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Alberta Diary: What are Premier Jim Prentice and his three ‘agents of change’ planning for Alberta’s public service?

Alberta civil servants: do you get the feeling someone may have their eye on you? Below: Agents of change Richard Dicerni, Ian Brodie, Oryssia Lennie and Steve West.

Premier Jim Prentice says he intends to “reform” Alberta’s public service, fix its low morale, reverse its “shocking” turnover and deal with its other “very significant problems.”

He’s appointed a former senior federal civil servant and well-connected business professor to be his “agent of change,” along with a couple of right-hand persons to assist with this change agentry. Their work will start immediately.

Sounds way better, huh, than former premier Alison (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Tory income-splitting tax policy: It’s about creating and preserving gender inequality and making rich guys richer

Whew! This income splitting is a killer. Actual perfect families as seen by the Harper Government may not appear exactly like Canadian reality. Below: Queen’s University tax law professor Kathleen Lahey.

A fundamental purpose the Harper Government’s ideologically driven income-splitting tax scheme is to undermine women’s equality, Queen’s University tax law professor Kathleen Lahey told the Parkland Institute’s annual fall conference yesterday.

That’s a statement that may cause some readers to react with skepticism – but if you’re one of them, let me suggest it’s because you haven’t really been paying attention.

Dr. Lahey told a plenary session of the (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Political Eh-conomy Radio: Doug Henwood on US economics and politics

https://politicalehconomy.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/podcast-141114-doug-henwood.mp3

 

This week, it’s my great pleasure to present a feature interview with Doug Henwood — economic analyst, author of books including Wall Street and host of the wonderful Behind the News radio show and podcast that inspired this show. Doug always introduces his show by saying his guests will be “taking a look at worlds of economics and politics.” Today, I’ve turned the tables and asked him to take up this very task for the present-day US. The result is a wide-ranging interview on everything from the sluggish economic recovery to Obamacare, the changing character of elites, why (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Has Conservatism Become a Death Cult?

Some day our grandchildren will ask “why?”

They’ll want to know why their grandparents’ generation failed to act against climate change while there was still time to prevent their own generation from getting the worst of it.

That’s how they’re going to judge us; not by how bad, how dangerous, how punishing the environment they have to live in is but rather how much worse is it than it had to be.  And that’s what we’re doing now with our inaction on climate change.  We’re determining how much worse things are going to be for our grandchildren due to (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Capitalism Off the Rails

Those at the very top of today’s neoliberal, free-market capitalist, global economy see the writing on the wall – capitalism has just about run its course.

It’s hard to get your head around the idea, isn’t it?  It sure is for me.  Imagine, the economic model around which our society has been structured is bogus.  It is the product of 18th century economics, 19th century industrialism and 20th century geo-politics.  It worked for a couple of hundred years, perhaps right up until the early 70s, but it’s now dawning on us that it doesn’t work any more.  It’s lost its (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Political Eh-conomy Radio: Focus on China

https://politicalehconomy.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/podcast-141102-china.mp3

 

The focus of today’s podcast is China: its development over the past several years, the situation of workers and unions as well as future directions. To get some perspective second largest economy in the world and one still expanding at breakneck, albeit slower, pace, I spoke with two guests: Minqi Li and Cathy Walker.

My first guest is Minqi Li. Minqi is professor of economics at the University of Utah and specializes in China’s economy and offers. He previously taught at York University in Toronto and received his PhD from University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

My (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Will The Juncker Commission Continue To Entrench Neoliberal Policies?

Will The Juncker Commission Continue To Entrench Neoliberal Policies?.

A few days ago, the designated European Commission finally showed its true colours: It wants to make sure that its economic policy recommendations become enforceable. Deregulation of rent setting systems, adjusting the retirement age to account for life expectancy and increased flexibility in wage-setting mechanisms were mere recommendations in 2014. That is supposed to change now. Its instruments are the competitiveness pacts 2.0 and a separate budget for the Euro area, even though there is no legal basis for such a measure. A decision is going to be made at (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Listen Up. Does This Sound Familiar?

