Categories

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

– Paul Wells argues that climate change and First Nations reconciliation – two of the issues which the Libs have tried to turn into signature priorities – look set to turn into areas of weakness as Justin Trudeau continues his party’s tradition of dithering. And Martin Lukacs writes that Trudeau’s handling of continuing injustice facing First Nations has involved an awful lot of flash but virtually no action:

The extractivist worldview—bent on treating everything as a commodity—that lay behind Stephen Harper’s resource agenda just as powerfully shapes Trudeau’s. In fact, the Liberals’ attempt to wrap themselves in the UN Declaration without embracing its central right may constitute a new, more subtle form of extraction: the extraction from Indigenous territory of consent itself.

Liberal moves to extract and manufacture consent and support for outdated policies are evident elsewhere: restoring funding to the Assembly of First Nations, a government-dependent organization that has since plumped frequently for them; appointing an Indigenous Justice Minister, even though Indigenous critics argue she has sided with the government agenda throughout her political career; and agreeing to call an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, but with a mandate far short of what impacted families wanted. As the weight of reality presses against Trudeau’s rhetoric, the ability to generate consent is crumbling.

Reconciliation is a powerful hope, an uplifting prospect, a deeply desired new relationship that Trudeau has compellingly invoked. But if reconciliation does not include the restitution of land, the recognition of real self-government, the reigning in of abusive police, the remediation of rivers and forests, it will remain a vacant notion, a cynical ploy to preserve a status quo in need not of tinkering but transformation. It will be Canada’s latest in beads and trinkets, a cheap simulation of justice.

– Guy Caron discusses the CRA’s role in Canada’s two-tier tax system. Stephen Punwasi comments on the connection between Canada’s willingness to facilitate tax avoidance, and the real estate bubbles driving housing prices far beyond what working-class Canadians can afford. And Marc Lee then highlights the connection between soaring urban real estate prices and increased inequality. 

– David Ball notes that many municipalities are retaking control over their own services after learning that the promises of efficiency through privatization are entirely illusory.

– Richard Orange points out Sweden’s intriguing idea of reducing taxes on repair services to discourage people from throwing out consumer goods. But I’d wonder whether that step alone would make a dent if it isn’t paired with a concerted effort at training potential repair workers for a job which the corporate sector would prefer to eliminate.

– Finally, Paul Mason makes the case for economics to be based on real-world observations of human behaviour, rather than insular mathematical models whose assumptions about market efficiency bear no relationship to reality. And Branko Milanovic discusses the need to measure and reduce inequality as part of a global development strategy. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Parchment in the Fire: Greece: A Country for Sale | Jacobin

Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza government have overseen privatizations at a scale unseen since German reunification. Source: Greece: A Country for Sale | JacobinFiled under: Eurozone crisis Tagged: Austerity, Greece, privatization, Syriza . . . → Read More: Parchment in the Fire: Greece: A Country for Sale | Jacobin

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

– David Dayen and Ryan Grim write that “free trade” agreements are in fact turning into little more than cash cows for hedge funds and other big-money speculators:

Under this system, a corporation invested in a foreign country can appeal to arbitration panels, consisting of three corporate lawyers, if that country enacts a law or regulation that violates a trade agreement or discriminates against the company. The ISDS courts can then award billions of dollars to the corporation to compensate it for the loss of expected future profits.

The problem is that these courts can also be used by speculators, who buy up companies for the sole purpose of filing an ISDS claim, or who finance lawsuits from corporations for a piece of the claim award.

“ISDS allows a small group of ultra-rich investors to extract billions of dollars from taxpayers while they undermine financial, environmental and public health rules across the world,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), an early opponent of ISDS, told HuffPost. “Our trade deals should not include ISDS in any form.”

The use of ISDS as a moneymaking engine, rather than for its initial purpose ― to protect foreign investors from having their factories expropriated or their businesses nationalized ― raises the question of whether there’s a better system available.

