Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paul Boothe discusses the dangers of giving in to resource-boom hype rather than planning for sustainable development:
The resource roller coaster and the crazy things it causes us to do are not new. Remember the federal government's 1980 National Energy Program? It grew out of a forecast that Alberta's oil royalties were likely to grow so large that they would fatally destabilize the Canadian federation. Remember Alberta's 1992 deficit that reached almost one-quarter of total revenues? It resulted from a forecast that natural gas prices would rise and bring on another royalty bonanza.

Resource economies grow faster on average, so what is wrong with riding the boom-and-bust roller coaster? Economists happily assume that workers can glide costlessly from one place to another in search of their next job. The reality is quite different.

Boom-and-bust economies are enormously disruptive to families and destructive of social capital. Travelling back and forth across the country searching for work means more children raised by single parents, fewer people checking in on the stay-at-home elderly, fewer minor hockey and soccer coaches. These things are the glue that binds our communities together.

Are there ways of avoiding repeating the boom-and-bust errors of the past? Yes. We can choose not to put all of our economic eggs in the natural resource basket. We can stop listening to those who proclaim the promise of the current boom and ignore the volatility that is part and parcel of staking our future primarily on natural resources. Developing our natural resources in an environmentally and socially sustainable way makes good sense. Betting the farm on them does not.
- Naturally, the obvious merit to a broader view explains why the Cons' strategy is to "lie and lie again" to distract from their reckless gamble on resource prices - and Craig McInnes is just the latest columnist to call them out on their deliberate and brazen dishonesty.

- Paul Wells summarizes the massive scope of the latest draft version of the CETA, while Heather Scoffield focuses on the EU's demand that investors take precedence over health, safety, the environment and all other considerations.

- Michael Wolfson takes aim at the lack of social mobility in Canada, along with the Fraser Institute's sad attempt to pretend there's no issues to be dealt with:
If the analysis had been done fairly, looking at relative mobility as it claims, it would have used income groups for the specific population being studied – younger earners. Then, for every person moving up a relative position on the income ladder (e.g. from the the bottom 20 per cent to the top 20 per cent, as in the Fraser analysis), someone else must have moved down, there being a fixed number of rungs (or 20 per cent income groups in this case).

Fortunately, there is an analysis of the question of income mobility in Canada based on a more careful methodology which I co-authored a few years ago, using exactly the same income tax data base. Our results lead to quite different conclusions.
(T)he top 1 per cent and even the top 0.01 per cent had incomes that bounced around less than the incomes of the 25 per cent at the poorest end of the income ladder. A major reason: low earnings are often the result of “precarious” jobs which not only pay low wages, but are unstable.

Life at the top may be risky, but the real risks in life lie at the bottom of the income spectrum..

This reality of precarious jobs amongst the poor, and current research standards for unbiased analysis of income mobility, are ignored by the Fraser Institute as it tries to perpetuate the Horatio Alger, ‘rags to riches’ myth.
 - Finally, Errol Mendes wonders whatever happened to the Stephen Harper who once fought against omnibus bills and top-down control.

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