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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

 - Lynn Stuart Parramore writes about our increasingly traumatic social and political culture, along with the response which can help to overcome it: A 2012 study of hospital patients in Atlanta’s inner-city communities showed that rates of post-traumatic stress are now on par with those of veterans returning from war zones. At least 1 out of 3 surveyed said they had experienced stress responses like flashbacks, persistent fear, a sense of alienation, and aggressive behavior. All across the country, in Detroit, New Orleans, and in what historian Louis Ferleger describes as economic “ (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- George Monbiot comments on the far more important values we’re endangering in the name of constant financial and material growth: To try to stabilise this system, governments behave like soldiers billeted in an ancient manor, burning the furniture, the paintings and the stairs to keep themselves warm for a night. They are breaking up the postwar settlement, our public health services and social safety nets, above all the living world, to produce ephemeral spurts of growth. Magnificent habitats, the benign and fragile climate in which we have prospered, species that have lived (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Slavery is freedom

Shorter Brianna Heinrichs: Oh sure, you soft-hearted progressives think you’re helping workers with your “employment standards” and your “occupational health and safety”. But have you ever considered some people might prefer to have serfdom as an option?

Canadian Dimension: Dining Out in Dinkytown

Available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration

If you are in Minneapolis, after a hard day’s night, the place to go for a morning pick-me-up is Al’s Breakfast. Or so I was informed. Being in the Twin Cities in mid-July, I made my way to the legendary AM eatery, located in the heart of Dinkytown, the neighbourhood adjacent to the University of Minnesota where Al’s is located.

Mind you, no one had told me anything about the place. My heart sank as I rounded the 14th Avenue corner and took in the line that had formed (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jonas Fossli Gherso discusses the unfortunate (and unnecessary) acceptance of burgeoning inequality even by the people who suffer most from its presence. And Ryan Meili interviews Gabor Mate about the ill health effects of an economic system designed to keep people under stress: (T)he very nature of the system in which people live their lives is a significant source of illness. Now there are obvious factors like environmental pollution, toxins, and then of course there are the social determinants of health that you write about in A Healthy Society: the impact of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Shannon Gormley points out that human rights are meaningless in the face of a government which claims the entitlement to strip people of their humanity – which is exactly what the Cons are setting out to do: (W)hen Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced this year that, “Citizenship is not a right, it is a privilege,” most human rights advocates couldn’t take him seriously. He may as well have declared that the curvature of the earth is merely an optical illusion and the world is indeed flat, or that the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Barrie McKenna looks to Norway as an example of how an oil-rich country can both ensure long-term benefits from its non-renewable resources, and be far more environmentally responsible than Canada has been to date.

- Michal Rozworski discusses how the devaluing of work is a largely political phenomenon. And Paul Mason wonders what it will take for workers who now see themselves as disenfranchised to fight back again a system that’s rigged against them. 

- Speaking of which, Brendan James discusses a new study suggesting that the U.S. is past the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The Globe and Mail reminds us why we should demand the restoration of an effective census, while Evidence for Democracy is making a public push toward that goal. And Tavia Grant discusses how the destruction of effective data collection is affecting Canadian workplace: Reliable, complete and up-to-date labour market data is a crucial component of government policy, influencing everything from educational priorities to immigration.

Yet, fallout from faulty or missing labour market information has made headlines on a number of issues this year alone. It’s been hard to pinpoint the size of the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jessica McCormick and Jerry Dias respond to Stephen Poloz’ view that young workers should be happy to work for free, and note that he of all people shouldn’t be pointing the finger at individuals to address problems with systemic unemployment: The most infuriating aspect of Poloz’s statement is that he himself could do more than virtually any other Canadian to help put young people into real, paying jobs. Monetary policy is one of the most potent tools to stimulate spending power and job-creation. The Bank of Canada could do much more to create (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Heather Mallick and Linda McQuaig both weigh in on the connection between income splitting and the Cons’ plans for social engineering. And Scott Clark and Peter DeVries point out that a giveaway to wealthy families is as indefensible from an economic standpoint as from a social one: (T)his tax conversation is simply the wrong one for us to be having right now. Why the rush to cut taxes? More importantly, why these tax cuts — ones which will do nothing at all to jump-start Canada’s anemic economic growth rate?

The unemployment rate (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, arguing that while Stephen Poloz is indeed thoroughly out of touch in suggesting that people entering the workforce should take on unpaid internships as matters stand now, we should in fact make sure that unpaid work (or study, or other activity) is a viable option for young workers.

For further reading…- The CP reports on Poloz’ comments here, while Tavia Grant expands on the story here. CBC follows up with a Saskatchewan perspective here. And Elizabeth Lane looks at the issue as one of the workers who’s been unable to find a job despite ample training (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension: Can We Defend Our Pensions Without Challenging Financialized Capitalism?

Photo from Public Domain

Unrelenting employer attacks on workplace based pension plans are intensifying, and the struggle to defend them is becoming more challenging right across the country.

One recent development appears to be an important partial victory. Some 900 workers at Bombardier’s Thunder Bay production facility, represented by Unifor, launched an eight-week strike on July 14, and the dispute centred on an employer demand to eliminate the secure, “defined benefit” type pension plan with an individualized “defined contribution” savings scheme for all new hires. Bombardier’s proposal was hardly a new idea – private sector employers (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jim Stanford points out that the choice to leave drug development to the market resulted in a promising ebola vaccine going unused – and indeed untested – for years until the disease threatened a wealthy enough target population: Canada’s outstanding work to invent one of the world’s most promising vaccines against Ebola perfectly epitomizes both the promise of public research, and the perverse incentives of the for-profit industry. Early this century Health Canada recognized the need for an Ebola vaccine, and assigned scientists with the Public Health Agency of Canada to find one. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Will Hutton rightly slams David Cameron for his antisocial view of taxes and public institutions – which should of course sound all too familiar in Canada: Believe the prime minister and it is morality, rather than economics, which requires him to cut taxes. In an important article in the Times last week that was factually incorrect, philosophically incoherent and economically bonkers, David Cameron set out the Tory credo. He was wrong on all counts. Trying to argue why every reader should vote Conservative, he instead revealed the darkness of the blind alley (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Chris Matthews takes note of the gross growth of inequality in the U.S. Dean Baker notes that much of the wealth built on what’s branded as “innovation” reflects little more than successful attempts to evade health, safety and consumer protection laws. And Mike De Souza explores how the notorious ALEC pushes climate denial and other anti-social policies with an alarming amount of support from businesses who (once challenged) claim not to know who they’re funding.

- Meanwhile, Digby points out that the corporatist right is downright eager to work people to the (Read more…)

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…)

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: 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: New column day

Here, on how precarity is a serious concern in far more areas than the workplace alone – and how we should think about public policy as a means of eliminating precarity (whether it be in work, housing, food or other necessities of life) wherever possible.

For further reading…- Once again, there’s been plenty of discussion about the hazards of precarious work. But for a few examples see pieces from Emily Fister (interviewing Andrew Longhurst), Margaret Simms, and Nora Loreto. – And it’s also been well documented that other aspects of poverty also cause enormous and avoidable personal (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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Alex Hunsberger argues that the Good Jobs Summit reflected a gap between labour strategies aimed merely at trying to take a slightly larger cut of a corporate-owned system, and those which actually propose and fight for something better: The most useful and engaging part of the weekend occurred not in the plenary sessions but during the small group discussions on Saturday, where participants had a chance to talk to one another in more depth about questions related to labour’s strategy to improve conditions for workers…Participants asked questions such as: Why bribe (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: 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…)