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Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

– Peter Fleming writes that the promise of entrepreneurial self-employment has given way to the nightmare of systematic precarious work: (T)he move to reclassify people as self-employed follows a very simple formula: it helps reduce labour costs and maximise profits for businesses that would rather use contractors than a . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

– Christopher Ingraham points out that while many luxuries are getting cheaper with time, the necessities of life are becoming much more difficult to afford:

Many manufactured goods — like TVs and appliances — come from overseas, where labor costs are cheaper. “International, global competition lowers prices directly from lower-cost imported goods, and indirectly by forcing U.S. manufacturers to behave more competitively, with lower prices, higher quality, better service, et cetera,” Perry said.

On the flip side, things like education and medical care can’t be produced in a factory, so those pressures do not apply. Compounding it, many Americans are insulated from the full costs of these services. Private and public insurance companies pay most medical costs, so there tends to be little incentive for individuals to shop around for cheaper medical care.

In the case of higher education, the nation’s massive student loan industry bears much of the upfront burden of rising prices. To the typical 18-year-old, a $120,000 tuition bill may seem like an abstraction when you don’t have to start paying it off until your mid-20s or later. As a result, the nation’s college students and graduates now collectively owe upward of $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.
“Prices rise when [health care and college] markets are not competitive and not exposed to global competition,” Perry said, “and prices rise when easy credit is available.”

Hence, our current predicament. We can afford the things we don’t need, but we need the things we can’t afford.

– Alex Usher notes how one of the same cost pressures applies in Canada, as universities losing public funding are squeezing students for massive tuition increases. And Lindsay Kines reports that the Clark government’s decision to make life less affordable for people with disabilities in British Columbia has led to 3,500 people giving up their transit passes.

– Natalia Khosla and Sean McElwee discuss the difficulty in addressing racism when many people live in denial of their continued privilege.

– Paul Wells comments on SNC Lavalin’s long track record of illegal corporate donations to the Libs and the Cons.

– Finally, Gerry Caplan points out how Justin Trudeau is dodging key human rights questions. And Mike Blanchfield reports that the Libs’ willingness to undermine a treaty prohibiting the use of cluster bombs represents just another area where they’re leaving the Cons’ most harmful policies untouched. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- David Dayen wonders whether the Obama administration’s decision to end the use of private prisons might represent the needed start of a movement away from relying on poor corporate services as a substi… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

– David Dayen wonders whether the Obama administration’s decision to end the use of private prisons might represent the needed start of a movement away from relying on poor corporate services as a substitute for public action:

Private prisons experienced more safety and security incidents. They had higher rates of assaults, inadequate medical checkups and compliance, eight times as many incidents of contraband cell-phone smuggling, and often housed new inmates in solitary confinement units, seemingly for lack of space. The report also detailed several grisly incidents since 2008: three riots in one Reeves County, Texas facility in two months; the death of a corrections officer in a riot in Natchez, Mississippi; and the closure of the Willacy County (Texas) Correctional Center, after inmates burned it to the ground.

It’s not hard to figure out why this happens. Private companies win contracts to manage federal prisons by undercutting the Bureau of Prisons’ operational costs. Unlike the government, private prison companies must also take their profit margins out of their budgets. The only way to make that work is to massively drop labor costs, corresponding to a severe degradation of the quality of prison management.

That reflects the problem with privatization as a whole. Private companies must carry out a government function—be it water, parking meters, mass transit, or K-12 schools—at a lower cost than the government can provide it, while taking their profit off the top. Time and again, the results reveal that to be impossible, at least if you want to provide the same quality of service. Yet we keep privatizing. Whether it’s Republicans expanding Medicaid or cash-strapped cities handing over bus service to Uber and Lyft, eventually costs shift from taxpayers to the users of the services, oversight becomes impotent as officials grow reliant on outsourcing contracts, and attempts to maximize profits lead to service breakdowns.

– But CBC reports that the worst is yet to come in Saskatchewan as Brad Wall has publicly put SaskTel up for corporate raiding.

– Jacki Andre discusses the hidden costs of living with a disability – which make it particularly unconscionable for Wall’s Saskatchewan Party to be trying to squeeze pennies out of people who rely on already-inadequate disability benefits.

– Floyd Perras highlights the multiple factors that contribute to (and exacerbate) homelessness. And Rocca Perla comments on the need to include social determinants of health within medical treatment of patients.

– Pat Rich describes the Canadian Medical Association’s rude awakening in finding out that Lib Health Minister Jane Philpott has no interest in its key priorities for improved care. And Alison points out how the Libs are conspicuously trying to wriggle out of their promise to end the unfairness of first-past-the-post politics.