“Why should hard-won sovereign advances, like rules against polluting or consumer protections, be at risk when the obvious solution is for the investors to put their skin, not ours, in the game?” wondered Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden and a critic of TPP. “The simple solution is to have them self-insure against investment losses.”

– Mike Balkwill highlights the need to stop consulting endlessly about poverty, and instead take action by ensuring people have enough resources to meet at least their basic needs. Ann Hui reports on the especially dire circumstances facing First Nations families in Northern Ontario who have to spend upwards of half of their income on overpriced food. And Miguel Sanchez criticizes the Wall government’s attack on benefits to people with disabilities in Saskatchewan.

– Nicole Thompson points out how the Libs’ changes to the temporary foreign worker program are actually making matters worse for caregivers by eliminating any right to apply for permanent resident status. And Martha Burk documents how workers can lose out when employers force them to accept payroll cards rather than paycheques.

– Erich Hartmann and Alexa Greig argue that it’s long past time for Canada’s federal government to provide stable funding for health care in partnership with the provinces, rather than contributing only as much as it wants to at any given point. And Tom Blackwell reports on the dangers of relying on private providers by highlighting how they inevitably leave the public system to deal with complications.

– Finally, Tom Parkin notes that we should base our discussion of electoral reform on the actual experience of similar countries, not the obviously-false claims of people wanting to fearmonger us into accepting the status quo. And Andrew Coyne draws a parallel to the census as an argument for mandatory voting. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- Naomi Klein writes about the racism and dehumanization behind climate change denialism and inaction. And George Monbiot reminds us of the dangers of overheating oceans, while Michael Wines interviews Todd Halih… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

– Armine Yalnizyan writes that the response to the European Commission’s finding that Apple has dodged $20 billion in taxes may tell us all we need to know about the relative power of governments and corporations:

The EC is also investigating state support received by Amazon and McDonalds in Luxembourg, a tax haven. Expect more costly court battles about the appropriateness of laws and systems of governance.
Since the 2008 economic crisis, giant corporations have gone from being “too big to fail” to “too big to pay.”
But as the big tax avoiders get feisty, so too are voters. The Panama Papers have made people aware of the hypocrisy: when those with deep pockets don’t pay, everyone else pays more. Governments are legitimately worried about their finances, and more focused on tax fairness than in decades. But as corporations both fight and rewrite the rules, occasionally cash-starved, debt-ridden nations are being enlisted to support their agenda.
The Apple story is huge. It could presage the end of tax competition, as nations co-ordinate attempts to combat absurd levels of tax-dodging. Or it could signal growing dominance of corporate power over state power. High stakes, to be sure, in the evolution of 21st-century globalization.

– Meanwhile, Allan Sloan discusses how Mylan’s profiteering in ratcheting up the price of EpiPens has been paired with glaring tax avoidance. And the NDP points out the conspicuous lack of any public benefit from the Libs’ and Cons’ track record of corporate tax slashing in Canada.

– Alex Hemingway writes about the costs of privatizing public infrastructure. And Thomas Walkom highlights the Libs’ options in reviewing Canada Post’s future – which include taking an obvious opportunity to better meet a large number of social needs through a postal banking system.

– Bloomberg View rightly argues that fossil fuel subsidies are about the dumbest possible type of public policy. And Samantha Page offers another reason why that’s so by pointing out the devastating health effects of oil and gas production and distribution.

