Saturday, April 14, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Simon Enoch offers his take on Saskatchewan's latest budget - including what little the Saskatchewan Party has learned, and how much it's still getting wrong:
(W)hile the 2018 budget is more measured in that it doesn’t replicate a 2017 budget that saw cuts and tax increases land disproportionately on the shoulders of the poor while simultaneously lavishing multiple tax breaks on corporations, it certainly doesn’t do the more vulnerable in our province any favours. The province is suspending the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement (SRHS), which will force the poorest in the province to devote even more of their meagre earnings towards rent. This continues the government’s myopic focus on wrenching cost-savings from programs explicitly designed to support the poorest in the province. While the government did increase education spending by $30 million, it restores little more than half of the $54 million that was cut last year. School boards will be forced to find even more “efficiencies” in the classroom, even as student enrolment expands.  As we have seen in the past, these “efficiencies” seem to fall disproportionately on special needs supports and programs.

If there is a small sliver of a silver-lining in this budget, perhaps it’s the government’s growing recognition that austerity during a downturn is bad economic policy. It’s better to allow positive economic growth fight your deficits than deep cuts that can jeopardize positive economic growth, a point the CCPA Saskatchewan Office has been at pains to make over the past few years. After two years of negative economic growth, the economic assumptions in the 2018 budget are betting that a return to positive economic growth will do much of the heavy lifting of fighting the deficit. While this is welcome, it further throws into question the wisdom of the 2017 budget cuts and the government’s embrace of austerity, all evidence to the contrary.
- Bruno Caprettini, Fabio Schmidt-Fischbach and Hans-Joachim Voth study the connection between U.S. welfare spending and a willingness to volunteer support for World War II efforts - signalling the reciprocity of expectations between governments and citizens.

- Mike De Souza reports that Justin Trudeau was warned by the civil service that it was pushing the Trans Mountain expansion too quickly and without adequate consultation. And Gary Mason points out how Trudeau's bungling of the issue could cost him support among all kinds of voters no matter what ultimately happens with the pipeline proposal.

- Tom Korski exposes the Libs' commissioning and placement of state-sponsored "news". And Alex Boutilier reports on what may be the most appalling suppression of actual government records yet, as Library and Archives Canada wants to wait eighty years to respond to a single access-to-information request.

- Finally, Lana Payne offers a warning about the spread of anti-social, right-wing populism across much of Canada.

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