Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Mark Taliano discusses how corporatocracy is replacing democracy in Canada, while Jaisal Noor talks to John Weeks about the similar trend in the U.S. And DownWithTyranny reminds us how corporations came to be - and how radical a difference there is between entities which were granted limited liability only in exchange for their pursuit of public goods, and the present model in which liability shields instead serve as cover for antisocial behaviour.

- Meanwhile, Frank Graves confirms that the Cons' goals of public austerity and enrichment of the wealthy couldn't be more out of step with the values of Canadians:
The simple fact is that the agenda of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is no longer about an incremental, gradual shift away from a progressive state to a model of minimal government embodied by neo-conservative Reaganism or Thatcherism. The public may now see trickle-down economics as a cruel hoax — but it still seems to be the theory informing the current government’s approach to the economy.
In Europe and the United Kingdom, commentators have noted that while the younger generation is the most socially progressive, it is less collectivist and statist. It would appear this is not the case here, where younger citizens are much more likely to rate minimal government as a value lower today than they did in 1998 (those the under the age of 25 give “minimal government intrusions” a mean rating of 42, compared to 62 in 1998). At 42 on a scale to 100, this means that minimal government as a political value has virtually no relevance for younger Canadians. The only place it continues to resonate is in older, conservative Canada and the Langevin building.

We’ve updated our tracking on whether Canadians would prefer a larger government with higher taxes and more services or a smaller government with lower taxes and fewer services. The chart below shows an important trendline. Many have claimed that the recent political success of the right points to a ‘blueing’ of Canadian attitudes. The time series data, however, continue to show that Canadians are now less likely to prefer smaller government than they were in the past.
- And as a prime example of an area where greater public economic involvement could serve multiple positive purposes, Ethan Cox makes the case for postal banking:
By offering banking services through its existing network of 6,519 postal outlets Canada Post would overnight become the most accessible bank in the country. In addition to generating revenue which could cross-subsidize postal services well into the future, with profits estimated at an average of 20.5 per cent annually, a public postal bank would provide competition to the big banks and drive down rates for consumers. (Love paying five bucks to withdraw a twenty of your own money? Me neither.)

In addition to its effect on postal services, bank fees and accessibility for all Canadians, a postal bank would have a particularly positive impact on the working poor, the unbanked and Indigenous communities.

Money Mart, the largest Canadian payday lender, had revenues of more than $1 billion in 2012. Little wonder, considering that the average nominal interest such payday lenders charge in Canada is 839.5 per cent (APR). It is estimated that up to 15 per cent of Canadians do not have a bank account, and these “unbanked” are easy prey for the usurious practices of payday lenders, who are often their only option to cash cheques.

A public postal bank would offer cheque-cashing services to all Canadians and allow the unbanked easy access to their money without recourse to these type of institutions.
In summary, a public postal bank would increase access and reduce bank fees for all Canadians, ensure the long-term sustainability of Canada Post and door-to-door delivery and radically improve service to the unbanked and Indigenous communities.

If you own a lot of stock in the big banks then I can see why you would oppose postal banking. But for the rest of us, it’s a no-brainer.
- Finally, Global News looks in detail at Alberta's track record of oil and oil-related spills - finding roughly 60,000 documented incidents over the past few decades.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Greg. Thanks for those links. Years ago I participated in a seminar where one of the other talking heads was a representative for our chartered banks. I'm pretty sure the subject was Bankruptcy Act reform. This bank fellow quickly let his pomposity get the better of him, providing me with the opportunity to remind him were not divinely inspired nor did they arise from Magna Carta but were mere creatures of statute and, to the extent they existed at all, it was to serve the people and country of Canada. He turned florid and I imagined he was about to lash out but I suspect he couldn't find a retort. He did, however, manage to sit well clear of me at lunch.