Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Owen Jones writes that the UK's flooding is just one example of what happens when the public sector which is supposed to look out for the common good is slashed out of short-term political calculation. And J. Bradford Delong observes that the choice between an economy that works for everybody and one designed merely to transfer wealth upward is inevitably one to be made within the political system.

- Harold Meyerson highlights how stock-based compensation (and the resulting obsession with share buybacks) has utterly warped corporate decision-making.

- Meanwhile, Hannah Levintova reports on Shannon Liss-Riordan's success in ensuring that service workers aren't exploited by unscrupulous employers or contractors. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh discusses how workplace polarization (including both more high-priced managers, and more precarious workers lower down the scale) is affecting Toronto's library services.

- Finally, kev rightly argues that we should be spending more time discussing the type of electoral system we expect. Spencer McKay writes that there's no need for a referendum on a type of electoral reform which provides for better representation and is supported by multiple parties. And the Cons' threat of using unelected patronage appointees to block any electoral reform (no matter how many parties agree on it) makes clear that their position is based solely on partisan advantage rather than democratic principles.

New column day

Here, expanding on this post about Brad Wall's sad attempt to beg Justin Trudeau for federal money to make up for his own mismanagement.

For further reading...
- Once again, Wall's call for a bailout was here. And his previous decision to drop any attempt at a sound equalization system at Stephen Harper's request can be traced here and here.
- Meanwhile, the issues where Wall and his government have already tried to block any federal action since the fall election include climate change, pensions and refugees.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Steven Hill discusses some of the most glaring problems with an economy based on precarious work. And Tim Harford rightly asks whether a shift away from steady employment will necessitate more public delivery of social benefits:
Details vary but most advanced countries have a list of goodies that must be provided by employers rather than the government or the individual. In the UK a full-time worker is entitled to 28 days of paid leave. In the US the default provider of health insurance is your employer. In many countries, employees cannot be sacked without long notice periods and a decent pension is the preserve of people with a decent job. As for freelancers, they may enjoy flexibility and independence and sometimes even a good living — but as far as social protections go, they are on their own.
(W)e should end the policy of trying to offload the welfare state to corporations. It is a policy that hides the costs of these benefits, and ensures that they are unevenly distributed. Instead we should take a hard look at that list of goodies: healthcare, pensions, income for people who are not working. Then we should decide what the state should provide and how generously. To my mind, there is a strong argument that the state should provide all of these things, to everyone, at a very basic level. What the state will not provide, individuals must pay for themselves — or seek employers who provide these benefits as an attraction rather than a legal obligation. Call it libertarianism with a safety net.
- Meanwhile, Noam Schieber and Patricia Cohen report on the shadow tax system which has allowed the wealthiest Americans to avoid contributing to the country around them.

- Omar Arias and Dorota Chapko highlight the massive impact of early childhood education on brain development - with particular emphasis on the contrast between more efficient child care funding and the far-less-controversial job training measures which have significantly less positive economic effect.

- James Wood reports on the Alberta NDP's plan to make affordable housing one of its key priorities in the new year.

- And finally, both Gillian Steward and Don Braid highlight Rachel Notley's work to make Alberta into a constructive participant on the Canadian political scene rather than a rogue province.


Shorter Assorted Conservative Hacks with Too Much Time On Their Hands:
In keeping with the conservative movement's holiday spirit, we pose this most humanitarian of questions: why are there no workhouses?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cats with babies.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Matthew Yglesias writes that The Big Short and other stories focused on the financial aspects of the 2008 economic meltdown miss by far the most important part of the picture in the real economic destruction wrought by irresponsible banksters. And David Dayen notes that U.S. mortgage lenders are now laughably pointing fingers at regulators who have made lending forms more understandable for the fact they aren't lending as easily as they were during the housing bubble.

- Martin Boucher discusses the urgent need for a shift to a low-carbon economy in Saskatchewan. And Seth Klein argues that it's time to move past pipe dreams like Christy Clark's liquid natural gas get-rich-quick scheme.

- Robin Sears sets out three crucial tests for Justin Trudeau - and while one can quibble with his order of difficulty, there's no doubt that major advances on climate change, electoral reform and First Nations relations would represent a first-term agenda worth pursuing.

- But it's also worth noting how the Libs may be tying their own hands on those among other issues - and the fact that they seem to consider a single e-mail address to be enough consultation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership doesn't bode well.

- Finally, Andre Picard highlights the dangers of a culture which pushes employees to work when they're sick - with the inflexible requirement for sick notes to excuse any absence serving as a particularly counterproductive policy.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Jordon Cooper offers his take on the many social issues we should be addressing alongside our work to welcome Syrian refugees:
All levels of government have passed resolutions to end child poverty in Canada and have done almost nothing to back it up. There has been the occasional study done or commission struck, but as soon as they report back that poverty is solved with more money, nothing gets done.

Chretien wrote that he saw Canadians were tired of activist prime ministers such as Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau and Mulroney. Constitutional battles had taken a toll on the country. Shackled by an overwhelming budget deficit, Chretien narrowed the scope of government by necessity and political choice. Ottawa got out of the business of making Canada better and simply managed what we had. Harper took that further, and narrowed the focus to the economy and security.

I am not sure that Justin Trudeau is correct in his vision for an expanded mandate for Ottawa, but it is encouraging to see a federal government thinking of what it can do rather than focusing on what it can’t. Settling 25,000 refugees is one of the most ambitious acts Canada has undertaken. Let’s hope it’s a first step in solving many of the serious social issues that exist in Canada.

How much longer can we keep ignoring homeless adults, hungry kids and families with unsafe water?
- Bryce Covert points out how limited any new social programming will be if it's coupled with a refusal to raise any revenue from an implausibly-defined middle class. And of course that lesson is equally important in Canada given the Libs' similar language.

- As for what we might be able to accomplish with a more reasonable revenue model, Joseph Brean discusses the prospect that the Libs' past discussion of a basic income might put it on the table at the federal level. And Allison Vuchnich reports on recommendations from the editors of the Canadian Medical Association Journal to develop evidence-based health policies including universal pharmacare.

- Finally, Sean McElwee discusses the latest comparison of economic development development under different U.S. presidents - reflecting the familiar outcome that the right-wing parties who brand themselves as economic managers in fact produce far worse results than their further-left competitors.

