Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- There's been plenty of followup on Robocon, with columns from Andrew Coyne and Thomas Walkom on the Cons' increasingly unethical culture, along with followup reporting from Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor on live voter fraud and Steve Rennie and Bruce Cheadle on Elections Canada's willingness to give the Cons the benefit of the doubt before the scheme proved quite so systematic ranking at the top of the list of must-reads. But for those with time, there's more from the CBC, pogge, and @ethicalls.

- Meanwhile, the Cons' unique definition of ethics and accountability is also getting nicely exposed by Peter MacKay, who's running and hiding from the revelation that he used military personnel for political purposes.

- Gerald Caplan highlights how even compelling proof that rigging our economic system toward top-heavy growth is doomed to failure has done nothing to stem the tide of shock doctrine opportunism:
(E)verything that’s happened in the past several years has gone to further empower and enrich the 1 per cent (or maybe the 5 per cent) at the expense of the rest of us. Look anywhere you want. What else does the universal demand for austerity programs mean? What else does the sudden concerted attack on public sector workers mean? What else does the intransigent line taken by multinational corporations against their unions mean? What else does the demand for “right-to-work” laws mean? What else does the widespread attack on seniors’ pensions mean?
Throughout, economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, whose forecasts have repeatedly been borne out, assured the few who would listen this was a guaranteed recipe for exacerbating Greece’s economic woes. It meant, after all, instead of growth, a guaranteed contraction of the economy. Which is exactly what happened. But apparently these critics, while correct about the consequences of enforced austerity, were wrong about the proper solution. The punishment, it seems, had not been crushing enough. Now a new and improved package of pain will be inflicted, a condition for the country receiving bailout funds at sky-high borrowing costs. For the vast majority of them, it’s a Greek tragedy.

At least 21 per cent of Greeks are unemployed. Yet the thumbscrews are to be tightened once again: more austerity, more spending cuts, eliminating another 20 per cent of all government jobs and slashing the minimum wage by another 22 per cent. All this, in a country in its fifth year of recession.

Spain is not far behind, collapsing under the same burden of salvation. The economy’s contracting, unemployment has soared; 350,000 newly out of work, giving a jobless rate of 22.8 per cent, including almost half of all young Spaniards. These are staggering figures. In Britain too, David Cameron’s punishing economic strategy had led to a shrinking economy.

How exactly ordinary Greeks and Spaniards and Brits will endure, get by, pay for their rent or groceries or transportation, or offer their kids a hopeful life – this has become the greatest question of the early 21st century.
- Similarly, Linda McQuaig laments how the prospect of revenue increases - particularly to close the deliberate deficits set up by the Cons - has been a no-go zone for most observers despite widespread public support.

- Finally, Antonia Zerbisias' latest fits nicely with the developing rift between the Cons' strategy of favouring western resource sectors and the Ontario voters who have the most to lose from that choice.

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