Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Michal Rozworski writes that the Trudeau Libs' economic model has come into view, and that we should be fighting back against what it means for the public:
I’ve long argued that the Liberals are at the leading edge of rebuilding a centrist, neoliberal consensus for a low-growth world. This is mere tinkering at the edges of a rotting, fragile equilibrium. Rising debt, run-away housing costs, shitty jobs, a growing climate emergency—any solutions that would truly start to redistribute power and resources to deal with any of these pressing issues are out of bounds. Trudeau is showing what the global elite thinks is the perfect play for the moment. Poverty, inequality and precarity liberally pepper speeches and marketing materials, only problem is that the underlying phenomena stay the same.

Trudeau is capably steering Canada towards a new money-manager capitalism—one that uses government to guarantee profits for global asset owners while keeping a lid on discontent from the rest with vaguely progressive messaging. It is no longer individual firms like GM or Enbridge that get the most important meetings with ministers. Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, and McKinsey, the world’s largest consulting firm, are the new faces of government’s closest allies. Their executives are among the government’s closest advisors, most notably Dominic Barton, McKinsey’s managing director, who chaired Morneau’s growth advisory council.

There is real change from Harper’s regime, only the change Trudeau is slowly enacting isn’t one driven by remotely progressive economics but a realignment with different economic elites. Harper’s Conservatives had close ties to narrow sections of the elite, the fossil fuel industry for one. Their economic policy was also more transparently redistributive; for example, their income splitting plan if passed would have effectively given a massive tax cut to the top 10%.

Trudeau’s Liberals are in tune with a much broader elite and they are able to keep up some appearance of a an even broader coalition of interests. For example, the “middle class tax cut” was immensely successful rhetorically despite cutting taxes most for the second-to-top 5% (90-95%) of the income distribution. In other words, the Liberals are oriented towards the entire elite, and not just in Canada, while their policies are rhetorically in line with nascent sentiment against growing inequality. In the end, the Liberals still serve narrow interests, but more global than those Harper aligned with.

Trudeau’s economic plan might not come with as big billboards as Harper’s or such easy and obvious targets for opposition. It may seen friendlier, greener or more cosmopolitan. [Its] lasting effects, however, may be much harder to undo. Trudeau is slowly working to bind the hands of future governments to an economic vision written not for us but for the few.
- Meanwhile, Jim Tankersley writes that several U.S. states along the west coast are showing how a higher-revenue government providing improved benefits to its citizens can produce real economic growth.

- Andre Picard highlights the potential health benefits of a basic income among other key elements of Hugh Segal's proposal for Ontario, while Christo Aivalis recognizes how the design of a basic income can make it either a means of entrenching a reasonable standard of living as a matter of right, or an excuse to undermine needed social benefits. And CBC reports on a push for improved parental leave in Canada.

- Martin Regg Cohn questions the cruelty behind the use of sustained solitary confinement - with Adam Capay representing just one of far too many examples.

- PressProgress calls out Prince Edward Island's government for ignoring the results of a public vote in favour of proportional representation.

- Finally, for a first set of reading on last night's disastrous U.S. election, see David Remnick, Thomas Frank, Jonathan Chait, Aditya Chakrabortty, Brent Patterson, Susan Delacourt, Ben Tarnoff and Thomas Walkom - as well as advance warning from Matt Stoller.

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