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Accidental Deliberations: On broken connections

The CP reported here on Sana Hassainia’s resignation from the NDP caucus and the immediate aftermath. And it’s worth taking a look at both the narrow view that seems to have led Hassainia (among others) to choose to be isolated from party politics, and the unfortunate response from the NDP.

I haven’t commented much personally on the Gaza crisis, so I’ll quickly summarize my take on the NDP’s official position. Initially, Mulcair did seem all too eager to take the same line as the other federal leaders: the NDP’s position included no questioning whatsoever of Israel’s incursion into Gaza, and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On permanent campaigners

Plenty of people have pointed out other pieces of Paul Wells’ interview with Justin Trudeau. But one exchange seems particularly telling in defining Trudeau’s perception of leadership and politics: Q: What do you have to get done when Parliament comes back?

A: Continue to do what we’re doing, which is build the team, build the plan. Draw in great, credible candidates from across the country and put together a set of solutions and policies that are going to give this country a better government. Q: So the campaign’s already begun?

A: I think the way politics is done these days—certainly, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Monica Potts responds to the big lie that increasing inequality and perpetual poverty are necessary – or indeed remotely beneficial – as elements of economic growth: Hanauer and Piketty inspire these broadsides because they are challenging, in a far more aggressive way than plutocrats and economists usually do, the conservative economic orthodoxy that has reigned since at least the 1980s. Under Ronald Reagan, we called it trickle-down economics, the idea that the men who can afford their own private jets—they’re usually men—deserve gobs of money because they provide some special entrepreneurial or innovative (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: 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 Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig criticizes the Cons’ use of the tax system to try to silence charities who don’t match their political message: PEN now joins Amnesty International, the David Suzuki Foundation, Canada Without Poverty, the United Church and other groups that, having criticized an array of Harper policies, have been obliged to devote precious resources to defending themselves from a special probe of charities ordered by the Harper government.

This beefing-up of tax audits of charities is particularly striking when compared to Harper’s laid-back approach to auditing the real bad guys: corporations and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- The New York Times editorial board chimes in on how Kansas serves as an ideal test case as to illusory benefits of top-end tax cuts: The 2012 cuts were among the largest ever enacted by a state, reducing the top tax bracket by 25 percent and eliminating all taxes on business profits that are reported on individual income returns. (No other state has ever eliminated all taxes on these pass-through businesses.) The cuts were arrogantly promoted by Mr. Brownback with the same disproven theory that Republicans have employed for decades: There will (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Affordable Housing in the Yukon

Earlier today, over at the Northern Public Affairs web site, I blogged about a recent (and controversial) decision made by the Yukon government about affordable housing in the Yukon. Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-Very little affordable housing gets built in Canada without federal assistance.

-Without financial assistance from senior levels of government, for-profit developers in Canada generally don’t find it worthwhile to build rental housing even for middle-income tenants (never mind low-income tenants).

-Going forward, federal funding for existing social housing in the Yukon is declining.

The full blog post can be accessed (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: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- PressProgress highlights how the Cons’ stay in office has been marked by temporary rather than permanent jobs, while Kaylie Tiessen writes that precarious work is particularly prevalent in Ontario. And Erin Weir notes that more unemployed workers are now chasing after fewer job vacancies than even in the wake of the last recession.

- Kathleen Harris points out that the Cons’ attempt to label refugees as “bogus” based solely on their country of origin bears no resemblance whatsoever to reality, as numerous claims from the U.S. and other countries labeled as “safe” (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On greatness

Plenty of commentators have pointed to Dean Beeby’s report on public consultations about Canada’s most inspiring people as evidence that Stephen Harper and his Cons couldn’t be much further from the mark. And that point is fair enough on its own.

But it’s worth noting something else as well: respondents to the Canadian Heritage Department’s survey seem to have drawn a close link between political greatness, and signature achievements in institution-building: The Canadian Heritage Department extracted a Top 10 list for an April 29 briefing note for the minister, Shelly Glover.

Only one clearly identifiable Conservative appears: Sir John A. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Reich proposes that the best way to address corporate criminality is to make sure that those responsible go to jail – rather than simply being able to pay a fine out of corporate coffers and pretend nothing ever happened.

- And Shawn Fraser suggests that Regina developers should pick up the tab for the costs they impose on the city – even as the city itself has opportunities to both better shape residential growth, and turn a profit through its own own development corporation.

- Meanwhile, the CP reports on the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- The Globe and Mail joins the chorus calling for Canada to welcome more citizens, rather than exploiting cheap and disposable workers. But Bill Curry reports on yet another corporate lobby group demanding that the Cons actually expand the flow of temporary labour to secure profits at the expense of workers.

