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Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- PressProgress notes that the Cons’ economic track record is one of eliminating well-paying jobs in favour of lower-wage, more-precarious work. And Jim Stanford follows up on why we shouldn’t believe the Cons’ spin about deficits: I think that a more fruitful and principled line of attack on the government’s approach would focus on these obvious fiscal and economic errors by the government: The October tax cuts were premature; it is tax cuts, not oil prices, which have jeopardized the attainment of a balanced budget.  The Conservatives broke their own promise in implementing (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jim Stanford reminds us that any drama as to whether Canada’s budget will be balanced this year is entirely of the Cons’ own making through pointless tax slashing: Running spending cuts since 2011 now total more than $14-billion a year. Canadians experience real consequences from those cuts every day: shuttered veterans’ offices, deteriorating statistical data, questionable railway and food safety, ridiculous waits for statutory benefits and more. Federal government employment has plunged by 47,000 jobs since 2011 – explaining much of Canada’s lousy job-market performance. These sacrifices were not necessary. Worse yet, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Crawford Kilian writes that growing inequality has been largely the product of deliberate engineering rather than any natural process, while Paul Krugman focuses on the preferential treatment of capital income in particular. And Simon Barrow discusses the sources and beneficiaries of the increasing wealth gap: (T)he anti-change interests arrayed against any attempt to substantially reform global finance, block the privileging of huge corporate interests (TTIP being a prime example), ensure labour rights, address income and wealth gaps, stop tax evasion and tax dodging by the wealthiest on an industrial scale, legally enshrine transparency (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Amy Goodman discusses Barack Obama’s call to reverse the spread of inequality in the U.S. And Seumas Milne writes that the effort will inevitably challenge the world oligarchs have built up to further their own wealth and power at everybody else’s expense: In most of the world, labour’s share of national income has fallen continuously and wages have stagnated under this regime of privatisation, deregulation and low taxes on the rich. At the same time finance has sucked wealth from the public realm into the hands of a small minority, even (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Tasini at Daily Kos discusses the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy’s finding that every single U.S. state has a regressive tax structure in the taxes imposed at the state and local level. And John Cassidy examines the Center for American Progress’ proposals for more inclusive prosperity: Based on a retelling of recent economic history that should by now be familiar, the report argues that more aggressive measures are needed to tackle wage stagnation and rising inequality. In the U.S. case, the report’s recommendations include raising the minimum wage, encouraging (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the Wall government’s secret attack on overtime pay for retail workers – and how it reflects a preference for the rule of lobbyists over the rule of law.

For further reading…- See my previous posts here, here and here for background on the story – including the Ministry’s directives to staff at the second link.- And I’ll note that selective “flexibility” – defined as workers bending over backwards to serve their corporate overlords – is the Saskatchewan Party’s main excuse for cutting workers’ overtime pay. And Katie Mazer discusses how that same principle applies (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Joan Walsh discusses Elizabeth Warren’s work on improving wages and enhancing the strength of workers in the U.S., while Jeremy Nuttall interviews Hassan Yussuff about the labour movement’s work to elect a better government in Canada.

- Bob Hepburn argues that getting rid of the Harper Cons is a first step toward regaining some faith in our political system. And Scott Reid worries that Stephen Harper’s cynical view of government in anybody’s hands may have spread to Canada’s electorate – though while there’s plenty of work to be done in the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On overtime losses

Those readers who follow my law blog will already be familiar with this week’s news about the Saskatchewan Party government’s attack on overtime pay for retail workers. But I’ll take some time to assemble the full story here.

Historically, a “day” for the purpose of calculating overtime for Saskatchewan workers has been defined as any consecutive period of 24 hours. All Saskatchewan workers have been entitled to overtime if they are required to work more than 8 hours in any such period.

