Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Kady points out that despite the Cons' best efforts to stonewall, the Robocon investigation in Guelph looks to have locked in on the source of their fraudulent robocalls. And while it's indeed somewhat concerning that Elections Canada hasn't reached anywhere near the same depth of investigation when it comes to the other 234 ridings where voters have reported questionable calls, a solid case aimed at an individual who took steps to cover his tracks may be just the opening needed to get at the party's wider scheme.

- pogge duly slams Jim Flaherty's economic inaction plan:
You can be sure that the fragility of the recovery will continue to be invoked to justify all manner of government actions. For public consumption, the Harper Government™ will still be focusing like a laser on the economy. But as Flaherty acknowledges here, the main thrust of the government's economic policy will continue to be to give our corporate overlords what they ask for. If things take a turn for the worse, don't look for much help from the Conservatives. If you're a corporation the government is here to help you. If you're a citizen, you're on your own.
- Meanwhile, Jim Stanford follows up on Mark Carney's address to the CAW by pointing out some common ground as to how to improve Canada industrial productivity. And Dan Gardner discusses how the give-business-everything-it-asks-for strategy has proven a miserable failure for the past decade:
If we don’t close that gap, our prosperity will slip away when the commodity boom goes. And the commodity boom will go. They all do.

So how do we improve productivity? “Twenty years ago we created a laundry list of the things we needed to change in the policy front and productivity would blossom,” says Don Drummond, one of the country’s leading economists. “And you know, we changed most of them but productivity didn’t blossom.”

Canadian corporations got lower taxes and all sorts of incentives to invest. But they didn’t, and they aren’t, at least not at anything like the rate that’s needed.  According to the C.D. Howe Institute, investment per worker has risen from $10,100 in 2009 to $11,600 in 2011. But in 2011, American companies invested $13,200 per worker.

“We are heavily underinvested in machinery and equipment, particularly high technology stuff, relative to the U.S.,” notes Don Drummond. “We have roughly half the stock of machinery and equipment per hour worked in Canada that the U.S. does.” The figures for research and development are even worse: Canadian business spends about one per cent of GDP on it, compared to two per cent in the U.S. and 2.5 per cent in Japan, the Scandinavian countries, and others in the OECD.
- Finally, as Thomas Walkom notes, there isn't any real distinction between the Harper Cons and the McGuinty Libs when it comes to squeezing the middle class for corporate gain:
(T)his government wants public-sector workers to get less than nothing. Even the unions’ offer for a zero increase isn’t enough. The Liberal bill would arbitrarily strip away benefits that were previously bargained and keep all but the newest teachers at journeyman wage rates.

And if teachers don’t like it, there is little they can do. The bill would not let them withdraw their labour in protest.

If teachers were deemed essential workers, such a strike ban might make sense. Police officers, for instance, can’t go on strike.

But if teachers were defined as essential workers, the government would have to treat them fairly. It wouldn’t be able to impose a settlement. It would have to let an impartial arbitrator decide.

And my guess is that no impartial arbitrator would give teachers less than nothing.

Tim Hudak’s Conservatives are at least up front on this issue. Hudak seems to believe that unions are evil. He is an honest troglodyte.

The Liberals are more duplicitous. They work to cripple trade unionism while protesting that they are friends to the middle class that such unions protect.

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