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Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Following up on last week’s column, Frances Ryan laments the UK Conservatives’ choice to inflict needless suffering on anybody receiving public benefits: During seven weeks of undercover work at a universal credit contact centre in Bolton, Channel 4 journalists witnessed a farcical mess of centralised IT failure. But what really stood out were the underhand tactics DWP staff were found to use against claimants: from deliberately withholding hardship payments from people struggling after having their benefits sanctioned, to hiding the flexible fund put in place to pay for clothes or a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the many problems with building social benefits and employment policies alike on a foundation of distrust.

For further reading…- Rick Mercer rants about the obstacles the Cons are throwing in the way of veterans. And the CP follows up on the Cons’ response to Paul Franklin’s case here.- CBC reports here on the Cons’ plans to slash existing sick leave for the federal civil service.  Kathryn May points out the complete lack of any justification for that course of action, and has since noted that the plan is further being extended to out-of-scope positions. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Elias Isquith interviews Mark Blyth about his book on the disastrous consequences of austerity, while Paul Krugman writes that austerity is particularly sure to cause economic destruction when combined with a push toward consumer deleveraging. And Bruce Campbell looks to Syriza as an example of how people have real political choices – even when parties try to tell them otherwise out of either corporate ideology or fear.

- CBC reports on Generation Squeeze’s study showing the need for greater social spending to support young Canadians.

- But Angella MacEwen is rightly concerned (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Elizabeth Renzetti makes clear that we can’t count on one-time crowdsourcing to perform the same function as a social safety net: This is the problem with the wildly popular new online world of what you might call misery fundraising: It semi-solves one small problem while leaving the system in ruins. Crowdfunding someone’s personal tragedy is the equivalent of fixing a broken arm, but closing the hospital.

It used to be that crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter were wonderful places to raise money for cultural projects – movies, plays, even the occasional potato-salad (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Sunday reading.

- Nicholas Kristof writes about the empathy gap which causes far too many wealthier citizens to devalue those who don’t have as much. Jesse Singal observes that the primary effect of wealth on well-being is to reduce downside rather than improve happiness – signalling that we might be best served pursuing policies aimed at improving financial security across the income scale. And Lucy Mangan discusses what’s missing from the people who refuse to understand the effect of poverty – particularly when they’re best positioned to do something to alleviate it: Politicians, for example, are (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Stephen Burgen reports on Thomas Piketty’s view that it’s long past time for voters to have anti-austerity options where none existed in the past. And along similar lines, Murray Dobbin sets out the stark choice facing Canadians: Canadians will have to continue to watch their Scandinavian neighbours use the wheel and prosper while we remain captives to the free market priesthood. Norway is the logical choice of neighbour to compare ourselves to, if you can stomach it. In Canada we have virtually given away our energy heritage through criminally low royalty rates over a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

 - Emma Woolley discusses how homelessness developed into a social problem in Canada in large part through public neglect. Judy Haiven is the latest to emphasize that charity is no substitute for a functional society when it comes to meeting people’s basic needs. And Ed Lehman is rightly concerned that Brad Wall and company are still determined to avoid acknowledging the fact that there are plenty of Saskatchewan residents trying to make do with nowhere near enough.

- Emily Badger reminds us how inequality early in life can shape – and block – opportunities (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jordon Cooper rightly argues that we should move away from forcing people to rely on homeless shelters and other stopgap measures when we can afford to provide permanent homes: We fill a bus for the hungry while ignoring that the reason for it is that social service programs depend in part on our generosity to feed people. We bring care packages to shelters and forget that cities elsewhere in Canada have drastically reduced the number of people in shelters and the time they spend there, and that it’s cheaper than keeping people (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Reviewing Darrell West’s Billionaires, Michael Lewis discusses how extreme wealth doesn’t make anybody better off – including the people fighting for position at the top of the wealth spectrum: A team of researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute surveyed 43,000 Americans and found that, by some wide margin, the rich were more likely to shoplift than the poor. Another study, by a coalition of nonprofits called the Independent Sector, revealed that people with incomes below twenty-five grand give away, on average, 4.2 percent of their income, while those (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Monica Pohlmann interviews Armine Yalnizyan about the undue influence of our corporate overlords in setting public policy: What’s your sense of the state of our democracy?

We have a troubled relationship with our democratic institutions. We need to get over the idea that government is something and someone else. The government is us. The idea that governments are largely useless, that they’re more likely to make a mess than fix things, is exactly what corporations would like us to think. It gives them more freedom to use the enormous power of the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Ed Broadbent laments Canada’s failure to meet its commitment to end child poverty – and notes that the Harper Cons in particular are headed in exactly the wrong direction: This child poverty rate is a national disgrace. It jumped from 15.8 per cent in 1989 to 19.2 per cent in 2012, according to a Statistics Canada custom tabulation for Campaign 2000.

The Harper Conservatives have continued to let down the country’s poor children and their parents. They have not increased targeted income supports for low-income families. Instead, they are expanding flat (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- The 25th anniversary of Parliament’s unanimous – if failed – commitment to eliminate child poverty has given rise to plenty of worthwhile commentary. Marco Chown Oved talks to Ed Broadbent about what the resolution meant at the time (as well as how it came to be ignored), while also interviewing social justice advocates about the need to effective start from scratch now. And Olivia Carville explores one life which could have been changed for the better if Canada had made good on its promise.