As part of its response to the Saskatchewan Party’s employment law review process, the Retail Council of Canada (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Robert Ferdman reports on a Pew Research poll showing that wealthier Americans are downright resentful toward the poor – and think the people with the most difficult lives actually have it too easy: (T)he prevalence of the view might reflect an inability to understand the plight of those who have no choice but to seek help from the government. A quarter of the country, after all, feels that the leading reason for inequality in America is that the poor don’t work hard enough.

But as my colleague Christopher Ingraham pointed out last (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Alex Himelfarb and Jordan Himelfarb write about the growing appetite for stronger public services and the taxes needed to fund them in 2014 – even if we’re a long way from having that translated into real policy changes: Certainly tax phobia has framed our politics and shaped our governments. Our politicians of every stripe seem to believe that Canadians want tax cuts, whatever the costs, and won’t accept tax increases, whatever the benefits. This austerity mindset stunts the political imagination, making us doubt that we can do great things or much of anything (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Lynn Parramore interviews Joseph Stiglitz about the spread of inequality, along with the need for a strengthened labour movement to reverse the trend: LP: In your paper, you indicate that the power of the 1 percent to exploit the rest seems to be increasing. Why is this happening? Are there limits to this exploitation?

JS: In a more careful, academic way of putting it I would say that one of the explanations of what is going on is increased exploitation. You see the ratio of wages to productivity going way down, and (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension: Here We Come A-Picketing! Christmas Carols, Class Conflict, and the Eaton’s Strike, 1984-85

Scanned from personal collection of Skeezix1000

By mid-December, the holiday shopping season is usually in full swing for Canadian retailers. Thirty years ago, however, several Eaton’s department stores in southern Ontario were experiencing a different type of holiday hustle and bustle: Eaton’s workers were on strike.

Hoping that unionization would improve their wages and working conditions, many of the department stores’ mostly female workers had joined the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU); but management’s refusal to negotiate left them with few options but to withdraw their labour power. On 30 November 1984 RWDSU members at six Eaton’s locations (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Thomas Walkom discusses why politicians have thus far failed to take any meaningful action on climate change. But it’s also worth noting that the question of whether voters are pushing for change may not be the only determining factor in government decision-making.

Most obviously, debt and deficits (which are no less distant from the immediate interests of voters than climate change) are seen as demanding constant and immediate action even at the expense of anybody’s apparent short-term political interests – with unpopular and destructive policy choices regularly defended based on the accepted belief (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Mariana Mazzucato comments on the role of the innovative state – and the unfortunate reality that we currently lack anything of the sort due to corporatist thinking: (T)hanks in part to the conventional wisdom about its dynamism and the state’s sluggishness, the private sector has been able to successfully lobby governments to weaken regulations and cut capital gains taxes. From 1976 to 1981 alone, after heavy lobbying from the National Venture Capital Association, the capital gains tax rate in the United States fell from 40 percent to 20 percent. And in the name (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Barrie McKenna comments on how far too many governments have bought into the P3 myth with our public money: Governments in Canada have become seduced by the wonders of private-public partnerships – so-called P3s – and blind to their potentially costly flaws. In a typical P3 project, the government pays a private sector group to build, finance and operate everything from transit lines to hospitals, sometimes over decades.

These projects almost always cost significantly more than if governments just put up the money themselves and hired contractors to build the same infrastructure, under (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Kevin Page points out a few of the issues which should be on the table when Canada’s finance ministers meet next week: Our finance ministers are smart. They know that faster growth is going to require higher investment rates and sustainable public finances. But the reality is that Canada is falling down on capital investments in both the private and public sectors. Business capital investment has grown a weak 2 per cent over the past two years. That is not boosting the investment rate. Meanwhile, government capital investment has declined 2 per (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The OECD reports on the relationship between equality and growth, and concludes that rising inequality is as toxic for economic development as it is for our social fabric. And David Rider discusses how increasing inequality is manifesting itself in several Toronto neighbourhoods.

- Meanwhile, Daniel Tancer finds finds that Canada’ workers receive a significantly lower share of income than in other developed countries: Our modern economy is anything but egalitarian, and labour’s share of income has been shrinking for decades as business profits soar while wages stagnate.

