Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Linda McQuaig discusses the radical difference between how Canadians want to see public resources used (based on the example set by governments elsewhere), and the determination of the Cons and their corporate allies to instead fritter away every dime of fiscal capacity the federal government manages to find:
Last week, Germany completed its plan to provide free university tuition to all its students. It’s an idea that no doubt would excite the hopes and dreams of young people in Canada — which explains the need to snuff it out before it catches on.

Certainly, it’s the kind of big idea that powerful interests here are keen to keep off the radar as Ottawa finds itself flush with surplus cash — $6 billion next year, with bigger surpluses expected in future years.

Accordingly, a phalanx of right-wing think tanks is gearing up to ensure that, after years of cutbacks and austerity, ordinary Canadians don’t get any wild ideas about spending that surplus money on national programs that would greatly improve their lives — programs that could, for instance, provide them with affordable access to universities, child care, home care, public transit, adequate pension benefits, a pharmacare plan, unemployment insurance benefits that are actually available to people who are unemployed, etc...

Suppressing such aspirations in Canadians has long been the stock-in-trade of right-wing think tanks and the corporate interests that fund them. And they’ve been hugely successful in keeping these sorts of generous public services and benefits — which are the norm in most northern European countries — well off the agenda here.
(W)hen Ottawa started generating big surpluses in the late 1990s, it quickly began slashing taxes — particularly on corporations and high-income earners. As a result, Ottawa now collects about $50 billion less in taxes per year than it would have if it hadn’t done all that tax-cutting, according to labour economist Toby Sanger. That has deprived governments of the revenue they’d need to provide the kind of enhanced public programs many Canadians probably would like.

Tax-slashing has been the pattern in Canada for decades. It has left Ottawa, in recent years, collecting less in tax revenue as a percentage of GDP than it has at any point since 1940. No wonder we can’t afford European-style social programs. Public revenue has been vanishing into the pockets of corporations and the very rich.
- Meanwhile, Robert Kuttner traces the factors which led to a more equal distribution of wealth after World War II - and which unfortunately have had far less impact on more recent economic developments.

- Ian Welsh notes that global inequality and needless austerity are making ebola into far more of a threat than it should be. And Richard Murphy charts how the UK's move toward needless government-slashing resulted in the reversal of what looked to be an economic recovery.

- Andrew Gage and Michael Byers examine how climate change may create enormous risks for the oil industry (and governments who rely unduly on it as an economic engine). And Aaron Wherry muses about how much more we'd be doing about climate change if only it could be solved through combat.

- Finally, Ludvic Moquin-Beaudry discusses how the NDP's continued strength in Quebec flows from the desire of voters to play a significant role - and have a strong voice - on the federal political scene. And Graeme Truelove highlights the NDP's use of smart parliamentary tactics to raise the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women even as the Cons seek to stifle any debate.

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