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Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig discusses how a politically-oriented audit of the CCPA fits with the shock-and-awe part of the right’s war against independent (and public-minded) though: In the conservative quest to shape public debate in recent years, no tool has proved more useful than the think tank. Nobody understood this better than the director of the ultra-right wing U.S.-based ATLAS Foundation, who once stated that his mission was “to litter the world with free-market think tanks.”

Mission accomplished. Certainly the Canadian landscape is cluttered with right-wing think tanks — the Fraser Institute, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- James Meek observes that decades of privatization in the UK have eliminated public control over housing and other essential services – and that privatization takes far more forms than we’re accustomed to taking into consideration. And Rick Salutin offers his take on the latter point: Economist Mariana Mazzucato’s new book, The Entrepreneurial State, takes a bold step in “debunking” this fake construct. (Steve Paikin interviewed her on TVO this week.) She doesn’t just argue that public spending (on defence) was crucial in basic advances like computers and the Internet. That’s (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Rick Smith discusses the growing public appetite to fight back against burgeoning inequality – along with the need to make inequality a basic test for the fairness of any policy: (I)t is significant that a finance minister of our decidedly right-wing government showed the political courage to criticize a policy that will clearly make inequality worse. This test — whether a policy choice will exacerbate inequality — should be the test for any government in making political choices. … [The Broadbent Institute's wealth inequality] data, though disheartening, can help focus the minds of Canadians (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- The Broadbent Institute studies wealth inequality in Canada, and finds not only that the vast majority of Canada’s capital resources remain concentrated in very few hands but that the disparity continues to grow: The new Statistics Canada data show a deeply unequal Canada in which wealth is concentrated heavily in the top 10% while the bottom 10% hold more debts than assets.

The majority of Canadians, meanwhile, own almost no financial assets besides their pensions. The top 10% of Canadians accounted for almost half (47.9%) of all wealth in 2012.

In (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Should Welfare Recipients Try Harder to Find Work?

This morning the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation released a new report about “motivational interviewing” for welfare recipients. The link to the full report is here, and the link to the executive summary is here.

Authored by Reuben Ford, Jenn Dixon, Shek-wai Hui, Isaac Kwakye and Danielle Patry, the study reports on a recent randomized controlled trial done on long-term recipients of social assistance in British Columbia. The research took place between September 2012 and March 2013. There were a total of 154 research participants; 76 of the individuals were in the “treatment group,” while 78 were in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Scott Clark and Peter DeVries criticize the Cons’ choice to prioritize right-wing dogma over sound economic management: What should Canada do? For starters, the passive approach isn’t working. In the face of global economic uncertainty and a secular decline in growth, Canadian policy makers need to get at the levers that can strengthen growth at home.

…Of course we have options — they just happen to be ones that clash with the Conservatives’ hands-off economic orthodoxy. The Harper government is committed to lower taxes, lower spending, balanced budgets and smaller government. But why (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Bryce Covert writes that U.S. workers are receiving a lower share of economic output than at any point since 1950 – and that the decline in wages has nothing to do with the quality or quantity of work: Workers aren’t earning less because they’re slacking off — just the opposite. Their productivity increased 8 percent between 2007 and 2012 while their wages actually fell, a trend that has been going on since at least 1979. And they’ve been speeding up since the recession, increasing their productivity last summer at the fastest pace (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Jackson writes that public investment is needed as part of a healthy economy, particularly when it’s clear that the private sector isn’t going to put massive accumulated savings to use. Bob McDonald notes that we’d be far better off using public money to fund basic research instead of funnelling it toward the business sector. And Ed Keenan looks to Ontario for examples of how far more money is flowing into questionable corporate handouts than toward basic human needs.

- Meanwhile, Lana Payne exposes the Cons’ efforts to both downplay and reduce (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Olga Khazan writes about the connection between lower incomes and obesity in the U.S. And Truthout discusses how poverty and other stressors can directly affect individual and communal genetics for generations: (A) study by researchers at University College London’s Institute of Child Health found that, thanks to epigenetics, children whose parents and grandparents were born into poverty can, themselves, carry the scars of that past poverty with them for the rest of their lives. That’s because children born to families who’ve lived generations in poverty inherit genes configured to help them (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Rebecca Vallas, Melissa Boteach and Shawn Fremstad write about the need for a new social contract. And Drew Nelles takes a look at the role of a guaranteed basic income in ensuring a fair standard of living for everybody: Although implementing basic income would undoubtedly require a reorganization of social assistance provision, with some programs being eliminated or absorbed, it cannot be used as an excuse to dismantle what’s left of the welfare state. Instead, it’s a hopeful idea because it could act as just the opposite: the beginning of a turn away (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Nora Loreto reviews the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights’ Unions Matter: Unlikely to convince someone who is anti-union on its own, Unions Matter provides the fodder for union activists to be able to make important arguments in favour of unionization. Even more important, the statistics and arguments in Unions Matter could be used by labour activists to convince the ambivalent of the fact that, yes, unions matter.

