacity the federal government manages to find: Last week, Germany completed its plan to provide free university tuition to all its students. It’s an idea that no doubt would excite the hopes and dreams of young people in Canada — which explains the need to snuff it out before it catches on.

Certainly, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Ezra Klein discusses how a corporate focus on buybacks and dividends rather than actually investing capital leads to less opportunities for workers. Nora Loreto offers her take on precarious work in Canada. And Lynne Fernandez and Kirsten Bernas make the case for a living wage in Manitoba and elsewhere.

- Paul Krugman writes that if the Republicans manage to take both houses of Congress, we can expect them to turn voodoo economics into the default means of evaluating policy choices.

- Murray Mandryk crunches some numbers and finds that the main effect (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Sean McElwee is the latest to highlight how only a privileged few benefit in either the short term or the long term from unequal economic growth: Milanovic and van der Weide decided to investigate how inequality affects growth across the income spectrum. They used a state-level survey conducted once every decade to estimate annualized income growth at different income percentiles. What the researchers find is that the old story of “trickle down” economics have no support in the data — instead, inequality boosts growth only for the rich.…When the authors dug deeper (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Andrew Jackson takes a look at some dire predictions about the continued spread of inequality, and notes that we need to act now in order to reverse the trend. And UN Special Rapporteur Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona discusses how more progressive tax policies – including a focus on maximizing revenue – are needed to support both greater equality and the effective exercise of human rights: States must realize the full potential of tax collection as a tool to generate revenue for the fulfilment of human rights obligations and to redress discrimination and inequality. Human (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Charlie Smith discusses – and then follows up on – Donald Gutstein’s work in tracing the connections between the Harper Cons and the shadowy, U.S.-based network of right-wing propaganda mills: In Harperism: How Stephen Har­per and His Think Tank Colleagues Have Transformed Canada (James Lorimer & Company Ltd.), Gutstein makes the case that neoliberalism is far more sinister than simply having a desire for smaller government. A central tenet of his new book is that Harper is undermining democracy by marshalling the power of government to create and enforce (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig discusses who stands to lose out from a CETA designed to limit its benefits to the corporate elite. And PressProgress points out that Canada’s pay gap between CEOs and workers is higher than that of any other OECD country other than the U.S.

- Meanwhile, all indications are that the Canadian public is more than ready for a change in direction, as EKOS finds a significant shift toward more progressive positions in the past few years even on many of the issues where the Cons have focused the most (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paul Verhaege discusses how unchecked capitalism is changing our personality traits for the worse: There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won’t really be noticed.

It’s important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you’ve got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Neoliberalism Has Made Us What We Are Today – And That Isn’t Pretty

Neoliberalism is a social, political and economic model best suited to those with psychopathic personality traits.

That, in any case, is the conclusion of Paul Verhaeghe, who dissects neoliberalism and what it has done to us in The Guardian.“Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative.”“..the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Sunday reading.

- Frances Russell notes that the corporate sector is laughing all the way to the bank (and often an offshore one at that) after fifteen years of constant tax slashing, while Canadian citizens haven’t benefited at all from the trickle-down theory. And Jordan Weissmann points out that a recent survey on CEO pay is just the latest example of Americans both severely underestimating the level of inequality in their country, and still preferring a far more equal distribution of wealth.

- Elisabeth Babcock writes that in addition to providing a reasonable standard of living, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Bruce Johnstone points out that one can’t justify Stephen Harper’s gross dereliction of duty in addressing greenhouse gas emissions based on any system of principles other than climate change denialism. And Tony Burman criticizes the Cons for burying their heads in the oil sands, while pointing out that we have plenty of work to do as citizens to replace them with leaders who actually contribute to the most important crisis facing humanity.

- Meanwhile, Jeremy Nuttall reports on the NDP’s work to stop damaging the planet in the name of unfettered resource extraction (Read more…)