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Accidental Deliberations: The definition of privilege

Connor Kilpatrick is right to observe that while we should be willing to take note of privilege in many forms, we should be especially concerned with organizing to counter the grossly outsized influence of the very few at the top whose whims are typically allowed to override the common good.

But there’s a handy dividing line available to assess the difference. After all, there’s already been plenty of work done in sorting out who has the most influence on the U.S. political system.

On the best evidence available, any privilege associated with middle-class status or involvement in mass movement (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Lydia DePillis and Jim Tankersley write that U.S. Democrats are recognizing the need for concerted pushback against the Republican’s attacks on organized labour – and rightly framing the role of unions in terms of reducing the inequality the right is so keen to exacerbate.

- And another obvious advantage to greater labour power would be a stronger push against the extractivist ideology that’s turning pensions and public utilities into corporate cash cows at our expense. 

- Sean McElwee and Catherine Ruetschlin discuss the multi-generational impact of systemic discrimination – while (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Robert Reich discusses how outsized corporate influence in the U.S. has kept the general public from sharing in any nominal economic improvements: The U.S. economy is picking up steam but most Americans aren’t feeling it. By contrast, most European economies are still in bad shape, but most Europeans are doing relatively well.

What’s behind this? Two big facts.

First, American corporations exert far more political influence in the United States than their counterparts exert in their own countries.

In fact, most Americans have no influence at all. That’s the conclusion of (Read more…)

350 or bust: Exposed!

Science Historian Naomi Oreskes writes: When I wrote the book Merchants of Doubt in 2010, I only wanted one thing: to uncover the truth about who was behind the widespread, and sadly effective, campaigns to undermine the established science of climate change, and why they were doing what they were doing. I never imagined that, a […]

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Tessa Jowell writes that we need to treat inequality as a disease which can be cured through effective public policy, but the Star points out that the Cons have instead gone out of their way to make it worse. Fair Vote Canada interviews J. Peter Venton about the toxic effect of inequality on our political system. And Sean McElwee notes that in the U.S. at least, the right has managed to turn the middle and working classes against exactly the type of redistribution which best serves their interests.

- Yanis Varoufakis (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Robin Sears offers his theory that the upcoming federal election could represent a meaningful referendum on competing visions for Canada – and Paul Wells seems to expect much the same. But while that might make for a useful statement of the actual consequences of electing the anti-government Cons as opposed to having a progressive coalition materialize, it’s hard to see a clash of visions represent the core of the campaign – particularly when the party currently in power won’t admit to its active hostility toward social programs and the environment, while another (Read more…)

350 or bust: Saturday At The Movies

What a way to go! The Colbert Report says goodbye in style: * You will be missed.

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Tom Sullivan’s advice for Democrats south of the border that it’s essential to reach out to dispossessed voters of all types of backgrounds with a compelling alternative to the status quo is equally relevant to progressives in Canada.

- But the good news is that here, somebody’s actually applying it. And we’re also hearing plenty about how our local reactionaries are ignoring the vast majority of families – with Ashley Splawinski offering this look at the Cons’ income splitting scheme compared to the obvious alternative:  About 86 per cent of all families including (Read more…)

350 or bust: The KXL Ad TransCanada Doesn’t Want You To See

Following yesterday’s defeat of the push to okay the Keystone XL Pipeline across the continental United States, here’s a video that the company trying to construct the tar-sands-oil-carrying “black snake” doesn’t want you to see. * TransCanada has made a series of videos entitled “Straight Talk about KXL” that seeks to convince people about the […]

350 or bust: Pro-Keystone Vote Fails in US Senate

More good news on the climate front, after last week’s announcement of a US-China climate agreement. A few years ago, pro-Keystone XL pipeline legislation was depicted as a “no-brainer” by Washington insiders. It looks like our climate isn’t the only thing that’s changing; so is the political climate with regards to the acceptability of pro-oil […]

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Rob Nixon’s review of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything nicely sums up why the book – and the fundamental clash it documents between corporate profit-seeking and the health of people and our planet – should be at the centre of our political conversation: (N)eoliberalism — promotes a high-consumption, ­carbon-hungry system. Neoliberalism has encouraged mega-mergers, trade agreements hostile to environmental and labor regulations, and global hypermobility, enabling a corporation like Exxon to make, as McKibben has noted, “more money last year than any company in the history of money.” Their outsize power (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jim Stanford points out that the choice to leave drug development to the market resulted in a promising ebola vaccine going unused – and indeed untested – for years until the disease threatened a wealthy enough target population: Canada’s outstanding work to invent one of the world’s most promising vaccines against Ebola perfectly epitomizes both the promise of public research, and the perverse incentives of the for-profit industry. Early this century Health Canada recognized the need for an Ebola vaccine, and assigned scientists with the Public Health Agency of Canada to find one. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman look into the spread of wealth inequality in the U.S., and find that it may be worse than we already knew. And Paul Krugman discusses how toxic anti-government ideology is preventing the U.S. from both getting its economy on track in the short term, and investing in infrastructure it will need down the road: More than seven years have passed since the housing bubble burst, and ever since, America has been awash in savings — or more accurately, desired savings — with nowhere to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On soft support

Ezra Klein discusses Ray LaRaja and Brian Schnaffer’s graph of U.S. donor policy preferences against political donations:

Klein’s take involves a comparison between the graph and the U.S.’ discussion about political polarization. But it’s worth wondering to what extent the same theory might apply in Canada – and how they might in fact conflict with current party strategies.

