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Accidental Deliberations: On public priorities

I’m not sure whether last week’s column played a role, but there have been an awful lot of attacks on Saskatchewan’s Crowns since then at a time when the parties don’t seem to be highlighting the issue. So let’s sum up the arguments being made to undermine the public enterprises that are serving Saskatchewan so well.

Shorter Will Chabun: Sure, actual people may be better off because of Crown competition in the wireless sector. But won’t somebody think of the rent-seekers?

And shorter Star-Phoenix editorial board: The Wall Saskatchewan Party has no coherent or sensible policy when it (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Expanding Our 2014 Boycott List: #BoycottLoblaws

First, it started with IKEA, which has been locking out its Richmond, BC workers for 11 months. Then it expanded to a white Richmond farmer who isn’t all that happy with all the non-white farmers changing the complexion of farming in BC.

So we’re are committing to #BoycottIKEA and boycotting W & A Farms products.

Now, it’s Loblaws/ExtraFoods/T&T/RealCanadianSuperstore that needs a hefty, long-term boycott.

A portion of every dollar you spend at any of that chain’s stores goes to fund the anti-social Fraser Institute and its campaigns to destroy the public education system in Canada.

The [Weston] family foundation (Read more…)

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: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Paul Krugman compares the U.S.’ longtime recognition that concentrated wealth can do massive social harm to the Republicans’ recent efforts to claim that raising any revenue from the rich is somehow un-American: The truth is that, in the early 20th century, many leading Americans warned about the dangers of extreme wealth concentration, and urged that tax policy be used to limit the growth of great fortunes. Here’s another example: In 1919, the great economist Irving Fisher — whose theory of “debt deflation,” by the way, is essential in understanding our current (Read more…)

Defending Public Healthcare: Liberals support more private clinics – even as clinics turn on them

The Ontario government has gotten into another donnybrook with private clinics for a second time in less than a year.  Over the summer, they got into a messy dispute with private physiotherapy clinics.The government stopped 94 physiotherapy clinics from directly billing OHIP. Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews said that, over the years, licences to provide these services have been bought up by large corporations.  Moreover, she charged, the “existing 94 clinics have had an unlimited ability to bill the government and have become very creative in they way they bill.” The government claimed that (Read more…) . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Liberals support more private clinics – even as clinics turn on them

Politics, Re-Spun: Stop. Obeying. The. Rich. NOW!

Once upon a time, we were taught to envy and respect our “betters,” like the rich.

No more.

They’re taking our money and throwing us under the bus every day. And it’s not even just the super-rich or those in America, it’s the aspirational rich; they’re just as toxic.

This stops now, it’s time to ramp up the Occupy Movement again, and for good this time:

The super-rich of the 21st century no longer think that you and I are needed for their continued success.

And in some ways, they have given up on America, period.

As Paul Buchheit brilliantly (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

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…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Build Worker Solidarity Now or Suffer the Wrath of the 1%

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.

(Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

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…)

Political Eh-conomy: Magic numbers and the math stick

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Deep thought

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!!!”.

Political Eh-conomy: Strategy, or escape from the privatization matrix (Canada Post, Part 2)

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…)

Political Eh-conomy: Diagnosis, or into the privatization matrix (Canada Post, Part 1)

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

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.

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

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…)

cmkl: CBC’s saying Canada Post will start killing door to door delivery in early February

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 – […]

Political Eh-conomy: QE: Furthering the habit of privatizing gains and socializing losses

“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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

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…)

Politics, Re-Spun: What Does Post-Corporate Media Look Like?

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

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…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Come On, Let’s Really Increase Taxes on the Rich

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:

(Read more…)