Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Colleen Flood writes that our health care system is more similar to the U.S.’ than we’d like to admit – and that many of the most glaring inefficiencies within it are already the result of services funded through private insurance rather than our universal public system: The latest Commonwealth Study ranked Canada’s health care system a dismal second to last in a list of eleven major industrialized countries. We had the dubious distinction of beating out only the Americans. This latest poor result is already being used by those bent on (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Sarah Jaffe examines the “bad business fee” proposal which would require employers who pay wages below public assistance levels – receiving work while forcing the public to subsidize their employees’ livelihood – to at least make up the difference: As inequality has become a hot-button issue, the solutions on offer tend to focus either on taxing the extremely wealthy or on raising workers’ wages. What makes the bad business fee particularly attractive is that it does both of those things. It makes the connection conceptually between the low wages at the bottom (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Carol Linnitt observes that the Canadian public supports a shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy by a 76-24% margin – even as they overestimate Canada’s economic returns from oil and gas.

- Meanwhile, Alison takes a look at the spread of (primarily oil-funded) advertorials in Canadian media.

- Kate Heartfield writes that even if the Cons’ cuts to refugee health hadn’t crossed the line into unconstitutionality, we should still consider them to be unconscionable from a policy-making perspective: Even if you come away unconvinced of the soundness of the court’s conclusion, it (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer respond to Joseph Stiglitz by pointing out that some of the inequality arising out of capitalism has nothing to do with rules further rigged in favour of the wealthy: Although there is certainly significant substance to Stiglitz’s argument – policy decisions can have profound impacts on economic outcomes – nevertheless capitalism is far more responsible for economic inequality because of its inherent nature and its extended reach in the area of policy decisions than Stiglitz is willing to concede. To begin with, in capitalist society it is (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Thomas Frank interviews Barry Lynn about the U.S.’ alarming concentration of wealth and power. Henry Blodget thoroughly rebuts the myth that “rich people create jobs”. And David Atkins goes a step further in discussing how hoarded wealth hurts the economy in general – with a particularly apt observation about how inequality erodes our social connections: It is not an accident that trust in major institutions has declined on a linear track with rising inequality. Study after study has shown that trust in our fellow citizens and in institutions at (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Thomas Frank discusses the corporate takeover of U.S. politics – and how even nominally left-oriented parties are willing to go along with the corporate position even as voters regularly demand something else: One of the reasons the phrase appealed to me, 17 years ago, was my belief back then that there was something essentially brutal about raw capitalism; if the nation was to suppress the regulations and the workers’ organizations that had tamed the beast over the years—even if we did so with the best of intentions—the economy would return quite naturally (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Neera Tanden points out that a wide range of citizens rely on a strong safety net at one time or another – and suggests that it’s long past time to start discussing how important social programs have been in our own lives: I believe we have a historic opportunity to address poverty today, because the interests of low-income people and the middle class are converging. Median wages—the wages of middle-income earners—have been stagnant for twelve years. People recognize there is growing inequality in this country and that something is amiss when companies are (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- PressProgress digs into the PBO’s report on tax giveaways to look at what Canada has lost from the Cons’ cuts to federal fiscal capacity – and how little has been gained as a trade-off: (T)he Harper government, by starving the public coffers, is losing $43 billion that could be used to boost investments in axed services, build needed national programs, as well as balance the budget and pay down debt.…Finance Canada’s own data suggests every $1 billion spent on corporate tax cuts generates a measly 3,310 jobs. Not very effective.

And the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jared Bernstein takes a look at after-tax inequality, and finds that it fits neatly with Thomas Piketty’s prescription to address the concentration of income and wealth through strong public policy: (W)hile the progressive taxes and transfers that don’t show up in Mr. Piketty’s data reduce the level of inequality at any point in time, they don’t have that much impact on its growth. The share of comprehensive income going to the top 1 percent grew 6 percentage points before taxes and transfers from 1979 to 2010, and 5.4 points after taxes and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Reich calls out four fundamental lies used to push corporatist policies. But perhaps more interesting is the truth which no amount of concentrated wealth seems to be able to suppress: But the more interesting thing here is the memo’s concession of a hurdle AFP faces: That people support the idea of “taking care of those in need and avoiding harm to the weak.” That this is seen as a messaging problem is telling.… As it happens, the AFP memo is right. Majorities of Americans do see the economy as rigged for the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Angella MacEwen takes a look at the large numbers of unemployed and underemployed Canadians chasing a tiny number of available jobs. And Carol Goar calls out the Cons and the CFIB alike for preferring disposable foreign workers to Canadians who aren’t being offered a living wage: If employers want to talk about the government’s abrupt about-face, that is legitimate. If they want an “adult conversation” about work and remuneration, they should be ready to answer some key questions: Why should they be exempt from market discipline? The law of supply and demand provides (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the distance Canada has yet to travel in meeting even the basic needs of our fellow citizens – as well as the promise that Housing First and other new models may help to bridge that gap.

For further reading…- Michael Green commented on the Social Progress Index here, while Canada’s results can be found here. – By way of comparison to the Social Progress Index, see my earlier post and linked column on other means of going beyond GDP in measuring development, with particular emphasis on the Canadian Index of Wellbeing. – And CTV reported (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Sarah Ayres discusses the value of the social safety net as a matter of both social and economic policy: A significant body of evidence supports the view that, far from creating a so-called poverty trap, the safety net actually reduces poverty, increases economic mobility, and strengthens our national economy. Moreover, studies have shown that many antipoverty programs, especially those that target children, offer an excellent return on investment to taxpayers.…An analysis by the Council of Economic Advisers shows that when safety net programs are taken into account, the poverty rate actually fell from 26 percent in 1967 (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Andrew Jackson writes that increases in Canadian inequality have been the result of deliberate policy choices: In an important recent book, Inequality and the Fading of Redistributive Politics, Keith Banting and John Myles argue that, while rooted in the market, politics has also been a major force behind rising income inequality in Canada. They emphasize the impact of deep cuts to income transfer programs for working-age Canadians in Canada’s “neo-liberal moment” in the mid-1990s.