On selective equalization

So apparently some unspecified event in federal politics this fall has caused Brad Wall to start demanding money from Ottawa which he'd never have considered seeking before.

Now if only he hadn't trashed Saskatchewan's bargaining position by dropping the court challenge which could have ensured that resource revenues didn't play a disproportionate role in equalization allocations - and all at the request of the Conservative Prime Minister he served at the time.

On failed diversions

Not surprisingly given my previous comments on the Libs' electoral reform promise, it's a plus that they're sticking with it rather than giving in to any demand for a referendum. And hopefully the temporary diversion raised by the Cons will lead the parties where they need to go, even if a couple have had trouble getting there.

Having ruled out other decision-making mechanisms besides Parliament, the Libs will need to ensure they're not trampling the views of other parties (in addition to consulting thoroughly with the Canadian public) for a new system to be seen as fair. And having failed in their attempt to block any change at all, the Cons now look to have little choice but to engage in the consultation process. 

So if there was ever any doubt, the task for all parties and interested members of the public is to discuss what we actually want in an electoral system. And it shouldn't take long for the ability to have each vote count toward what a voter actually wants to emerge as the key principle.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Andrew Jackson makes the case for a federal budget aimed at boosting investment in Canada's economy:
Public infrastructure investment has a much greater short term impact on growth and jobs per dollar spent than tax cuts since the import content is low and there is no leakage to higher savings. Increased income benefits for low income households, as through the proposed new system of child benefits, also have a relatively large impact on GDP.

The CSE study also found that in the short term the federal and provincial governments would each gain over 40 cents in additional revenues for every dollar of infrastructure investment, to a total of 88 cents per dollar spent. In the long run, governments would recoup almost all of the increase in investment by boosting productivity in the business sector and thus the future tax base.

The key point is that a 2016 federal budget heavily tilted towards infrastructure investment and higher benefits for low income households would give a significant boost to growth and job creation. The new government could and should give priority to areas of spending which have the greatest economic impact at the lowest net fiscal cost. This does not include tax cuts for the relatively affluent.
Some will argue that we cannot afford more spending as the federal government falls into deficit due to a deteriorating economy. But well chosen new investments could give a major boost to growth and jobs, and be at least partly self-financing due to higher revenues.
- Meanwhile, David Climenhaga points out how the right-wing model of total reliance on oil royalties at the expense of a steady revenue base is proving even more disastrous in Alaska than in Canada's oil-producing provinces.

- Molly Ball writes about Nick Hanauer's work on a fair minimum wage and other policies intended to reduce inequality, while LOLGOP contrasts that against the Republicans' determination to make inequality worse. And Sean O'Grady argues that other jurisdictions should follow in Finland's footsteps in developing a basic income.

- Sydney Sharpe rightly calls for an end to abuse and bullying in Alberta's legislature. And Paul Berton comments on the need to make kindness rather than nastiness the rule in discussing politics.

- Finally, Michael Harris offers some suggestions as to how the Cons could learn from their mistakes.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Carolyn Shimmin discusses the connection between inequality and social ills, while Sarah Khapton reports on new research showing part of the biological explanation.

- Rachelle Younglai documents the growing number of people living with low incomes in Canada. And John Falzon points out that anybody who values the concept of an economy based on new ideas should be eager to ensure people have the necessary social supports to be able to work on developing them.

- John Nichols comments on the many U.S. politicians who seem determined to play the role of Dickens villains in denigrating even the idea of relieving the challenging facing the poor. Scott Santens notes that Dickens' work anticipates many of the lessons we're learning in studies of the relationship between the wealthy and inequality. And Bruce Johnstone highlights how the Saskatchewan Party is not only trumpeting counterproductive austerity among other regressive principles at the provincial level, but trying to push it across the country as well. 

- Alex Himelfarb's keynote address to the Parkland Institute's most recent conference on the decline of the collective and the possibilities for progressive change is well worth a view:

- Finally, Murray Dobbin has some ideas as to how the Libs can develop a more progressive tax system, including by ensuring that wealth isn't transferred offshore or left to accumulate in corporate coffers.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Musical interlude

I Have A Tribe - Yellow Raincoats (Frank Wiedemann Remix)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Desmond Cole rightly slams the stinginess of Ontario's government in taking support away from parents based on child support which isn't actually received. And Karl Nerenberg laments Bill Morneau's decision to let the Scrooges among Canada's finance ministers dictate the future of the Canada Pension Plan.

- Meanwhile, Tom Cooper writes that the payday loan industry is profiting off the vulnerability of people facing a precarious financial situation. And Michael Geist notes that the phamaceutical sector is also raking in massive amounts of money thanks to governments willing to put its interests over those of the public.

- Angella MacEwen examines Canada's job trends over the past year (and worries that the high-demand areas of health care and social services might not serve as the sources of jobs they should due to public-sector austerity).

- But on the bright side, Duncan Cameron is optimistic that renewed interest in democratic socialism will carry over into 2016 and beyond. And Corey Hogan looks at Calgary as a prime example of a city with a far stronger progressive base than conventional wisdom may have assumed.

- Finally, Kelly Carmichael calls for the Trudeau Libs to implement a fair, proportional electoral system for once and for all.

New column day

Here, on how the kindness and compassion underlying our welcoming of Syrian refugees deserves a far larger place in a wide range of public policy decisions.

