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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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Alex Himelfarb and Jordan Himelfarb comment on Canada’s dangerously distorted conversation about public revenue and the purposes it can serve: As we argue in our new book, Tax Is Not a Four-Letter Word, the Canadian tax conversation has become dangerously distorted. Any reasonable discussion of taxes must take into account the highly valued public services they buy. But in Canada, and throughout much of the Anglosphere, these inextricably linked concepts — taxes and public services — have somehow become divorced. We now live in an environment in which the first question we (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Paul Krugman writes about the right-wing belief that “freedom’s just another word for not enough to eat”: (Y)ou might think that ensuring adequate nutrition for children, which is a large part of what SNAP does, actually makes it less, not more likely that those children will be poor and need public assistance when they grow up. And that’s what the evidence shows. The economists Hilary Hoynes and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach have studied the impact of the food stamp program in the 1960s and 1970s, when it was gradually rolled out across the country. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Richard Seymour rightly calls out right-wing lobby groups in the UK for distorting the facts in order to attack social programs: The report calls for benefits to fall in real terms, and refers to “the regrettable 5.2% blanket benefit increase put through in 2012″. It doesn’t mention that this was an inflation-linked rise. For a single recipient of employment support allowance, for example, the increase is a mere £2.80. The TaxPayers’ Alliance can rest comfortably in the knowledge that things will get much worse for people on benefits for the next (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Polly Toynbee discusses how the UK’s attacks on social programs are based on gross ignorance about what social spending does (and who it helps): The Citizens Advice Bureau reports a rise of 78% in the last six months in people needing food banks to keep going. Many have jobs, but their pay doesn’t see them to the end of the week. The CAB chief executive says millions of families face a “perfect storm” with benefit cuts, low wages, short hours and the high cost of living. Even in apparently well-to-do areas, community halls (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jacob Goldstein discusses how one-time, no-strings-attached funding for the poor in developing countries can produce lasting improvements in their standard of living – while also highlighting the need for longer-term development: A charity that gives away money, as opposed to, say, offering agricultural training or medicine, does seem a bit unusual. That’s partly because governments and philanthropists have emphasized solving long-term economic problems rather than urgent needs. But in the past decade it has become increasingly common to give money right to the very poor. After Mexico’s economic crisis in the mid-1990s, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Evening Links

This and that to end your Thursday.

- The Huffington Post discusses a study showing how poor Canadians pay the highest marginal tax rates on income that pushes them over benefit thresholds. But it should be fairly obvious that the solution is to set up rational models for social programs which avoid counterproductive incentives – rather than following the C.D. Howe Institute’s apparent preference to freeze them in place. And indeed, Jordon Cooper writes that strategies based on the principle of investing where it’s needed most can go a long way in propelling citizens out of poverty for the (Read more…)

Musings on Canadian Politics: Rob Ford you are responsible for the province cutting funding

Ontario’s Liberal government is cutting close to $150 million in transfer payments to the City of Toronto. The payments, which are used to fund social programs, will be cut off in 2016.

City bureaucrats and politicians are trying to push back against the provincial Liberals. They argue the province made an agreement in 2008 to continue the payments until 2018. The Liberals deny they made this commitment.

The politics of the province’s move are interesting.

At the city level Mayor Ford is straddling a fine line. He has repeatedly asserted that social programs are gravy. So, it will be very (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Friday reading.

- Michael Harris tears into the Harper Cons for their compulsive dishonesty: Everything in the Westminster model under which we are supposed to operate depends on information, debate and verification — all of which are missing in ‘Harperland’, to use Lawrence Martin’s ringing coinage. Also missing is that high bar of behaviour known as being an “Honourable Gentleman”.

One of the few federal bureaucrats who stood up to Harper’s cult-conservatism was the lately-departed chief of the PBO, Kevin Page. He regularly challenged the phoney books and unsupported policy of this catch-us-if-you-can government — and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- David Cay Johnston and Miles Corak both discuss the results of a study which compares economic outcomes in technologically advanced countries, and shows that tax giveaways to the wealthy exacerbate inequality without doing anything at all to contribute to economic development.

- And Paul Krugman highlights the fact that all the evidence in the world won’t stop the Republicans from trying to take away what few supports are left in the U.S., with a particular focus on food stamps: Food stamps have played an especially useful — indeed, almost heroic — (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Lynn Stuart Parramore discusses the epidemic of wage theft by U.S. employers: Americans like to think that a fair day’s work brings a fair day’s pay. Cheating workers of their wages may seem like a problem of 19th-century sweatshops. But it’s back and taking a terrible toll. We’re talking billions of dollars in wages; millions of workers affected each year. A gigantic heist is being perpetrated against working people: they’re getting screwed on overtime, denied their tips, shortchanged on benefits, defrauded on payroll, and handed paychecks that bounce like rubber balls. A (Read more…)