Section one, “Reducing Income Inequality Through Labour Rights,” gives an impressive overview of the role that unions have played to reorganize wealth in Canada. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert write that an effective solution to wealth inequality shouldn’t be limited to redistributing individual income or assets, but should also include the development of a commonwealth which benefits everybody: Instead of just giving people more purchasing power, we should be taking basic needs off the market altogether.

Consider Social Security, a wildly popular program that doesn’t count toward individual wealth. If Social Security were replaced with a private savings account, individuals would have more “wealth” (because they would have their own financial account) but less actual security. (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: TFWP: How Racist is Canada?

Here’s one way to tell how racist a person/nation is.

Have them read this excerpt and see if they fly into a rage about “those” people, or just come up with economic arguments to keep “them” out.

Hopefully, everyone you know will nod and say, “obviously!”

Since this is a chronically underpopulated country with an aging population and an inadequately sized consumer and taxpayer base for its geography and culture, there is no reason for Canada to make any of its immigrants anything other than permanent.

Those who say “Canadian jobs for Canadians” are right: We should continue to (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: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Rick Perlstein observes that Ronald Reagan’s most lasting contribution to American politics may be his admonition not to recognize flaws or past sins which might require serious responses – and that democratic discourse in the U.S. and elsewhere has yet to recover: (T)he baseline is this moment in 1973 when the Vietnam War ends, and that spring, Watergate breaks wide open, after basically disappearing from the political scene for a while. You have this remarkable thing, where Sam Ervin puts these hearings on television. And day after day the public hears White (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: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Dennis Howlett discusses what we lose when corporations are able to evade taxes, and points to some positive signs from the NDP in combating the flow of money offshore: Federal and provincial governments lose an estimated $7.8 billion in tax revenues each year because of tax havens. The scale of the problem gets larger while the federal government cuts back on health care, food safety, rail inspections, the CBC and more.

True fiscal stewardship would recognize that staunching the flow of money offshore is the better solution. Canadian taxpayers pay the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Nicholas Kristof offers a primer on inequality in the U.S., while the Washington Post reports that a think tank looking to fund research into the issue couldn’t find a single conservative willing to discuss it. And PressProgress highlights the OECD’s finding that the prosperity gap stands to get a lot worse in the U.S. and Canada alike absent some significant change in course to improve the lot of the 99%: Increasing levels of economic inequality are the “new normal” and we can expect them to get worse, not better.

That’s (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Vineeth Sekharan debunks the myth that a job represents a reliable path out of poverty, while reminding us that there’s one policy choice which could eradicate poverty altogether: A job alone does not guarantee freedom from poverty. In fact, in 2012, at least one member of the household was employed in a staggering 44% of all poor households. Even in situations where an individual is employed, there may still be the need for income supplements, as well as educational and employment supports.

This is partially because of the monumental changes that have occurred (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Reich discusses the rise of the non-working rich as an indicator that extreme wealth has less and less to do with merit – as well as the simple policy steps which can reverse the trend: In reality, most of America’s poor work hard, often in two or more jobs.

The real non-workers are the wealthy who inherit their fortunes. And their ranks are growing.

In fact, we’re on the cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history.

The wealth is coming from those who over the last three decades earned huge (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: Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paul Boothe responds to the C.D. Howe Institute’s unwarranted bias against public-sector investment: Is the public sector holding back provincial growth rates by crowding out private sector investment?  That’s the contention of a recent C.D. Howe paper by Philip Cross.  The paper provides a great case study of the danger of confusing correlation with causality.

Let’s begin with the simple arithmetic.  Gross domestic product (GDP) is the sum of spending on consumption, investment, government services and net exports.  Whether the investment spending is initiated by the (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Class Warfare CAUSED Income Inequality, Not the Opposite

Horatio Alger mythology is designed to make us leave the 1% alone and shut the fuck up.

If you haven’t yet seen John Oliver’s amazing rant about the perils of inequality and how the rich shame us out of talking about it by suggesting we’re trying to invoke class warfare, you can see it below.

The truth is, income inequality doesn’t just happen one day, then the classes fight each other. Class warfare is what creates the conditions for income inequality.

But as long as the 1% can keep us from talking about class issues, we can say income inequality (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Anne Manne discusses how extreme wealth leads to narcissism and a lack of empathy, while pointing out that to merely recognizing the problem goes some way toward solving it: Outside the lab, Piff found that the rich donated a smaller percentage of their wealth than poorer people. In 2011, the wealthiest Americans, those with earnings in the top 20%, contributed 1.3% of their income to charity, while those in the bottom 20% donated 3.2% of their income. The trend to meanness was worst in plush suburbs where everyone had a high (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: The Occupy Movement Has Changed the Narrative, But We’re Not Done

Recently, with the WEF spending the last few years acknowledging global income inequality is a problem, I’ve declared a kind of victory for the Occupy Movement: getting the lexicon on the 1% and inequality on the tongues of the sly gazillionaires who rule the world, and into mass consumption.

Now we see that the CEO of Goldman Sachs, one of the biggest cancers of neoliberal capitalism and a prime mover of the 2008 crash, has admitted that income inequality is a problem and a destabilizer. Sadly, though not surprisingly, in this interview he also trotted out typical neoliberal “realities” (Read more…)