For further reading...
- Zack Beauchamp summarizes the exclusionary rhetoric that's propelled Donald Trump into the thick of the U.S.' presidential race. And Janet Hook and Patrick O'Connor note that the worst of Trump's proposals don't seem to be hurting him with primary voters.
- By way of contrast, Will LeRoy reports on Justin Trudeau's holiday message featuring a call to share the holiday spirit with refugees - though Thomas Walkom is right to note that the Libs' own combination of delay and backtracking leaves plenty to be desired. And CBC reported here on Brad Wall's initial (if since-reversed) efforts to slam the door on refugees.
- Susana Mas reports on the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into residential schools.
- And finally, Catherine McIntyre's example of Toronto's unfunded plan to fight poverty offers a useful example of the gap between good intentions and the political will needed to give them effect.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Ronald Inglehart discusses the political roots of inequality - and the likelihood that the forces that have allowed it to fester for decades will eventually be reversed:
New political alignments, in short, might once again readjust the balance of power between elites and masses in the developed world, with the emerging struggle being between a tiny group at the top and a heterogeneous majority below. For the industrial society’s working-class coalition to become effective, lengthy processes of social and cognitive mobilization had to be completed. In today’s postindustrial society, however, a large share of the population is already highly educated, well informed, and in possession of political skills; all it needs to become politically effective is the development of an awareness of common interest.
The essence of modernization is the linkages among economic, social, ideational, and political trends. As changes ripple through the system, developments in one sphere can drive developments in the others. But the process doesn’t work in just one direction, with economic trends driving everything else, for example. Social forces and ideas can drive political actions that reshape the economic landscape. Will that happen once again, with popular majorities mobilizing to reverse the trend toward economic inequality? In the long run, probably: publics around the world increasingly favor reducing inequality, and the societies that survive are the ones that successfully adapt to changing conditions and pressures. Despite current signs of paralysis, democracies still have the vitality to do so. 
- Bill Moyers also weighs in on the need to take back our political system from the plutocrats who have managed a hostile takeover. And Deirdre Fulton reports on the GMO industry's appalling attempts to silence a single teenaged critic as an example of corporatism run amok.

- Meanwhile, Tom Bergin reports on the barely-existent taxes paid by the UK's big banks as just one example of the corporate sector trying to avoid any responsibility to the society which makes its profits possible.

- The Canadian Labour Congress answers a few of the false talking points being used to attack any effort to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan. But the most important myth about the CPP may be any remaining belief that the Libs can be trusted to follow through on improving public pensions - as Thomas Walkom points out.

- Finally, it's well and good that Justin Trudeau is telling others to welcome the refugees arriving in Canada. But Lee Berthiaume observes that our refugee system is currently designed to saddle new Canadians with debt from day one.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Festive cats.

On voting from experience

If I have any concern with Nathan Cullen's suggestion that Canada hold a referendum on electoral reform only after seeing a different system in action, it's that it may concede too much to the people looking to set up roadblocks in the face of a clear mandate for change.

But the proposal should nicely challenge the obstructionists as well. For anybody motivated to ensure we have the fairest possible system of whatever type, it provides reason to work on developing that in the near future. And anybody still demanding no change at all will be quickly exposed in valuing their own entrenched advantages over any attempt to develop something better.

[Note: Re-post, as the initial post disappeared into the intertoobz.]

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Patrick Flavin studies (PDF) the direct benefits that flow from giving people secure access to health care. And Daphne Bramham writes that the damage done by child poverty can be directly observed in educational outcomes:
Anyone who questions whether child poverty is real in British Columbia should go back to school.

Schools are at the nexus of various governments’ policy failures — high housing prices, low wages, low welfare rates, clusters of children who don’t learn English at home, inadequate mental health and addictions services.

Teachers see it in the faces of the kids who come to school hungry, ill-clothed with bed-bug bites and yawning because they haven’t got a decent bed to sleep in. Or it shows up in the absentee rates.
It’s not right that there are such gaps that vulnerable kids fall through.

And it bears emphasizing that schools have neither the mandate nor the money to fix these societal problems. But all until governments work together to fix the underlying problems, it’s left to teachers, principals, individuals and charities like The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-a-School and others to fill those gaps.
- Catherine McIntyre makes the seemingly obvious point that the best of intentions in combating poverty won't help if they aren't matched with commensurate resources.

- But then, PressProgress reminds us that our most recent federal government wasn't the least bit inclined to provide even a minimal standard of living for Canadians - not even the sense of altruism needed to see one as worth pursuing.

- Alison exposes the Cons' astroturf attempt to put roadblocks in the way of a more fair electoral system. And David Climenhaga notes that Alberta's right is following the playbook of the Republicans and their puppetmasters in trying to swamp democracy with corporate cash.

- Finally, Toula Drimonis argues that we won't be able to achieve anything approaching reconciliation with indigenous peoples without facing up to Canada's shameful role in suppressing people and cultures.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- John Quiggin examines - and refutes - a few key complaints about fairer taxes on the wealthy. But Kathryn May reports that the Cons are eager to use public resources to investigate and punish public servants who have exposed the problems with the Canada Revenue Agency, rather than lifting a finger to actually bring in needed revenue.

- The Canadian Labour Congress makes the case to expand the Canada Pension Plan to ensure a secure retirement for all Canadian workers. And James Fitz-Morris reports that the Saskatchewan Party's constant obstruction doesn't look like it will stand in the way of an enhanced CPP.

- Kevin Page, Pat Martin and Bob Plamondon argue that we need Parliament to reassert control over the use of public money. And the Star-Phoenix rightly questions the fact that the Sask Party continues to withhold the information needed to assess big-money P3 projects, while hiding behind the consultants who make their money off the industry.

- Jim Bronskill reports on the Libs' noises about a long-overdue review of federal access to information legislation - though of course there's a massive difference between making promises and following through. And on that front, Tom Parkin highlights a few of the promises which are already being left in the rear-view mirror - with a common theme that the Libs' claims to progressive values have been quickly abandoned.

- Finally, Doug Saunders writes that while the words may have changed, the theme of racial prejudice is still far too widespread.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Alan Freeman notes that the Libs' aversion to raising public revenue may lock in some of the Cons' most damaging actions:
With the new Liberal government facing fierce economic headwinds — plus a billion-dollar shortfall created by its middle-income tax cut, and a growing need for revenue to cover promised spending on everything from infrastructure and veterans to First Nations and refugees — it would seem logical to at least mull the possibility of raising the GST.

That appeared to be what Finance Minister Bill Morneau was doing earlier this week when he gave a convoluted response to a journalist that was interpreted as opening the possibility to a GST hike sometime in the future.

Within hours — probably after a panicked call from the Prime Minister’s Office — Morneau tweeted a climbdown of his own: “Contrary to misleading headlines, we are not considering changes to the GST.”

What Morneau made clear is that the Liberals are scared to death of being slammed as tax-grabbers by the Conservatives. While much of the Harper legacy is being scrapped — his obstinate refusal to take action on climate change, his surly, tough-guy foreign policy — the anti-tax mantra lives on.

