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Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Will Hutton writes about the connection between inequality and the loss of any moral or social purpose in public life: Britain is beset by a crisis of purpose. We don’t know who we are any longer, where we are going or even if there is a “we”. The country is so passionately attached to past glories because there are so few to celebrate in the present. The crisis is compounded since we have been told for 30 years that the route to universal wellbeing is to abandon the expense of justice (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the now-infamous story of Eric and Ilsa bears a disturbing resemblance to how Brad Wall has handled Saskatchewan’s finances.

For further reading…- Again, the original Eric and Ilsa story is here, with Rob Carrick following up here. And the story was picked up (with appropriate criticism) here, here and here among other places.- I’ve also commented in this post, and I’ll note that the point applies equally when it comes to Saskatchewan: in fact, Saskatchewan’s GDP has more than tripled since 1990 without generating much more than the insistence that we (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Amy Goodman discusses Barack Obama’s call to reverse the spread of inequality in the U.S. And Seumas Milne writes that the effort will inevitably challenge the world oligarchs have built up to further their own wealth and power at everybody else’s expense: In most of the world, labour’s share of national income has fallen continuously and wages have stagnated under this regime of privatisation, deregulation and low taxes on the rich. At the same time finance has sucked wealth from the public realm into the hands of a small minority, even (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jeff Begley criticizes the Cons and the Quebec Libs for their refusal to even recognize inequality as an issue – which of course results in their only exacerbating the gap between the rich and the rest of us: While Couillard and Harper find the “courage” to attack workers, starting with those in the public sector, they are completely silent when it comes to the growing social and economic inequalities. Worse still, they are working actively to heighten those inequalities!

In our video message over the holidays, I indicated that we hoped this (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Robert Ferdman reports on a Pew Research poll showing that wealthier Americans are downright resentful toward the poor – and think the people with the most difficult lives actually have it too easy: (T)he prevalence of the view might reflect an inability to understand the plight of those who have no choice but to seek help from the government. A quarter of the country, after all, feels that the leading reason for inequality in America is that the poor don’t work hard enough.

But as my colleague Christopher Ingraham pointed out last (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Martin O’Neill and Rick Pearce interview Thomas Piketty about possible policy responses to growing inequality: [Martin O'Neill]…(D)o you think that the response to the increase in inequality might be one that explores the sorts of avenues that Meade opened up, and doesn’t just rely on mechanisms of redistribution through the tax system?  Thomas Piketty: Yes, I think that you are right – I am glad that you have asked this question. First I would like to pay tribute to James Meade and this long tradition of British economists, including Tony (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Mark Gongloff takes a look at social mobility research from multiple countries, and finds that there’s every reason for concern that inheritance is far outweighing individual attributes in determining social status. And Left Futures notes that the problem may only get worse as our corporate overlords become more and more sophisticated at cannibalizing our commonwealth for profit.

- Speaking of which, Jake MacDonald offers an insightful (if maddening) review of how farmers are suffering from the demolition of the single-desk Canadian Wheat Board.

- Andrew Jackson comments on the Cons’ glaring failure (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Thomas Walkom points out that with oil prices in free fall, we’re now seeing the inevitable consequences of the Cons’ plan to build an economy solely around unstable resource revenues: Sensible countries try to lessen their dependence on volatile commodities. Canada, whose economy has been dominated by resource exports since the 16th century, spent much effort over the years trying to do break free from this dependence — usually by encouraging secondary manufacturing.

The aim was to diversify the economy so that offsetting forces were created. A fall in oil prices, for instance, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood discusses the close connection between the energy sector and inequality in Canada – with the obvious implication that policies dedicated to unduly favouring the former will inevitably produce the latter:  (T)he real story from last week’s Stats Can report isn’t that Canada is turning the tide on inequality, but that the energy sector is a key driver of income inequality in Canada. Massive investment in the oil sands has benefited the wealthiest earners to the exclusion of most other Canadians, and those immense gains have simply been slightly reduced from their (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Dig faster!!!

Shorter Greg Rickford: It has come to my attention that after eight years of propagandizing for pipelines and demonizing anybody who points out environmental concerns, nobody considers Conservatives to be even faintly credible in protecting the public interest. But I’m sure we can win people over with my bold new strategy: another year of propagandizing for pipelines while demonizing anybody who points out environmental concerns.

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Michal Rozworski responds to idealized views of Canadian equality with the reality that we fall well short of the Scandinavian model: Canada appears on many accounts much closer to the US than Sweden, the stand-in for a more robust social democratic and redistributive state. Indeed, looking at the three top rows of the table, there is a clear link between the higher share of income going to the top (inequality) and the higher share of taxes paid for by those at the top (redistribution a la Vox authors Martin and Hertel-Fernandez). On both (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Ralph Surette suggests that Nova Scotia’s tax and regulatory review pay close attention to the fact that it can do more than simply slash both: Nova Scotia already has relatively low corporate taxes and lower than average taxes for the highest earners. Yet none of this can seem to get into the conversation that has us as high-tax, anti-business and anti-everything. I invite the review committee to pin down where we actually stand on the comparative tax scale.

