Thursday, February 01, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Nathan Akehurst writes that the Carillion collapse was just the tip of the iceberg in the corporatization and destruction of the UK's public services. And Neil Macdonald points out that the Trudeau Libs are pitching privatized infrastructure as easy money for investors - and that they can only make that offer at the public's expense:
Pretty clearly, Morneau and his masters in the PMO don't want people understanding the infrastructure scheme too well. So far, it's been rather vaguely explained, something his own staff have complained about.

The official version is that the government tosses in some money, then investors arrive and jump in with an awful lot more money, enough to build roads and bridges and electrical grids and train lines and waterways and who knows, maybe even new hospitals and airports, and things will get done that simply wouldn't happen otherwise, and Canadians will have a sparkling new public square without the tiresome, conventional pain of paying for it.

Quietly, meanwhile, the government has reportedly been promising big investors a dream: lots of return, not much risk.

According to information in documents obtained by the Canadian Press, the government is promising a healthy, guaranteed "revenue stream" for years. The exact return is not specified, but such investors tend to demand between 10 and 20 per cent – "equity-like return and bond-like risk," as the Wall Street aphorism so neatly puts it. 

Best of all for the investors, according to the documents, the government is suggesting it might even chip in some extra cash to pad investors' returns. It's a path to heaven with no alternate route to hell.

And guess who will pay for all this? The cheery fog exhaled by Morneau and his fellow cabinet ministers isn't very specific about that, but there is ultimately only one bill-payer, and we all know who he, or she, is.
- Meanwhile, Fatima Syed writes that Canada's opaque financial system makes us an easy tool for tax evaders and money launderers.

- Francine Kopun reports on the latest details from the bread price-fixing scheme among Canadian grocers, with both wholesalers and retailers colluding to increase prices 15 times over a 14-year period.

- Judith Lavoie points out a new study from the David Suzuki Foundation charting unreported releases of methane from British Columbia's natural gas sector. And the Corporate Mapping Project examines the massive carbon liabilities in Alberta oil sector.

- Finally, Geoff Leo reports that the latest step in the Saskatchewan Party's plan to counter the global movement toward renewable energy by burning the dirtiest substances possible involves a project to use chemical-soaked railway ties as fuel. 

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