It’s notable that the first thing on Parliament’s to-do list after the Liberals’ election win was the middle-class tax cut. The Liberals want Canadians to believe that the government’s tax burden (except on the super-rich) can continue to decline as it has since 2000.
- Eric Jaffe reports on new research showing how social deprivation can keep children from meeting their potential for intellectual development. And the Globe and Mail argues that Quebec should be honest about any plans to eliminate a high-quality, public child care system in favour of pushing parents toward more expensive private care.

- Andrea Germanos reports on the latest Human Development Index rankings which show Norway at the top of the pack.

- And in what may not be a coincidence as to the importance of respect for workers in generating shared prosperity, the ILO highlights Norway's leadership in ratifying a new protocol against forced labour among other conventions protecting labour rights. And Edward Keenan discusses the different sides of a gig economy - and notes that the 1% may be confusing its own ability to engage in highly-paid consulting with the reality facing precarious workers.

- Finally, Branko Milanovic offers a theory as to the limits in how much worse income inequality could get in the U.S.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Charlie Cooper reports on the UK's increasing wealth inequality, with the richest 10% now owning half of all wealth. And Facundo Alvaredo, Anthony Atkinson and Salvatore Morelli highlight (PDF) how even the best information we have now likely underestimates what's being hoarded by the richest few.

- Chris Dillow points out why even if inequality didn't itself interfere with social mobility, we couldn't count on such mobility alone to produce fair outcomes.

- Nils Pratley writes that one of the most prominent recent sources of growing inequality - being the gap between executives and other workers - could be narrowed by giving the latter a role in setting the former's pay.

- Kenneth Arrow and Apurva Sanghi discuss the increasing recognition that health is an essential building block for social and economic development. And Ariana Eunjung Cha reports on new research showing the vast majority of the risk of cancer comes from social and environmental factors.

- Finally, Terry Milewski points out that the Libs' election promises are changing far more quickly than the policies they promised to improve. And Gary Younge comments on the need for progressives to develop a movement which can hold regular influence over policy, not just win elections occasionally:
People complain that Corbyn is not electable. They might be right. Electability is not a science. But the more pertinent question is: imagine if he was?

He could soon find that not only is the parliamentary Labour party not up to the challenge of taking on global capital – nor is the nation state he would be leading. This is not a new problem. Indeed, it is precisely because it has gone on challenged, but virtually unchecked, for more than a generation, that political cynicism has intensified. Whoever you vote for, capital gets in.

This was the experience of Syriza. After standing on an anti-austerity platform, winning the election, putting its negotiating position to the test in a referendum, and winning, Syriza was forced to buckle when confronted by the might of the European Union leadership. The party was later re-elected to implement austerity in much the same way as the centre left party it eclipsed had done.

Each case, in its own way, has demonstrated both the potential of electoral engagement and the limits of democratic control. The left is finally developing the strategic skills to gain office; it has yet to work out how to exercise power in the interests of those who put it there.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Danny Dorling discusses the need for kindness among other attributes to bridge growing gaps in wealth and social status:
Gross inequality creates a lack of respect for the other group – people who are not like us. There is a lack of respect among the rich for the poor, and that will be the same among the poor for the rich. Lack of respect breeds cruelty and hate. Lack of respect is not new and has grown between groups many times before, over religion, race, nationality, social class, sex and sexuality. These older divisions all remain and can be easily reignited, resulting in cruelty and hate, fear, suffering and despair. However, nowadays it is financial inequality both globally and in the UK that is the greatest source of our separation from each other.
- Meanwhile, Yascha Mounk and Roberto Foa report on polling showing the U.S.' lack of trust in its democratic institutions - with an authoritarian streak developing particularly among the wealthy. Robert Reich traces the rise of Donald Trump's destructive politics to the insecurity of the hollowed-out middle class. And Jill Treanor points out how that gross income inequality is demotivating for workers.

- Joe Fantauzzi argues that Ontario should fund a desperately-needed infrastructure program with additional revenue from corporate taxes, rather than selling off public assets:
Given the potential counterproductive nature of privatizing public assets, as flagged by the Financial Accountability Officer of Ontario, the decision to go down that path by the current government is concerning. As well, the failure of past federal-provincial infrastructure funding schemes demands a change of the status quo. Put bluntly, those funding initiatives simply have not in the past and are not presently addressing Ontario’s infrastructure deficit in a meaningful way. That any increases to those federal-provincial programs are contingent on political will is also a drawback. New thinking is required to deal with Ontario’s infrastructure problem. I recommend that the federal government move to begin taxing Canadian overseas corporate assets currently held in tax shelters and share those confiscated revenues with the province of Ontario under the condition that the money be used exclusively for infrastructure spending. I also recommend that the joint provincial-federal rate of Ontario corporate taxation be increased to 2009 levels immediately. Further increases of the rate also need to be considered. Ultimately, a more aggressive tone is clearly needed by government with the Canadian corporate sector, which has demonstrably not fulfilled its end of the low tax bargain since the financial crisis began.
- Finally, Paul Schliesmann reports that Kingston's City Council has become the first elected body in Canada to formally endorse a basic income - and that it did so unanimously.

Musical interlude

Foals - Inhaler

Thursday, December 17, 2015

New column day

Here, expanding on these posts as to what might come next as Canada's political parties map out their strategies on electoral reform.

For further reading...
- Chantal Hebert wonders whether Justin Trudeau will face internal pressure to renege on his promise of electoral reform. But considering that the Libs' voter coalition consists of significantly more voters willing to consider other parties, I'd think Trudeau has every incentive to ensure he responds to the demand for electoral reform both inside and outside his party's base. (That said, those looking for reason for concern about the Libs' follow-through will find it in John Geddes' interview with Dominic Leblanc.)
- Tim Harper notes the different positions the federal parties have taken on electoral reform thus far. And Andrew Coyne examines how each figures to approach the issue as it develops.
- Finally, Aaron Wherry pointed to Stephen Harper's past take on proportional representation and coalition-building here

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Duncan Cameron offers his take on the Paris climate change conference. Martin Lukacs notes that while the agreement reached there may not accomplish anywhere near what we need, the building climate movement should provide more hope than we've had to this point. Similarly, Thomas Walkom sees the summit as a useful fraud which should lead to something better. And Jonathan Sas argues that it's long past time for Canada's federal government to start acting - rather than merely spinning - on climate change.

- Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders points out the dangers of environmental journalism in the face of potential violence and corruption.

- Bob Mackin reports on David Loukidelis' criticism the B.C. Libs' delete, delete, delete attitude toward information. And Michael Smyth is skeptical as to whether matters will improve, while Travis Lupick finds particularly little reason to think anything will change given Christy Clark's aversion to putting anything in writing which might allow anybody to assess her actions later.

- CBC reports on Mike Simon's call for a focus on the social determinants of health in Atlantic Canada. And Jennifer Grahan discusses how Saskatchewan doctors are fighting back against putting MRIs up for sale.

- Finally, Polly Toynbee writes about the connection between the gender pay gap and the proper valuation of care work (whether paid or not):
Caring, cooking, cleaning, childminding and all the jobs servicing a society that would fall apart without women’s work are despised because these things are what women do, and women are despised for doing it and for being women.

At its most extreme, the horrendous domestic violence statistics reflect that abiding social control and contempt. Images of a few powerful women do nothing much to up-end that essential truth. One woman prime minister was remarkable, as are all manner of “role models”. But their exceptionalism makes the point: only 34% of managers, directors and senior officials are women. And these top women suffer a bigger pay gap than women at the bottom: the finance sector has the widest gap.

More women reaching the tree-tops doesn’t reflect most working women’s fraught dilemmas: caring is the obstacle, so a disproportionate number of high fliers don’t have children.
It would be astonishing if there wasn’t a huge pay gap with a downward pay spiral where underpaid women care for children and old people, taking in each other’s caring, unable to pay each other enough, causing the crisis in social care, in healthcare and in childcare. All that is despite women’s better educational results, despite 45 years of equality law.

MP Maria Miller, the Tory head of the committee, may not call for an equality revolution. But we could start with total pay transparency, so everyone knows who earns what and why. Make employers let in a trade union rep once a year to recruit, restoring some power to the workforce. As hospitals overflow for lack of home care, nursing homes close and the promised 30-hour free childcare can’t be delivered, we could reset the valuation on caring until as many men as women do it, at home and at work.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Karl Nerenberg weighs in on the Libs' choice to direct billions of dollars toward higher-income individuals, rather than working to help Canadians who need it:
The Liberals are now in power, and have just brought in a tax change that will give the most generous benefit to an elite, wealthy group.

You can call six-figure earners middle class if you like, but that would be stretching the definition. They are certainly not middle income. They are near the top. And they are definitely not the most in need.

A few, such as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and the now third party NDP, have called the Liberals on this choice.

The CCPA has even proposed alternatives. One is to use a tax credit, which can be more precisely targeted, rather than a tax cut for the middle bracket.

So far, its odd and unfair fiscal choice has not had much political impact on the honeymooning Trudeau government.

There is still time, however.

Let's see what happens around tax time when Canadians start to pay closer attention to how much they, and others, actually do or do not get from this much-touted middle class tax cut.
- CBC reports on Statistics Canada's latest figures showing the continued rise of personal debt compared to Canadian incomes. And Erika Shaker highlights the juggling act facing parents trying to bear the cost of child care.

- Chris Hedges writes that our exploitative economic system is effectively built on a foundation of human sacrifice.

- Denise Leduc criticizes the exclusion and marginalization of people with intellectual disabilities from the workplace. And Robert Scott counters the spin that reasonable wages are a barrier to a successful manufacturing industry.

- Finally, Neil MacDonald rightly comments that the appropriate response to terrorism is not to grant its perpetrators the fear they seek - but that it will take a concerted effort to avoid succumbing to it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Collapsed cats.

On blockages

Yes, Bill Tieleman, you've left no doubt that people who are opposed to electoral reform generally are also in favour of a needless and convoluted referendum process to try to block it.

But for the many of us who don't see "no change" as the desired end result, there's every reason to hold the Libs to their explicit promise that this year's election would be the last under first past the post. And contrary to Tieleman's spin, the Libs were entirely clear (PDF) as to how and when the alternative would be developed:
We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.

We will convene an all-party Parliamentary committee to review a wide variety of reforms, such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting.

This committee will deliver its recommendations to Parliament. Within 18 months of forming government, we will introduce legislation to enact electoral reform.
In other words, unlike many of the Libs' promises, the commitment to electoral reform leaves no room for delay or backtracking. And so we should be working toward all-party consensus on how to build a better system to be passed in accordance with the Libs' specific timeline - not making excuses to refuse to try to build one at all.

[Edit: Fixed wording.]

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Matthew Yglesias rightly points out the absurdity of monetary policy designed to rein in at-target inflation at the expense of desperately-needed employment. And Joseph Stiglitz reminds us that we can instead make policy choices which will fix inequality rather than exacerbating it:
Beyond changing taxes and government benefits, we can reduce inequality by rewriting the rules once again. A comprehensive rewriting will help to level the playing field, grow the middle class, and give all Americans an opportunity to succeed. Moreover, we can do this secure in the knowledge that we can have both more economic equality and more growth.

This view of the economy undermines the notion that those at the top are merely receiving their “just deserts” for their contributions to the economy. Some wealthy Americans have, in fact, contributed greatly to the strength of our economy and the well-being of our society. But many have simply gamed the rules — their gains have been largely at the expense of others. Still others have made important innovations, but then amplified their returns through the exercise of monopoly power. Discouraging quarterly capitalism, diluting monopoly power, and preventing the exploitation of workers would strengthen the economy. But rewriting the rules would better align private rewards with social value, thus improving economic efficiency. In other words, the argument for rewriting the rules is not just about fairness: It’s about promoting stronger and shared economic growth.
- Oscar Reyes reviews just a few of the weaknesses of the Paris climate agreement which aren't receiving enough attention. Marc Lee argues that we won't know what it accomplishes until we see how regulators and markets respond, while Simon Dalby discusses how Canada will need to rethink a fossil-fuel-oriented economy in order for the deal to work. And PressProgress lists just a few of the things Brad Wall seems determined not to learn about climate change.

