Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- thwap is among a few bloggers to rightly slam the Cons' obscene message to flooded Quebeckers that the only way they can hope for help is if somebody stands to profit from it:
Toews (is) justifying removing Canadian Forces from helping with the clean-up after a Quebec flood, NOT apparently as punishment for Quebec voters having rejected harpercon villainy, but because they're worried that they'll displace private sector service providers inspired by the idea of profiting from their misfortune.
Furthermore, the services you're asking for -- if they were authorized -- would place the Canadian Forces in competition with the private sector, at the local or provincial level, which could perform this type of repair work.
Ah! But Vic! Doesn't the same logic justify having all our work in Afghanistan carried out by mercenaries and private prison contractors? Why should we deprive mercenaries of a chance to make a buck out of some misplaced devotion to archaic ideas about who should fight wars on the taxpayers' dime?
- Erin notes the good news in the B.C. Libs' latest HST machinations:
Now that BC’s opposition has successfully pushed back on the HST, the government is starting to follow the logic of its own argument, promising to combine the HST with a corporate tax increase. However, the reversal of BC’s corporate tax cuts would not collect enough revenue to fully offset the removal of sales tax from business inputs.

Nevertheless, this development seems to improve the chances of BC restoring its corporate tax rate to a more appropriate level. More broadly, it weakens the narrative that corporate taxes must always and everywhere decline. The business lobby’s acceptance of the government’s plan undermines its usual claims that raising corporate taxes would be unimaginably horrible.

- But even while recognizing how the Libs' reversal fully validates the NDP's position on corporate taxes, Seth Klein points out some significant obstacles to the move based on their previous rationale for lowering the corporate income tax rate:
More importantly, the government has now acknowledged that we can increase corporate income taxes and the sky will not fall. It is no small irony that when Adrian Dix proposed during the NDP leadership race that corporate income taxes be returned to their 2008 level, he was accused by government representatives and media pundits of being a “class warrior”. Yet now Christy Clark has proposed doing just that (and even gone a step further with a proposed delay to planned reductions in the small business tax rate).

And another rather delicious irony: those corporate income taxes reductions since 2008 were part of the carbon tax’s revenue recycling regime. Meaning, if the government did actually increase the corporate income tax, they would have to amend their carbon tax legislation, which requires that the tax be revenue neutral. Again, I’m all for that. The CCPA has long said that making the carbon tax revenue neutral (and giving big tax cuts to business) made little sense, and that the carbon tax income should be partially used to fund other climate initiatives. So nice to know the new Premier is now ready to break with revenue neutrality there.
- Finally, Dan Gardner finds plenty of Stephen Harper positions which look to be mostly unassailable - but only if one goes back as far as 1996 when he was the one challenging the type of distorted top-down politics he now practices:
"In today's democratic societies, organizations share power," wrote two conservative intellectuals.

"Corporations, churches, universities, hospitals, even public sector bureaucracies make decisions through consultation, committees, and consensus-building techniques. Only in politics do we still entrust power to a single faction expected to prevail every time over the opposition by sheer force of numbers.

Even more anachronistically, we persist in structuring the governing team like a military regiment under a single commander with almost total power to appoint, discipline, and expel subordinates. Among major democracies, only Great Britain so ruthlessly concentrates power."

That's a pretty good summary of what I've been writing lately about the Conservative government.

Which is curious. Because the authors are Tom Flanagan and Stephen Harper. Flanagan is a conservative political scientist. And Stephen Harper, well, you know him.
"The two parties could begin by agreeing to advocate electoral reform." Scrapping the first-past-the-post system is a realistic possibility, Harper and Flanagan wrote, because the NDP would support it, "allowing even a minority conservative government to pass the necessary legislation."

It was an essential step. "Many of Canada's problems stem from a winner-take-all style of politics that allows governments in Ottawa to impose measures abhorred by large areas of the country."

Change a few details and the Harper/Flanagan essay could be published today. Word for word.
"Right now, if Harper wanted to, he could be a complete dictator, because there is no way to stop a majority government," Conservative senator Bert Brown observed recently.

There was a time when conservatives found that appalling. But an awful lot of them seem quite comfortable with it today.

What they find appalling, what makes them quiver with indignation, is a journalist who makes the same arguments they once did about a prime minister who has become what he once opposed.

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