Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Armine Yalnizyan counters the Cons’ spin on tax-free savings accounts. And Rob Carrick points out that raising the limit on TFSAs would forfeit billions of desperately-needed dollars to benefit only the wealthiest few in Canada: TFSAs are Swiss army knives – a financial knife, corkscrew, screwdriver and more. But doubling the annual contribution limit of $5,500 is a bad idea.

Message to the federal government: Please don’t, because we can’t afford it.…A report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer this week says the federal government would lose $14.7-billion a year in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on the work done by the Broadbent Institute and Mariana Mazzucato to highlight the importance of publicly-funded innovation: According to a 2014 report by the International Monetary Fund, Canadian companies have been accumulating “dead money” at a faster rate than any other G7 country, rather than reinvesting profit into things like human capital or research capacity — suggesting that the rewards of innovative success are being captured by an increasingly narrow sliver of society, even when public money may well have been an early catalyst for achievement.  But in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Cameron Dearlove laments the fact that Canada is failing to recognize and replicate other countries’ successes in using the social determinants of health to shape public policy: Today we know that social and financial inequities — particularly the experience of poverty — has a greater impact on our health than our healthcare system, genetics, even lifestyle choices. For a society facing spiking healthcare costs, the social determinants of health (things like housing, food security, social inclusion, early childhood development, employment, and working conditions) arguably present the greatest public policy opportunity since the creation (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- John Hood discusses how the privilege of the political class makes it difficult for elected representatives to understand, let alone address, the problems of the precariat. And Lawrence Mishel and Will Kimball document the continued connection between the erosion of unions and income inequality.

- Lizzie Dearden reports on one proposal to rein in corporate abuses, as Ed Miliband intends to crack down on tax cheats and the jurisdictions which harbor them. And Carol Linnitt suggests that Canada’s public corporations should be required to disclose their political expenditures.

- But unfortunately, the Harper (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: On Profound Timidity

H/t The Toronto Star

Yesterday’s post dealt with the profound reluctance of Messieurs Trudeau and Mulcair to oppose Harper’s latest incursion into our civil rights, Bill C-51, lest they be accused of being ‘soft on terrorism’ (“Oh, the horror!”). Better, in their minds, to betray the interests of Canadians than to be stuck with that taint, I guess.

Today’s Star reports Justin Trudeau speaking with some enthusiasm about the bill, again carping around the edges about the need for more parliamentary oversight:

This bill can be improved but on the whole it does include measures that will help keep (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Joe Gunn reminds us that ignoring the issue of poverty won’t make it go away. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on a national campaign demanding a plan to deal with poverty at the federal level.

- Roderick Benns discusses the prospect of a guaranteed annual income with Wayne Simpson. And Whitney Mallett is the latest to look in depth at how the successful Mincome basic income plan might spread much further: Critics of basic income guarantees have insisted that giving the poor money would disincentivize them to work, and point to studies that show ​a (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: The Illusion Of Choice

I know that I am but one of millions who long for the day the Harper regime is electorally deposed. That day cannot come soon enough. Yet, along with countless others, I am also aware that merely electing a Liberal or NDP government may only mean a change in style, not substance, given the many positions they hold in common with Dear Leader.

The anti-terror measures of Bill C-51 is one very worrisome case in point.

In today’s Star, Thomas Walkom makes the following observations: Both New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal chieftain Justin Trudeau danced warily (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Scott Sinclair studies the effect of NAFTA on government policies, and finds that it’s been used primarily (and all too frequently) to attack Canadian policy choices: A study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) finds over 70% of all NAFTA investor-state claims since 2005 were brought against the Canadian government and the number of challenges against Canada is rising sharply. From 1995-2005, there were 12 claims against Canada, while in the last ten years there have been 23.

“It appears that the federal government’s strong ideological commitment to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Mark Bittman discusses the connection between economic and social ills in the U.S., and offers a message which applies equally to Canada: I have spent a great deal of time talking about the food movement and its potential, because to truly change the food system you really have to change just about everything: good nutrition stems from access to good food; access to good food isn’t going to happen without economic justice; that isn’t going to happen without taxing the superrich; and so on. The same is true of other issues: (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Thomas Walkom discusses why politicians have thus far failed to take any meaningful action on climate change. But it’s also worth noting that the question of whether voters are pushing for change may not be the only determining factor in government decision-making.

