Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- George Monbiot rightly makes the point that a general attitude of kindness is a must for a functioning society - while lamenting that anything of the sort is all too often lacking from public policy choices.

- James Di Fiore discusses Justin Trudeau's failed attempt at a triangulation strategy - as he's largely managed only to ensure nobody has reason to be satisfied with his government. Andrew Jackson criticizes the Libs' continued moves toward privatizing any common wealth at the federal level. And Michal Rozworski highlights how the Libs' infrastructure plans figure to little other than further enrich the rentier class:
(W)hile austerity may have fallen slightly out of favour among a section of the elite brokers of the global economy, privatization remains an important component of the new consensus being forged.  Even the IMF paper that argued neoliberalism is on its way out, and made so many headlines in the process, praised privatization as an important component of economic strategy. The private sector may not be investing enough on its own but we shouldn’t deprive it of profits! Canada has historically been open to policy experimentation from a “well-intentioned” technocratic elite. This is the 2016 model.

Compare Trudeau’s approach to a new national investment bank with a real progressive vision for the same thing put forward by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell in the UK. While Morneau is concerned with raising rates of return, McDonnell talks about economic transformation, bringing more democracy into the economy and transforming ownership to put workers in control. The focus is putting the spare capacities of people, not spare capital, to use.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank fits with the Liberal belief in markets and market processes as the ultimate economic guide. Government can at best support markets or give a kick start. This is the consistent thread that runs through recent decisions. The Liberals just outdid EU technocrats in pushing ahead the CETA free trade deal, one only slightly about trade and more about extending corporate power. Or take climate policy: new pipelines may be OK’ed because we now have a market mechanism (carbon pricing) that will supposedly push funds towards the right projects in the long run. This is even though the carbon price is too small in foreseeable future to make a significant difference and regardless of the coordination failures that stop the private sector from taking on the massive green investment needed for a real rapid transition.

Canada is back and we’re doing woke neoliberalism better than ever. While Keynes is rolling in his grave, the rentiers who continue to walk the earth are rubbing their hands at the government-sponsored feast that awaits.
- John Paul Tasker notes the Liberals' eventual support for the NDP's motion to stop discrimination against indigenous children - which should offer a helpful signal that even the decision-makers withholding resources from people who need them aren't prepared to defend that choice when challenged. But Jorge Barrera notes that the Libs had previously gone out of their way to avoid mediation which might have smoothed the way to comply with the federal government's obligation to treat children on reserve fairly.

- Mike Moffatt and Hannah Rasmussen make the case for "thicker" labour markets - where workers can be reasonably assured that they'll have opportunities in their home city beyond any single job.

- Finally, Benjamin Shingler reports that Canada's police state mindset now extends to having police deliberately spy on journalists in order to expose sources.

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