– Finally, Simon Enoch offers a much-needed warning to the rest of Canada as to what Saskatchewan faces with Brad Wall in power. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.- Armine Yalnizyan writes that the response to the European Commission’s finding that Apple has dodged $20 billion in taxes may tell us all we need to know about the relative power of governments and corporations:The E… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: On cost comparisons

Following up on yesterday’s column, let’s take a moment to examine just how foolish the Wall government’s insistence on trying to sell off SaskTel is even as a matter of pure dollars and cents.Again, I’ve previously calculated the benefit to Saskatchew… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On cost comparisons

Accidental Deliberations: On cost comparisons

Following up on yesterday’s column, let’s take a moment to examine just how foolish the Wall government’s insistence on trying to sell off SaskTel is even as a matter of pure dollars and cents.Again, I’ve previously calculated the benefit to Saskatchew… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On cost comparisons

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how we shouldn’t believe any of the unenforceable promises Brad Wall and his government will make to try to pitch a SaskTel selloff – and how citizens stand to lose out from a sale.For further reading…- CBC reported on Wall’s going out of hi… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how we shouldn’t believe any of the unenforceable promises Brad Wall and his government will make to try to pitch a SaskTel selloff – and how citizens stand to lose out from a sale.For further reading…- CBC reported on Wall’s going out of hi… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.- Dennis Howlett discusses the public costs of allowing tax avoidance – as Canada could afford a national pharmacare program (and much more) merely by ensuring that the rich pay what they owe:Eliminating tax haven… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

– Dennis Howlett discusses the public costs of allowing tax avoidance – as Canada could afford a national pharmacare program (and much more) merely by ensuring that the rich pay what they owe:

Eliminating tax haven use could save Canada almost $8 billion a year. That’s enough to cover universal public prescription coverage almost eight times over.

Time after time, budget after budget, poll after poll, those in charge make it sound as if we’re too poor as a country to afford the programs that would really improve Canadians’ lives. The fact that revenues are lost to poor policy on tax havens and loopholes is often conveniently ignored.

At this stage of the game, the federal finance minister doesn’t need to raise taxes to pay for pharmacare. Bill Morneau just has to make sure that Canadian multinationals and wealthy individuals pay the tax rate we already have. That isn’t happening right now.

It’s simple. Canadians can continue to support a tax system that lets the richest avoid paying $8 billion in taxes annually — or we can tell them that the party’s over. Instead of ignoring what is happening in the Cayman Islands, Panama and other tax havens, we can urge our politicians to invest the taxes owing on those billions into services that benefit individuals, families, communities and the country as a whole.

There is solid data supporting raising taxes in some areas. But that’s an argument for another day. The issue at hand right now is that we do have enough money for pharmacare — likely enough for public dental care as well. Through a series of misguided and outdated decisions driven by the tax dodge lobby, we are needlessly and destructively giving up that revenue.

It’s time to fix those old mistakes and use the tax system to help this country live up to its potential.

– Meanwhile, Owen Jones discusses a European Commission ruling finding that Apple can’t validly avoid paying tax through a special arrangement with Ireland. And the Star rightly slams the Fraser Institute for presenting a misleading picture of where public revenue comes from and what it can accomplish.

– The CP reports on the Libs’ plans to facilitate the use of temporary foreign workers for liquid natural gas projects in British Columbia – meaning that the last supposed benefit for the province of engaging in a dangerous industry seems to be as illusory as all the others. And Jeremy Nuttall notes that Justin Trudeau seems set to open the door even wider to entrench the use of exploitable foreign labour by multinational corporations. 

– Finally, Catherine Cullen reports on the effects of privatized health care insurance which are being presented in an effort to defend Canada’s medicare system from would-be profiteers:

John Frank, a Canadian physician who is now chairman of public health research and policy at the University of Edinburgh, argues in his report that more private health care “would be expected to adversely affect Canadian society as a whole.”

He cites research that suggests public resources, including highly trained nurses and doctors, would be siphoned off by the private system.

More Canadians would face financial hardship or even — in extreme cases — “medical bankruptcy” from paying for private care, he writes.

Frank even suggests there could be deadly consequences. He says complications from privately funded surgeries often need to be dealt with in the public system because private facilities are generally less equipped to handle complex cases.

“If such complications, arising from privately funded care, are not promptly referred to an appropriately equipped and staffed care facility, the patient is likely to experience death or long-term disability, potentially leading to reduced earnings and financial hardship.”

