Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Susan Riley brilliantly slams the message that austerity is necessary for everybody but those who already have the most:
Is anyone else getting tired of being lectured about austerity by wealthy consultants in expensive suits who charge $1,500 a day for their advice and have comfortable government pensions, besides?

And do we really need another warning about saving for old age - instead of frittering away money on escalating tuition for our children; or scrambling to compensate for unexpected job loss, or medical expenses - from disapproving cabinet ministers with fat salaries and fatter pensions?

Notice how these apostles of austerity rarely want to impose sacrifices on their fellow HNW (highnet-worth) individuals in the drive to restore fiscal sanity. They talk about fairness, but there is always an excuse for not halting corporate tax cuts, for not eliminating costly, quirky tax credits for people who don't need them. And their zeal for slashing redundant public service jobs and frivolous spending always seems to exclude their pet projects. (The Office for Religious Freedom, anyone? Those problematic F-35s?)
Oddly, the federal government takes the opposite approach when it comes to Old Age Security: no saving is too small. It will soon propose moving the eligibility age from 65 to 67, phased in over time. Aside from hurting the most vulnerable seniors, experts say eventual savings, as a percentage of GDP, will be slight.

Maybe they should call their bill Restoring Senior Poverty.

Meanwhile, there is no talk of trimming other pension plans - especially the RRSP, but also the taxfree savings account - that benefit those with ample money to save. Fewer than one-third of Canadians contribute to RRSPs, and a tiny number make the maximum contribution of $22,000 a year. But, by some estimates, RRSP breaks for the richest Canadians cost the treasury $12 billion in 2010.

The issues differ for different levels of government and different parties hold power across the country. But the austerity refrain is the same: protect the rich, hit the middle class and leave the poor for later.
- It's a shame other commentators haven't put the two together yet. But could there be a better contrast for than NDP than that between the Cons dictating attacks on Old Age Security even as experts beg them to consult at least a bit, and the NDP's public engagement to discuss the effect of service cuts?

- Terry Milewski points out how Orwellian the Cons' online snooping bill is in providing for total surveillance of all online activity. And Dan Gardner makes it clear that Stephen Harper is at best a libertarian of convenience:
This week, the Conservative government introduced legislation which would create a vast system of warrantless Internet surveillance. Civil libertarians howled in protest.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told them they could either support the government's plan or side "with the child pornographers."

Many more people howled, including conservative newspaper columnists. A few Conservative MPs even dared to suggest that maybe the legislation wasn't entirely perfect and righteous in every way.

By the end of the week, Toews suggested that perhaps it might be possible to modestly amend the bill in unspecified ways - without aiding and abetting child pornographers.

As farce, this was amusing. As governance, it was appalling. But as an illustration of the thinking of the prime minister and his circle, it was invaluable.
One moment Stephen Harper is Ayn Rand. The next he's J. Edgar Hoover.

So how can we explain this? The prime minister could be suffering from some sort of personality disorder. But unless and until there's a diagnosis we'll have to go with something else.

It is this: Stephen Harper is interested in advancing certain political goals. Sometimes, a strong civil libertarian position helps do that. The long-form census, for example, generates the data that support social housing, employment equity, and other programs the prime minister doesn't like.

Taking the Randian position was a way of undermining those programs indirectly, and looking principled doing it.

But sometimes civil liberties get in the way of doing what the prime minister wants to do. So he goes all Hoover.
And that provides an obvious follow-up question which Harper shouldn't be able to escape: just what is it that he wants to do with all the surveillance information he gets about Canadians' online activities?

- Finally, Erin highlights that Don Drummond's slash-and-burn plan for Ontario is based on the assumption that interest rates will soar far beyond what anybody is currently predicting - even though fiscal hawks have been nothing but wrong in trying to put nonexistent inflation worries ahead of actual economic development.

1 comment:

  1. meadowlark3:31 p.m.

    Harper is not a Conservative, he is a Reformer. He founded, The Northern Foundation Party. They say, the skinheads assisted Harper to organize his shady party. This was in 1989.

    Every dictator is paranoid. The very first thing they do is, muzzle the media. Dictators do not want their dirty deeds, to get to the publics ears. So of course, Harper wants to control the internet. He absolutely hates his dirty deeds being posted on the web. Harper has a lot of dirt to hide.

    Even another country's media said, how badly Harper is destroying Democracy in Canada.  Harper is taking our Civil Rights and Liberties away from us. Now he wants to take our Freedom of Speech away, by internet snooping. Harper doesn't want his miserable hide exposed, to the Canadian citizens.

    Harper should never have been allowed to run for P.M. He is in contempt of the House. He had Bruce Carson, a many times convicted American felon working for him. Harper cheated to win, he was campaigning over the radio on election day. Harper was frantic and rabid to win, he even begged for a majority. And yes, I feel Harper did not win, on the up and up. Neither does an American web site, presscore.

    ICC Cheif Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has served Harper a summons, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Harper was probably hoping Canadians would forget about that.  Harper had the gall to chastise China, about their Human Rights. Typical of a fascist, shift the blame onto other country's and politicians, like Hitler blamed the Jews.

    Harper is banned from the New Trans Pasific Trade Group.  Harper was banned from a seat in the U.N. Canada is being shunned by other country's, because of Harper. Other country's are fed up with, Harper's bullying and hissy fits, when he doesn't get his own way.  At every meeting of the Nations, Harper always manages to anger everyone present..  He is referred as a, petty gasbag, arrogant, stubborn, impossible to work with and co-operates with no-one.

    Harper is the worst P.M. in Canadian history. He is the most embarrassing P.M. we have ever had in this nation. Harper seems like, he has a personality disorder.