Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Glenn Greenwald, David Atkins and Simon Jenkins all discuss the U.K.'s detention of David Miranda - with heavy emphasis on the Cameron government's apparent belief journalism and terrorism are synonymous. And Ian Welsh points out the need to fight back against a pervasive surveillance state before it's too late.

- Barbara Garson discusses how the U.S.' recession was used as an excuse to turn stable jobs into precarious ones. And Duncan Cameron takes a look at Stephen Harper's real economic record since he took power (with an assist from Citizens for Public Justice):
Anyone who believes what Conservative cabinet ministers have been repeating about job creation in Canada should read the CPJ fact sheets.

Carol Goar of the Toronto Star identified the CPJ report as explaining why many Canadians are still experiencing the recession. The Canadian employment rate is down: the number of jobs created (950,000) has not increased as fast as the population (1.8 million). Unemployment is stuck at 1.4 million. When talking about the unemployed, the government does not include discouraged workers, people with part-time jobs looking for full-time work, temporary jobs, or the under-employed. Add them to the total, and the real unemployment rate is one out of ten out of work.

Conservatives believe the marketplace works fine, and any problems can be fixed by allowing prices to adjust. Unemployment is explained by the failure of rates of pay to fall, because of minimum wages, unions, employment insurance, welfare and other market imperfections, which need to be eliminated or reduced.

The problem with this view is that rates of pay are falling -- policies to reduce wages have been successful, increasing inequality as Stephen Gordon has shown in Maclean's. For the Harper government, business-funded think-tanks, and other supporters of the market view, this just means wages have not fallen enough.
Stephen Harper does not expect Canadians to discover that job performance has been poor and that the economy is not improving, while the standard of living for most Canadians is declining. He has announced plans to prorogue Parliament, cutting the fall session short. This will limit the time for parliamentary debate and the subjects raised by the opposition.

If the economy is going to be the ballot question in the next election, as Stephen Harper suggests, Citizens for Public Justice have afforded parliamentarians and all Canadians with what is needed to examine his government's record.
- Meanwhile, Michael Harris suggests that it's time for Harper to leave the political scene. And Thomas Walkom recognizes that Harper's actions make more sense as comedy than governance.

- Finally, Robyn Benson catches a glaring example of anti-NDP bias in the Ottawa Citizen - which reported on Larry Rousseau's nomination run in the Bourassa by-election with union-bashing from Con and Lib sources and headline writers alike. And for those wanting some more reasonable coverage of the impending federal by-elections, Pundits' Guide is once again the place to go.

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