- Frank Graves comments on the fundamental political choices we're facing in determining whether to continue operating based on corporatist orthodoxy - and the reality that the vast majority of Canadians don't agree with the side chosen by the Harper Cons:
(T)he devil’s trade off of more inequality, lower tax rates for the wealthy and corporations and a minimal state isn’t producing the promised trickle down benefits. Monetarism, and the bumper sticker simplicity of “lower taxes + less government = prosperity for all” has been laid bare as a cruel hoax. And the myth that inequality might be tough medicine — but that it provides a springboard for greater social mobility and economic efficiency — has also been punctured. It is now vividly clear that those places with the greatest level of inequality (which is rising throughout the advanced western world) are the places with the lowest levels of upward mobility. The Gatsby curve shows that it is the U.S. that now has the greatest levels of intergenerational reproduction of wealth and social order (along with the U.K.). Canada is moving with similar rapidity towards a more unequal society. If you want to see where opportunity expresses itself best, where the most able rise to the top, don’t go to the United States or even Canada. If you want to live the American dream, move to Denmark, which incidentally is one of, if not the top performing, Western economies in term of standard of living.- Simon Tremblay-Pepin points out the disproportionate corporate focus on dividends in recent years - particularly in light of the 2008 crash.
Most of the linkages to the strong preference for a more active government are unsurprising. Quebec is more statist, and Alberta less so. Women are much more likely to favour an active government. But the most notable finding is that after nearly 40 years of being told that the merits of less government are the preferred recipe for shared prosperity, there is not a single group in Canadian society that does not clearly reject the path of less active government in the long term future. Whether this is a product of current pessimism about the future, or growing awareness that the big winners in the new world order (both democratic and authoritarian) all seem to have active state involvement in the economy, we can at this stage offer only broadly suggestive commentary. But perhaps it is time for us admit that monetarism and the pursuit of the night watchman state seems ready to be consigned to the dustbin of historical failure.
- Kevin Drum writes that austerity forced by Republicans has cost the U.S. 3 million jobs. And Linda McQuaig documents Stephen Harper's role in spreading the blight of gratuitous economic destruction around the globe:
By early 2010, Keynesianism was losing ground on the international scene. But it was the G20 summit in Toronto later that year which “above all” resulted in the world’s rich nations changing course and embracing austerity, according to a recent article by British financial journalist Martin Wolf in the New York Review of Books.
Harper played a key role in that lamentable change of direction. At his urging, the G20 nations agreed to commit themselves to halve their deficits by 2013 — a draconian approach that returned the developed world to obsessing about deficits and ignoring unemployment.
(Ironically, the high unemployment produced by austerity reduces tax revenues and increases social spending, making deficit-reduction difficult. Much to its embarrassment, the Harper government has had to revise its deficit estimates upward. So far this year, Canada’s deficit is rising, not falling.)
But the fixation on deficits, which has dominated public discourse for much of the last 30 years, has helped divert attention from the fact that austerity is part of a larger agenda (including tax cuts and privatization) that’s redistributed money toward the top.- Josh Eidelson continues to discuss the spread of fast-food and retail strikes in the U.S. as workers seek a reasonable living wage.
- And finally, Ralph Surette puts involuntary testing on hungry First Nations Canadians into context as another ugly aspect of our history.