- Andre Picard writes about the dangers of political meddling in health care - and it's worth mentioning Saskatchewan's most prominent examples of corporate fads and anti-social ideology being put ahead of evidence-based policy.

- Graham Thomson comments on the Alberta NDP's work to keep governing in the best interests of the province despite the harassment of unhinged right-wingers. And Stephanie Kusie and Lana Cuthbertson write that the abuse is antithetical to good government and leadership no matter how much one disagrees with a governing party's policies.

- And finally, Susan Wright highlights the ultimate task for Rachel Notley's government - being to tilt Alberta's overall values from a money-based, me-first mindset toward much-needed recognition of the common good.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Roshini Nair reviews Jim Stanford's re-released Economics for Everyone, with a particular focus on the need not to give up on the prospect of change for the better:
Although economics might be the dismal science, this book is never dismal in its outlook. While acknowledging that capitalism is the system we have, Stanford insists there is hope for a more humane alternative.

This idea is in contrast to the litany of books that firmly adheres to the idea that we are doomed and that capitalism is our only option -- the sort of morose left-wing acceptance of Margaret Thatcher's declaration "there is no alternative."

There is plenty of (valid) criticism that capitalism has invaded and co-opted different movements and spaces often irreparably, but Stanford never relents from his position. He reminds us that "if the entire history of Homo sapiens to date was a 24-hour day, then capitalism has existed for three-and-a-half minutes." From this wider, long-term perspective, Stanford assures the reader that not all hope is lost.
And Stanford makes a good point that this moroseness is really a byproduct of neoliberalism.

"A central goal of neoliberal economic and social policy has been to alter the fundamental balance of power in the employment relationship, by recreating a broad degree of insecurity and discipline among workers," says Stanford.
- Meanwhile, Jonathan Freedland offers his take on why and how to offer a populist alternative on the left - both for the sake of actually representing the public interest, and to limit the appeal of a dangerous right-wing version.

- Jim Edwards examines what a basic income system might look like in the UK. And Tom Parkin comments on the desperate need for an economic strategy which doesn't leave out low-income citizens.

- Jason Fekete and Lee Berthiaume report on the $9.5 billion in budgeted money the Cons allowed to lapse in order to claim a single-year surplus for electioneering purposes. And Cameron MacIntosh points out the millions in First Nation funding being withheld.

- Finally, Canadian for Tax Fairness' study of the problems with the Canada Revenue Agency deserves plenty of attention. But so far, the main response to the revelation that our public tax authority is serving political ends rather than actually collecting revenue seems to have been an attempt to shoot the messengers. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz writes that inequality is killing the American middle class. And Crawford Kilian examines the direct connection between inequality and midlife mortality:
For some white Americans born between 1961 and 1970, however, something has gone wrong. They grew up in what should have been a wonderful time: the fall of the Soviet Union, the emergence of China as the world's economic powerhouse, the fading of the threat of a global nuclear war.

In 1998, however, some members of this age cohort began to sicken and die...
...(T)his cohort's mortality began to rise at half a per cent a year. Not much, but it has continued year after year. By 2013, that meant 488,500 white Americans were dead when they should have lived...
As discouraging as these studies are, they largely vindicate a century of public health research that shows your very life depends on the class you're born into. Every social class is healthier and less stressed than the class below it, and sicker and more stressed than the class above it. Mobility between classes is far easier downward than upward.

It's not that poor, uneducated people don't know how to eat properly or keep themselves clean. They usually do; they're just too stressed to take care of themselves. As researchers like Dr. Richard Wilkinson have shown in book after book, income inequality within nations creates stressors on the relatively poor (even if they're far better off than the proverbial Bangladeshi peasant).
Canada's mortality rates may be consolingly low, but for some Canadians they have always been high -- especially for aboriginal Canadians. Their incomes are a fraction of other Canadians', and their incarceration rates are much higher than others'.

In both countries, far more research needs to be done to understand -- and remedy -- the deadly consequences of inequality.
- Meanwhile, Harry Leslie Smith contrasts the welcoming humanitarian attitude toward refugees following World War II to the inclination toward denial and isolation across much of Europe today.

- David Macdonald studies the soaring cost of child care across Canada. And the Star follows up by arguing for a national program to make child care affordable for all parents - to replace the status quo in which child care can carry the same cost as an additional mortgage.

- Philip Preville takes a look at Canada's shadow lending industry - and how it drives up both housing prices and stressors on the people who rely on it to fund house purchases. 

- Finally, Stuart Basden discusses how Canada remained part of the problem in Paris - even if its obstruction was targeted toward specific issues rather than the general principle of agreeing on reining in climate change at all. George Monbiot highlights the flaws and retrenchment in the final Paris agreement. And Brad Plumer charts how the emission reduction commitments made so far would take us less than halfway to the supposed goal.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne discusses Jordan Brennan's research showing that corporate tax cuts have done nothing to help economic growth (but all too much to exacerbate inequality). And Andrew Jackson sets out the main fiscal choice the Libs will have to make in determining whether to keep going down the same path:
(T)he Liberal platform also envisaged temporary deficits to finance higher spending on social programs such as child benefits, a higher Guaranteed Income Supplement for single seniors, public health care, child care and First Nations programs, and did not increase overall federal tax revenues. The proceeds of the new top income tax rate will be recycled entirely into a proposed so-called middle class tax cut which in fact heavily favours the top 10% and weill not even cover the cost of the middle class tax cut.

Progressives will be expecting the government to deliver on its ambitious social agenda, and will note that this could be easily funded on the revenue side by implementing a modest corporate tax increase, by scaling back the so-called middle class tax cut, and by setting more ambitious targets for the promised Liberal review of tax loopholes for the most affluent. Meanwhile, business Liberals, perhaps including Minister of Finance Bill Morneau, will likely be pushing for less social spending than promised in the platform in order to balance the books on the original schedule.

Platforms are crafted to win elections, but governments must make real choices. The Liberal government should stick to its spending promises, but this will require some adjustment to their taxation plans and stated fiscal goals.
- Meanwhile, even to the extent one wants to presume that the Libs were bound to offer tax cuts of some sort, John Geddes notes that one focused on the lowest income tax bracket would produce far more equitable results.

