Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Dayen discusses how prepaid debit cards are turning into the latest means for the financial sector to extract artificial fees from consumers. And Matt Taibbi reports on the looting of public pension funds in the U.S.: Nor did anyone know that part of Raimondo’s strategy for saving money involved handing more than $1 billion – 14 percent of the state fund – to hedge funds, including a trio of well-known New York-based funds: Dan Loeb’s Third Point Capital was given $66 million, Ken Garschina’s Mason Capital got $64 million and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Robert Reich discusses the Koch brothers and their place in the U.S.’ new plutocracy: The Kochs exemplify a new reality that strikes at the heart of America. The vast wealth that has accumulated at the top of the American economy is not itself the problem. The problem is that political power tends to rise to where the money is. And this combination of great wealth with political power leads to greater and greater accumulations and concentrations of both — tilting the playing field in favor of the Kochs and their ilk, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Mitchell Anderson compares the results of corporate-friendly Thatcherism to the alternative of public resource ownership and development in the interest of citizens – and finds far better results arising from the latter: Thirty-five years after she swept to power as British prime minister, it is ironic that socialist Norway now has $830 billion in the bank and enjoys fully funded social programs that most of us can only dream of. Meanwhile the U.K. is enduring another round of wrenching austerity and owes over £1.3 trillion — about US$2.2 trillion. (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: More than 2,000 people make a point about the Redford Government in deeply chilled downtown Edmonton

Some of the more than 2,000 people who protested the policies of the Redford Conservative Government in Edmonton’s Sir Winston Churchill Square today.

When I was a cub reporter at the still-unhyphenated Victoria Daily Times – always a better paper than the Colonist, let it be noted – I was told by a grizzled veteran of the news business that I should always ask a police officer about the size of a crowd at any outdoor event I was covering.

“You see,” he explained, “police officers are trained to estimate the size of crowds.”

So off I went (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Robert Reich writes about the basic economic lessons the U.S. has forgotten since its postwar boom: First, America’s real job creators are consumers, whose rising wages generate jobs and growth. If average people don’t have decent wages there can be no real recovery and no sustained growth. In those years, business boomed because American workers were getting raises, and had enough purchasing power to buy what expanding businesses had to offer. Strong labor unions ensured American workers got a fair share of the economy’s gains. It was a virtuous cycle. Second, the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ken Georgetti discusses how the corporate tax giveaways of the past 15 years have hurt most Canadians: The Conservative government and special interest groups claim incessantly that cutting corporate income taxes is good for the economy and for individual Canadians. We have been led to believe that tax giveaways to corporations would lead companies to reinvest in research and development as well as machinery and staff training to boost productivity. This is supposed to stimulate economic growth and create better paying and more secure jobs. But that is not what has happened (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: CFIB members please post: ‘Money from public sector wages & pensions NOT wanted here!’

CFIB AstroTurf technicians roll out part of their campaign against improved pensions for Canadians, a plan certain to harm the group’s naïve supporters. Below: A suggested sign for the windows of CFIB-member businesses.

Whew! That was a close one! We almost improved the Canada Pension Plan!

So says the so-called Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Listen carefully:

“Small business owners and employees can breathe a sigh of relief for the time being,” the CFIB said in an undated commentary posted to its website recently. “Finance ministers did not reach an agreement on increasing CPP and QPP premiums…” (Emphasis added, of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Pierre Brochu and David Green study the effect of minimum wage rates, and find a connection between a higher minimum wage and greater employment stability. But if there’s a choice between stable, well-paying work and precarious employment where job churn and wage reductions are seen as the norm, far too many policy-makers are choosing the latter – as Annie Lowrey notes that U.S. states are actively slashing benefits for unemployed workers to force them to grab desperately at whatever is available.