- Meanwhile, Dennis Raphael discusses the need to combat (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Juxtaposition

The minister responsible for the plight of Saskatchewan’s homeless people: In response to a CBC iTeam question about the waiting list for social housing faced by homeless people Harpauer said, “you’re assuming that there’s these desperate homeless people.”

The plight of Saskatchewan’s homeless people: Saskatoon police have confirmed that a 42-year-old homeless man was found dead inside the cab of a an abandoned semi-trailer in an alley off Avenue K.

There is no confirmation on the cause (of) Peequaquat’s death, but police said it did not appear suspicious.

Severight said he did have addictions issues and he had been (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Heather Mallick and Linda McQuaig both weigh in on the connection between income splitting and the Cons’ plans for social engineering. And Scott Clark and Peter DeVries point out that a giveaway to wealthy families is as indefensible from an economic standpoint as from a social one: (T)his tax conversation is simply the wrong one for us to be having right now. Why the rush to cut taxes? More importantly, why these tax cuts — ones which will do nothing at all to jump-start Canada’s anemic economic growth rate?

The unemployment rate (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Robert Reich discusses the right’s utter lack of – and aversion to – empathy as either a personal or political value. Bob Norman reports on a particularly galling example of that phenomenon, as Fort Lauderdale has begun arresting people for feeding the homeless. And CBC reports on one of the systemic effects of a government which couldn’t care less about the people under its jurisdiction, as Saskatchewan is seeing a drastic increase in people having to rely on food banks.

- Speaking of the Saskatchewan Party’s contempt for social issues, Simon Enoch highlights (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Erika Shaker points out how condescending attitudes toward public benefits are both making it unduly difficult to develop new programs which would benefit everybody, and threatening existing social safety net. Sean McElwee writes that inequality only figures to grow as an issue as the wealthy try to disassociate themselves from everybody else. And Scott Santens discusses how the U.S.’ social benefits are needlessly costly and difficult to access because they’re designed more to exclude than to include: As citizens, we are doing everything we can. Some of us are even tragically (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Tony Burman comments on the increasing recognition of the dangers of inequality even among corporate and financial elites: (I)t is significant that the policy debate among many decision-makers seems to be changing. Rather than the nonsense about “the makers versus the takers,” there is increasing focus on the notion that income inequality could be a key factor in why overall economic growth has been sluggish in recent years.

There has always been a “common sense’ element to this argument. The wealthy tend to save a larger percentage of their income because they (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how precarity is a serious concern in far more areas than the workplace alone – and how we should think about public policy as a means of eliminating precarity (whether it be in work, housing, food or other necessities of life) wherever possible.

For further reading…- Once again, there’s been plenty of discussion about the hazards of precarious work. But for a few examples see pieces from Emily Fister (interviewing Andrew Longhurst), Margaret Simms, and Nora Loreto. – And it’s also been well documented that other aspects of poverty also cause enormous and avoidable personal (Read more…)

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.

- Linda McQuaig discusses the radical difference between how Canadians want to see public resources used (based on the example set by governments elsewhere), and the determination of the Cons and their corporate allies to instead fritter away every dime of fiscal capacity the federal government manages to find: Last week, Germany completed its plan to provide free university tuition to all its students. It’s an idea that no doubt would excite the hopes and dreams of young people in Canada — which explains the need to snuff it out before it catches on.

Certainly, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: A friendly reminder from your military-industrial overlords

Money to extend and improve the lives of Canadian citizens is never available, and the need for funding precludes any discussion of the benefits of investing in people. But money for war is free and unlimited, and the need for funding is not to be discussed as part of any debate as to our military plans.

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Rick Smith discusses the growing public appetite to fight back against burgeoning inequality – along with the need to make inequality a basic test for the fairness of any policy: (I)t is significant that a finance minister of our decidedly right-wing government showed the political courage to criticize a policy that will clearly make inequality worse. This test — whether a policy choice will exacerbate inequality — should be the test for any government in making political choices. … [The Broadbent Institute's wealth inequality] data, though disheartening, can help focus the minds of Canadians (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Nora Loreto reviews the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights’ Unions Matter: Unlikely to convince someone who is anti-union on its own, Unions Matter provides the fodder for union activists to be able to make important arguments in favour of unionization. Even more important, the statistics and arguments in Unions Matter could be used by labour activists to convince the ambivalent of the fact that, yes, unions matter.

Section one, “Reducing Income Inequality Through Labour Rights,” gives an impressive overview of the role that unions have played to reorganize wealth in Canada. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Steven Hoffman and Julia Belluz write that the current ebola outbreak – like many health catastrophes in the developing world – is traceable largely to the warped incentives facing medical researchers: (W)e’ve learned a lot about Ebola: that it’s spread through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, that we can stop it by using simple precautionary measures and basic hygiene practices. But every once in a while, these nightmarish outbreaks pop up and capture the international imagination. Worries about global spread are worsened by the fact that Ebola has (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Leo Panitch questions the “responsible capitalism” theme which is being used by Ed Miliband in lieu of a more significant alternative to unfettered market dogma: It is most unlikely that Miliband’s call for “responsible capitalism” will refresh genuine political debate let alone galvanise anew a meaningful left-right discourse at the popular level. The real problem with “responsible capitalism” is not that it sounds clunky on the doorstep but rather that ordinary people know in their gut that it is a contradiction in terms. They can sense how evasive it is in relation to (Read more…)