Assorted content to end your week.
- Following up on yesterday’s column, David Atkins discusses his own preference for front-end fixes to poverty and inequality: The standard way you’ll hear most progressives address inequality issues is to allow the labor market to run as usual, but levy heavy taxes on the back for redistribution.
No doubt that is the simplest way of doing it. But it also creates some problems, including a perception of unfairness, the potential to simply lower the tax rates when conservatives are put in charge, and capital mobility in which the richest people simply leave (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.
- David Atkins emphasizes the need for progressive parties and activists to discuss big ideas rather than settling for the path of least short-term resistance: Both the poor and the middle class feel threatened and increasingly pessimistic. Opinions of elite institutions across the board are at an all time low. Whether on the right or left, few believe anymore that anyone in government, business, or politics is actually looking out for their interests. In a world like this, the move to ensure that every single individual in society has an equal, infinitesimal chance to (Read more…)
Assorted content to end your week.
- Rick Smith hopes that the Cons’ backtracking on income splitting means that they won’t go quite as far out of their way to exacerbate income inequality in the future: (T)he unfortunate reality is that we are still becoming ever more unequal, a trend due in large measure to political choices. Many countries have found ways to mitigate the growth of income inequality, while in Canada the policy response has tended to reinforce rather than offset the trend.
We know that since the mid-1990s, the social role of government has been dramatically cut back (Read more…)
Working people need to seek out solidarity opportunities.
Unions and unionized workers need to reach out to non-unionized workers and seek legislative improvements for all, like improvements to the EI and doubling the CPP and renegotiating the Canada Health Accord and expanding Medicare and getting a national pharmacare program and starting a national childcare program and building a poverty reduction plan and a national housing strategy and no longer funding First Peoples at third world conditions. And the list, actually, does go on.
And public sector workers need to build solidarity with private sector workers, whose union density is declining.
This and that for your Tuesday reading.
- Ian Welsh writes about the concentration of wealth and economic control: Money is permission: you can’t do squat in a market economy without it. Those who can create it, or who have excessive profits, control what other people can do.
It is for this reason that Jefferson said that banks were more dangerous to democracy than even standing armies.
Money making and differential profits lead to differential power. Over time, if your rate of return is higher than everyone else’s you will gain so much more money than them that you (Read more…)
Economics is often associated with numbers. We are bombarded with economic data: GDP, unemployment, inflation, debt, exchange rates, market indices…the list is seemingly endless. While many of these numbers change – we are encouraged to cheer when they rise, jeer when they fall – there are others that are presented as fixed, immutable boundaries between good policy and bad. These are magic numbers that aspire to reduce economic policy decisions simple rule-following. Upon closer inspection, the magic of these numbers may turn out to be nothing but pixie dust. Breaking the illusion, however, risks a real mathematical headache.
Last week, (Read more…)
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.
- Robert Reich comments on the concerted effort by the U.S.’ rich to exacerbate inequality – and points out how it’s warped their worldview. And Dean Baker criticizes the spread of inequality by design: And then there is the financial sector where Mankiw tells us that the extraordinary pay is compensation for the volatility of paychecks. That’s interesting, except the vast majority of comparably talented and hardworking people would be happy to get the pay the finance folks get in the bad years. Much of the big money on Wall Street stems (Read more…)
I’ve written before about the dangers of government by manufactured crisis – which is all too familiar under the Harper Cons and the Wall Sask Party alike.
But in light of recent events, I feel compelled to add that an inexplicable “you must accept our plan NOW! NOW! NOW!” only gets worse when followed by a gleeful “MWAHAHAHAHA!!!”.
The endgame of the current rounds of cuts at Canada Post is some form of privatization. In the previous post, I argued that privatization proceeds differently depending on context. Many factors – I focused on whether a public service provider is exposed to competition and is profitable – can have an impact. The result of replacing public with private provision can be reached through a rapid sell-off, a slow attrition of services, or anything in between. Fortunately, the path to be taken by Canada Post is not yet drawn. Yet while privatization is not an inevitability, the window to (Read more…)
There is little doubt that Canada Post’s recently-announced plan to eliminate home delivery, raise prices and lay off thousands of workers is not aimed solely at streamlining operations, but is likely a prelude to future privatization of postal delivery in Canada. Canada Post is ripe for the picking: it is a profitable, socially-useful public enterprise with n updated, nation-wide infrastructure of retail outlets, other properties, vehicles and IT systems. One bad year in 2011, when the post office recorded a loss due in part to rotating strikes and a 2-week lockout, has been used to create an image of unsustainability (Read more…)
Here, questioning the Saskatchewan Party’s belief that meeting the province’s constitutional duty to provide correctional centre inmates with the basic necessities of life isn’t a “core” government function.
For further reading:- CTV reports on the label the Sask Party has applied to correctional food services (and the resulting privatization process) here. – And once again, CBC reports here on the cautionary tale of Ontario’s highway maintenance – where public safety has been compromised in the name of outsourcing provincial services.
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- John Cassidy offers ten options to reduce income inequality. And Andrew Coyne concurs with the first and most important suggestion that income supports sufficient to provide a stable living to everybody would make for the ideal solution.