It seems to be an unavoidable part of neoliberalism – the sense of being ruled, not governed by consent.  It’s the degradation of democracy, the detachment of the rulers from the ruled that is paralleled by the compression of the political spectrum so that one party becomes largely indistinguishable from the others, all of them in service to the corporate state.

The good news and the bad news is that this modern political caste, grey suits stuffed with wet cardboard, inevitably spawns populist movements but they can either be more democratic or more authoritarian.  As we saw in (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Neoliberalism Has Made Us What We Are Today – And That Isn’t Pretty

Neoliberalism is a social, political and economic model best suited to those with psychopathic personality traits.

That, in any case, is the conclusion of Paul Verhaeghe, who dissects neoliberalism and what it has done to us in The Guardian.“Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative.”“..the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being (Read more…)

Writings of J. Todd Ring: Referendum On Scottish Independence: Why it matters to us all – no matter who we are or where we live

An excellent overview of the Scottish referendum on independence, which is happening today, was just pointed out to me by a friend – and, we should note that the referendum has great significance all around the world, and not only for the Scots. The article is well worth two minutes of your time to read, I […]

The Disaffected Lib: Restoring the Vox Populi

Some thoughts for this, Labour Day.The voice of the people.  Oh, how long has it been since that really meant anything?  In Canada and many other advanced countries, polls show that people are being governed without much if any regard to their views, their concerns.

It’s sort of like standing, waiting at the civic bus stop for a bus that just keeps passing you by.

Canadians want action on climate change.  Are they going to get it?  No. Canadians want action on inequality.  Are they going to get it?  Don’t be ridiculous.

The American people utterly loathe their federal (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Institutional Racism In Conservative Ideology

This post has been evolving for quite a long time.  However, in the last few days, a series of pieces have been published which bring together several threads of thought that I have been exploring for the last several years.  

There has long been a degree of bigotry and racism underlying modern day conservative ideologies.  At a glance, it appears to have its roots in the politics of religious literalism and the desire for simple, black-and-white explanations of the world in which we live.  My thinking on this matter has clarified enormously in the last few days.

The first (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: What Vestige of Democracy Remains in the Age of Neoliberalism?

Henry Giroux argues that we must perceive democracy as a culture and shake off the cloak of neoliberalism by which it has been subverted.  Excerpts from his essay, “Beyond the Spectacle of Neoliberal Misery and Violence in the Age of Terrorism”:

American culture is beset with what I want to call the spectacle of catastrophes, which move between the registers of transgressive excess and extreme violence, and in doing so exhaust their shock value, degenerating into escapist entertainment, while furthering a state of ethical and political paralysis given the widespread cynicism that has become the modus operandi of neoliberal (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Harper’s Reign Of Terror – A Closer Examination

While Stephen Harper’s attacks on charities have been followed here and elsewhere, the Star presents a good overview of how the offices of the CRA have been subverted by a vindictive regime that brooks no opposition to its neoliberal agenda.

The article begins with the egregious case of CoDevelopment Canada, a small Vancouver charity that works with its Latin American partners in helping to fund programs that assist the poor. Apparently, if that assistance threatens to upset the corporate status quo, a crime has been committed in Harperland.

One of CoDev’s Latin American partners is the Maria Elena Cuadra (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: It’s Not That We Disagree, It’s That I Despise Your Ideas

When ever I read another article and view another series of photographs of the carnage Israel has inflicted on the civilian population of Gaza and then think of the Netanyahu apologists, Trudeau and Mulcair, I despise them and any party that would tolerate much less follow their views.  That these two greasy opportunists haven’t been tossed to the street for their blatant pandering tells me all I need to know about the Liberal Party and the New Democrats. 

Our general election is less than a year away, possibly much sooner if Harper sees a window of opportunity in which to (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Another Indictment of Neoliberalism, This Time from Monbiot

Neoliberalism, sometimes known as “market fundamentalism”, is the scourge of our age.  It infests our federal politics.  Stephen Harper is a disciple.  Mulcair and Trudeau may be somewhat less neoliberal but it’s a matter of degree and it ain’t much.

Neoliberalism is a path littered with flawed assumptions and empty promises.  It is a cancer that eats away at social cohesion, that drives inequality that itself arises mainly out of privilege and unjust government largesse from tax favouritism to outright gifting of public property.  It is the engine of economic feudalism.