Overall, “in my expert opinion,” Frank writes, the change would reduce fairness and efficiency and “society as a whole would be worse off.”

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.- Erika Hayasaki surveys the developing body of research on how poverty and deprivation affect a child’s long-term brain development:Early results show a troubling trend: Kids who grow up with higher levels of… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

– Erika Hayasaki surveys the developing body of research on how poverty and deprivation affect a child’s long-term brain development:

Early results show a troubling trend: Kids who grow up with higher levels of violence as a backdrop in their lives, based on MRI scans, have weaker real-time neural connections and interaction in parts of the brain involved in awareness, judgment, and ethical and emotional processing.

…Though it’s still largely based on correlations between brain patterns and particular environments, the research points to a disturbing conclusion: Poverty and the conditions that often accompany it—violence, excessive noise, chaos at home, pollution, malnutrition, abuse and parents without jobs—can affect the interactions, formation and pruning of connections in the young brain.

Two recent influential reports cracked open a public conversation on the matter. In one, researchers found that impoverished children had less gray matter—brain tissue that supports information processing and executive behavior—in their hippocampus (involved in memory), frontal lobe (involved in decision making, problem solving, impulse control, judgment, and social and emotional behavior) and temporal lobe (involved in language, visual and auditory processing and self-awareness). Working together, these brain areas are crucial for following instructions, paying attention and overall learning—some of the keys to academic success.

The second key study, published in Nature Neuroscience , also in 2015 , looked at 1,099 people between ages 3 and 20, and found that children with parents who had lower incomes had reduced brain surface areas in comparison to children from families bringing home $150,000 or more a year.

“We have [long] known about the social class differences in health and learning outcomes,” says Dr. Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. But neuroscience has now linked the environment, behavior and brain activity—and that could lead to a stunning overhaul of both educational and social policies, like rethinking Head Start–style programs that have traditionally emphasized early literacy. New approaches, he says, could focus on social and emotional development as well, since science now tells us that relationships and interactions with the environment sculpt the areas of the brain that control behavior (like the ability to concentrate), which also can affect academic achievement (like learning to read). 

– Adria Vasil discusses the worldwide trend of water being made available first (and for inexplicably low prices) to for-profit bottlers over citizens who need it. And Martin Regg Cohn examines how the story is playing out in Ontario in particular.

– Mike De Souza reports on how the National Energy Board, rather than acting as a neutral regulator, misled Denis Coderre to try to take free PR for both the NEB itself and fossil fuel development in general. And Carrie Tait points out how the Husky oil spill is raising questions about Saskatchewan’s fully captured regulatory system. 

– Ian MacLeod reports on a sudden and unexplained increase in CSE interception of private communications.

– Finally, Andray Domise discusses what Colten Boushie’s shooting and its aftermath say about the blight of racism in Canada. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Alberta Politics: AHS extends Dynalife medical lab services contract for five years

PHOTOS: Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman. Below: Former Alberta Health Services CEO Vickie Kaminski and current CEO Verna Yiu. Alberta’s health care community was abuzz this morning with word Alberta Health Services has renewed its contract with… . . . → Read More: Alberta Politics: AHS extends Dynalife medical lab services contract for five years

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- Owen Jones discusses the UK’s experience with privatized rail as yet another example of how vital services become more costly and worse-run when put in corporate hands.- Sean McElwee highlights still more resea… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- Owen Jones discusses the UK’s experience with privatized rail as yet another example of how vital services become more costly and worse-run when put in corporate hands.- Sean McElwee highlights still more resea… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

– David Dayen wonders whether the Obama administration’s decision to end the use of private prisons might represent the needed start of a movement away from relying on poor corporate services as a substitute for public action:

Private prisons experienced more safety and security incidents. They had higher rates of assaults, inadequate medical checkups and compliance, eight times as many incidents of contraband cell-phone smuggling, and often housed new inmates in solitary confinement units, seemingly for lack of space. The report also detailed several grisly incidents since 2008: three riots in one Reeves County, Texas facility in two months; the death of a corrections officer in a riot in Natchez, Mississippi; and the closure of the Willacy County (Texas) Correctional Center, after inmates burned it to the ground.

