Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Friday reading.

- Michael Harris tears into the Harper Cons for their compulsive dishonesty:
Everything in the Westminster model under which we are supposed to operate depends on information, debate and verification — all of which are missing in ‘Harperland’, to use Lawrence Martin’s ringing coinage. Also missing is that high bar of behaviour known as being an “Honourable Gentleman”.

One of the few federal bureaucrats who stood up to Harper’s cult-conservatism was the lately-departed chief of the PBO, Kevin Page. He regularly challenged the phoney books and unsupported policy of this catch-us-if-you-can government — and oh, how they came to hate him for it.

Stephen Harper, Peter MacKay and countless party bobbleheads who BS for a living on TV were caught dead to rights falsifying the cost of the F-35 fighter jet — once by Page, and then again by the auditors at KPMG.

Their response? Lie some more. The Tories crowed that the KPMG audit ‘vindicated’ their numbers. Yes, just as a conviction for violating the Elections Act was a ‘victory.’ Just as another judge confirming that there was fraud in the last federal election was “vindication”, even though the judge also said the culprit likely used the Conservative Party of Canada’s own database to perpetrate that fraud. Two plus two is five.
And here is what sits behind all the sneakiness, lies, and prevarications. Stephen Harper wants to deconstruct the country as we know it much faster than he is able to persuade Canadians to follow him. So he has to control information, stifle politicians and the press, and reduce the national debate to the hollow dictates and studied evasions coming out of the PMO. He can’t reveal his intentions because if he did, he would not be electable.
- Meanwhile, Peter O'Neil reports that the Cons have officially shed any of their past claims to be interested in grassroots democracy, as they plan to fight Kennedy Stewart's online petition proposal tooth and nail rather than allowing for even the slightest direct citizen involvement in shaping parliamentary debates. 

- Nathan Vanderklippe reports on the devastating Apache contaminated water spill in northern Alberta. Mike Hudema details the Redford government's attempt to cover up the spill, while the Star-Phoenix rightly notes that the lies and cover-ups that have become standard operating procedure for both the oil industry and its pet governments offer nothing but reason for suspicion about the health and safety implications of new projects.

- While plenty of others have already made the case to integrate prescription drugs into the set of services covered by our universal health care system, it's a noteworthy step that even the C.D. Howe Institute is now on board

- Finally, Dean Baker takes a close look at the U.S.' Social Security as a case in point signalling the futility of means-testing social programs:
Of course you could start the phase out a higher income level (like $50,000 per person) and have it at a more reasonable rate (e.g. 10-20 percent), but then you find that you don't save the program much money. In our paper we found that the savings, net of tax, for a 20 percent phase out starting at person incomes of $40,000 would save around 3 percent of benefits. If it was started at a person income of $100k it would save around 0.6 percent of benefits. These numbers give a much more realistic idea of how much can be saved with means-testing. See how much fun math can be?

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