Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Edgardo Sepulveda writes about the role of the federal government in combating inequality - while noting that Canada has gone in the wrong direction over the past few decades. And Michal Rozworski points out that we're entirely accustomed to talking about economic development and distribution solely in terms of what benefits the elite:
Talking heads for and against talk about fiscal stimulus “shovels in the ground”, a kind of bastardized Keynesianism that ignores the loss of power on the part of the majority. As the elite discussion over the future of policy grabs the big economic headlines, we also learn that 78% of Ontario employers are breaking basic workplace rules and protections.

So while policy elites care about interest rates, your boss cares about the length of your lunch break or skimping on safety at work. It’s a neat package. Policy debates over “the economy” are important, but this basic, workplace-level injustice shows just why we have to rebuild power from the bottom up and how far there is to go.

When the options from the commentariat are “grin and bear it“, “help us get richer by driving up asset prices and your debt” or “give us fat contracts to build things”, it’s easy to lose track—and lose hope. Let’s remember that the economy isn’t some separate special part of the world, and especially not one that works by some special set of rules always rigged by elites against regular people. As we look set to join the club of global economies mired in stagnation and inequality, there is no point wasting time in getting started turning the economy around in our favour. Elites will keep trying to leave this bust better placed to get the most out of the next boom. We shouldn’t let them get away with it.
- Mike Moffatt suggests that a food rebate linked to GST/HST credits would represent both an important form of economic stimulus and a buffer against increased food prices. (And that's without getting into how it would also reduce inequality.)

- But Paul Willcocks exposes British Columbia's denial of rental assistance to some of its most vulnerable citizens as an example of how programs now are all too often designed to exclude the people who need help the most. And Andy Blatchford reports on the Parliamentary Budget Officer's conclusion that the Libs' upper-class tax shuffle will cost even more than their already-revised estimates.

- Yves Smith discusses the U.S. presidential campaign, with a focus on Hillary Clinton's tone-deaf appeals to Wall Street and to right-wing rhetoric in trying to fend off Bernie Sanders. And Glenn Greenwald sets out the seven stages of establishment backlash against progressive populism.

- Finally, John Nichols weighs in on the fallout from Flint's disastrous experience with "emergency" austerity.

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