- Meanwhile, Frances Russell is the latest to write that the Cons’ income-splitting scheme is only designed to exacerbate the gap between the rich and the rest of us. Miles Corak notes that even Republicans can’t avoid recognizing that equality of opportunity is fading in the U.S. – though he recognizes their inclination to avoid (Read more…)
CBC Ottawa is reporting this morning. But doesn’t say where. Allow me to guess – no swing ridings, no otherwise vulnerable government MPs. Because superboxes suck. CPC spokesmuppet Jon Hamilton admits as much. I’ve said it before, Canada Post, even if you’re hell bent on getting rid of as many postal workers as possible – […]
“Privatizing gains and socializing losses” could be the motto for the neoliberal era. Alongside this and “there is no alternative”, few slogans better capture the ideology that has been so successfully diffused throughout the world over the past several decades.
Five years after latest financial crisis, this motto rings true as ever. To say that the losses stemming from the crisis were large is a heroic understatement; indeed, not only were they humongous, their exact size remains a tad fuzzy. Meanwhile, across the world in the aftermath of the crisis, stock markets have rebounded, wealth and income inequalities have grown (Read more…)
Assorted content for your weekend reading.
- In keeping with the theme of this week’s column, the Star-Phoenix questions the Wall government’s choice to neglect existing school infrastructure. And Lana Payne’s message about how leaders react in a crisis also looks to be closely intertwined with the need to plan ahead before a crisis actually starts.
- But then, governments do have to choose their priorities. And once again, the Cons’ choice is to spend tens of millions of public dollars on public relations for a tar-sands sector which could easily afford to pitch its own products, while standing (Read more…)
I know you’re wondering. But it’s hard to imagine. Kind of like a fish imagining life without water. We’ve known corporate media for generations. Since the advent of psychology and marketing, the influence/manipulation of corporate media is ubiquitous. And not in a good way.
But let’s take a few moments to imagine the features of post-corporate media, where increasing the audience [by a variety of questionable, sensationalist means, sometimes] to increase ad revenue isn’t the goal.
Let’s start here with this:
The CBC. Mothercorp. Publicly funded, at arms length from the taxpayer funder. It has access to national radio and (Read more…)
Here, on how well-planned public infrastructure and a strong community spirit have helped Saskatchewan through weather that’s caused far more problems elsewhere – and how we’re in danger of losing that advantage.
For further reading…- The obvious point of comparison is the spate of problems faced by Toronto – including widespread power outages, and flight delays and cancellations. And the provincial government is now handing out gift cards to make up for what people lost due to the power issues. – In contrast, Saskatchewan’s main cities have seen some short and scattered power issues, along with (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Thomas Walkom points out that many Canadians can expect to lose jobs without any social supports due to the Cons’ focus on political messages over real-life impacts. And Blake Zeff offers a reminder that while progressive economic policy may be receiving more attention over the last year, it’s always been extremely popular among the public (even as it’s been ruled out by policy-makers who focus primarily on serving corporate interests): Way back in 1992, President Clinton ran an explicitly populist campaign, telling voters, “The rich get the gold mine and the middle (Read more…)
Well, here’s something you don’t see [ever] in corporate media: a review of tax measures in the USA since the crash in 2008 that have succeeded in increasing taxes on the rich. And it turns out, tax increases that are regressive [sales taxes, etc.] or include the non-rich, seemed to fail quite a bit.
How did these taxes on the 1% succeed?
One way is mixing “traditional lobbying with the direct action of the Occupy movement.”
And here’s some rationale for why the rich should pay more, with tax revenues going to restore and improve public services:
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Polly Toynbee discusses how the public shares in the responsibility for a political class oriented toward easily-discarded talking points rather than honest discussion: Intense mistrust of parties is growing dangerously with each generation: with fewer than 1% of the population members of a political party, people understand less about the necessary compromises. Our poll’s “angry” voters say they want politicians to say what they believe, not mouth the party line-to-take. Too many MPs are pitifully thin on vocabulary and imagery, short on wit, warmth, passion or imagination. Some exceptions – the TUC’s Frances (Read more…)
There is a belief commonly held that the private sector will always be “more efficient” than the public sector. Outside of the United States, nowhere is that more prevalent than in Alberta.
Alberta has moved regulatory oversight of the Oil Industry to an “arms-length” regulator … which is funded by the very industry it is overseeing.
More than 75 environment officers who watched over oil industry activities left the provincial environment department this fall, to take higher paying jobs with the new industry-funded Alberta Energy Regulator.
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that having an industry-funded (Read more…)
This and that for your Sunday reading.
- Susan FitzGerald reports on new research that growing up in poverty has a significantly more damaging effect on a child’s development than exposure to drugs – leading to obvious questions as to why so many governments loudly wage a nominal war on the former while allowing the latter to fester. And John Millar and Laurel Rothman highlight the need for Canada’s federal government to address the social costs of poverty.
- Meanwhile, Neal Abernathy writes about the importance of the public sphere in both bringing together and reflecting the shared interests of (Read more…)
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…)
It’s a crisp, foggy November Saturday morning in the south side of the city. Seventeen people sit in the large open area at the back end of an organic fair trade coffee shop run by a workers’ co-op inspired by the Mondragon movement in Spain. Meet-ups like this are quite common in this shop.
The male and female co-facilitators move briskly through the agenda with the help of the nodding volunteer maintaining the speakers list. There are sporadic jazz-hand gestures, common from the Occupy Movement, as well as a strict yet comfortable group norm of only one person speaking at (Read more…)