It’s not hard to figure out why this happens. Private companies win contracts to manage federal prisons by undercutting the Bureau of Prisons’ operational costs. Unlike the government, private prison companies must also take their profit margins out of their budgets. The only way to make that work is to massively drop labor costs, corresponding to a severe degradation of the quality of prison management.

That reflects the problem with privatization as a whole. Private companies must carry out a government function—be it water, parking meters, mass transit, or K-12 schools—at a lower cost than the government can provide it, while taking their profit off the top. Time and again, the results reveal that to be impossible, at least if you want to provide the same quality of service. Yet we keep privatizing. Whether it’s Republicans expanding Medicaid or cash-strapped cities handing over bus service to Uber and Lyft, eventually costs shift from taxpayers to the users of the services, oversight becomes impotent as officials grow reliant on outsourcing contracts, and attempts to maximize profits lead to service breakdowns.

– But CBC reports that the worst is yet to come in Saskatchewan as Brad Wall has publicly put SaskTel up for corporate raiding.

– Jacki Andre discusses the hidden costs of living with a disability – which make it particularly unconscionable for Wall’s Saskatchewan Party to be trying to squeeze pennies out of people who rely on already-inadequate disability benefits.

– Floyd Perras highlights the multiple factors that contribute to (and exacerbate) homelessness. And Rocca Perla comments on the need to include social determinants of health within medical treatment of patients.

– Pat Rich describes the Canadian Medical Association’s rude awakening in finding out that Lib Health Minister Jane Philpott has no interest in its key priorities for improved care. And Alison points out how the Libs are conspicuously trying to wriggle out of their promise to end the unfairness of first-past-the-post politics.

– Finally, Anna MacDonald makes the case for stronger transparency as a means of limiting the harm of global arms dealing. But if there was any doubt that the Trudeau Libs are firmly on the side of weapons proliferation, Helene Laverdiere points out their inexplicable decision to stand against nuclear disarmament. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- David Dayen wonders whether the Obama administration’s decision to end the use of private prisons might represent the needed start of a movement away from relying on poor corporate services as a substi… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.- Melisa Foster points out why millennials should be strongly interested in a national pharmacare program:Today, young Canadians are searching for jobs in an economy with high levels of precarious employment, unemploym… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.- Bjarke Skærlund Risager interviews David Harvey about the history and effect of neoliberalism: I’ve always treated neoliberalism as a political project carried out by the corporate capitalist class as they felt i… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.- David Blanchflower notes that there’s virtually no dispute that the UK is headed into an economic downturn – meaning that there’s also no excuse to hold off on fiscal relief for the public. And Brad DeLong po… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

The Progressive Economics Forum: How not to fund infrastructure

Recycling is supposed to be a good thing, so when the federal Liberals quietly announced that “asset recycling” would be part of their strategy for meeting their much-ballyhooed infrastructure promises, not many eyebrows were raised. They should have been. Asset recycling is an obscure code word for selling our public goods for private profit. It’s […] . . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: How not to fund infrastructure

Michal Rozworski: How not to fund infrastructure

Recycling is supposed to be a good thing, so when the federal Liberals quietly announced that “asset recycling” would be part of their strategy for meeting their much-ballyhooed infrastructure promises, not many eyebrows were raised. They should have been. Asset recycling is an obscure code word for selling our public goods for private profit. It’s […] . . . → Read More: Michal Rozworski: How not to fund infrastructure

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.- Mark Karlin interviews Richard Wolff about the relationship between unfettered capitalism and poverty:How is poverty an inevitable by-product of capitalism? Doesn’t this make all these charitable drives “to … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links