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Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Robert Jay Lifton discusses the “stranded ethics” of a fossil fuel industry which is willing to severely damage our planet in order to protect market share: Can we continue to value, and thereby make use of, the very materials most deeply implicated in what could be the demise of the human habitat? It is a bit like the old Jack Benny joke, in which an armed robber offers a choice, “Your money or your life!” And Benny responds, “I’m thinking it over.” We are beginning to “think over” such choices on (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- James Meek writes about the UK’s privatization scam, and how it’s resulted in citizens paying far more for the basic services which are better provided by a government which actually has the public interest within its mandate: Privatisation failed to demonstrate the case made by the privatisers that private companies are always more competent than state-owned ones – that private bosses, chasing the carrot of bonuses and dodging the stick of bankruptcy, will always do better than their state-employed counterparts. Through euphemisms such as “wealth creation” and “enjoying the rewards of success” Thatcher (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Matthew Yglesias writes that while increased automation may not eliminate jobs altogether, it may go a long way toward making them more menial. And Jerry Dias recognizes that we won’t see better career opportunities emerge unless we make it a shared public priority to develop them: (I)ncreasingly, the people I meet – both in the labour movement and outside (including in some business circles) – talk about the need for greater dialogue on the issues of the day, particularly as they relate to jobs and the economy. People have expressed to me (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Amanda Connelly reports on the Alberta Federation of Labour’s latest revelations as to how the temporary foreign worker program has been used to suppress wages. And Jim Stanford reminds us that the employment picture for Canadians remains bleak even after Statistics Canada’s job numbers were revised: (F)ull-time employment is now estimated to have declined by about 20,000, instead of the original 60,000.  Not exactly something to boast about.  60,000 part-time jobs were created (same as the original report).  The unemployment rate is the same as the original report — and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- George Monbiot discusses how a market-based society makes people unhealthy in a myriad of ways – and how it’s worth maintaining our innate reluctance to value everything and everybody around us solely in terms of dollar values: The market was meant to emancipate us, offering autonomy and freedom. Instead it has delivered atomisation and loneliness.

The workplace has been overwhelmed by a mad, Kafkaesque infrastructure of assessments, monitoring, measuring, surveillance and audits, centrally directed and rigidly planned, whose purpose is to reward the winners and punish the losers. It destroys autonomy, enterprise, innovation (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the need to take downside risks into account in discussing industrial development – especially when our water, land and lives are at stake.

For further reading…- The CP and Jenni Sheppard report on the many warning signs which should have identified the causes of the Mount Polley spill before it turned a town’s water toxic. Stephen Hume rightly concludes that the spill can be traced to a lax regulatory culture. Alison Bailey’s report points out that similar ponds set up for larger mining projects could cause even more damage. And Nature Canada discusses the deliberate choice (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- John Millar writes that a determined effort to eliminate poverty would be a plus as a matter of mere public accounting (even without taking into account the improved lives of people avoiding the burden of poverty and income insecurity): According to many studies, the Canadian poverty rate remains high. A recent OECD report shows that the very rich are taking an ever greater share of income. And a new study from three leading Canadian academics shows the rich obscure the total extent of their individual wealth through private companies, which means they (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Trish Garner highlights the futility of trying to answer poverty, equality and other social issues with the empty promise of low-paying “jobs! jobs! jobs!”: The central “solution” in the government’s action plan is jobs. The little money dedicated to this initiative is all directed to employment inclusion and skills training. It’s not surprising. It’s the same answer we receive when our supporters throughout the province advocate for a poverty reduction plan for B.C.  There are two important points to make in response. First, many people with disabilities are unable to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Pierre Beaulne discusses the inequality-related problems and solutions brought into the spotlight by Thomas Piketty, and notes that they can’t simply be swept under the rug: When all is said and done, the capitalist globalization has boosted economic growth for a certain time, but has by the same token greatly increased income inequalities and exacerbated wealth concentration. Tax breaks for the highest incomes and social spending cuts have intensified the trend. In Canada, for instance, the top marginal income tax rate at the federal level has gone down from 43% in 1981 to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Marc Lee looks in detail at the risks involved in relying on tar sands development as an economic model: The UK outfit Carbon Tracker was the first to point out this means we are seeing a “carbon bubble” in our financial markets – that  fossil fuel companies, whose business model is the extraction of carbon, are over-valued on the stock markets of the world. This analysis was subsequently picked up by Bill McKibben in his now-famous article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying Math,” which launched the fossil fuel divestment movement, plus some local (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that to end your weekend.

- PressProgress takes a look at the OECD’s long-term economic projections – which feature a combination of increasing inequality and slow growth across the developed world, with Canada do worse than almost anybody else on the inequality front unless we see a shift toward more progressive policies when it comes to unions, employment protections and fair taxes.

- Meanwhile, Derek Leahy discusses how much we have to lose by relying on the tar sands as our sole economic engine.

- David Cay Johnston points out that several of the largest forms of consumer (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the importance of coming together and putting people first in a time of crisis – contrasted against Stephen Harper and Brad Wall’s apparent view that the real tragedy is that the oil sector might find it tougher to extract profits when it’s causing humanitarian disasters.

