Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tuesday Evening Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Star argues that Canada can't afford to leave tax loopholes wide open for the rich - as the Libs are doing in violation of their campaign promises. And Martin Lukacs notes that obscene giveaways to the rich seem to be the top priority for Justin Trudeau and company:
The politicians prattle about the private sector covering the risk of projects: the enabling lie that cannot for its life find evidence. Time and again, the costs of these public-private partnerships have instead been borne by the public. In Ontario over the last decade alone, their cost-overruns burdened citizens with an extra $8bn and racked up $30bn in public liabilities—the equivalent of $6000 per household. But perhaps Canadians are just too stupid to understand their merits. Stupid enough that 75 percent of them surveyed now oppose such privatization schemes. So stupid, indeed, that in many cases they have clamoured successfully for these services to be returned to public control.
Trudeau’s plan for a privatization bank would expand these local disasters to a national scale. Corporate and pension-fund backers have already announced they expect returns of 7 to 9 percent on their investments. How do you think that will happen? The only way that skimping ever does: higher bills, user fees, and hidden government subsidies. Diminishment in quality of service. Cuts in jobs and pay. No wonder some of Trudeau’s corporate advisors are offering their helpful advice free of charge: it’s regular people who will end up carrying the cost.

These costs are not an oversight of privatization but their objective: the inevitable result of opening up the public sphere to private profit-making. For more than thirty years in Canada, such measures have been a tool of an elite agenda promoted by successive Liberal and Tory governments: the transfer of wealth from the poorer to the wealthy, from the public trust to the private clutch. Is it any wonder why most people’s incomes and standard of living have stagnated, while those of millionaires has skyrocketed?
Because privatization serves the elite, it always spawns contempt for democracy. Take this revelatory example from a decade ago: a slide-show used by a Canadian legal firm as they promoted privatization projects in British Columbia. One slide describing the obstacles to privatization is entitled “Inherent diseases.” The obstacles? “Stakeholders,” “transparency,” and “public justification.” For corporations chasing endless profits, the basic value of democracy are not essential to a healthy, thriving society. They are a scourge to be avoided.

All this secrecy, euphemism and dismissive rhetoric is meant to obscure a single, glaring fact: the arguments in favour of privatization are rubbish.
- Sunil Johal and Jordann Thirgood examine the type of social safety net needed to keep workers secure in the face of increasingly precarious employment. And Valerie Tarasuk interviews Jim Oldfield about the effects of a basic income - including relieving against food insecurity and boosting individual health.

- Dale Maharidge chronicles some of the working poor people who are all too often cut out of any analysis of public policy choices. And Jose Ucelo rightly notes that wage theft against immigrants (and other vulnerable groups) winds up suppressing wages for everybody.

- Alex Hemingway points out that the most costly and inefficient parts of Canada's health care system are the ones that rely on for-profit and privately-funded goods and services. And Daniel Tencer points out that the Libs seem perfectly happy to exacerbate the problem out of sheer ignorance, as trade negotiators dealing with issues of drug prices have failed to take into account any additional costs arising out of giveaways to big pharma.

- Elizabeth McSheffrey reports on the causes of the Husky oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River, and finds that it could likely have been prevented.

- Finally, Althia Raj comments on the Libs' glaringly misleading spin on electoral reform.

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