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Accidental Deliberations: On full information

Michael Harris’ latest is well worth a read in offering a guide to avoiding the worst consequences of election-year spin. But it’s worth noting that his most important advice is only presented as an afterthought: Final note on street-proofing your vote? Inform yourself. Look at what the people who want their power renewed have done with it so far, and at what those who seek power say they will do if they get it.

Above all, don’t cast your ballot out of fear.

While the warnings found earlier in Harris’ piece may be helpful as examples of what candidates shouldn’t do (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: Michael Harris’ Guide to Street-Proofing Our Votes

As you may have heard, Ottawa has been swirling with rumours that Stephen Harper could be getting ready to call a very early election. So he can strike before the flames of fear and bigotry he has been fanning die down. And before the Duffy Trial.And although those rumours seem to have subsided, his performance during his year end interview with Peter Mansbridge was less than reassuring in that regard…

And now that he's even crazier than he was back then, he is capable of ANYTHING.So just to be safe, or as safe as you can be in his (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: Michael Harris’ Guide to Street-Proofing Our Votes

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Frank Graves writes that we’re seeing the end of progress for all but the wealthiest few – and that we all stand to lose out if we come to believe that progress for the rest of us is impossible: There is a virtual consensus that a growing and optimistic middle class is a precondition for societal health and economic prosperity. This consensus position reflects the historical record of when nations succeed. Yet if this consensus is correct, we note with alarm that almost nobody thinks that these conditions are in place in Canada. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Nora Loreto rightly challenges the instinct to respond to tragedy with blame in the name of “responsibility”, rather than compassion in the interest of making matters better: Blame is the projection of grief, sadness or fear. It is the projection of our own inadequacies; of our own feelings of, “oh god, that could be my kid” wrapped up in “thank god I’m a better parent than that.” It pretends that all things are equal, that all family situations are equal and all children are essentially the same.

But it’s malicious. Blame, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Nicholas Kristof discusses how U.S. workers have suffered as a result of declining union strength. And Barry Critchley writes that Canada’s average expected retirement age has crept over 65 – with that change coming out of necessity rather than worker choice.

- Alex Andreou rightly slams the concept of “defensive architecture” intended to eliminate the poor from sight rather than actually addressing poverty: “When you’re designed against, you know it,” says Ocean Howell, who teaches architectural history at the University of Oregon, speaking about anti-skateboarding designs. “Other people might not see it, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Elizabeth Renzetti makes clear that we can’t count on one-time crowdsourcing to perform the same function as a social safety net: This is the problem with the wildly popular new online world of what you might call misery fundraising: It semi-solves one small problem while leaving the system in ruins. Crowdfunding someone’s personal tragedy is the equivalent of fixing a broken arm, but closing the hospital.

It used to be that crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter were wonderful places to raise money for cultural projects – movies, plays, even the occasional potato-salad (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Paul Mason discusses the effect a guaranteed annual income could have on individuals’ choices about labour and employment: A true, subsistence level basic income would close to double [existing social spending in the UK]. But it is imaginable, in the short to medium term, if you factor in the benefits.

The first would be to eradicate low-paid menial work. Why slave 10 hours a day with mop and bucket for £12k when you get £6k for free? Corporations would rebalance their business models towards a high pay, stable consumption, low-ish profit world, and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Will Hutton writes about the connection between inequality and the loss of any moral or social purpose in public life: Britain is beset by a crisis of purpose. We don’t know who we are any longer, where we are going or even if there is a “we”. The country is so passionately attached to past glories because there are so few to celebrate in the present. The crisis is compounded since we have been told for 30 years that the route to universal wellbeing is to abandon the expense of justice (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Paul Rosenberg writes about the high-priced effort to undermine public institutions and the collective good in the U.S. And Paul Krugman highlights how the Republicans’ stubborn belief in the impossibly of good government (regardless of large amounts of evidence that such a thing is possible and desirable) has produced the U.S.’ combination of waste and gridlock: On issues that range from monetary policy to the control of infectious disease, a big chunk of America’s body politic holds views that are completely at odds with, and completely unmovable by, actual experience. (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: Can Canadians Be Bought By The Grubby Stephen Harper?

