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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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Robert Reich laments the indecency of gross inequality (and the economic policies designed to exacerbate it): (F)or more than three decades we’ve been going backwards. It’s far more difficult today for a child from a poor family to become a middle-class or wealthy adult. Or even for a middle-class child to become wealthy.

The major reason is widening inequality. The longer the ladder, the harder the climb. America is now more unequal that it’s been for eighty or more years, with the most unequal distribution of income and wealth of all developed nations. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Reconciliation fail

Shorter Joe Oliver: We Conservatives are so committed to building trust and relationships with First Nations, we feel we can safely ignore a report saying we’re failing miserably on all fronts and instead claim all the necessary work is done. So who wants to partner up with us?

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Jim Stanford counters the myth of labour shortages by pointing out Canada’s significant – and growing – number of potential workers who lack a job. And Janet French reports on how PCS’ job cuts have affected both the workers who were laid off, and the communities who depend on their spending to support local economies.

- CPJ’s infographic makes the case for a guaranteed livable income in Canada:

- CBC reports on the misleading statistics underlying claims that there’s no need to discuss rail safety in Canada – featuring cases of runaway trains (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, asking whether growth and stable employment are part of the deal when the Saskatchewan Party offers massive handouts to the resource sector – and if so, how to handle the fact that PCS is pocketing tax incentives while slashing jobs.

For further reading…- The Wall government’s own press release touting its potash giveaways is here. Needless to say, there’s no mention as to why we’d want to keep giving royalties away if they’re not linked to growth.- Simon Enoch’s list of Saskatchewan Party corporate subsidies is always worth a look.- Murray Mandryk is duly skeptical (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Andrew Jackson writes that Canada needs far more investment in infrastructure – rather than the austerity that’s constantly being prescribed by the Cons: The fiscal policy choice we face is often miscast as one between austerity to deal with public debt and short-term Keynesian-style stimulus. But the real choice, Mr. Summers argues, is whether or not to finance public investments that would have positive long-term impacts on both the economy and on public finances.

Take the case for repairing or replacing Canada’s crumbling basic municipal infrastructure, some 30 per cent of which is (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On legacies

Peter MacKinnon’s report (PDF) on the possibilities for a Saskatchewan heritage fund is well worth a read. And I’ll readily agree with the central premise that it’s well worth setting up such a fund to turn one-time resource revenues into long-term benefits.

But it is worth noting that MacKinnon’s proposed rule of thumb for deposits into a fund leave a couple of glaring loopholes which may undermine the fund in the long run: 2. Cap Reliance on Non-renewable Resource Revenues

The Government of Saskatchewan establish a cap on reliance on non-renewable resource revenues for all purposes other than deposits in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On shortsighted assumptions

Time for a true or false pop quiz. Is the following a self-evident statement of economic fact? “A capital asset which is not currently being exploited has a value of zero for all purposes.”

I only ask because that seems to be the fundamental assumption behind Andrew Leach’s cost-benefit analysis comparing raw bitumen mining to upgrading. And unfortunately, Leach’s viewpoint seems to fit all too well with the current resource management philosophy of provincial and federal governments alike.

Here’s Leach’s conclusion as to a hypothetical set of developments – one involving an extraction project alone, one an attached upgrader: (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- George Monbiot writes that corporate control over a political system may be a huge factor in limiting public participation – even as it makes a substantial counterweight all the more important: The political role of business corporations is generally interpreted as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy. In reality they belong on the inside. They are part of the nexus of power that creates policy. They face no significant resistance, from either government or opposition, as their interests have now been woven into the fabric of all three main political parties in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

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?

(Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Don Braid comments on Alberta’s complete lack of credibility when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental issues. And Andrew Leach nicely sums up the PC/Con position in trying to put a happy face on growing emissions: Suppose you run into an old friend whom you haven’t seen for some time. You notice that he looks a little thicker than you remembered around the waist, but, since you aren’t one of those academics who shuns basic manners, you keep mum.

“How are you doing?” you say, “What’s new? (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Marc Lee writes that British Columbia has learned nothing about the dangers of staple economics. But Christy Clark has certainly learned something from her predecessor’s playbook: one term after Gordon Campbell’s promise not to impose an HST fell by the wayside immediately after he’d secured another four years in office, Clark is abandoning her supposed concern for the environment in order to facilitate wholesale shipment of oil products by pipeline, rail and tanker.

- Meanwhile, Dallas MacQuarrie discusses the heavy-handed RCMP response to peaceful protestors challenging fracking on First Nations land in Rexton, (Read more…)