Most obviously, debt and deficits (which are no less distant from the immediate interests of voters than climate change) are seen as demanding constant and immediate action even at the expense of anybody’s apparent short-term political interests – with unpopular and destructive policy choices regularly defended based on the accepted belief (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Kevin Page points out a few of the issues which should be on the table when Canada’s finance ministers meet next week: Our finance ministers are smart. They know that faster growth is going to require higher investment rates and sustainable public finances. But the reality is that Canada is falling down on capital investments in both the private and public sectors. Business capital investment has grown a weak 2 per cent over the past two years. That is not boosting the investment rate. Meanwhile, government capital investment has declined 2 per (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Wray Herbert examines Lukasz Walasek and Gordon Brown’s work on the psychological links between inequality, status-seeking and reduced well-being. And Linda McQuaig writes about the harm increasing inequality has done to Canada both economically and socially: (The OECD’s recent) report puts actual numbers on how much growth has been reduced as a result of trickle-down. In the case of Canada, the reduced economic growth amounts to about $62 billion a year — which economist Toby Sanger notes is almost three times more than the estimated annual loss to the Canadian economy of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Manuel Perez-Rocha writes about the corrosive effect of allowing businesses to dictate public policy through trade agreements: (C)orporations are increasingly using investment and trade agreements — specifically, the investor-state dispute settlement provisions in them — to bring opportunistic cases in arbitral courts, circumventing decisions states deem in their best interest. And now investor-state dispute settlement provisions may be enshrined in two new treaties: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and Trans-Pacific Partnership, currently under negotiation between, respectively, the United States and the European Union, and the United States and 11 Asia-Pacific nations. If (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: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- The Economist discusses how a tiny elite group is taking a startling share of the U.S.’ total wealth: The ratio of household wealth to national income has risen back toward the level of the 1920s, but the share in the hands of middle-class families has tumbled (see chart). Tepid growth in middle-class incomes is partly to blame; real incomes for the top 1% of families grew 3.4% a year from 1986-2012 while those for the bottom 90% grew 0.7%. But Messrs Saez and Zucman reckon the main cause (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: More Of The Same

In today’s Star, Thomas Walkom explains why the U.S. China climate deal is not likely to have any impact whatsoever on Harper’s ongoing and egregious contempt for all things related to climate change: For this prime minister, only one player in the climate change debate matters: the petroleum industry.

When Harper talks about dealing with climate change in a way that protects jobs and growth, he means jobs and growth in the Alberta tarsands.In part, this is sheer politics. Alberta is the Conservative heartland. If Harper were to be seen as neglecting Alberta, he would risk triggering (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jenny Uechi and Warren Bell expose Canada’s embarrassing place as the only government participating in a climate-denial group pushing for a dirty war against the planet. But despite the Harper Cons’ worst efforts, there’s some good news on the climate front – as the use of solar energy is booming in the U.S., while a new bilateral deal between the U.S. and China is rapidly eliminating the Cons’ traditional excuses for blocking international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

- Kathryn May reports on some of the vital public services (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The Globe and Mail reminds us why we should demand the restoration of an effective census, while Evidence for Democracy is making a public push toward that goal. And Tavia Grant discusses how the destruction of effective data collection is affecting Canadian workplace: Reliable, complete and up-to-date labour market data is a crucial component of government policy, influencing everything from educational priorities to immigration.

Yet, fallout from faulty or missing labour market information has made headlines on a number of issues this year alone. It’s been hard to pinpoint the size of the (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Reassuring Legislation For Xenophobes and Bigots, A.K.A. The Harper Base

I don’t know who composes the names for government bills these days, but they are blatantly selective in their intended audiences. The latest proposed piece of Harper legislation leaves little doubt that its target audience is the red meat supporters of our current regime: the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act (Bill S-7).

Hmmm, interesting title. Cultural – can’t be referring to Canadians, since we are reputed by many to have no culture. Barbaric – outside of cultural outliers like Luka Magnotta and Paul Bernard, no barbarism amongst our native-born. And clearly the ex-soldier who attempted to blow up (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: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Paul Krugman writes that the ultra-wealthy’s contempt for anybody short of their own class is becoming more and more explicit around the globe – even when it comes to basic rights like the ability to vote: It’s always good when leaders tell the truth, especially if that wasn’t their intention. So we should be grateful to Leung Chun-ying, the Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, for blurting out the real reason pro-democracy demonstrators can’t get what they want: With open voting, “You would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Thursday Morning

H/t Toronto Star

The events of yesterday were undeniably tragic. A young man, Nathan Cirillo, died. As I noticed on a Facebook posting by my cousin’s wife, Nathan was a friend of their son with whom he played organized hockey. Six degrees of separation and all that, I guess.

Nonetheless, I have to confess that when I heard the news on CBC radio, my first thoughts were twofold: how these events could work to Harper’s electoral advantage (I could immediately envisage the attack ads juxtaposing Harper’s “strong leadership and stand against terrorism” against Trudeau’s talk about searching for the “root (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- The Star points out what the Cons have destroyed – including public assets and program spending – in order to chip away at the federal deficit caused in the first place by their reckless tax slashing. And Thomas Walkom discusses how their latest “job” scheme does nothing but handing free money to businesses, while Angella MacEwen notes that Canada as a whole is hundreds of thousands of jobs short of reaching its pre-recession employment rate.

- Meanwhile, Bruce Cheadle writes that the Cons’ attempt to build an economy solely around resource exploitation has (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the politics and economics of energy production are changing around the world – and how Canada is being left behind due to governments focused solely on pushing oil interests.

For further reading…- Again, Vivek Radhwa discusses the progress that’s being made in developing – and broadly implementing – renewable alternatives to fossil fuel energy. And Clean Energy Canada studies how we’re missing the boat. – Aaron Wherry reminds us that Stephen Harper was at least once willing to talk about climate change – but only apparently when he saw no political choice. And again, there’s (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne examines the Cons’ economic record and finds it very much wanting: Inequality has deepened under Mr. Harper’s watch, job quality has declined, wages have stagnated, economic growth has been anemic, social protections have been reduced while corporate profits and CEO pay soar.…(E)mployment and labour force participation rates are lower today than they were in 2006, part-time employment is up, corporate taxes are significantly lower (22.1 per cent in 2006, 15 per cent today) business capital investment saw no increase and has been static at 19.1 per cent of (Read more…)