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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that to end your weekend.

- Paul Krugman notes that a concerted effort to combat climate change could be as beneficial economically as it is important for the future of our planet: Where is the new optimism about climate change and growth coming from? It has long been clear that a well-thought-out strategy of emissions control, in particular one that puts a price on carbon via either an emissions tax or a cap-and-trade scheme, would cost much less than the usual suspects want you to think. But the economics of climate protection look even better now than they (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Benjamin Shingler reports on the push for a basic annual income in Canada. And Christopher Blattman notes that cash serves as a valuable treatment for poverty wherever one diagnoses the disease: The poor do not waste grants. Recently, two World Bank economists looked at 19 cash transfer studies in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Almost all showed alcohol and tobacco spending fell or stayed the same. Only two showed any significant increase, and even there the evidence was mixed. You might worry handouts encourage idleness. But in most experiments, people worked more after (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Thomas Frank discusses the corporate takeover of U.S. politics – and how even nominally left-oriented parties are willing to go along with the corporate position even as voters regularly demand something else: One of the reasons the phrase appealed to me, 17 years ago, was my belief back then that there was something essentially brutal about raw capitalism; if the nation was to suppress the regulations and the workers’ organizations that had tamed the beast over the years—even if we did so with the best of intentions—the economy would return quite naturally (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Kathleen Geier discusses the U.S.’ culture of overwork and its human toll: There is abundant evidence that long working hours is incredibly dangerous from a public health perspective. Fatigued or sleep-deprived workers who drive or operate heavy machinery are an obvious menace to public safety, but there are other health costs associated with overwork as well. A 2004 Center for Disease Control report found that excessive overtime was associated with “poorer perceived general health, increased injury rates, more illnesses, and increased mortality,” and a 2008 study linked long work hours to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Neil Irwin highlights the reality that top-heavy economic growth has done nothing to reduce poverty in the U.S. over the past 40 years: In Kennedy’s era, [the "rising tide lifts all boats" theory] had the benefit of being true. From 1959 to 1973, the nation’s economy per person grew 82 percent, and that was enough to drive the proportion of the poor population from 22 percent to 11 percent. But over the last generation in the United States, that simply hasn’t happened. Growth has been pretty good, up 147 percent per capita. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Jim Stanford looks into the fine print of the Hudak PCs’ assumptions about corporate tax slashing and finds that even their own numbers show that most of the money gifted to corporations would be thrown away (emphasis added): On second reading there are other interesting aspects to the Conference Board simulation of corporate tax reductions.  The one that jumped out at me was their estimate of increased business capital spending after the tax cut (reported in Table 5, and the main driver of economic benefits in the simulation), reported in the fifth (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Frank Vibert writes that our democratic system includes more than just electoral politics, while recognizing that we all too often neglect the distinct role of regulatory bodies: When one looks more closely at regulation and the interdependencies between systems the more apparent it becomes that regulation now needs to be viewed as a basic means of coordination in modern democratic societies. For example it corrects for the inadequacies of the law in dealing with evidence from the natural and social sciences – an area where lawyers, judges and juries have special difficulties. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- David Atkins highlights how public policy and corporate strategy have both instead been directed toward squeezing every possible dime out of the public: The less noticed but potentially more consequential way that policymakers across the industrialized world set about accomplishing this goal was to push their middle classes to invest their wealth into assets, especially stocks and real estate, then use the levers of public policy to inflate the values of those assets in order to disguise the inevitable declines in wages. There was also a concerted effort to hide wage losses by (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Alex Himelfarb and Jordan Himelfarb comment on the dangers of failing to talk about taxes: The tax debate is often muddied by disagreement about whether taxes have actually gone up or down. As the economy grows, so too do tax revenues and spending, which is why many (though not all) prefer to measure tax as a percentage of the economy (GDP). The only good data on this come from StatsCan in a survey discontinued in 2008. These numbers show a decline in the scale of tax and spending over the last several decades, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Michael Harris writes that the Cons’ primary purpose while in power has been to hand further power and wealth to those who already have more than they know what to do with: These corporations and their political mouthpiece, the Republican Party, are Stephen Harper’s heroes. He has spent his entire political career marching Canada down the same corporate road that leads to oligarchy. He is less the prime minister of a country, than a super-salesman of corporate interests. That’s why his policies often look so wacky but aren’t. They do exactly what they (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Paul Krugman explains how one’s political values figure to affect one’s view of evidence as to the success or failure of a policy: (T)he liberal and conservative movements are not at all symmetric in their goals. Conservatives want smaller government as an end in itself; liberals don’t seek bigger government per se — they want government to achieve certain things, which is quite different. You’ll never see liberals boasting about raising the share of government spending in GDP the way conservatives talk proudly about bringing that share down. Because liberals want government to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Michael Harris observes that the Cons’ vote suppression tactics match the worst abuses we’d expect from the Tea Party: Stephen Harper would make a good governor of Arizona.

In addition to the lies and sleaziness his government has been serving up during its majority, its sickening reliance on marketing over truth, its dishonest use of technology in political matters, and its shameful abuse of language, the prime minister is blighting democracy in the name of political advantage.

When Stephen Harper gave Canada fixed elections dates, no one expected a whole lot more “fixing” (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Trish Hennessy’s latest numbers focus on the skills gap myth in Canada. And PressProgress documents a few of the Cons’ damaging public service cuts which kicked in yesterday, while Theresa Boyle reports on the end of Canada’s health care accords (featuring the observations of Roy Romanow on the end of meaningful federal participation in our health care system).