He hasn't been seen for days, since he sent his shabby minions out to announce that he was proroguing the budget until April.So he's probably banging away on his piano in his gloomy basement, trying to figure out how he can restore the surplus he blew before he had one.So he can try to buy the votes of even MORE Canadians.But at least now, thanks to Jason Kenney, we have some idea of how he plans to do that. By whipping out a massive chain saw and cutting government to the bloody bone. Read more »

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Oliver Milman reports on research showing how humanity is destroying its own environmental life support systems. And our appetite for exploitation is proving a failure even from the standpoint of the pursuit of shortsighted greed, as David Dayen considers how the recent drop in oil prices – and consequent market forces limiting further production – may affect a financial sector relying on constant expansion.

- Michael Harris offers another look at the real Stephen Harper to counter the barrage of selective imaging we’ll see throughout the year. And Bob Hepburn discusses the need (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Hugh Segal discusses the need for an open and honest conversation about poverty and how to end it. And to better reflect Canadians’ continued desire for a more fair society, Roderick Benns makes the case for a basic income as Canada’s next major social program.

- Matt Bruenig writes about the U.S.’ income inequality as compared to other developed countries- and it’s well worth noting that Canada’s distribution is only slightly less distorted than the U.S.’.

- Margo McDiarmid reports on the Cons’ latest steps to block any (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: How We Can Stop Harper and Take Our Country Back

In my last post I looked at Stephen Harper’s ghastly record and wondered how he gets away with it. And I said that I was confident that although a lot of people in this country are discouraged, that record would come back to haunt him in the election campaign.Despite his desperate efforts to reinvent himself…

Especially since that record is even worse than most people imagine. As Michael Harris explains in this shocking video…

And the good news is, as Harris says at the end, we can do something about it:“The difference is us. If we stand (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: How We Can Stop Harper and Take Our Country Back

Montreal Simon: Brigette DePape, Michael Harris, and the Stop Harper Movement

When I think about how we might create a mighty movement to help the progressive parties bring down the Con regime.And I am assailed by the usual doubts about whether one person can even hope to make a difference in this filthy Harperland.I remember the brave young Senate page Brigette DePape, who set an example for us all…

Did show us the way.And did make a difference.Read more »

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jordon Cooper rightly argues that we should move away from forcing people to rely on homeless shelters and other stopgap measures when we can afford to provide permanent homes: We fill a bus for the hungry while ignoring that the reason for it is that social service programs depend in part on our generosity to feed people. We bring care packages to shelters and forget that cities elsewhere in Canada have drastically reduced the number of people in shelters and the time they spend there, and that it’s cheaper than keeping people (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Aditya Chakrabortty contrasts the myth of the free market against the reality that massive amounts of public money and other privileges are shoveled toward the corporate sector: Few conceits are more cherished by our political classes than the notion that this is a free-market economy. To the right it is what makes Britain great. For the left it is what they are up against. And for the rich it is what justifies their huge pay packets: after all, they have earned it.

When asked for his view of western civilisation, Gandhi said he (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: Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Murray Dobbin writes about the damage caused after decades of allowing the corporate elite to dictate economic policy – and notes that the Cons are determined to make matters all the worse: However you see it — as separate from society or integral to it – Canada’s “economy” is increasingly at the mercy of a risk-averse, inept corporate elite addicted to government tax breaks and an ideologically addled government which more than anything else is simply incompetent. It is a deadly combination — a sort of dumb and dumber team slowly dragging us backwards (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jeremy Warren reports on the latest Canadians for Tax Fairness events working to ensure that Cameco and other megacorporations pay at least their fair share. And Sheila Block and Kaylie Tiessen point out that Ontario could do plenty to reduce its deficit by reining in regressive tax giveaways.

- APTN documents the devastating reality that people who can’t afford overpriced food in Northern communities are having to forage through garbage dumps in order to scrape by. And naturally, Leona Aglukkaq and the Cons are concerned…that anybody’s finding out about that fact, leading (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Ed Broadbent laments Canada’s failure to meet its commitment to end child poverty – and notes that the Harper Cons in particular are headed in exactly the wrong direction: This child poverty rate is a national disgrace. It jumped from 15.8 per cent in 1989 to 19.2 per cent in 2012, according to a Statistics Canada custom tabulation for Campaign 2000.

The Harper Conservatives have continued to let down the country’s poor children and their parents. They have not increased targeted income supports for low-income families. Instead, they are expanding flat (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Richard Wike notes that inequality is properly being recognized as a higher priority around the globe. But Steven Rattner observes that recognition of the issue isn’t doing anything to resolve it, as income and wealth concentration are only getting worse. And Linda McQuaig discusses the need for far more political attention to the gap in Canada: Apart from the obvious issue of fairness, this diversion of money to the top raises other issues that should be central to meaningful public debate.

For instance, there is growing evidence that a high level of inequality (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…)