Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jerry Dias discusses how the Cons have pushed Canada into an avoidable recession by slashing useful funding in order to send out pre-election baubles:
How far has Canada's economic star fallen? Only recently Prime Minister Stephen Harper boasted that Canada's economy was "the envy of the entire world." That claim was always overstated. Now it is downright ludicrous.

The Bank of Canada cut interest rates for the second time this year, but few expect this to pull us out of the tailspin. After all, Canadians are already tapped out: household debt now exceeds 165 per cent of disposable income. And businesses are more reluctant to invest than ever -- despite expensive corporate tax cuts that drain $15 billion per year from the federal treasury. Without a strong willingness to borrow on the part of consumers or businesses, cutting interest rates is like pushing on a string.

So we must look to government for a more effective response to the recession. Unfortunately, however, that looks like another policy dead-end. Because so far the response of federal Conservatives has been as ineffectual as it is predictable: deny, point fingers, and spread fear.
Their claim that the coming flurry of baby bonus cheques -- a manipulative $2 billion attempt to buy votes in the coming election -- will somehow turn the economic tide, is especially insulting to our national intelligence. This pre-election giveaway is macroeconomically insignificant. Consumers are likely to save the money, anyway: they can see it's a one-time political payout, not something that really alters their budgeting. And since the end-goal of Conservative social engineering (including the baby bonus, income splitting, and other measures) is clearly to encourage stay-at-home parenting, it will in fact ultimately undermine women's labour force participation, employment, and income. It's the opposite of what the economy actually needs: support for real work, more participation, and real wages.

For years Conservatives have touted their reputation as "good economic managers" to pave their way to power. This reputation is now in tatters, and rightly so. They have squandered so much opportunity, and steered Canada into a preventable, self-inflicted recession. This country needs a dramatic change of direction.
- Daphne Bramham and CBC each note that the Cons' billions in giveaways do nothing to meet the actual need for accessible child care. Stephen Maher calls out the UCCB as blatant vote-buying, and Adam Radwanski doesn't see much indication that voters are impressed in the slightest.

- Alan Freeman writes that the Cons are well aware that their push for voluntary top-ups to the Canada Pension Plan will serve no useful purpose. And Andrew Jackson rebuts the Fraser Institute's attempt to make a case against actual improvements to the CPP.

- Warren Bell calls out Brad Wall for his habit of shilling for the oil sector rather than so much as noticing the interests of mere people. And Dave Cournoyer contrasts Wall's bluster against Rachel Notley's constructive approach.

- Finally, Ryan Meili interviews Maude Barlow about the importance of activism and the opportunity to build a healthier Canada in this fall's election.

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