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Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Bill Maher offers some simple math and important observations about inequality:

- And Gary Engler proposes ten ways to build a better economic system.

- Vanessa Brcic points out that corporatized medicine is as unethical as it is inefficient. And Garry Patterson laments the premiers’ weak response to the Harper Cons’ attacks on health care.

- Dean Beeby reports that the CRA’s investigation of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is focused squarely on the question of whether the CCPA is adequately complying with the Cons’ definition of rightthink, while Dr. Dawg (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Labour Day reading.

- Andrew Jackson discusses the future of Canada’s labour movement, while Gil McGowan highlights the fact that unionization can be no less important in Alberta and other booming areas than elsewhere. And Jerry Dias notes that there are some reasons for celebration this year.

- But Edward McClelland points out that far too many labourers who would benefit from organization are instead hostile to the idea of unions. And Timothy Noah finds another gap between labour and U.S. centrist liberals – which is mirrored by the relationship between unions and large-L Liberals (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Eric Reguly examines Apple as a prime example of how supposed market successes actually reflect the private capture of public investments – and suggests the public should benefit financially from its investments which facilitate corporate growth: Apple is such a runaway success that its profits pile up like snowdrifts in the Rockies. At last count, Apple was sitting on $165-billion (U.S.) in cash and securities. That’s more than the GDP of Hungary.

What to do with the windfall?…Here’s another idea: Give the surplus cash back to the taxpayer.

It will (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Ralph Surette suggests that Nova Scotia’s tax and regulatory review pay close attention to the fact that it can do more than simply slash both: Nova Scotia already has relatively low corporate taxes and lower than average taxes for the highest earners. Yet none of this can seem to get into the conversation that has us as high-tax, anti-business and anti-everything. I invite the review committee to pin down where we actually stand on the comparative tax scale.

I also invite it to take note of what’s going on next door. New Brunswick (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Paul Buchheit highlights how inequality continues to explode in the U.S. by comparing the relatively small amounts of money spent on even universal federal programs to the massive gifts handed to the wealthy. Christian Weller and Jackie Odum offer a U.S. economic snapshot which shows exactly the same widening gap between the privileged few and everybody else. And Matt Cowgill examines the policies which tend to exacerbate inquality.

- Meanwhile, Thomas Edsall discusses how predatory businesses are turning others’ poverty into further opportunities to extract profits: Sentinel is a part (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: The lament for Canada’s middle class

I’ve been posting more sparsely lately for a number of external reasons but this should change soon I hope. For now, here is the first major piece I wrote for Ricochet. In some ways, it’s the obligatory piece on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, but really it’s my way of trying to think through the hand-wringing about Canada’s middle class. Below are the first couple of sections, read the rest here.

The US is in the throes of a debate about inequality: It’s the Waltons versus the Walmart workers on food stamps, the runaway rich in the 1 (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- thwap nicely summarizes how we’ve allowed our economy to rely on (and feed into) the whims of a small group of insiders, rather than being harnessed for any sense of public good: (W)hat’s changed today is that the wealthy clearly have more money than they know what to do with. And it’s rendered our economies top-heavy. Financialization and financial speculation. Which does nothing for ordinary people. Tax-cuts to wealthy and the corporations just go into the banks and into speculation. Tax-increases to the wealthy and the corporations can help mitigate government deficits (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: When Overshoot Meets Inequality

Tuesday marked Earth Overshoot Day, 2014.  August 19th was the day by which humankind had consumed an entire year’s production of renewable resources. Overall that means we’re using resources more than 1.5 times the rate at which the Earth can replace them.  EOD is a moving target that, unfortunately, keeps moving in the wrong direction.

Overshoot Day got me thinking of a study that came out that found abrupt societal collapse was and will be triggered by two factors – overconsumption and inequality.  The researchers concluded that today’s global civilization is in the throes of these very forces.

(Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: It’s Not That We Disagree, It’s That I Despise Your Ideas

When ever I read another article and view another series of photographs of the carnage Israel has inflicted on the civilian population of Gaza and then think of the Netanyahu apologists, Trudeau and Mulcair, I despise them and any party that would tolerate much less follow their views.  That these two greasy opportunists haven’t been tossed to the street for their blatant pandering tells me all I need to know about the Liberal Party and the New Democrats. 

Our general election is less than a year away, possibly much sooner if Harper sees a window of opportunity in which to (Read more…)

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: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Olga Khazan writes about the connection between lower incomes and obesity in the U.S. And Truthout discusses how poverty and other stressors can directly affect individual and communal genetics for generations: (A) study by researchers at University College London’s Institute of Child Health found that, thanks to epigenetics, children whose parents and grandparents were born into poverty can, themselves, carry the scars of that past poverty with them for the rest of their lives. That’s because children born to families who’ve lived generations in poverty inherit genes configured to help them (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Leonhardt offers a revealing look at the relative priorities of wealthier and poorer regions of the U.S. And Patricia Cohen discusses the disproportionate effect of inequality and poverty on women: It’s at the lowest income levels that the burden on women stands out. Not only are they more likely than men to be in a minimum-wage job, but women are also much more likely to be raising a family on their own. “Inequality is rising among women as well as men, but at the bottom, women are struggling with some dimensions (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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Rebecca Vallas, Melissa Boteach and Shawn Fremstad write about the need for a new social contract. And Drew Nelles takes a look at the role of a guaranteed basic income in ensuring a fair standard of living for everybody: Although implementing basic income would undoubtedly require a reorganization of social assistance provision, with some programs being eliminated or absorbed, it cannot be used as an excuse to dismantle what’s left of the welfare state. Instead, it’s a hopeful idea because it could act as just the opposite: the beginning of a turn away (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jack Peat argues for trickle-up economics to ensure that everybody shares in our common resources (while also encouraging economic development): Good capitalism is the ability to promote incentives and opportunity in equal measure. Sway too far one way and the potential of human capital is stifled, sway too far in the other direction and the willingness to realise this potential also goes amiss. Of late, bad capitalism has manifested itself in incentives over opportunities, and has become a parasitic drag on our economic growth as a result.