– Finally, Anna MacDonald makes the case for stronger transparency as a means of limiting the harm of global arms dealing. But if there was any doubt that the Trudeau Libs are firmly on the side of weapons proliferation, Helene Laverdiere points out their inexplicable decision to stand against nuclear disarmament. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- Ann McFeatters reminds us of the good a government can do when it dedicates itself to identifying and responding to urgent public needs. And Bill McKibben makes the case for an all-out mobilization aga… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.- James Stewart examines how Donald Trump could be paying zero taxes using shelters designed specifically to enrich real estate developers while serving no social purpose. And Alexandra Thornton and Brendan Duke po… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.- Owen Jones interviews Ha-Joon Chang about the foreseeable harm caused by the UK’s austerity, as well as the false claims used to push it. – The Stoney Creek News rightly argues that Canada Post should move toward pos… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.- Thomas Walkom writes that with both major U.S. presidential candidates taking an understandably skeptical view of free-trade agreements in their current form, Canada shouldn’t be planning on the past trade mo… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- Andrew Jackson discusses the challenge of ensuring that stable jobs are available in Canada:Good jobs are a central mechanism in the creation of shared prosperity.What matters for workers is not just b… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.- Danny Dorling writes about the importance of empathy and kindness in establishing the basis for a more equal society:When you cannot empathise with another group, it is very hard to think kindly towards them… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.- Brian Nolan, Max Roser, and Stefan Thewissen study (PDF) the relationship between GDP and household income across the OECD, and find a nearly universal pattern of nominal economic growth which isn’t finding its w… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Montreal Simon: The Amazing Rocket and America’s New Supergun

It's amazing what we humans can do when we push the boundaries of science.Like fire off this SpaceX rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, deploy a satellite.Then land the first stage on a so-called drone ship in the North Atlantic.And this is wh… . . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: The Amazing Rocket and America’s New Supergun

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.- James Wilt discusses a much-needed effort to map out the connections between fossil fuel corporations. And Bruce Campbell highlights how the resource sector is among the most prominent examples of regulatory … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.- Branko Milanovic discusses how our current means of measuring inequality may leave out the most important part of the story in the form of wealth deliberately hidden from public view:(T)here are at least two prob… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.- The BBC reports that even UK business groups are acknowledging that excessive executive pay is leading to public concern and distrust in the state of the economy. And Alex Hern notes that Steve Wozniak for one isn’t … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- Owen Jones argues that public policy and social activism are needed to rein in the excesses of a corporate class which sees it as its job to extract every possible dollar from the society around it:A financial … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.- Alexander Panetta reports on the G20’s agreement on the need to crack down on tax evasion – as well as the steps Canada needs to take to get our own house in order:The final communique warned of actions against c… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.- George Monbiot discusses how neoliberal ideology has managed to take over as the default assumption in global governance – despite its disastrous and readily visible effects:(T)he past four decades have been characte… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.- GOOD Magazine neatly sums up what the world would look like on the scale of 100 people – and how patently unfair wealth inequality looks in that context: – Lawrence Mishel and David Cooper point out that a $1… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning LInks

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.- Peter Moskowitz highlights why we shouldn’t be counting on crowdfunding or other private sources to address social needs. And Lana Payne calls out the attitude of entitlement on the part of the wealthy which h… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning LInks

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.- Errol Mendes points out that any commitment to securing human rights in our foreign policy is currently limited by the lack of any systematic attempt to see how those rights are being treated. And Rick Mercer… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.- John O’Farrell argues that a basic income provides a needed starting point for innovation and entrepreneurship by people who don’t enjoy the advantage of inherited wealth:But in fact it is the current situation that … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- Justin Fox explores why it took the economic field in general (with some noteworthy exceptions) decades to start dealing with burgeoning inequality. And Bryce Covert discusses the latest study showing that in l… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

– Robert Reich discusses the unfairness of requiring workers to take all the risk of precarious jobs while sharing few of the rewards: On demand and on call – in the “share” economy, the “gig” economy, or, more prosaically, the “irregular” economy – the result is the same: no predictable earnings . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

drive-by planet: USA #1 when it comes to ‘violence and preparations for violence’

Interesting article on Stop the War coalition site this week entitled Yes it’s true, the United States really is the greatest country in the world – but in what? 

The article includes stats and links to demonstrate that when it comes to “violence and preparations for violence” the USA is indeed the undisputed global . . . → Read More: drive-by planet: USA #1 when it comes to ‘violence and preparations for violence’