- Meanwhile, Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato and Owen Zidar offer (Read more…)

Wise Law Blog: Supreme Court of Canada Rules on Pension Income and Damages in Wrongful Dismissal

The Supreme Court of Canada’s recent ruling in IBM Canada Ltd. v. Waterman provides a great deal of clarity on the issue of collateral benefits such as pensions in a wrongful dismissal action and whether such a benefit ought to be deducted from the amount owed by the employer on account of pay in lieu of notice.Facts On March 23, 2009, IBM Canada terminated Richard Waterman’s employment, after forty-two years of service, on a without cause basis. At the time of his dismissal, Mr. Waterman was sixty-five years of age and was entitled to a full pension under (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: Stephen Harper and the Nightmare Before Christmas

Well I finally got to screen Stephen Harper's year end interview with Global TV, and it was one of the weirdest interviews I've ever seen.And one of the most chilling. For there was Harper sitting in what looked like a set from A Christmas Story.But sounding like a character out of the Nightmare Before Christmas. Read more »

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Don Lenihan is the latest to highlight the difference between citizens and consumers – as well as why we should want to act as the former: In the old view, public debate is all about defining the public interest by establishing collective needs. This requires a very different view of public debate. Rather than seeing it as a chance to advance my wants, it asks me, as a citizen, to consider the needs of the community. This means I must listen to others, weigh their claims, examine the evidence, and make trade-offs and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ed Broadbent comments on Parliament’s review of inequality in Canada: In a more encouraging vein, the majority report cautiously endorses some positive proposals. Given stated support from both of the opposition parties, these could, and should, move to the top of the government agenda as we approach the 2014 federal Budget and the 2015 federal election.

The Broadbent Institute and other witnesses highlighted the need to increase the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) which supplements the incomes of working poor families, thus raising earned income from low wage jobs and helping offset (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: The in-and-out trick: Thoughts on Canada Post, CPP and your child’s breakfast

The past few days have not been great for public services in Canada. Canada Post will be phasing out home delivery of mail. Expansion of the Canada Pension Plan was scuttled at the finance ministers’ meeting. In the grand scheme of things, however, these are not extreme cutbacks. It’s not as if Canada Post is to be dismantled completely or our public pension fund to run completely dry. This government has long brought us death by a thousand paper cuts and those from the past days are just a continuation of the strategy.

There is a particular common thread that (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Canada Post’s vow to ‘protect taxpayers’ needs a reality check

This piece was first published in the Globe & Mail.

In a move that caught everyone off-guard, Canada Post announced a five point “action plan” last week that included phasing-out home delivery of the mail over the next five years, making Canada the only G7 nation to do so. Why? To “protect taxpayers.”

Of all the reasons that merit discussion as to whether letter carriers belong to a redundant class of workers, like the milkman or iceman, taxpayer protection isn’t one. This Crown corporation is more likely to make money than lose it.

Canada Post and (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: The Day the Con Regime Revealed its True Face

First he claimed his callous comments about hungry children were out of context, and ridiculous…

Then he claimed the story wasn't accurate, and ridiculous…

Then when he realized the reporter had the whole interview on tape he apologized. Read more »

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Joan Walsh discusses how employers are exploiting the U.S.’ wage supplement policies by taking the opportunity to severely underpay their employees – resulting in both insecure income and employment, and significant public expense to reduce the poverty suffered by full-time workers. And Lana Payne comments that the Cons’ anti-worker policies figure to further exacerbate inequality in Canada as well.

- Meanwhile, lest anybody doubt the disproportionate effect of corporate power in politics, Juliet Eilperin writes that the Obama White House delayed the introduction of health, safety and environmental regulations until after (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Paul Krugman highlights why inequality is indeed an issue which demands action – both for its own sake, and for its impact on other goals such as economic sustainability. And Bill Moyers discusses the difference between a government responsive to its people and one completely controlled by elites: The historian Plutarch warned us long ago of what happens when there is no brake on the power of great wealth to subvert the electorate. “The abuse of buying and selling votes,” he wrote of Rome, “crept in and money began to play an important (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Notes on pensions and risk

Canada’s finance ministers are meeting this weekend and a proposal to expand the CPP is at the top of the agenda. If implemented, this proposal would bolster an important public program at a time when public programs are under attack and the public sector as whole is shrinking. There are many good arguments in favour of strong public pensions, but I want to focus on one not often discussed: revitalized public programs are a counter to forces that aim to make us accustomed to taking on more and more (potentially disastrous) financial risk.

