- George Monbiot writes that corporate control over a political system may be a huge factor in limiting public participation - even as it makes a substantial counterweight all the more important:
The political role of business corporations is generally interpreted as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy. In reality they belong on the inside. They are part of the nexus of power that creates policy. They face no significant resistance, from either government or opposition, as their interests have now been woven into the fabric of all three main political parties in Britain.- Meanwhile, Don Lenihan discusses the elements we should expect to find in an accountable, responsive political system. And Michael Harris once again finds the Harper Cons feverishly eliminating any trace of those traits within their government.
Every week we learn that systemic failures on the part of government contractors are no barrier to obtaining further work, that the promise of efficiency, improvements and value for money delivered by outsourcing and privatisation have failed to materialise.
The monitoring which was meant to keep these companies honest is haphazard, the penalties almost nonexistent, the rewards can be stupendous, dizzying, corrupting. Yet none of this deters the government. Since 2008, the outsourcing of public services has doubled, to £20bn. It is due to rise to £100bn by 2015.
This policy becomes explicable only when you recognise where power really lies. The role of the self-hating state is to deliver itself to big business. In doing so it creates a tollbooth economy: a system of corporate turnpikes, operated by companies with effective monopolies.
It's hardly surprising that the lobbying bill – now stalled by the House of Lords – offered almost no checks on the power of corporate lobbyists, while hog-tying the charities who criticise them. But it's not just that ministers are not discouraged from hobnobbing with corporate executives: they are now obliged to do so.
- Taras Grescoe wonders whether Fort McMurray will soon join a long list of resource-bubble ghost towns. And Kelly Cryderman points out how the middle class is getting squeezed out of Calgary.
- Finally, Stephen Gorden finds that the federal balance sheet continues to include a structural deficit. Which naturally means it's time for Deficit Jim Flaherty and the Cons' lackeys to start hyping yet more gratuitous tax cuts (particularly ones with severe long-term budget impacts) to keep the red ink flowing.