Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Scott Clark and Peter DeVries criticize the Cons' choice to prioritize right-wing dogma over sound economic management:
What should Canada do? For starters, the passive approach isn’t working. In the face of global economic uncertainty and a secular decline in growth, Canadian policy makers need to get at the levers that can strengthen growth at home.

...Of course we have options — they just happen to be ones that clash with the Conservatives’ hands-off economic orthodoxy. The Harper government is committed to lower taxes, lower spending, balanced budgets and smaller government. But why should Canadians accept these as the only options? There’s nothing inevitable in this climate about years of sluggish growth. It’s a choice — a political choice.

So with its energies directed at the coming election, the Harper government finds itself stuck in a dilemma of its own making. It wants to run on a record of good economic management but it wants to define that record as narrowly as possible — as simply eliminating the deficit. In fact, as we argued last week, the government could kill the deficit this year, one year ahead of their political schedule. But getting rid of a deficit you created doesn’t make you a good economic manager. Healthy economies grow at a healthy rate. Ours isn’t.
Why not stabilize the debt ratio at 30 per cent of GDP? Why shouldn’t a government borrow to make new investments when ten-year, thirty-year, and fifty-year interest rates are at historically low levels? Surely that’s what future generations would want us to do.
- And Stephen Kimber reminds us of the yawning gap between Harper and the Canadian public - while recognizing that it's also worth demanding that a new government actually improve on the Cons' attitude toward what brings us together as a country:
What are Canadians most proud of? Well, start with medicare, followed by international peacekeeping and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Not to forget multiculturalism, bilingualism and the Canadarm.
But...there is a jangling disconnect between what Canadians say they believe in and the values Stephen Harper has enshrined in Canada's laws and practices since his party won the majority of seats in the 2011 election.
[Harper has] cut the netting from under our social safety net, slashed public services, done a 180-degree foreign-affairs pirouette from global honest broker to ideological barking dog, glorified the military while denigrating veterans, stealthily imposed a new unilateral medicare funding formula to eviscerate national health-care standards and download costs on to the provinces, imposed tough-on-crime legislation and mandatory minimum sentences despite evidence they don't work, attacked the courts, eliminated the long-form census, muzzled scientists, destroyed important data, emasculated environmental protections, audited charities and environmental critics, cut taxes for the rich while leaving gaping loopholes for offshore tax cheats, gutted the CBC, passed Orwellian legislation like the Fair Elections Act to make elections anything but…

The list goes on. When I asked on Facebook recently "what a post-Harper government would need to do to undo Harper's disastrous re-making of Canada," I got close to 100 responses with at least three dozen different specific suggestions.

All of this means the scheduled 2015 federal election should not simply be another rascal-changing exercise.

The 60 per cent of us who didn't vote to radically change our country's laws and values must now ask those who would seek to replace Stephen Harper not simply what they will do for our country but what they will undo to give us back our country.
- Meanwhile, Tavia Grant reports on the financial squeeze facing far too many Canadians. Frances Woolley discusses the gender politics of taxation. And Carol Goar notes that the Ontario Libs' spin about addressing poverty isn't being matched with actions:
Anti-poverty advocates have learned to welcome crumbs from the Ontario Liberals.

That is what they got in the five-year poverty reduction strategy unveiled by Deputy Premier Deb Matthews last week. The 56-page blueprint consisted of recycled promises, long-term goals, soothing language and self-congratulations (despite the fact she fell far short of her last five-year target.)

But social activists lauded the government for its good intentions, its comprehensive framework and its long-sought acknowledgement that homelessness is a provincial responsibility. They politely overlooked the fact that the minister did not raise welfare rates, did not provide a nutrition allowance, did not address the shortage of child care spaces and did not offer rent supplements.

Do these advocates really speak for people living in poverty?

It seems unlikely. Good intentions don’t fill empty stomachs or pay the rent. Families in need don’t care which government does what.

Does easy praise encourage the government to aim low?

That seems highly probable. As long as Matthews can win public plaudits for saying what “stakeholders” want to hear, she needn’t risk bold action. As long as those who claim to represent the poor are onside, she needn’t back up her words with money.
- Rank and File documents the Honour Our Deal movement which is looking to preserve the pensions earned by municipal workers in and around Regina. And Brigitte Noel reports on the heinous conditions faced by a temporary foreign worker who has since died on the job.

- Finally, PressProgress duly mocks Gwyn Morgan - not long ago one of the key figures behind one of the world's most corrupt businesses - for complaining that he and his ilk have managed to give corporations a bad name.

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