- Andy Radia discusses the laughable attempt of the Cons to rebrand themselves as anything other then enemies of the environment after eight years of constant attacks on regulations and advocates alike. And Daniel James Wright points out that the organization chosen (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Reich calls out four fundamental lies used to push corporatist policies. But perhaps more interesting is the truth which no amount of concentrated wealth seems to be able to suppress: But the more interesting thing here is the memo’s concession of a hurdle AFP faces: That people support the idea of “taking care of those in need and avoiding harm to the weak.” That this is seen as a messaging problem is telling.… As it happens, the AFP memo is right. Majorities of Americans do see the economy as rigged for the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Michael Hiltzik points out new research showing that business-focused policies do nothing at all to encourage any positive economic outcomes: in fact, a higher rating from ALEC for low-tax, low-regulation government correlates to less economic growth. But Kevin Drum highlights what the corporate agenda is really intended to accomplish: (A)lthough a high ALEC-Laffer ranking may not stimulate any actual growth,…it does correspond to reduced taxes on the wealthy and slashed spending on state services that benefit the poor and working class. In other words, it may not affect growth, but it (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Edward Greenspon’s report on the Keystone XL review process is well worth a read – particularly in exposing how the Harper Cons have handled their U.S. relations (along with many other policy areas) based on the presumption that nobody will ever see fit to consider the environmental costs of maximizing oil exploitation. And on that front, Andrew Leach highlights how Ottawa and Edmonton alike have assumed they can get away with paying lip service to climate change – even as the Obama administration has rightly recognized it as a top priority.

- (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, discussing what Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page found (PDF) in looking at which preferences actually shape U.S. public policy – and what needs to happen for the needs of the general public to be given some actual weight in government policy choices.

For further reading…- Again, Larry Bartels, Kathleen Geier and Paul Krugman are among many who have also commented on the study.- Sanders Deionne charts the connection between lobbying payouts and tax giveaways for a number of large U.S. corporations. – On the Canadian side, I’ll point again to Therea Tedesco and Jen (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Paul Krugman’s review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century includes his commentary on our new gilded age: Still, today’s economic elite is very different from that of the nineteenth century, isn’t it? Back then, great wealth tended to be inherited; aren’t today’s economic elite people who earned their position? Well, Piketty tells us that this isn’t as true as you think, and that in any case this state of affairs may prove no more durable than the middle-class society that flourished for a generation after World War II. The big (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: New column day

Here, on the importance of letting voters decide among a full range of potential political candidates – rather than imposing rules or conventions which prohibit senior military leaders, public servants or others from participating in politics.

For further reading…- The column is largely a response to Andrew Coyne (who argues that personal decisions of military and civilian leaders should be evaluated differently based on their potential interest in politics) and Adam Chapnick (who argues for a five-year moratorium against political involvement which would exclude recently-retired military professionals from participation in the democracy they’ve fought to defend).- And (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: An Open Letter to NDP-MP Murray Rankin

Dorothy Field

Dear Murray,

I watched your speech on the Unfair Elections Act. Well done. Thank you. And I didn’t know about Rose Henry’s court case. She’s really something.

I am going to make another appeal to you. As I see it and I think you see it, Harper is step by step dismantling Canada as a democratic nation. I live in fear and trembling of him getting in again.

As far as I can see, the only possible way to make sure that doesn’t happen is for the NDP and the Liberals to cooperate.

I’ve heard your reasons not (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- David MacDonald studies the effect of the Cons’ income-splitting scheme, and finds that it’s oriented purely toward funnelling money toward the top of the income scale: “Income splitting creates a tax loophole big enough to drive a Rolls Royce through. It’s pitched as a program for the middle class but in reality it’s an expensive tax gift for the rich,” says Macdonald. “The upper third of Canada’s richest families would receive $3 of every $4 spent on income splitting.”

The study finds seven out of ten senior families get no benefit (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Erika Shaker rightly questions why government policy toward business is based on a level of permissiveness which we’d recognize as utter madness in dealing with a child: Sure, all parents make mistakes, and all kids have meltdowns (some of which might have, admittedly, been handled better).

But it seems to me that even the worst examples of permissive parenting pale in comparison to the way politicians and pundits coddle, make excuses, and encourage double standards for questionable (even deplorable) behaviour from corporations and their representatives.

And perhaps it’s the post-holiday sugar-and-excessive-consumerism hangover (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Leo Panitch reminds us that the term “reform” was once understood to represent efforts to bolster the public interest against unbridled market forces – and suggests it’s well past time to take the word back from the business interests who have turned it into just the opposite. 

- Paul Krugman comments on the twin myths of the undeserving poor and the deserving rich. And Sam Polk writes from experience about the mindset that drives money addicts to demand that others’ basic needs give way to their desire to accumulate: I’d always (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Battles in the ’Burbs: Independent St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber eyes formation of party as fund-raising vehicle

Independent MP Brent Rathgeber with machine gun, looking as if he could use some closer supervision, takes aim at the CBC. (Joke.) And, yes, that is Jack Layton with the other one. Below: Teddy Roosevelt. (That’s enough politicians with firearms! – Ed.)

ST. ALBERT, Alberta

Edmonton-St. Albert Member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber – who since decamping from the federal Conservative Parliamentary caucus last June has become the Canadian media’s favourite Independent MP – has floated the idea of setting up his own political party.

When he’s not lecturing Canadians on the need to run the CBC as (Read more…)