Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your weekend.

- For those wondering where progressive leaders are going with their policy proposals, the last week offered a couple of noteworthy examples. At home, Tom Mulcair's Canadian Club speech commented on the importance of real roles for the government and the public in making economic decisions:
A thriving private sector will, thankfully, always be at the heart of our national economy, and the engine of our economic growth.

But there’s also a commonsense role for government to play in building the fairer, more prosperous Canada that we all want.

There’s a commonsense role for government to play in creating the right environment of stability and predictability that business relies on to profit.

In ensuring sound economic policy that fosters productivity and competitiveness—without sacrificing long-term sustainability.

And investing in an economy better equipped to meet the demands of the 21st century: In knowledge, in research and development, in a more skilled workforce, in matching skills to jobs.

There is a pretty convincing argument for the role of government in science, education and innovation.

The best way to create wealth in a society is to increase knowledge.
 - Meanwhile, Ed Miliband made the case for greater wage "predistribution" as an essential part of a fairer society:
Instead of redistributing wealth through the tax and benefit system, there should be more "predistribution", the Labour leader said in a speech.

That meant better vocational training in schools - but also a change in attitude from business.

He called for more "responsible" firms that focused on the long-term.
"Predistribution is about saying, 'We cannot allow ourselves to be stuck with permanently being a low-wage economy and hope that through taxes and benefits we can make up the shortfall.'

"It's not just, nor does it enable us to pay our way in the world.

"Our aim must be to transform our economy so it is a much higher skill, much higher wage economy.
"Think about somebody working in a call centre, a supermarket, or in an old peoples' home.

"Redistribution offers a top-up to their wages. Predistribution seeks to go further - higher skills with higher wages."
- Meanwhile, we've also seen plenty of examples of the opposite goals from the Cons. Bruce Johnstone discusses how they've quite deliberately given away the farm in the name of trade deals without actually getting anything in return, while pogge rightly notes that the price of deregulation (using the latest e. coli outbreak as an example) is unacceptable even leaving aside the consumer toll.

- Finally, a group of labour researchers responds to the right-wing attempt to shackle unions in the name of "accountability" with a few suggestions as to how the Wall government could try to improve in that area itself.


  1. Greg,

    There is significance in this part of Thomas Mulcair's speech that should highlighted:

    "Productivity is itself the result of complex interactions between a variety of economic actors.

    Economists use terms like spillovers, network effects and cluster effects to describe these complexities, but any autoworker in Southern Ontario can explain them to you just as well."

    He then proceeded to narrate the interaction, starting from the bottom up.

    A neo-liberal would never deliver such a speech with such a focus, at such a location, to such an audience. But Thomas "the centrist" Mulcair did.

    The significance should not be lost on anyone...especially the more disgruntled among Brian Topp's supporters.

  2. Dan, I'm a Topp supporter and I'm not disgruntled, and nor to hear of "disgruntlement".
    I'm impressed Mulcair did this, because I read a review of this same speech by a Lib blogger on prog blogs and said Mulcair was "mundane" and didn't say anything enlightening. I think Mulcair outlining this process using a auto worker's lens, would most definitely be insightful and enlightening, and moreover refreshing - actually coming from a 'worker' view.

    1. Jan,

      Sadly, they exist.

      I follow a few of them on Twitter & have observed their devolution over a long-enough period of time. The positive can-do attitude on display during the leadership campaign was replaced by perpetual cynicism.

      If I didn't feel they were valuable or redeemable, I would just name them & let nature take its course. But I believe they are reasonable, and my little posts are partly an effort to correct their errant perceptions.

      Dan Tan

  3. Anonymous10:04 p.m.

    Tom Mulcair seems to be positioning himself as an MOR politician (middle of the road). Are there any progressive political leaders in Canada's future?

    1. Anonymous,

      If you were reacting to my post, I think you misunderstood my meaning.

      My point was that Mulcair's speech was solidly "progressive". I called him "the centrist" in sarcasm.

      Dan Tan