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Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Gar Alperovitz suggests in the wake of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century that it’s long past time to reconsider who controls capital – and make a concerted effort to democratize that control: The name of the game — Piketty’s book fairly screams it — is capital: who gets to own it, benefit from it and derive political power from it. Accordingly, it may be of some interest to note that in significant part because of the pain and failure of our current reality, many of those local laboratories of democracy (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne discusses the need to address inequality through our political system. But that will require significant pressure from exactly the citizens who have decided they’re not well served by today’s political options – and Trish Hennessy’s look at Canadian voter turnout reminds us of the desperate need for improvement.

- Meanwhile, Tim Harford points out just how far we’ve gone in focusing on dollars over all other considerations – as even Scotland’s referendum on independence is being spun mostly as a matter of dueling fiscal projections rather than community, culture or other (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: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Duncan Cameron writes that Canada needs a new political direction rather than just a new government – and offers some worthwhile suggestions as to what that might include: The inter-generational bargain needs to be renewed. Today’s workers pay for their past studies and future retirement. Investing in youth and providing for retirement has social benefits and requires collective support. Much can done through a serious progressive income tax, but notable additional sources of revenue for student grants and other social spending exist. A financial transaction tax for instance could raise an estimated (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Trish Hennessy’s latest numbers focus on the skills gap myth in Canada. And PressProgress documents a few of the Cons’ damaging public service cuts which kicked in yesterday, while Theresa Boyle reports on the end of Canada’s health care accords (featuring the observations of Roy Romanow on the end of meaningful federal participation in our health care system).

- Scott Stelmaschuk’s latest post fits nicely with the theme of yesterday’s comment on the importance of seeing politics first and foremost as a means of improving the world around us – rather than a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Economist looks at the relationship between equality and growth, showing that there’s at worst little evidence that fairer economies have any trouble matching their more-polarized counterparts – and best some indication that they perform better: Inequality is more closely correlated with low growth. A high Gini for net income, after redistribution, corresponds to slower growth in income per person. A rise of 5 Gini points (moving from the level in America to that in Gabon, for instance) knocks half a percentage point off average annual growth. And holding redistribution constant, a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Rick Smith hopes that the Cons’ backtracking on income splitting means that they won’t go quite as far out of their way to exacerbate income inequality in the future: (T)he unfortunate reality is that we are still becoming ever more unequal, a trend due in large measure to political choices. Many countries have found ways to mitigate the growth of income inequality, while in Canada the policy response has tended to reinforce rather than offset the trend.

We know that since the mid-1990s, the social role of government has been dramatically cut back (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ken Georgetti discusses how the corporate tax giveaways of the past 15 years have hurt most Canadians: The Conservative government and special interest groups claim incessantly that cutting corporate income taxes is good for the economy and for individual Canadians. We have been led to believe that tax giveaways to corporations would lead companies to reinvest in research and development as well as machinery and staff training to boost productivity. This is supposed to stimulate economic growth and create better paying and more secure jobs. But that is not what has happened (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Costas Lapavitsas discusses the disproportionate hold finance has over the global economy: Financialisation represents a historic and deep-seated transformation of mature capitalism. Big businesses have become “financialised” as they have ample profits to finance investment, rely less on banks for loans and play financial games with available funds. Big banks, in turn, have become more distant from big businesses, turning to profits from trading in open financial markets and from lending to households. Households have become “financialised” too, as public provision in housing, education, health, pensions and other vital areas has been (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- George Monbiot comments on the dangerous effect of agreements which place investors’ interests above those of governments and citizens: From the outset, the transatlantic partnership has been driven by corporations and their lobby groups, who boast of being able to “co-write” it. Persistent digging by the Corporate Europe Observatory reveals that the commission has held eight meetings on the issue with civil society groups, and 119 with corporations and their lobbyists. Unlike the civil society meetings, these have taken place behind closed doors and have not been disclosed online.

Though the commission (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Andrew Jackson discusses why attacks on Old Age Security – including the Fraser Institute’s calls for increased clawbacks – serve no useful purpose: The principled argument for not clawing back OAS benefits is that all seniors should be entitled to a bare-bones public pension as a basic building block of the overall retirement income system. The OAS benefit is very low and is added to a meagre Canada Pension Plan benefit that replaces just 25 per cent of average earnings up to a maximum of $12,144 a year.…

Receiving the full OAS benefit (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jordan Brennan and Jim Stanford put to rest any attempt to minimize the growth of inequality in Canada: (I)ncome inequality has reached a historic extreme. Inequality was high during the 1920s and 1930s (the “gilded age”), but fell sharply during the Second World War (as Canadians got back to work and taxes were raised to pay for the war effort). The three decades after the Second World War — a “golden age” of controlled capitalism — saw further decline in inequality. The economy was booming and powerful institutions (like progressive taxation and surging (Read more…)

OPSEU Diablogue: Ontario’s austerity policies self-defeating — Hennessy

There are many ways to tell a story. For Trish Hennessy, Ontario director at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, one way is to look at the most searched word annually for the on-line Mirriam-Webster dictionary. Speaking last night at the … Continue reading →

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Frances Russell laments the state of Canada’s Potemkin Parliament (and the resulting harm the Cons are inflicting on our political system and our country alike): Poll after poll show a majority of Canadians regularly confuse their parliamentary system with the American presidential-congressional system.

