This and that for your Tuesday reading.
- George Monbiot comments on the dangerous effect of agreements which place investors’ interests above those of governments and citizens: From the outset, the transatlantic partnership has been driven by corporations and their lobby groups, who boast of being able to “co-write” it. Persistent digging by the Corporate Europe Observatory reveals that the commission has held eight meetings on the issue with civil society groups, and 119 with corporations and their lobbyists. Unlike the civil society meetings, these have taken place behind closed doors and have not been disclosed online.
Though the commission (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- Nick Cohen writes that the corporate sector is home to some of the most dangerous cult philosophy in the world: (T)he language of business has become ever more cultish. In the theory of “transformational leadership”, which dominates the business schools, the CEO is a miracle worker. In Transformational Leadership, by Bernard Bass and Ronald Riggio, he is described, not by some gullible Forbes hack, but by two supposedly intelligent American academics. The transformational leader “inspires” his follower to “achieve extraordinary outcomes”, they say. He “empowers them” to “exceed expected performance” and show (Read more…)
Assorted content to end your week.
- Stuart Trew fleshes out the Cons’ new(-ly explicit) Corporate Cronies Action Plan – and it goes even further in entrenching corporate control over policy than one might have expected at first glance: – The makeup of the advisory panel that consulted with Trade Minister Fast skews the new Action Plan in favour energy- and water-intensive agricultural export sectors, multinational business represented by the CCCE, and the energy sector. There was no worker representation on the advisory committee. And the involvement of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is arguably more of a (Read more…)
Too big to fail. For most that expression applies to big banks, but what about our health care? As Ontario prepares the way for further transfer (read: privatization) of hospital services to mostly for-profit independent health facilities, it’s a good … Continue reading →
The private sector is grinning at the stealth privatization of Hockey Night in Canada.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Hockey Night in Canada, privatization version!
Yes, the CBC is now in a privatization scheme called a public-private partnership [see below] to continue its mission to dump the most culturally significant media brand in Canadian history: Hockey Night in Canada.
Selling off the CBC outright would be a politically dangerous venture. So the federal government is simply eroding it, piece by piece. First, it dismantled the CBC orchestra. Then it didn’t bid on renewing the rights to the theme song of (Read more…)
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.
- Chris Dillow discusses how a shredded social safety net may turn into a vicious cycle – as voters are more prepared to cast ballots based on resentment when their own livelihood is less secure: Marko Pitesa and Stefan Thau first manipulated subjects’ perceptions of their income by inviting some to compare themselves to high incomes ($500,000 per month) and others to low incomes ($500 per month). They found that people primed to believe they had low incomes then expressed harsher judgments about violent acts than those who were primed to think themselves rich. (Read more…)
This and that for your Thursday reading.
- Glen Pearson theorizes that inequality will be the defining theme of the current political era. Tavia Grant and Janet McFarland document the extreme (and continually-increasing) disparity between the top 1% and the rest of the world. And Eduardo Porter writes that education can only go so far in creating fair opportunities for everybody in the face of political and economic structures designed to leave most people behind.
- David MacDonald highlights the fact that the Cons’ needless program cuts and their brand-new fire sale of public assets both reflect utter mismanagement rather (Read more…)
Here, on how P3 structures create a divergence of interest between short-sighted governments and the general public – and a few policy fixes to ensure we don’t lose value or accountability as a result of politically-motivated choices to use them.
For further reading…- The Saskatchewan NDP introduced its P3 accountability legislation (PDF) here.- And Murray Mandryk has some questions of his own about the Saskatchewan Party’s reluctance to subject P3s to any oversight or accountability.
Assorted content to end your week.
- David Green asks whether decades of corporate insistence on “flexible” labour markets (i.e. ones which offer no stability for workers) have resulted in the improved wages promised at the outset: Increased wages are how we share the benefits of economic growth among a wide range of people in our society. It’s hard to see the fairness in policies that seek to stamp out wage increases wherever possible.
But this raises the second question – has the policy of increased labour market flexibility worked? Has it delivered a better life for most Canadians?
The grip of privatisation on our vital services has to be broken | Seumas Milne | Comment is free | The Guardian.
Any doubts about who really controls Britain should have now been dispelled. Any thought that the financial crisis might have broken the neoliberal spell, rebalanced the economy or chastened the deregulators and privatisers can be safely dismissed. October has been the month when the monopolies, City hedge funds and foreign-owned cartels put the record straight. It’s they who are calling the shots.
In the past week, a Swiss-based tax exile announced the closure of the Grangemouth petrochemicals plant, a crucial slice (Read more…)
This and that for your Tuesday reading.
- James Bloodworth discusses the most important challenge facing Ed Miliband and Labour in the UK – which largely matches the task for progressives around the globe: People have never put all that much stock in politicians of course, and the expenses scandal did a great deal to erode trust further. But to some extent voter apathy (not the ‘frauds and liars’ sort, but the more common sort of fatalism) might also be blamed on the limits within which today’s managerial politicians operate: voters are only too aware that there is only so (Read more…)
The problem with discussing health care sustainability is there is no definition of what that means. Data would suggest that our health care spending is not out of control – the so-called cost curve has already been bent. Past increases … Continue reading →
Former Rob Ford chief of Staff Mark Towhey gained some notoriety in the 2010 mayor’s race for a blog post he wrote prior to joining Ford’s team where he advocated the city simply shut down the TTC and sell off whatever assets that anyone wants to buy. For anyone familiar with internet libertarians, it is a familiar refrain of blind ideological faith in the free market to provide for all needs, and that government cannot do so.