I also invite it to take note of what’s going on next door. New Brunswick (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- thwap nicely summarizes how we’ve allowed our economy to rely on (and feed into) the whims of a small group of insiders, rather than being harnessed for any sense of public good: (W)hat’s changed today is that the wealthy clearly have more money than they know what to do with. And it’s rendered our economies top-heavy. Financialization and financial speculation. Which does nothing for ordinary people. Tax-cuts to wealthy and the corporations just go into the banks and into speculation. Tax-increases to the wealthy and the corporations can help mitigate government deficits (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- James Meek writes about the UK’s privatization scam, and how it’s resulted in citizens paying far more for the basic services which are better provided by a government which actually has the public interest within its mandate: Privatisation failed to demonstrate the case made by the privatisers that private companies are always more competent than state-owned ones – that private bosses, chasing the carrot of bonuses and dodging the stick of bankruptcy, will always do better than their state-employed counterparts. Through euphemisms such as “wealth creation” and “enjoying the rewards of success” Thatcher (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Bert Olivier is the latest to weigh in on Paul Verhaeghe’s work showing that the obsessive pursuit of market fundamentalism harms our health in a myriad of ways: What does the neoliberal “organisation” of society amount to? As the title of the book indicates, it is market-based, in the tacit belief that the abstract entity called the “market” is better suited than human beings themselves to provide a (supposedly) humane structure to the communities in which we live. But because neoliberal capitalism stands or falls by the question, whether profit is generated (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- George Monbiot discusses how a market-based society makes people unhealthy in a myriad of ways – and how it’s worth maintaining our innate reluctance to value everything and everybody around us solely in terms of dollar values: The market was meant to emancipate us, offering autonomy and freedom. Instead it has delivered atomisation and loneliness.

The workplace has been overwhelmed by a mad, Kafkaesque infrastructure of assessments, monitoring, measuring, surveillance and audits, centrally directed and rigidly planned, whose purpose is to reward the winners and punish the losers. It destroys autonomy, enterprise, innovation (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: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz writes that while we should expect natural resources to result in broad-based prosperity, Australia (much like Canada) is now turning toward the U.S. model of instead directing as much shared wealth as possible toward the privileged few: There is something deeply ironic about Abbott’s reverence for the American model in defending many of his government’s proposed “reforms.” After all, America’s economic model has not been working for most Americans. Median income in the US is lower today than it was a quarter-century ago – not because productivity has been (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Buttonwood weighs in on the disproportionate influence of the ultra-rich when it comes to making policy choices which affect all of us: But the analysis backs up earlier work by Larry Bartels of Princeton, author of a book called “Unequal Democracy”, and the general thesis of the late political scientist, Mancur Olson, that government can be in hock to special interests. This may be truer in America than elsewhere since its campaign-finance laws are so liberal: $6 billion was spent on the 2012 elections. This system forces candidates to spend much of their (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that to end your weekend.

- Lana Payne challenges the Big Lie that right-wing politics are anything but antithetical to broad economic growth. Dennis Howlett weighs in on the Cons’ choice to make the rich even richer through their tax policy. And Daniel Tencer juxtaposes the boom in Canadian corporate profits against the continued economic difficulties facing most people.

- Meanwhile, Paul Krugman notes that the most prominent attempt to challenge Thomas Piketty’s work represents nothing but inequality denialism. And Auriandra compares the policy views of the 1% with those of the American public – making for a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Mitchell Anderson discusses Canada’s woeful excuse for negotiations with the oil sector – particularly compared to the lasting social benefits secured by Norway in making the best of similar reserves: Digging through the numbers, it seems Norway is considerably more skilled at negotiation. By charging higher taxes and investing equity ownership in their own production, the Norwegian taxpayer was paid $46.29 BOE in 2012. That same year, the U.K. taxpayer realized only $20.08 per BOE — less than half as much.

What about Canada? Much of our production is bitumen, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Nafeez Ahmed writes about the dangers of combining growing inequality and increased resource extraction: By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.

These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Mitchell Anderson compares the results of corporate-friendly Thatcherism to the alternative of public resource ownership and development in the interest of citizens – and finds far better results arising from the latter: Thirty-five years after she swept to power as British prime minister, it is ironic that socialist Norway now has $830 billion in the bank and enjoys fully funded social programs that most of us can only dream of. Meanwhile the U.K. is enduring another round of wrenching austerity and owes over £1.3 trillion — about US$2.2 trillion. (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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses the link between perpetually-increasing inequality and the loss of social trust: Unfortunately, however, trust is becoming yet another casualty of our country’s staggering inequality: As the gap between Americans widens, the bonds that hold society together weaken. So, too, as more and more people lose faith in a system that seems inexorably stacked against them, and the 1 percent ascend to ever more distant heights, this vital element of our institutions and our way of life is eroding.

The undervaluing of trust has its roots in our most popular economic traditions. (Read more…)