- Scott Stelmaschuk’s latest post fits nicely with the theme of yesterday’s comment on the importance of seeing politics first and foremost as a means of improving the world around us – rather than a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Yves Smith notes that a short-sighted focus on returns for shareholders generally represents a poor allocation of resources even on the level of a single corporation – while also pointing out what that mindset does when shared across the business sector: As the Occupy Wall Street movement correctly recognized, the concentration of income and wealth of the economic top “one percent” of society has left the rest of us largely high and dry. Corporate profits are increasingly going to share buybacks or dividend distribution, but very little is going back into research and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Nafeez Ahmed writes about the dangers of combining growing inequality and increased resource extraction: By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.

These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Brian and Karen Foster question why steadily improving productivity has led to increasing stratification rather than better lives for a large number of people: (W)ith all the optimism, why hasn’t technological progress actually opened up a world where we all work, and we all work less? Why do we still have some people working overtime while others sit idle, wishing for employment? Why are we not seeing the spread of work-sharing schemes, where the duties of one job are divided into two or more jobs?

We have a government program that helps companies (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- The Star’s editorial board sees Canada’s woeful job numbers as a signal that it’s time for some economic management in the interests of people (rather than artificial manipulation of numbers): Economists used words like “dismal” and “ugly” for these results, and no wonder. Last year turned out to be the worst year for job growth in Canada since the recession of 2008-2009. And this was just the latest evidence that Canada’s recovery has stalled. The experts are even starting to speculate about a possible cut in interest rates – not the eventual (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Michael Katz looks back at how the U.S. abandoned its poor – and how that choice continues to affect people across the income spectrum today. And Michael Valpy discusses how Canada can and should avoid travelling any further down the same path – with his “Big Four” ideas focusing on mandatory voting, proportional representation, a guaranteed basic income and protections for vulnerable workers.

- Jeffrey Simpson describes the Cons’ narrow focus on about 10 per cent of the Canadian electorate in the lead up to the next federal election, while Andrew Jackson (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- In the course of grading Canada’s job market, Kayle Hatt traces the rise of precarious employment in both absolute and relative numbers – and notes that other countries haven’t seen the same type of move toward temporary employment encouraged by the Cons. And in a similar vein, Duncan Cameron rightly brands the Cons as the “bad jobs party”.

- Meanwhile, the lack of stability in any single job makes it all the more important to ensure that Canada’s retirement system provides for security even among workers who have been pushed from employer (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Hassan Arif theorizes that a failure to identify and address growing inequality may have played a significant role in the rise of Rob Ford’s destructive anti-socialism: The Toronto of towering new condos, of downtown coffee shops and trendy restaurants and stores, is far removed from the Toronto of these low-income, suburban, and largely visible minority residents. A “plain-talking” politician who rails against downtown elites, against “slick talking lawyers”, “consultants”, and recipients of “research grants” appeals to those who feel left behind.…These concerns, about suburban alienation, about inequality, are concerns that need to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Nick Cohen writes that the corporate sector is home to some of the most dangerous cult philosophy in the world: (T)he language of business has become ever more cultish. In the theory of “transformational leadership”, which dominates the business schools, the CEO is a miracle worker. In Transformational Leadership, by Bernard Bass and Ronald Riggio, he is described, not by some gullible Forbes hack, but by two supposedly intelligent American academics. The transformational leader “inspires” his follower to “achieve extraordinary outcomes”, they say. He “empowers them” to “exceed expected performance” and show (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Paul Wells and Dan Lett offer roundups of today’s federal by-elections, while Chantal Hebert offers some advice to the candidates (whether or not they’re elected to Parliament today). And Murray Dobbin explains why there’s only one true progressive choice in Toronto Centre in particular: McQuaig’s Liberal opponent in the riding is Chrystia Freeland, a parachute candidate who is being touted as a progressive with deep concerns about inequality. Trudeau has tried to boost her profile by stating that he wants her in his “inner circle.”

The problem is that there is nothing (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- George Monbiot writes that corporate control over a political system may be a huge factor in limiting public participation – even as it makes a substantial counterweight all the more important: The political role of business corporations is generally interpreted as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy. In reality they belong on the inside. They are part of the nexus of power that creates policy. They face no significant resistance, from either government or opposition, as their interests have now been woven into the fabric of all three main political parties in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Tim Harper discusses Stephen Harper’s current list of distractions – with Rob Ford and his Senate appointees naturally topping the list. But sadly, while John Ivison may be right in noting that actual citizens are having trouble getting the Cons to bother administering federal programs, the combination of scandal and dishonesty doesn’t seem to be slowing down their anti-worker omnibus legislation in the slightest.

- On the Senate front, Scott Stelmaschuk compares the Duffy payoff and cover-up to the long-forgotten Chuck Cadman scandal – with the key differences in exposing the story being (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Thomas Walkom writes that the Harper Cons’ much-hyped economic record in fact offers ample reason to demand a change in government: The Conservatives insist that the economy is their strong suit. And for a while it was. In 2011, voters bought Harper’s pitch.

But voter patience can last only so long. For too many Canadians, life is not improving. Income gaps are becoming more blatant. Wages are sluggish. Students are taking on massive debts to prepare themselves for jobs that, in the end, fail to materialize.

Those lucky enough to have jobs — (Read more…)