A recent IMF study has (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- CJ Werleman writes that the U.S.’ inequality nightmare is getting worse even as the public gains a greater recognition of the issue. Nick Kristof recognizes that radically different levels of wealth result in a serious lack of opportunity for anybody who doesn’t win the genetic lottery. And Katharine Cukier notes that the type of empathy and generosity all too often lacking south of the border has given her and her family a fair chance at happiness in Canada.

- But Ralph Surette observes that the Cons are going out of their (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Green looks at Quebec as a prime example of selective austerity – with tax cuts and other goodies for the wealthy considered sacrosanct, and well-connected insiders being paid substantial sums of public money to tell citizens they’ll have to make do with less: In a move that seems perfectly symbolic of the sort of politics his government represents, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announced this week that the five members of the government commission charged with reviewing government programs and recommending where to make cuts will be paid the tidy sum of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Monica Potts responds to the big lie that increasing inequality and perpetual poverty are necessary – or indeed remotely beneficial – as elements of economic growth: Hanauer and Piketty inspire these broadsides because they are challenging, in a far more aggressive way than plutocrats and economists usually do, the conservative economic orthodoxy that has reigned since at least the 1980s. Under Ronald Reagan, we called it trickle-down economics, the idea that the men who can afford their own private jets—they’re usually men—deserve gobs of money because they provide some special entrepreneurial or innovative (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jenna Smialiek reports on Gabriel Zucman’s conclusion that the .1% has managed to prevent the rest of us from even approaching reasonable estimates as to how much wealth is being hoarded at the top. And Bryce Covert discusses how that carefully-cultivated lack of knowledge figures to distort policy debates.

- Meanwhile, Emily Schwartz Greco and William Collins note that even slight positive news for most of the population – such as modest employment growth in the U.S. – is being treated as a catastrophe by Wall Street since it could result in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Robert Reich muses about how our economy would look if we actually paid people based on their contribution to society rather than their ability to exploit others. In related news, the Broadbent Institute’s next Progress Gala is looking all the more fascinating with the announcement that Reich will be the keynote speaker.

- David MacDonald studies the distribution of income from the tar sands, and predictably finds that the 1% has managed to suck up obscene amounts of income while leaving crumbs for everybody else. But let’s also note that the smallish gains (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert write that an effective solution to wealth inequality shouldn’t be limited to redistributing individual income or assets, but should also include the development of a commonwealth which benefits everybody: Instead of just giving people more purchasing power, we should be taking basic needs off the market altogether.

Consider Social Security, a wildly popular program that doesn’t count toward individual wealth. If Social Security were replaced with a private savings account, individuals would have more “wealth” (because they would have their own financial account) but less actual security. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- John Millar writes that a determined effort to eliminate poverty would be a plus as a matter of mere public accounting (even without taking into account the improved lives of people avoiding the burden of poverty and income insecurity): According to many studies, the Canadian poverty rate remains high. A recent OECD report shows that the very rich are taking an ever greater share of income. And a new study from three leading Canadian academics shows the rich obscure the total extent of their individual wealth through private companies, which means they (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Rick Perlstein observes that Ronald Reagan’s most lasting contribution to American politics may be his admonition not to recognize flaws or past sins which might require serious responses – and that democratic discourse in the U.S. and elsewhere has yet to recover: (T)he baseline is this moment in 1973 when the Vietnam War ends, and that spring, Watergate breaks wide open, after basically disappearing from the political scene for a while. You have this remarkable thing, where Sam Ervin puts these hearings on television. And day after day the public hears White (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig discusses how a burgeoning wealth gap is particularly obvious when it comes to retirement security: Quaint as it now seems, not long ago this was considered a good basic plan: Work hard all your life and then retire with a comfortable pension.

In recent times, a new plan has replaced it: Work hard all your life and then all bets are off.

The notion of retirement security in exchange for a lifetime of hard work — a central element in the implicit social contract between capital and labour in the (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Is r>g in Canada?

Here is a little bit of rainy day economic doodling that may be of interest.

Piketty famously argues that there is a tendency for r – the rate of return on capital- to exceed g- the rate of growth of income. If r>g, wealth and income inequality will grow inexorably since ownership of capital and claims on income from capital are highly concentrated in a few hands.

Piketty’s definition of capital is very broad, and boils down to wealth, including housing and financial assets.

I am not at all sure that house prices must or do increase at a faster (Read more…)