Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Molly Ball writes about the false assumptions underlying far too much political discussion - with one looming as particularly significant for Canadian purposes:
5. Campaign ads really, really, really don't make much difference.

In this part of the paper, Fiorina's exasperation becomes palpable. Political scientists have studied the effect of campaign media for decades and consistently found it to be very small. But that doesn't stop commentators from talking endlessly about the potential effects of ads. "I shall say no more about this, because given the long history of the disjunction, it is doubtful that academics could change journalists' minds about this subject if they had a whole semester," Fiorina huffs. "Who are they going to believe: academic researchers, or their own eyes and ears?"

Fiorina cites voters' relative immunity to political messaging as evidence that the electorate, by and large, "is not stupid." Voters are often ill-informed, it's true, and not particularly interested in politics most of the time. But that doesn't mean they're easily duped or bad at making reasoned judgments in the end. As Fiorina can't resist jabbing: "The collective electorate manifests a degree of knowledge and wisdom that gives those of us who have studied that electorate for decades some cause for optimism. If only I could say as much about the knowledge and wisdom of the political class."
- And Thomas Walkom points out how an ill-founded "centrist" obsession with austerity is driving European voters toward virtually anybody who doesn't demand gratuitous public pain as the price of appeasing imaginary bond vigilantes.

- Lawrence Martin largely laughs off the Harper Cons' latest posturing over Keystone XL.

- Armine Yalnizyan writes that minimum-wage work is becoming more and more prevalent in Canada - meaning that erosion in the minimum wage will affect an increasing number of workers along with the economy as a whole.

- Finally, Toby Sanger offers a much-needed rebuttal to the Fraser Institute's latest attack on the public sector - and finds that the only added expenses in public-sector wages for comparable work is the fact that women face a smaller wage gap than they would in the corporate world.

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