Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Murray Dobbin writes that Canadians should indeed see the federal election as a choice between security and risk - with the Cons' failing economic policies representing a risk we can't afford to keep taking:
(N)ot only is Harper vulnerable on his own limited anti-terror grounds, he is extremely vulnerable when it comes to the kind of security that actually affects millions of Canadians. When it comes to economic and social security, the vast majority of Canadians haven't been this insecure since the Great Depression.

It's not as if we don't know the numbers -- 60 per cent of Canadians just two weeks away from financial crisis if they lose their job; record high personal indebtedness; real wages virtually flat for the past 25 years; a terrible work-life balance situation for most working people (and getting worse); labour standard protections that now exist only on paper; the second highest percentage of low-paying jobs in the OECD; young people forced into working for nothing on phony apprenticeships; levels of economic (both income and wealth) inequality not seen since 1928. Throw in the diminishing "social wage" (Medicare, education, home care, child care, etc.) and the situation is truly grim.
Most of these insecurity statistics are rooted either directly or indirectly in 25 years of deliberate government policy designed by and for corporations. Governments have gradually jettisoned their responsibility for economic security, slowly but surely handing this critical feature of every Canadian's life over to the "market" for determination. Economic policy has been surgically excised from government responsibility to citizens and is now in the singular category of "facilitating investment" -- a euphemism for clearing the way for corporations to engage in whatever activity enhances their bottom line.

From corporate rights agreements (which constitutionalize corporate power) to the decades old "independence" of the Bank of Canada (independent of democracy); from irresponsibly low corporate income tax rates to punitively low social assistance; from Employment Insurance that only 30 per cent ever qualify for to taxes grossly skewed in favour of the wealthy and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that has bestowed citizenship status on the most powerful and ruthless economic entities on the planet, Canadian governments have abandoned their citizens to the vagaries of an increasingly unregulated capitalism. This is not even a complete list, but it demonstrates just how corporate globalization and its promoters like Stephen Harper have created the greatest insecurity for Canadians virtually in living memory.
- And Lana Payne highlights the absurdity of the Cons trying to pitch themselves as having anything to say about avoiding future downturns while refusing to accept any responsibility for the recession we're actually in.

- Meanwhile, Edmund Phelps suggests that Western economies in general are suffering from a narrowed perspective in which innovation is seen as important or valuable only if it creates or contributes to corporate machinery.

- Doug Saunders reminds us that if we want to see responsible budgeting, we're best off electing a party which is actually committed to keeping government functional. But I'll note that shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of the needless austerity which all too often forms part of budget-balancing exercises across the spectrum - and on that front, Sarah Miller emphasizes that B.C.'s nominally balanced budget is doing plenty of harm by cutting into needed public services.

- Mark MacKinnon weighs in on the Cons' imposition of second-class citizenship by taking the vote away from 1.4 million Canadians.

- Finally, Doug Cuthand calls out the Cons' treatment of First Nations as being disposable.

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