Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Brad Delong discusses the two strains of neoliberalism which dominate far too much political discussion - and the reason why the left-oriented version doesn't offer any plausible analysis of where we stand:
(Bill) Clintonian left-neoliberalism makes two twin arguments.

The first is addressed to the left: it is that market mechanisms–properly-regulated market mechanisms–are more likely than not a better road to social democratic ends than command-and-control mechanisms.

The second is addressed to the right: it is that social democracy is the only political system that can in the long run underpin a market economy that preserves a space for private property and private enterprise. Therefore the right had better shut up and try to make social democracy work, or else.

The true underlying problem with left-neoliberalism, I think, is that with the Brezhnevite stagnation of the Soviet Union the second claim addressed to the right was no longer convincing. Hence the right went into its dismantle-social-democracy mode. And once the right was committed to dismantling social democracy, the ability to construct and maintain the proper regulations needed to make market mechanisms tools to achieve social democratic ends fell apart as well.
- Andrew Jackson discusses how the need for equity between and within generations should lead us to make investments in what matters for future development, rather than doing nothing for anybody as demanded by the austerians:
There has been a great deal of recent media commentary on inter-generational unfairness, much of which misleadingly argues that affluent older Canadians are benefiting from current economic and social arrangements at the expense of youth.

Not to be misunderstood, young adults today are getting a raw deal when it comes to high levels of student debt, their immediate job market prospects compared to those of the baby boomers, and high housing prices.

The transition from education to stable and well-paid employment is much more prolonged and problematic than used to be the case due to the ongoing increase in insecure and low-paid jobs.

But that does not mean that all seniors and those who are about to enter their retirement years are flourishing. There are huge inequities within different generations that far outweigh inequities between generations.
Again, inequity within generations is a more important issue than inequity between generations.

The inter-generational fairness theme is often used to justify public spending cuts to reduce the “debt burden” on future generations. This ignores Canada's very low level of public debt, and the fact that experts such as the Parliamentary Budget Officer see federal finances as sustainable, meaning that tax increases will not be required to fund future spending.

More importantly, this argument gets in the way of the public investments we need to make today to secure a better future for today's youth and future generations. We could and should be investing more in the education and skills of youth, in research and development, and in the measures needed to ensure environmental sustainability.
- Meanwhile, Brent Patterson laments the Harper Cons' willingness to leave an environmental disaster for future generations to clean up. And Thomas Walkom points out that Kathleen Wynne is following in the Cons' footsteps in trashing public wealth without any reasonable basis for doing so.

- Fred Joseph Ernst writes that the primary effect of C-51 is to legalize the "dirty tricks" against civilians which represent a regular feature of repressive states. And Andrew Mitrovica comments that even some of Stephen Harper's usual core supporters are rightly fighting back against that choice.

- Finally, Stephen Maher points out how the Cons' vote suppression tactics figure to cause serious problems for citizens seeking to vote this fall. And Bruce Johnstone makes the case to put first past the post behind us.

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