On this measure, Canada is (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Will Hutton compares the alternative goals of either shrinking government to the point where it does nothing or harnessing it to meet everybody’s basic needs, and explains why we should demand the latter: A financial crisis has been allowed to morph into a crisis of public provision because the government of the day will not lift a finger to compensate for the haemorrhaging of the UK tax base. What the state does is not the subject of a collective decision with concerned weighing of options. Instead, it’s an afterthought, with the greater priorities (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Walden Bello discusses the need for our political system to include constant citizen engagement, not merely periodic elections to determine who will be responsible to implement the wishes of the elite: Even more than dictatorships, Western-style democracies are, we are forced to conclude, the natural system of governance of neoliberal capitalism, for they promote rather than restrain the savage forces of capital accumulation that lead to ever greater levels of inequality and poverty. In fact, liberal democratic systems are ideal for the economic elites, for they are programmed with periodic electoral exercises that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Monica Pohlmann interviews Armine Yalnizyan about the undue influence of our corporate overlords in setting public policy: What’s your sense of the state of our democracy?

We have a troubled relationship with our democratic institutions. We need to get over the idea that government is something and someone else. The government is us. The idea that governments are largely useless, that they’re more likely to make a mess than fix things, is exactly what corporations would like us to think. It gives them more freedom to use the enormous power of the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Martin O’Neill and Rick Pearce interview Thomas Piketty about possible policy responses to growing inequality: [Martin O'Neill]…(D)o you think that the response to the increase in inequality might be one that explores the sorts of avenues that Meade opened up, and doesn’t just rely on mechanisms of redistribution through the tax system?  Thomas Piketty: Yes, I think that you are right – I am glad that you have asked this question. First I would like to pay tribute to James Meade and this long tradition of British economists, including Tony (Read more…)

wmtc: #walmartstrikers + international buy nothing day = don’t shop at walmart

I don’t know when people starting calling the day after US Thanksgiving “Black Friday,” but the expression has become synonymous with over-consumption, empty consumer culture, and the bizarre importance assigned to hunting for bargains.

And what a bargain it is: a multibillion-dollar corporation sells a piece of crappy future landfill at an artificially low price by manufacturing it halfway around the globe with child labour, dumping toxins into the environment, and paying its own customers sub-living wages. In return, consumers agree to see nothing and know nothing except the price sticker. It’s a deal that is devouring our planet, and (Read more…)

Art Threat: Activist pasts, austere presents, queered futures: An interview with Emily Davidson

“Imagine a new relationship to every aspect of everything.”

“Capitalism has fallen; Art must be redefined.”

“You get to pick your gender when you come of age, but feel free to change your mind.”

“Living together is still hard; Art makes it better.”

These missives from the Inner City Artists’ Commune arrive to us from a post-capitalist future, as envisioned by Halifax-based artist and community organizer Emily Davidson as part of her contribution to the Activist Ink exhibition in early 2013 at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery.

“I was frustrated with seeing history repeat (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood discusses the close connection between the energy sector and inequality in Canada – with the obvious implication that policies dedicated to unduly favouring the former will inevitably produce the latter:  (T)he real story from last week’s Stats Can report isn’t that Canada is turning the tide on inequality, but that the energy sector is a key driver of income inequality in Canada. Massive investment in the oil sands has benefited the wealthiest earners to the exclusion of most other Canadians, and those immense gains have simply been slightly reduced from their (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Daniel Tencer reports on a couple of important recent warnings that Canada is in danger of following the U.S. down the path of extreme corporatism and inequality: Speaking at a fundraiser for the left-leaning Broadbent Institute, Reich said Canada is facing the same inequality-growing “structural problems” that the rest of the developed world is facing. Those two structural problems are globalization and automation, he said.

He noted that businesses in the digital era require far fewer employees, citing the example of WhatsApp, the messaging app bought by Facebook. At the time (Read more…)