Sometimes libertarians are operating in the realm of sheer fantasy with no actual real-world examples of the magical benefits they claim will (Read more…)
Here, on the tendency of both the Saskatchewan Party and the federal Cons to pretend a problem doesn’t exist for years on end, then suddenly proclaim there’s no time to do anything other than force through the most regressive “solution” possible.
In shorter terms, the Shock Doctrine has evolved into the Schmuck Doctrine. And we shouldn’t be accepting a government’s own incompetence as reason to accept its rushed decisions.
For further reading…- CBC reports on the Sask Party’s sudden hurry to lock the province into P3 school construction contracts. And the NDP caucus responds to the announcement.- (Read more…)
“The stealth privatization of Ontario’s gas plants over the past decade set the stage for the inevitable payouts that we now face for decades to come.” – Martin Regg Cohn, Toronto Star columnist, October 9, 2013 Has Kathleen Wynne really … Continue reading →
Here, following up on Alex Himelfarb and Jordan Himelfarb’s observations about the need to talk about the good we can do with tax revenue by noting the importance of making sure public money and authority aren’t diverted to private or corporate purposes.
For further reading…- CBC reports on Alberta’s exclusion of environmental groups from any project assessment processes, while Justice Marceau’s full ruling is here.- The Guardian reports on Canada’s spying against Brazilian leaders and businesses, as well as the Cons’ deliberate choice to foster cozy dealings between CSEC and the resource sector. And Alison fills in (Read more…)
Assorted content to end your week.
- Glen Hodgson and Brenda Lafleur explain how Canada’s lower and middle classes alike have been left out of any economic growth as a result of increased inequality: We believe the more accurate interpretation is that after worsening in the 1980s and 1990s, income inequality and poverty in Canada remained stuck at a relatively high level during the 2000s. This interpretation should prompt the question, “Can anything be done about it?”
The 1990s were a difficult decade for Canadians. By the late 1990s, real median after-tax income fell to its lowest level in (Read more…)
This and that for your Sunday reading.
- Matt Taibbi discusses how public pension funds are being looted for the benefit of a few well-connected banksters: Hedge funds have good reason to want to keep their fees hidden: They’re insanely expensive. The typical fee structure for private hedge-fund management is a formula called “two and twenty,” meaning the hedge fund collects a two percent fee just for showing up, then gets 20 percent of any profits it earns with your money. Some hedge funds also charge a mysterious third fee, called “fund expenses,” that can run as high as half (Read more…)
The results are in from Regina’s wastewater treatment referendum. And unfortunately, the combined forces of the City and the corporate sector (with an assist from far too much of the city’s media) were able to carry the day.
But there’s still plenty of reason to think we’re better off for having had the vote.
For one thing, we can now confirm that Reginans can be motivated to participate even in a single-issue referendum – with nearly as many total voters casting a ballot on a single decision as did in electing our entire slate of city leaders just last year. (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Today is of course voting day in Regina’s wastewater treatment plant referendum – and you can get voting information here. And Paul Dechene explains his personal Yes vote by pointing to the need for public control over our infrastructure, while Brian Webb highlights the importance of the treatment plan for water quality in Regina and elsewhere.
- Frances Russell traces the decline of democracy and equality in Canada over the past few decades to free trade agreements designed to limit both. And Miles Corak confirms that Canada has seen the same type of (Read more…)
As the old saying goes, if you sit down at a poker table and can’t spot the sucker, you’re it.
And there shouldn’t be much doubt that when the City of Regina sits down with an interconnected group of consultants and privatization advocates to decide who stands to be handed hundreds of millions of public dollars, the patsy won’t be found in the group of corporate participants.
Of course, the original plan for a privatized wastewater treatment plant allowed for a slightly cleaner process. Instead allowing the public a seat at the table, the City originally planned to ante up (Read more…)
A few links and notes as Regina’s wastewater referendum approaches tomorrow.
- Jason Hammond explains that his Yes vote will be based largely on concerns about the City’s dishonesty and sense of entitlement in trying to push through a P3 model. And Paul Dechene provides the full list of City shenanigans throughout the referendum process.
- That is, until today – when Vanessa Brown revealed that the City is using a U.S. PR firm with a “passion (for) helping Republican candidates, elected officials, and conservative causes” – presumably to help it offer the level of accuracy and principle we’ve (Read more…)
I’ll give Deputy City Manager Brent Sjoberg credit for at least partially answering one of my long-standing questions about a privatized water treatment plant: namely, who’s going to be left with the job of making sure a private operator lives up to its promises? Q8. What are the contractual terms that are going to ensure that risk transfer on paper is risk transfer in practice?
SJOBERG: “There’s quite a number of things in place in terms of that. It’s where the private sector financing portion is really important as part of this project because they will be borrowing from banks (Read more…)
Here, on how the real question in Regina’s P3 referendum vote is that of how to operate the City’s vital infrastructure – and why we should vote “yes” to maintain some control.
For further reading…- CBC reports on last night debate between Jim Holmes and Michael Fougere.- Brent Sjoberg’s interview with Paul Dechene referenced in the column is here. – Ryan Deschamps’ commentary on rent-seeking in the context of the wastewater referendum is well worth a read (particularly given that the entire operational phase of the P3 model has been set up as a giant, 30-year pool (Read more…)