Their argument is reinforced by Statistics Canada research by Andrew Heisz and Brian Murphy presented to a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Alison and PressProgress both discuss how Brad Butt’s attempt to defend voter suppression is based on what even he had to concede was nothing short of legislative fraud. And Stephen Maher notes that the Cons’ unilateral rewrite of election rules figures to force Elections Canada to cover up the Cons’ pattern of illegal activity.

- Meanwhile, Jason Fekete reports on the Cons’ deliberate ignorance of deputy ministers’ advice that the government can’t keep stonewalling against action on climate change – and follows up by pointing out the NDP’s work to challenge the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Stephen Hume writes about the importance of tax revenue in building a functional and compassionate Canada: My taxes provide our mostly peaceful, prosperous and safe society; a health care system that for all its flaws and glitches is pretty darn good compared to the alternatives; a policing and justice system that despite occasional hiccups is fair, merciful and trustworthy; a brave and honourable military.

My taxes provide income support for the unemployed, the indigent, the impaired and the unlucky. My taxes helped create educational facilities of exceptional quality and performance; public infrastructure that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Lynn Stuart Parramore offers five convincing pieces of evidence to suggest that the U.S.’ plutocrats are losing their minds in their effort to set themselves apart from the rabble. Kevin Roose tells a story about some awful, awful (and disturbingly wealthy and powerful) people. And Patrick Wintour discusses how the UK Cons are dedicating significant public resources to placing impossible demands on the unemployed – then cutting off the livelihood of anybody not acrobatic enough to jump through their newly-created hoops.

- So there’s plenty of reason to think Ana Marie (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Nora Loreto offers an important reminder as to why we contribute taxes to social well-being: (T)axes still pay for things we need. Everyone benefits from a universal system of healthcare. Everyone is touched by the birth of someone and nearly everyone will rely on the system in the moments that precede their death. These moments are expensive.…User fees exchanged for public services limits access; those who can pay are separated from those who cannot. The introduction of every new user fee will result in fewer people able to afford to access (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Pierre Brochu and David Green study the effect of minimum wage rates, and find a connection between a higher minimum wage and greater employment stability. But if there’s a choice between stable, well-paying work and precarious employment where job churn and wage reductions are seen as the norm, far too many policy-makers are choosing the latter – as Annie Lowrey notes that U.S. states are actively slashing benefits for unemployed workers to force them to grab desperately at whatever is available.

- Meanwhile, Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato and Owen Zidar offer (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Paul Krugman writes about the effect of a precarious labour market on even the relatively few workers who enjoy relatively secure employment: (T)hese are lousy times for the employed, too. Why? Because they have so little bargaining power.

Leave or lose your job, and the chances of getting another comparable job, or any job at all, are definitely not good. And workers know it: quit rates, the percentage of workers voluntarily leaving jobs, remain far below pre-crisis levels, and very very far below what they were in the true boom economy of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how James Moore’s disinclination to care about his neighbours is par for the course from the Harper Cons – and how we should learn the lesson about caring and compassion that Moore and his party are so studiously avoiding.

For further reading…- Again, Sara Norman’s original story is here, while PressProgress and Laura Payton both helped to put it in context. – My recap of Moore’s other events from the week is drawn from his activity in Monday’s Hansard, as well as his office’s most recent statements as of the time the column was (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Bill Tieleman tears into James Moore for his callous disregard for child hunger, while PressProgress reminds us that plenty of the Cons’ policy choices reflect Moore’s complete lack of concern for his neighbours’ children. And Polly Toynbee looks in detail at the UK Cons’ attempts to turn support for needy children into a perceived political weakness rather than a matter of basic empathy and compassion: The dirty war has begun; the early signs are that this will be the most poisonous, socially damaging election campaign for many a long year. Corrosive malice (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jim Stanford reminds us that even Statistics Canada’s already-galling numbers showing increased inequality in Canada understate the problem, as they fail to reflect capital gains (and the preferential tax treatment thereof): Yesterday’s release from Statistics Canada on the income share of the wealthy generated some interesting coverage and commentary.  It reported that the top 1%’s share of total income in Canada remained steady in 2011 in Canada, at 10.6 percent — but still significantly higher than in the 1980s.

Most observers did not mention, however, that this oft-cited income share statistic does (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Thomas Walkom notes that the CETA isn’t particularly about trade, but instead serves to enshrine yet again the principle that investors come before citizens.

- Lana Payne highlights the contradiction between the promise that giveaways to the corporate sector will lead to good jobs, and the reality that employers are looking more and more toward exploitative structures such as unpaid internships and temporary foreign workers.

- Meanwhile, Konrad Yakabuski sees the Cons’ set of minor consumer baubles as a poor substitute for economic development which would actually help working Canadians.

- Finally, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Debbie Chachra discusses why an effective government is a necessary element of civilization – and why charity can’t fill in the gap: Taxes aren’t the only way to pay for civilization, of course: community groups, charities, and churches also contribute. But I consider myself a fairly prudent consumer, and I want my money to be used well.

Even excellent charities are inefficient. Take food banks. We have a distribution system that goes from farms to warehouses to grocery stores. Food banks then set up more warehouses and pick-up sites to get (Read more…)