Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Michal Rozworski highlights the deeper economic issues which are receiving minimal attention compared to deficits and minor amounts of infrastructure spending in Canada's federal election:
In the long term, two decades of Liberal and Conservative austerity have left Canada with a revenue problem, rather than a spending problem.

As the Broadbent Institute points out, if the federal government took in as much revenue relative to the economy as it did a decade ago (when taxes were already low), it would have an additional $41 billion to spend per year. This is what it means to have a revenue problem.
There is a big gap between the government's falling revenues and the increasing needs generated by stagnating wages, persistent poverty and rising inequality.

Spending cuts and freezes are one way to fill such a gap, and they have been the preferred method so far. Raising taxes and running deficits, of course, are two other candidates.
The potential for positive change is great: there are no-brainers like massive green investment in transit or a fully public childcare system, which would also provide good jobs.

However, changing the balance in favour of people and the environment rather than big money will require taking on elites and their vested interests. It makes a difference whether we produce more oil and cars, or more trams and more wind turbines, but above all the immediate question is about how we can produce goods and services that not only meet the needs of society, but empower working people.
- Rachel Gray discusses the less-than-surprising connection between poverty and food insecurity. And Roderick Benns finds yet more support for a basic income at the municipal level, this time from NotreDame-de-l’ÎlePerrot mayor Danie Deschenes.

- Anne-Marie Slaughter discusses how an uber-competitive work environment designed to extract as much as possible from workers does nothing but harm even to the people who supposedly win in the short term. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on a temp agency lobby group's sad attempt to justify locking workers into indefinite precarious employment.

- Robyn Benson points out that there couldn't be a bigger difference between doing the right thing about a refugee crisis and what the Cons have done instead, while Lana Payne is embarrassed by Canada's response. Tabatha Southey duly slams the Cons for continuing to try to impose niqab bans on would-be citizens. And Peter Edwards reports on the fallout from Stephen Harper's distinction between old-stock Canadians and the rest of the country, while Tu Thanh Ha writes that the reference sends an inescapable message of exclusion to Harper's "others".

- Finally, Anna Kingston is the latest to highlight the Cons' war on the data needed to even understand Canada in full, let alone improve it based on our shared social values.


  1. On the Kingston article: But, but there's no need to gather any data about anything! The Magic of the Market guarantees that everyone has perfect information all the time; efficient market theory says (assumes) so!

  2. Just as it fails to differentiate between assuming and guaranteeing that people have meaningful choices and opportunities in life. And on both counts, I'd think it's worth pointing out that the assumption is false while taking the steps we can to make it more accurate.