Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading...

- Peter Thurley responds to Michael Ignatieff's appearance in Kitchener by pointing out that Lib MPs in the area's seats wouldn't have made a lick of difference thanks to the choices of Ignatieff and previous Lib leaders:
(I)f Ignatieff hopes to take back Kitchener, he’s going to have to account for the fact that his MPs voted alongside Stephen Harper’s Conservative government on 114 different confidence motions, effectively handing Mr. Harper carte blanche to impose his will on Canadians.

The partial privatization of Canada Post, cost thousands of postal workers their jobs. The siphoning of $57 billion from the Employment Insurance fund, away from Canadians when they needed it the most. One of the lowest corporate tax rates in the western world, in a time when the poorest Canadians need goods and services more than ever before.

That’s the Liberal record.

There is one question every voter must ask themselves before they go to the polls in the next election: If Karen Redman had been MP in Kitchener Centre since 2008, would her votes on matters of concern to Canadians have been any different than the votes that Mr. Woodworth cast? And if not, wouldn’t a vote for a New Democrat make more sense?
- And James Travers rightly notes that the trend of increasing inequality has been, and figures to remain, equally strong under Con and Lib governments alike:
Michael Veall, an economics professor at Hamilton’s McMaster University, makes the case this way. “Had the Liberals been in charge of the last few budgets, it’s arguable that the differences today would be very small.”

As Veall agrees, the single most significant point of departure was the politically popular, fiscally suspect Conservative decision to twice trim the GST. Savaged by most economists as regressive, those cuts, coupled with record spending, set the country’s return course for deficits long before the 2008 recession.

It’s also true Conservatives spread the loose change of small tax cuts more widely than program-oriented Liberals. But on the big buck stuff — stimulating the economy, bailing out the auto industry, rebuilding the military and lightening the corporate tax load — Liberals made or would have made similar choices.

Parallel courses lead to more or less the same destination. In Canada’s case, that’s a place where the wealth divide is widening and inequality, with its inherent threats to social cohesion and collective advancement, is rising.
- Which leads to Alex Himelfarb's question as to how increased awareness of inequality and a seldom-questioned free-market ideology can coexist. But given that the level of public focus on inequality is itself a fairly recent development, I'd see reason for hope that we're actually at a turning point when it comes to the economic assumptions that have led to our current gilded age.

- And finally, Eric Sager offers a reminder that the Cons' choice to gut long-form census doesn't need to be a done deal - and that it's well worth reversing:
If you think the fuss is over, think again. Far too many groups require the reliable data that only the long-form census provides. The "save-the-census" website lists more than 350 organizations that have condemned the prime minister's decision.

Those who use data from the long-form census include federal and provincial government departments, municipalities, city planners, health organizations, charities, non-government organizations, academics and many others.
There is another reason why the fuss isn't over.

The long-form census is required for other surveys. It provides the basis for sampling for the Labour Force Survey (which remains mandatory, by the way). The Labour Force Survey is used to calculate unemployment rates and other essential economic data, and is also the starting point for many other surveys.

This is why economists and business groups have argued that cancelling the long form census will have snowballing negative effects throughout society.

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