Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Robert Reich describes how U.S. voters are rejecting the concept of a ruling class from both the left and the right - while noting that it's vital to get the answer right as to which alternative is worth pursuing. And Owen Jones sees Jeremy Corbyn's rise as an inevitable response to the emptiness of New Labour in the UK:
Corbyn’s campaign has been unique in the Labour leadership campaign in actually offering coherent policies and a fleshed-out economic strategy: a radical housing programme; tax justice; democratic public ownership of utilities and services; a public investment bank to transform the economy; quantitative easing to invest in desperately needed infrastructure; a £10 minimum wage; a National Education Service; a costed abolition of tuition fees; women’s rights; and so on. His campaign is making astounding headway – against the odds – because it offers a coherent, inspiring and, crucially, a hopeful vision. His rivals offer little of any substance. What’s left for them?
If those in the self-described “centre-left” offered a coherent, inspiring vision, the Corbyn phenomenon would never have happened. They have failed to develop one. If they want to regain momentum within their own party – let alone win over the country – they should sideline the voices of negativity and learn how to inspire people. And however much they resort to cod psychology or sneering about the Corbyn phenomenon, the truth remains: they made it possible.
- Andrew Nikiforuk reminds us that the storm currently swamping Canada's economy was entirely predictable - and indeed predicted by those who didn't buy the Cons' belief in a narrow resource economy. And Louis-Philippe Rochon duly slams the Cons for now making matters worse with gratuitous austerity as another recession forms on their watch:
There may be a time and place to balance the books but now is not the time. Every economist today will tell you that Harper's pursuit of balancing the federal budget in times of crisis and indeed, in times of recession, is simply a bull-headed and wrong idea.

It does not help the economy; in fact, it hurts it — and hurts it deeply. At the very least, it is preventing the economy from taking flight and keeps it well anchored in a depressed state.

What we need now is more fiscal stimulus.
We are well aware of the absence of empirical support in favour of austerity, yet austerians like Harper insist on claiming that their approach is somehow superior, that contractions in fiscal stimulus will somehow, magically, be expansionary.

Imagine geocentrists being shown proof that the earth actually revolved around the sun, and dismissing the new science as fuddleduddlery. This is the world in which austerians like Harper live: first, deny fiscal stimulus can make any positive contribution to economic growth, despite the mountain of scientific evidence. Next, deny the mountain exists.

In the face of the lack of evidence and empirical support for their views and policies, one can only conclude that ideology and powerful interests are what keep these ideas afloat.

This is where Harper's policies come in: adopt policies that bring rewards to those who support you to the detriment of the rest, since they will contribute to your party that will get your elected and perpetuate those failed policies.

In this world, austerity and balanced budgets have nothing to do with economics. It's all politics.
- Michael Plaxton explains the "caretaker convention" which should limit how much more the Cons' ongoing power is used now that the campaign is officially underway.

- Finally, Ian Welsh offers a useful summary of what's at stake in October's election, while kev takes a first look at some of the policy choices on offer. Karl Nerenberg sets out the record that each party will have to defend. Greg Lyle examines the current party standings and paths to victory. Luke Savage rightly laments the state of election coverage which seems bent on focusing more and more on the trivial at the expense of the substantive. And Warren Bell writes about how the election may serve as a decision point for the CBC in particular, as the Cons have taken several steps to suggest it won't last in its current form if they have any say in the matter.

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