Guardian columnist, George Monbiot, has additional insights into the (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: The Anchor Around Our Necks – Neoliberalism

Modern neoliberalism, of the Hayek and Friedman schools, has been defined as “capitalism with the gloves off.”  Today it’s a term associated with laissez-faire capitalism, deregulation and free trade.

Neoliberalism has made deep inroads into our federal body politic.  Stephen Harper is a disciple.  Our opposition leaders appear less neoliberal than their prime minister but it could be argued that is a matter of degree.

Few dare mention it but the spread of neoliberalism has ushered in the rise of corporatism at the direct expense of social democracy.  Nowhere is this more obvious than at our Head Office, (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Canada’s Searing Moment of Clarity

I hope you didn’t miss it. The events of the past month in that distant corner of the world, the mid-east, shone a light of fierce brilliance on our own Canada that exposed an ugly side of our country for all to see who would not look the other way.

What was laid bare was the extent to which neo-liberalism has captured our politics. What we were shown was how the governing Conservatives lead and, worse yet, how the supposedly progressive alternatives meekly fell into line. We witnessed the Liberals and New Democrats fecklessly abandon the very principles they once (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: The pension fight: on the picket line or in regulations?

It’s relatively common knowledge that employer-run pensions have been scaled back over the past few decades. I’ve decided to dig some data on pensions for this post to see just how this has taken place in Canada, motivated by a just-released analysis of US pension reform that finds contradictions in how US workers have come to take on more and more of the risk for their retirement income.

First, a bit of background. There are two main kinds of employer-administered pension funds: defined benefit (DB) plans – where retirees receive a set monthly income, or defined benefit – and defined (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: They’re Buzzards, But You’re Their Carrion.

We all know that average Americans have been reeling financially since the Great Recession. We know that the post-recession recovery has gone mainly to the richest of the rich and, this time, it’s pretty clear there’s been no ‘trickle down’ to the plebes.

A new study by the Russell Sage Foundation in conjunction with Stanford University shows the hit ordinary American families have taken since the recession. In 2003, the median American household wealth stood at $87,992. A decade later that figure had plummeted to just $56,335. In other words, ordinary Americans (the median family) became 36% poorer in the (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: The Climate Change Debate Lives On

The science on the theory of climate change is not settled. There is a powerful, scientific consensus that anthropogenic or man-made climate change is real, here now and worsening. There is a powerful, scientific consensus that man-made climate change is already triggering natural feedback mechanisms that eventually can become “tipping points” beyond which we will have runaway global warming. Runaway as in all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to stop it.

For all of that, the science isn’t settled. That much is obvious from the tsunami of research studies that keep pouring in from (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: The outsize (un)importance of the tarsands

It’s easy to overestimate the importance of the tar sands to the Canadian economy. Tar sands and their pipelines are after all hailed by the ruling Conservatives, sections of the business press and the ever-present oil lobby as this young century’s “nation-building” project. Yet, a survey recently making the rounds highlights the relative unimportance of the tar sands to Canada’s overall economy: while most Canadians overestimate the importance of the tar sands and 41% are guess that the tar sands account for 12 %to 48% of Canada’s GDP, the reality is that they directly contribute a mere 2% to our (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: EU officials plotted IMF attack to bring rebellious Italy to its knees – Telegraph Blogs

EU officials plotted IMF attack to bring rebellious Italy to its knees – Telegraph Blogs.

The revelations about EMU skulduggery are coming thick and fast. Tim Geithner recounts in his book Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises just how far the EU elites are willing to go to save the euro, even if it means toppling elected leaders and eviscerating Europe’s sovereign parliaments.

Filed under: Austerity, Crisis, Democracy, Europe Tagged: Democracy, Eurozone Crisis, Italy, neoliberalism

Melissa Fong: The BC education system is broken

I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to go to a school where there wasn’t a regular community of teachers who knew each other and watched me […]

Parchment in the Fire: Banks save over €40 billion in capital thanks to government decree | In English | EL PAÍS

http://elpais.com/elpais/2014/04/24/inenglish/1398330641_511126.html

Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Eurozone Crisis, finance, neoliberalism, Spain