In yesterday’s post, I noted that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- In the course of grading Canada’s job market, Kayle Hatt traces the rise of precarious employment in both absolute and relative numbers – and notes that other countries haven’t seen the same type of move toward temporary employment encouraged by the Cons. And in a similar vein, Duncan Cameron rightly brands the Cons as the “bad jobs party”.

- Meanwhile, the lack of stability in any single job makes it all the more important to ensure that Canada’s retirement system provides for security even among workers who have been pushed from employer (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- David Simon laments the division of the U.S. into the few who are rewarded by market forces and the many who are constantly under siege – while also pointing out that concentration of wealth may prevent democratic forces from offering a counterweight: The idea that the market will solve such things as environmental concerns, as our racial divides, as our class distinctions, our problems with educating and incorporating one generation of workers into the economy after the other when that economy is changing; the idea that the market is going to heed (Read more…)

Autonomy For All: Government That Works: CPP is Healthy Say Actuaries

Every 3 years the Canada Pension Plan is analyzed by professional actuaries (with peer review by independent actuaries picked by the UK government) to analyze its financies against the best practice means of assessing likely future pay outs and revenue.  Once again, the 26th such report finds the CPP is healthy over the “long term” at current contribution rates.  In fact, since the 25th report, the CPP has become mildly healthier in that the minimum contribution rate needed to support it has dropped slightly.

This is government working, and succeeding where markets are generally failing: Some people (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- John Ibbitson reports that the Cons’ obvious priorities have finally been made explicit: as far as they’re concerned, the sole purpose of international diplomacy is to serve the corporate sector. And Ian Smillie documents how the Cons hijacked Canada’s foreign aid program (while signalling that the same path is likely to be followed by the Cons’ Australian Liberal allies).

- Meanwhile, CBC uncovers a offshore tax avoidance scheme perpetrated by one of the Cons’ hand-picked tax advisers (and chair of the Royal Canadian Mint).

- Rhys Kesselman highlights the fact that contrary to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Ish Theilheimer writes about the opportunity progressives should recognize in the scandals engulfing Rob Ford, Stephen Harper and other conservative leaders: (W)hile you’d think the (Ford) situation would be a golden opportunity for Toronto left-wingers to win back the public, this isn’t necessarily happening. Left-wing opponents of Ford’s have not used the situation to drive home a unified message — that Ford is a liar with criminal friends who can’t be trusted to deliver good and effective government.

Instead, their focus has been to harry Ford and drive him from office, a tactic (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- The CP reports on the latest federal-provincial discussion about pensions. And as is so often the case, all parties at the table seem to agree that there’s an important problem to be fixed – even as Brad Wall, Stephen Harper and others stand firmly in the way of any actual change to ensure a more secure retirement for Canadians.

- Gerald Caplan wonders whether the Cons’ base will give up on Harper, while Dan Leger thinks it’s Harper himself who should start turning his loyalties elsewhere. But Andrew Coyne offers up the definitive (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Global carbon budget is a harsh reality check for Canadian investors

The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should be a wake-up call for Canada. With a development model based on ever more fossil fuel extraction, Canada’s economy and financial markets are on a collision course with the urgent need for global climate action.

The IPCC, for the first time, stated an upper limit on total greenhouse gas emissions – a global “carbon budget” to keep temperature increase below 2°C. This is considered to be the threshold for “dangerous” climate change, and also the target for international climate negotiations.

A global carbon budget along IPCC lines works (Read more…)