Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Andrew Jackson raises an absolutely devastating point to refute anybody trying to use "it's all about growth!!!" as an excuse for slashing social supports and handing free money to the rich:
In this age of austerity, we are constantly told by governments that we have to tighten our belts. Tuition fees have to go up; public pensions, Unemployment Insurance and social assistance benefits have to be cut; universal public health care is no longer affordable, and so on ad nauseam.

But, as my friend Peter Puxley recently reminded me,  it is passing strange to argue that we can no longer afford what we could afford thirty years ago, when we were, as a society, much less affluent.
(T)he growth rate of real per capita GDP has slowed considerably in the age of austerity – which deserves extended comment – but it has by no means ground to a halt.  This suggests austerity flows not so much from the lack of growth, as from the fact that more and more of that income growth has gone to the top 1% who just don’t want to share it with the rest of us.
 - Meanwhile, Trish Hennessy comments on Jim Flaherty's inclination to kick out-of-work Canadians while they're down (plenty of other Cons have the good sense to repudiate). Les Whittington reports on the CLC's recognition that the main theme of Con economic policy is to drive down wages for everybody. And Scott Stelmaschuk writes about the difference between jobs and careers in light of the Cons' apparent plan to eliminate any hope of the latter:
(C)areers and jobs have very different meanings. Jobs are the sort of thing we do to gain experience as a bridge to a career. Jobs are a stepping stone, and are meant to be a way of improving our skills and forging connections that allow us to transition into a permanent career. Careers are things that pay above minimum wage, offer benefits (health insurance/dental/optical, retirement plans) and allow a person to pay down their debts while allowing enough financial fluidity that a single major emergency won't break the bank.

Careers are disappearing in this economy, and now our finance minister is telling Canadians that they need to bend over, close their eyes, think of Canada, and take the nearest thing resembling employment they can find.

Implicitly, Flaherty has admitted some defeat in the turn about of Canada's economy. While he won't come out and say it, Flaherty is telling us that this is now the new normal for the average Canadian. Gone are the days where a person who has worked towards improving their lives through college and professional development can find a career with financial security. Instead, regardless of the steps taken, a person is now doomed to forever dwell in the lower rungs of the economy.
- In one of its final reports before being axed as unhelpful to Stephen Harper's political prospects, the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy confirms that the Cons' delays in doing anything about climate change will impose severe costs on business (based on the need to react in short order rather than having time to meet the 2020 targets the Cons still claim to want to reach) as well as on the rest of Canadian society.

- And finally, Pat Atkinson recognizes that Saskatchewan will need a far better plan for housing than we've seen to date in order actually attract and retain newcomers.

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