Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Thomas Walkom writes that the Cons' economic prescriptions are doomed to fail because they're based on a fundamental misdiagnosis:
(T)hat half of the Conservative theory is correct. There is still persistently high unemployment.

But the other half, the study found, does not hold water: With the possible exception of Saskatchewan, Canada does not suffer from a surfeit of unfilled jobs.

In reaching this conclusion, the parliamentary watchdog looked at evidence compiled by the Bank of Canada and the Conference Board of Canada, a centre-right think tank.

This evidence shows that an undue number of jobs went begging in the years before 2008, when the economy was booming. But that certainly is not the case now.

The problem now is that there are not enough jobs. Period.
Conservatives soon reverted to their old-time religion. If unemployment was high, the fault lay with the jobless. They either didn’t have the right skills or were too lazy to move to where the work was.

The answer was threefold. First, cut into employment insurance in order to give layabouts an incentive to move. Second, bring in temporary foreign workers to fill the alleged skills shortages. Third, subsidize employers so as to encourage training.

Along the way, the government also took swipes at its old nemesis, the trade union movement. And it eliminated a law requiring construction companies working on federal projects to pay fair wages.

The result was that Canada ended up with stagnant wage growth among middle-income earners, more temporary foreign workers serving coffee at doughnut shops and not much else.
- Gene Lyons rightfully labels the Koch brothers as the U.S.' most prominent oligarchs. And Paul Krugman recognizes why the need to counter the Kochs' billions has become an effective fund-raising message for the Democrats:
David Weigel reports that Democrats are finding the Koch brothers an effective fundraising tool — emails that bash the Kochs raise three times as much as emails that don’t. 

And you can see why: the Kochs are perfect villains. It’s not just what they are — serious evildoers who use their wealth to push hard-line right-wing, anti-environmental policies that redound very much to their own benefit. It’s also what they aren’t: they’re wealthy heirs, not self-made men, they aren’t identified with innovation (which you can at least argue for Bill Gates), they haven’t made money for other people like Warren Buffett. So focusing on the Kochs is a way to personalize a vision of conservative politics as a defense of people with unearned privilege.
- Meanwhile, David Atkins sees the tycoon funder of a campaign to secede from California as exemplifying the antisocial rich who can't even fathom the presence of humanity among their fellow elites:
It's always a big shock to selfish rich people that most other well-to-do people aren't as selfish as they are. It's important to remember that many of the very wealthy are like Warren Buffett, people who vote primarily for Democrats and aren't afraid to pay a little more in taxes to have a fruitful, stable and fairer society. It's not even the 1% that are ruining things for the rest of us; it's a very sociopathic, very energetic fraction of that 1%. And they're really shocked when other people don't behave as asininely as they do.
- Finally, following up on today's column, Joe Gunn discusses why fair elections are a moral issue. Dan Lett recognizes the gap between the public interest in maximizing voter participation, and the (varied) partisan interest in suppressing it. And Lawrence Martin makes the case that voting should be compulsory.

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