- Deirdre Fulton comments on the hollowing-out of the U.S.' middle class. The Economist weighs in on the UK Cons' attempts to define child poverty out of existence. And Bethany Farr writes that a strong majority of the UK public considers it important to take action to ensure people have access to food - though sadly their government disagrees.

- Sara Mojtehedazeh exposes how Ontario's provincial government (like far too many others) is contributing to the culture of precarious work in its own hiring practices. And in case we needed more indication that the commercialization of government is based on ideology rather than evidence, CBC reports on Saskatchewan Auditor Judy Ferguson's findings that the Wall government hasn't lifted a finger to measure the effects of the "lean" program it's imposing across the public sector.

- Finally, Bryan Thomas and Colleen Flood write that if we want to improve our health care system, the answer lies in modernizing public structures, not selling out to private ones.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Musical interlude

Zeds Dead feat. Twin Shadow & D'Angelo Lacy - Lost You

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Les Leopold rightly argues that financial and political elites won't offer a more fair distribution of wealth or power unless they're forced to do so:
Right now, we lack a robust mass movement with the power to reclaim our economy and our democracy to make it work for the 99 percent.

Instead, we have thousands of individual groups working on every issue from racking to a living wage. We have unions fighting for their members and worker centers fighting for immigrant rights. We have protests ranging from Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter to climate justice. We have hundreds of progressive websites and jour nals to cover all this activity. But we do not have a coherent national movement with a clear and bold agenda that links us together.

We will show that runaway inequality is at the root of many of the problems we face, including the meteoric and disastrous rise of the financial sector, defunding of the public sector, environmental destruction, increased racial discrimination, the gender gap in wages and the rise of our mammoth prison population. And we will posit that if we share a clear understanding of runaway inequality - and the basic economic situation we face - we can begin to build a common, broad-based movement for fundamental economic justice that will take on America's economic elites.

The political system will not move unless we organize on a mass level like the Populists did over a hundred years ago, like the trade union movement did in the 1930s and like the Civil Rights movement did in the 1950s and 1960s.

Some liberal economists and politicians appeal to the self-interest of the super-rich. They argue that the rich would be (even) better off if they would just allow a fairer distribution of income and wealth. We disagree. Expecting the wealthy to help us secure basic fairness is a losing proposition.

Economic elites will only give up power and wealth when they're forced to do so by a powerful social movement.
- And Luke Savage notes that part of the problem lies in our acceptance of a withered conception of rights - as the economic and social rights recognized through much of the 20th century have never been given effect, and are now seldom treated as such.

- Philip Cohen and Jeff Spross both respond to a patronizing attempt to complicate the issue of poverty - Cohen by focusing on the ability to provide enough income to wipe out poverty at the source, and Spross by highlighting the potential effect of full-employment policies as well. And Bill Tieleman argues that we shouldn't have to rely on food banks and other charities to meet basic needs, especially on a systemic basis.

- Finally, the Star decries the misuse of cabinet secrecy to hide government operations from the public. And Claire Wahlen reports on the years of work required to identify and reverse the attacks on Canadian privacy implemented by the Harper Cons.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Dani Rodrik discusses the evolution of work, and notes that future development and sharing of wealth may need to follow a different model than the one that's applied in the past:
(T)he post-industrial economy opened up a new chasm in the labor market, between those with stable, high-paid, and fulfilling services jobs and those with fleeting, low-paid, and unsatisfying jobs. Two factors determined the share of each type of job – and thus the extent of inequality produced by the post-industrial transition: the education and skill level of the workforce, and the degree of institutionalization of labor markets in services (in addition to manufacturing).

Inequality, exclusion, and duality became more marked in countries where skills were poorly distributed and many services approximated the textbook “ideal” of spot markets. The United States, where many workers are forced to hold multiple jobs in order to make an adequate living, remains the canonical example of this model.

The vast majority of workers still live in low- and middle-income countries and have yet to go through these transformations. There are two reasons to believe that their future path will (or need) not unfold in quite the same way.
(T)here is both good and bad news for the future of work in developing countries. Thanks to social policy and labor rights, workers can become full stakeholders in the economy much earlier in the process of development. At the same time, the traditional engine of economic development – industrialization – is likely to operate at much lower capacity. The resulting combination of high public expectations and low income-producing capacity will be a major challenge for developing economies everywhere.
- Erin Anderssen weighs in on the desperate need for an effective national child care system.

- Andrew Coyne makes the case for public financial disclosure to be carried out by an independent body, rather than being limited to whatever format, timing and spin best suits the government of the day. And the CP reports on the ugly aftermath of the Cons' end-of-term patronage binge.

- Finally, Andrew Mitrovica explains why we shouldn't expect the Libs to fix what's glaringly wrong with Bill C-51 - even if we have every reason to demand it:
(I)f Trudeau truly wanted to use simple, clear language to offer Canadians some long-overdue information about the fate of this ghastly law, all he had to do was add five words to the [throne] speech, bringing the total up to 1,755: The Government will repeal C-51. Why didn’t he?

If the Liberals intended to repeal C-51, they would have said so. If they’d intended to repeal large parts of the law, they would have sent some signals by now. If they haven’t, common sense suggests it’s because Trudeau has chosen to leave C-51 largely intact.
Terrorism cannot be bombed or legislated out of existence. Bill C-51 and laws like it offer the gullible only the illusion of security. And they do so at a terrible cost to free societies. C-51 includes extremely dangerous language criminalizing the “promotion” of terrorism and the spread of terrorist “propaganda” — legal catch-alls that can’t help but erode the right to free speech.

It vastly expands the power of security services to make arrests without warrants, on suspicion. It targets things like interference with “critical infrastructure” (code for protesters messing with pipelines), gives CSIS the power to “disrupt” suspected terrorist plots without waiting around for the cops, and allows it to petition a judge for permission to violate the Charter of Rights.

This isn’t a slippery slope. It’s a cliff. The tired strategy of granting security services more powers in the immediate wake of the latest terrorist attack has been tried time and again, and has failed time and again.

On managing the system

Following up on this post, there doesn't seem to be much prospect of the Cons making any effort to pursue proportional representation as an alternative to a ranked ballot if Tasha Kheiriddin's latest reflects their' thinking. But I'll point out that there's reason for the Cons to give the option a second look even if the Libs have made up their minds.

