Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Sid Ryan takes on the Harper/Hudak double-team effort to prevent workers from having any voice in our political direction:
(T)here can be little doubt that what really offends Hudak is the fact that union members pool their resources to participate in municipal, provincial and federal elections. When voters pulled the rug out from under Hudak's 2011 electoral campaign, he blamed Harris-weary union members for campaigning against him and running television ads to expose his agenda.

It is no coincidence that Hudak released his 20 page attack on basic workers' rights immediately after an Ontario court struck down -- for the third time -- his legal challenge against the Working Families Coalition ads. A defiant Conservative MPP, Lisa MacLeod (Nepean -- Carleton), told reporters: "we will continue to fight this in the court of public opinion." And fight they did -- issuing their call for all workers to be stripped of their collective rights.

Stripped to its core, Hudak's vision is not about "modernizing" the labour market in the interests of prosperity for all. He seeks to usher in an era of permanent uncertainty for all working people to the overwhelming benefit of corporations. To accomplish this task, Hudak must neutralize his opponents in every possible arena, from the workplace to elections.
-  Meanwhile, Paul Krugman hurts some high-roller fee-fees:
“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” So wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald — and he didn’t just mean that they have more money. What he meant instead, at least in part, was that many of the very rich expect a level of deference that the rest of us never experience and are deeply distressed when they don’t get the special treatment they consider their birthright; their wealth “makes them soft where we are hard.”

And because money talks, this softness — call it the pathos of the plutocrats — has become a major factor in America’s political life. 
Not only do many of the superrich feel deeply aggrieved at the notion that anyone in their class might face criticism, they also insist that their perception that Mr. Obama doesn’t like them is at the root of our economic problems. Businesses aren’t investing, they say, because business leaders don’t feel valued. Mr. Romney repeated this line, too, arguing that because the president attacks success “we have less success.”

 This, too, is crazy (and it’s disturbing that Mr. Romney appears to share this delusional view about what ails our economy). There’s no mystery about the reasons the economic recovery has been so weak. Housing is still depressed in the aftermath of a huge bubble, and consumer demand is being held back by the high levels of household debt that are the legacy of that bubble. Business investment has actually held up fairly well given this weakness in demand. Why should businesses invest more when they don’t have enough customers to make full use of the capacity they already have?

But never mind. Because the rich are different from you and me, many of them are incredibly self-centered. They don’t even see how funny it is — how ridiculous they look — when they attribute the weakness of a $15 trillion economy to their own hurt feelings. After all, who’s going to tell them? They’re safely ensconced in a bubble of deference and flattery. 
-  pogge nicely sums up why we shouldn't be too quick to ascribe bad motives to Elections Canada - while at the same time making clear that we do need to keep a close eye on its actions in dealing with the Robocon electoral fraud and other key issues.

- John Geddes offers his take on the parts of Canada's system of government that have served us well in comparison to the U.S.:
John Palmer, the former top federal banking watchdog, told me for this story a couple of years ago that the key to Canada’s 1996 reforms was that the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions was given the authority to issue highly discretionary instructions to banks as dubious lending patterns or other vulnerabilities on their balance sheets took shape. So the subprime mortgage portfolios taken on by U.S. banks before the 2008 market meltdown would have set off OSFI’s alarms, at least in theory, before they grew so recklessly huge.

The willingness and ability of Ottawa to impose this more assertive banking regulation tells us something. So do the persistence of higher Canadian taxes and the resilience of federal transfers for provincial social programs. Only a few years ago, regulation, taxation and social spending were routinely cited as serious Canadian economic liabilities. Lately, you don’t hear that so much.
- Finally, yet another study has confirmed a link between wealth gaps and health outcomes - in this case finding an infant mortality rate twice as high in inner-city Saskatoon as elsewhere in the city. And on a related note, CUPE's Wants Vs. Needs site looks to be nicely framing the choice for Regina voters in this fall's municipal elections.

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