This inaccurate but endemic assumption has allowed successive governments to gradually toss out the foundations of Canada’s British parliamentary heritage, one by one. By stealth and incrementalism, they have turned upside down the British traditions of parliamentary democracy where the government of the day answers to Parliament and is effectively (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ed Broadbent takes a look at how our tax system can combat inequality in more ways than one: The Broadbent Institute is presenting proposals Tuesday to the Finance Committee of the House of Commons. Our primary recommendation is that Canada establish as a goal the provision of a basic income-tested guarantee to all citizens through a fairer personal income tax system.

The tax/transfer system equalizes income in two important ways. First, progressive income taxes mean that the affluent pay a higher percentage of income than middle and low income earners. Second, these (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your Family Day.

- Gerald Caplan comments that it’s long past time to put the Senate out of its misery: Who knew that when well-known Canadians in 2011 begged old acquaintances now turned Conservative Senators to back a bill for cheap generic AIDS drugs for Africa, the senators would follow party orders instead? The bill had passed the House in the face of opposition by Stephen Harper’s minority government. Even many Conservative MPs supported it. Yet the Conservative majority in the Senate made sure it failed.…(T)here they were deliberately thwarting the wishes of the democratically

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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- The Guardian discusses how the all-too-familiar trend of growing inequality and ever more precarious lives for all but the fabulously wealthy is unsustainable: While the debate in the UK is mostly focused on growth and how best to engender it, Reich explains in chilling detail why growth alone may not be enough. For too many, he explains, social mobility has begun to slide backwards. A small but growing band of global pirates – billionaires all, without allegiance to community or country, devoid of civic responsibility – accrue wealth from the continued immiseration of

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Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Ray Grigg explains how Idle No More and other decentralized social movements may make for a crucial counterweight to the Harper Cons and their command-and-control philosophy: Systems are always bigger and more complex than the individuals who try to control them. So political systems, like ecological ones, can be influenced and guided for a while by the stringent and obsessive management of details, but the intricate convolutions within their countless interacting parts eventually expose the futility of such effort. This is now becoming apparent in the present Conservative government in Canada under the

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Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Friday reading.

- In response to the Fraser Institute’s latest attempt to foment panic (to be used as an excuse to attack public programs and hand yet more free money to corporations), Trish Hennessy explains the province’s choices in terms anybody should be able to understand: The austerity experiment has been waged in several European Union countries: Massive cuts in government spending for four years drove Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland into full-scale economic depression. Meanwhile, the U.K. is struggling to get off its austerity treadmill, despite the less than stellar results there.

Ontario could

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Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Crawford Kilian comments on Chrystia Freeland’s Plutocrats as a useful expression of trends many of us have seen in action for some time: (T)he plutonomy is not just booming, but skewing the still-depressed economy the rest of us live in. Many of the plutocrats reflect soberly on Andrew Carnegie’s comment that the man who dies rich dies disgraced. Many, including George Soros, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett, are giving away their billions to various causes and charities.

Individually, those causes may be admirable (Soros has worked hard to promote democracy in eastern Europe).

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Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Pat Atkinson discusses the need to make sure that Saskatchewan’s boom-time spending actually sets us up for long-term prosperity, rather than fiscal disaster: Even though the OECD report, the burgeoning federal government deficit, China’s economic slowdown and America’s political deadlock all advise us that now is the time for caution, the Wall government is trapped. Its political image is completely dependent upon constant economic growth or the appearance of it.

It is so cemented in its own message of a New Saskatchewan, that any deviation from it is unlikely.

From its first

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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted material to end your weekend.

- Chrystia Freeland comments on the self-destructive nature of elite protectionism: (E)ven as the winner-take-all economy has enriched those at the very top, their tax burden has lightened. Tolerance for high executive compensation has increased, even as the legal powers of unions have been weakened and an intellectual case against them has been relentlessly advanced by plutocrat-financed think tanks. In the 1950s, the marginal income tax rate for those at the top of the distribution soared above 90 percent, a figure that today makes even Democrats flinch. Meanwhile, of the 400 richest taxpayers in

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Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Michael Harris follows up on the previous activism to save the Experimental Lakes Area by noting that efforts to work with the Harper Cons are providing both divisive and disastrous: (J)ust a few months after the Death of Evidence rally, another event is playing out behind the scenes that is partly the way of the world and partly full-blown tragedy.  If those same scientists held a rally today, they would have to call it by another name. Judging from what is happening in that penumbral zone where idealism and power politics collide,

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Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jim Stanford discusses how Canadian right-wing parties are picking up on the most extreme anti-labour stances of the U.S. Republicans. But I do have to wonder whether the comparison between union dues and taxes is one that they’d particularly shy away from: isn’t much of the point to try to eliminate both as means of providing resources to achieve social ends?

- Meanwhile, Linda McQuaig explains why baby hippos and others have plenty of reason to be concerned about debt hysteria. And David Climenhaga points out that even from an economic

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Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Trish Hennessy reminds us that a system of taxes and social spending is ultimately the most valuable means of pooling our resources for everybody’s benefit. And E.J. Dionne highlights the need for progressives to speak up for the principle of collective public action.

- Head Tale posts an interview with Ryan Meili, featuring this discussion of Saskatchewan’s defining values: Do you think there is such a thing as “Saskatchewan values”? If so, how would you define this?Like any place, Saskatchewan has good and bad parts of its history. The finer parts,

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