After all, the most obvious uncertainty on Canada’s political scene involves the fight for centre-left voters – with the NDP, Libs, Greens and Bloc using much of their effort to seek to win over and retain that cohort alongside (Read more…)

350 or bust: Senator Inhofe Destroyed By Colleague Versed In Science

In the U.S. Senate this week, Senator Klobuchar called for Unanimous Consent to pass a resolution acknowledging that climate change is occurring and that it will continue to pose an ongoing risk. Senator James Inhofe objected to the resolution. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse offered this in cogent, informed response. * Whitehouse.Senate.gov ThinkProgress.org  

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Katrina vanden Heuvel criticizes the U.S. Democrats’ move away from discussing inequality by in favour of platitudes about opportunity for the middle class. And while Matthew Yglesias may be correct in responding that the messaging change hasn’t resulted in much difference in Democratic policy proposals, it’s certainly significant when a political party makes the choice to take poverty and inequality off the table as a vital part of the argument for its policy consensus.

- Meanwhile, Stephen Elliott-Buckley reminds us that the 1% tends to get its way in policy debates (Read more…)

350 or bust: Get Ready To Dial In For Climate Action

If you live in the United States, and you are concerned about climate change, circle Monday June 23rd on your calendar. From the comfort of your own home, you can support action on climate change and the over 600 climate-concerned citizens who will be on Capitol Hill that day meeting with every congressional office to […]

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Margaret Somers and Fred Block write about Karl Polanyi’s critique of the free-market myth and its increased relevance today: (F)ree-market rhetoric is a giant smokescreen designed to hide the dependence of business profits on conditions secured by government. So, for example, our giant financial institutions insist that they should be free of meddlesome regulations while they depend on continuing access to cheap credit—in good times and bad—from the Federal Reserve. Our pharmaceutical firms have successfully resisted any government limits on their price-setting ability at the same time that they rely on government (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, discussing what Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page found (PDF) in looking at which preferences actually shape U.S. public policy – and what needs to happen for the needs of the general public to be given some actual weight in government policy choices.

For further reading…- Again, Larry Bartels, Kathleen Geier and Paul Krugman are among many who have also commented on the study.- Sanders Deionne charts the connection between lobbying payouts and tax giveaways for a number of large U.S. corporations. – On the Canadian side, I’ll point again to Therea Tedesco and Jen (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paul Krugman expands on the Republicans’ insistence on privileging inherited wealth over individual work: (N)ot only don’t most Americans own businesses, but business income, and income from capital in general, is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people. In 1979 the top 1 percent of households accounted for 17 percent of business income; by 2007 the same group was getting 43 percent of business income, and 75 percent of capital gains. Yet this small elite gets all of the G.O.P.’s love, and most of its policy (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Edward Robinson laments the willingness of European centre-left parties to abandon any attempt to argue against austerity even when the evidence shows that’s the right position to take: Centre-left parties in Europe appear to have completely lost the argument for pragmatic fiscal policy, much in the way that US Democrats seemed to lose their own case precisely at the moment when stimulus was working. Consider again how little financial commitment it would have taken to have shored-up confidence in Greek sovereign debt via Eurobonds. Greek debt in 2010 represented only 3.6% (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: On Arizona’s Odious Anti-Gay Bill

That people who claim to be civilized and intelligent could support such odious legislation that panders to the worst in human nature shows how much farther our species has to travel up the evolutionary ladder:

George Takei rips ‘extremist’ Arizona Repubs: ‘How do people like that get elected?’ (via Raw Story )

Actor and activist George Takei refused to back off on Monday from his threat to encourage a boycott against the state of Arizona if Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signs a bill legalizing anti-LGBT discrimination, but he told MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell that…

(Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: An Epidemic of Stupidity

Starting with Tim Hudak and then progressing stateside, this post will attempt to merely display the range of prodigious stupidity that North America seems to be cursed with.

First, to young Tim. It seems that each time the beleaguered leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives opens his mouth, one of his bipedal extremities fills the gap. His latest example of reflexive and profound ineptitude came almost immediately after the two byelections held on Thursday. Losing to the NDP in Niagara, Hudak, in what apparently passes for smart strategy in his mind, saw fit to insult the voters in that area, essentially (Read more…)

350 or bust: 350 or bust 2014-01-30 08:21:22

* Thank you, President Obama, for using your “bully pulpit” to publicly confirm the accuracy of climate science. Now, what the world needs is action based on the science, not business as usual: Obama’s Hopelessly Wrong On The Environment: Here’s The Reality of What We Face. (Alternet.org)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Reich confirms the seemingly obvious reality that poverty and inequality are in fact major obstacle facing the poor. And Paul Krugman explains why any successful progressive movement in the U.S. will need to discuss inequality and the hoarding of wealth to challenge the entrenched (and expanding) influence of those who already have the most: (J)obs and inequality are closely linked if not identical issues. There’s a pretty good although not ironclad case that soaring inequality helped set the stage for our economic crisis, and that the highly unequal distribution of (Read more…)