It's absolutely true that a ranked ballot system will tend to favour a party positioned on the middle of the spectrum. And the exception on a single-election basis will arise only where voters are so disgusted with that one party that they drop it from the top of their lists and/or move it to the bottom (behind competitors on all sides of the spectrum).

In other words, the prospect of limiting the Libs' hegemony under a ranked ballot system depends on a national mood where people of different values can agree at least somewhat on the need (and reasons) for change. And multi-party agreement that the Libs have rigged the electoral system in their own favour in a way that's unfair to all other parties might offer the only plausible basis to get there in a first Trudeau term.

For that reason alone, the Cons would hurt themselves as much as anybody by sticking to an inflexible and exclusionary position, rather than looking for some common ground with other parties. But the longer the Cons operate as if they were still in power today, the more likely they are to be stuck with a system that keeps them away from it in perpetuity.

New column day

Here, on how the Libs' first major budgetary choice has been to continue the Cons' dangerous pattern of chipping away at the federal government's fiscal capacity.

For further reading...
-  Scott Clark and Peter DeVries have previously summarized the Cons' destructive revenue cuts and overall fiscal mismanagement. And Bruce Johnstone and Andrew Potter are among those who have pointed to the long-term elimination of fiscal capacity as a major part of the Cons' legacy.
- Meanwhile, the headline about the Libs' misnamed "middle class" tax shuffle features a $1.2 billion price tag due to the Libs' lumping in a reduction in the limit on tax-free savings accounts. But since the Libs planned (PDF) to make that TFSA change anyway, the real cost of barging ahead with the shift is the full $1.7 billion gap in income taxes.
- And finally, David MacDonald's alternative suggestions as to what the Libs could have done with any added revenue from the 1% are again worth a read.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

On earned media

Ideally, a new Parliament should have the opportunity to talk about issues of far more direct significance and practical value than keeping even offensive speech such as Donald Trump's out of Canada. And so it's a bit disappointing to see Tom Mulcair pushing that issue.

That said, it's not hard to understand the reasoning behind the push. Since this fall's election, the NDP has made strong efforts to fight discrimination against refugees, highlight the need for action on climate change, for federal involvement in the fight against poverty. And its reward has been...buried or nonexistent coverage of its actual work, coupled with the familiar complaint that it's the NDP's fault if commentators can't be bothered to pay attention.

In that context, it makes sense to look for positions which (a) are likely to draw attention based on existing storylines and (b) set the NDP apart from its competitors in a positive way. And so far, the Trump message is doing that much - and indeed receiving no opposition from Canada's other parties.

In the long run, though, the NDP needs its appearances in the public eye to match its core priorities. And in the absence of the default coverage previously received as the Official Opposition, the task of winning the right kind of media and public attention may be one of the more difficult challenges Mulcair and his team face in the near future.

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Robert Reich suggests that government should respond to corporations who engage in anti-social activity such as moving their earnings offshore by making sure they can't simultaneously take advantage of laws torqued in their favour. And Daniel Tencer reports on the $12.5 billion bonus pool being doled out by Canada's financial sector even as it cuts front-line jobs.

- Patrick Maze discusses the importance of investing in education as preventative medicine as well as a form of economic development:
If we agree that preventing an ailment is easier than curing it, and that being proactive is better than being reactive, then we should insist that our governments also apply this in policy development. At some point we need to flip our thinking, and our actions, from responding reactively to social needs and challenges, to working toward a vision of what we want for our future society. We should commit resources to support that vision appropriately, and faithfully.

Education is a key factor in the health of both individuals and communities. Many researchers have studied the causal relationships between the level of our citizens' education, and their requirements for societal supports like health care, social services and justice. They've found that as the education levels of a society increases, access to those supports all decrease.
When we combine these savings in health care and justice, and consider that more educated populations are also less reliant on social supports, it seems like such an easy decision to prioritize education as an investment in the health of our citizens, communities and our economy. The funding trends we have now are simply unsustainable, and at some point we'll be forced to look to sustainable alternatives. Shouldn't we want our government to be proactive, rather than reactive, when we try to take that approach with our own lives?

Let's consider a collective vision for our future. Let's plan proactively to prevent problems, instead of just reacting to new ones as they arise. Let's challenge our leaders to develop policy that addresses root-causes of the issues we care about, instead of relying on expensive treatment options like justice, social services and health care. If we flip our thinking, priorities and actions, we'll recognize that investing in the education of our children is far more cost-effective and sustainable.
- Meanwhile, Lawrence Carter and Maeve McClenaghan expose how climate denialists for hire are using their academic credentials to produce reports to fit the requests of secret corporate sponsors.

- Charles Mandel talks to Stephen Lewis about the need for Canada's new climate change talk to b backed by policy.

- Finally, Adam Dodek points out that there's reason for concern that the Trudeau Libs will back away from their promises on democratic reform. And Dave Meslin makes the case for a proportional electoral system - with particular emphasis on why the ranking and runoff systems which may be appropriate in non-partisan contexts are ill-suited to federal politics.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Couched cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- David MacDonald offers some alternative suggestions that can do far more to reduce inequality and boost Canada's economy than the Libs' upper-class tax shuffle. And Karl Nerenberg reminds us that the most important scandal on our political scene is the constant stream of corporate tax giveaways which has done nothing to help anybody but the already-wealthy few.

- Meanwhile, Paul Buchheit challenges the right's constant effort to demonize people living in poverty.

- Mariana Mazzucato discusses the need for entrepreneurial government to fund and manage a transition to a clean economy. And the Vancouver Sun comments on the need for actual leadership rather than mere talk. But Thomas Walkom highlights Ontario's green strategy gone haywire as a reminder that money alone won't lead to the results we need either if it isn't paired with effective management.

- Don Lenihan points out that openness in government needs to include the willingness to actually engage with the people affected by policy choices, not merely to allow people to see one's own unilateral decisions. And Jim Bronskill's story as to how the Cons view peaceful protests as security threats signals that there's a long way to go on both fronts.

- Finally, Elizabeth Thompson exposes the Cons' deliberate (and less-than-surprising) attempt to continue imposing their agenda on Canada from beyond the political grave.