For further reading…- Harper’s statement on the Lac-Mégantic oil-by-rail explosion is here. In addition to the callous focus on economic messaging, you’ll also note a conspicuous lack of words like “oil”, “rail” and “explosion”.- Similarly, here‘s Wall lamenting the fact that massive flooding might affect the accessibility of oil (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Mark Taliano highlights the distinction between corporate and public interests (while pointing out that both military and economic policy are all too often based on the former). And Jamie Doward discusses how the perception that government is either unwilling or unable to serve anybody besides corporate masters is turning the next generation of UK youth away from politics: The picture that emerges from an Ipsos MORI questionnaire completed by almost 2,800 pupils aged 11 to 16 is of a generation that expects little help from politicians and which resolutely believes that it (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Carol Linnitt observes that the Canadian public supports a shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy by a 76-24% margin – even as they overestimate Canada’s economic returns from oil and gas.

- Meanwhile, Alison takes a look at the spread of (primarily oil-funded) advertorials in Canadian media.

- Kate Heartfield writes that even if the Cons’ cuts to refugee health hadn’t crossed the line into unconstitutionality, we should still consider them to be unconscionable from a policy-making perspective: Even if you come away unconvinced of the soundness of the court’s conclusion, it (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Atkins highlights Gallup’s latest polling showing that U.S. trust in public institutions continues to erode. And Paul Krugman notes that there’s reason for skepticism about the snake oil being peddled as economic policy in order to further enrich the already-wealthy: Why, after all, should anyone believe at this late date in supply-side economics, which claims that tax cuts boost the economy so much that they largely if not entirely pay for themselves? The doctrine crashed and burned two decades ago, when just about everyone on the right — after claiming, speciously, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jessica McDiarmid reports on the hazardous materials being shipped by rail across North America – and it’s particularly sad that Canadians can only learn about the risks being imposed on us through a U.S. guide. But lest we be under any illusions that our neighbours have an enviable record in managing their own risks, Claire Moser reports that even identified high-risk oil and gas wells in the U.S. aren’t being inspected.

- And of course, that figures to have much to do with the fossil fuel industry’s domination of politics (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Harry Stein discusses how government policy is currently designed to exacerbate inequality by subsidizing the concentration of wealth: This issue brief puts aside the question of whether new policies, such as a global wealth tax, should be enacted to reduce economic inequality. Instead, it explores two existing policies that actually subsidize wealth inequality. First, reduced tax rates on capital gains and dividends increase the after-tax rate of return on wealth, which makes it more likely that the rate of return on capital will exceed the overall economic growth rate. Second, capital gains (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Gar Alperovitz suggests in the wake of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century that it’s long past time to reconsider who controls capital – and make a concerted effort to democratize that control: The name of the game — Piketty’s book fairly screams it — is capital: who gets to own it, benefit from it and derive political power from it. Accordingly, it may be of some interest to note that in significant part because of the pain and failure of our current reality, many of those local laboratories of democracy (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: !!!***BREAKING***!!! THE FIX IS STILL IN!!!

Plenty of commentators theorized this week that the Cons might pay some heed to public opinion when it comes to the Northern Gateway pipeline.

But let’s remember where this process all started: from the beginning, the Cons consistently decreed that nobody was permitted to say “no”. And we can hardly be surprised that they’ve ended a review process which was never intended to allow for any other answer by decreeing that Enbridge shall have its way.

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Margaret Somers and Fred Block write about Karl Polanyi’s critique of the free-market myth and its increased relevance today: (F)ree-market rhetoric is a giant smokescreen designed to hide the dependence of business profits on conditions secured by government. So, for example, our giant financial institutions insist that they should be free of meddlesome regulations while they depend on continuing access to cheap credit—in good times and bad—from the Federal Reserve. Our pharmaceutical firms have successfully resisted any government limits on their price-setting ability at the same time that they rely on government (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne discusses the need to address inequality through our political system. But that will require significant pressure from exactly the citizens who have decided they’re not well served by today’s political options – and Trish Hennessy’s look at Canadian voter turnout reminds us of the desperate need for improvement.

- Meanwhile, Tim Harford points out just how far we’ve gone in focusing on dollars over all other considerations – as even Scotland’s referendum on independence is being spun mostly as a matter of dueling fiscal projections rather than community, culture or other (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- David Graeber writes that unfettered capitalism will never tame itself, but will instead need to be countered by a sufficiently strong counter-movement to seriously question its underpinnings. And Thomas Frank follows up with Graeber about the warped incentives facing workers as matters stand now: I think the spotlight on the financial sector did make apparent just how bizarrely skewed our economy is in terms of who gets rewarded and for what. There was this pall of mystification cast over everything pertaining to that sector—we were told, this is all so very complicated, you (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: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Linda McQuaig writes that while the Cons don’t want to bother listening to the public about much of anything, they’ll always make time for a disgraced former advisor lobbying on behalf of oil barons: In…new RCMP allegations,… [Bruce] Carson was working for the Energy Policy Institute of Canada (EPIC), described in the media as a “non-profit group formed by business organizations in the energy sector.”

This rather benign description fails to convey what EPIC really is: a lobbying vehicle for dozens of extremely wealthy, powerful fossil fuel companies, including Enbridge, Imperial (Read more…)