Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The Star's editorial board calls for an end to regressive federal tax breaks. And Dennis Howlett asks why the tax evaders who used KPMG's illegal offshoring schemes are being offered secrecy and amnesty for their attempts to siphon revenue away from the Canadian public.

- Michael Butler discusses how the Libs' insistence on continuing the Harper Cons' health funding model through bilateral agreements looks to undermine the universal Medicare we value so highly. And James MacLeod points out another predictable Trudeau broken promise, as the government which insists on pushing corporate-driven "free trade" agreements is reneging on promised transitional funding.

- Martha Friendly examines the sadly stalled state of child care in Canada, while calling for a national child-care program as one of the most important steps that can be taken toward greater gender equality.

- And finally, Guy Caron outlines the significance of his basic income plan as part of the Ottawa Citizen's series on the launch of the NDP's leadership campaign:
When you’re worried about putting food on the table, it’s hard to think about anything else. Planning for a better future for your family is next to impossible when you’re focused on making rent. That’s why I believe it’s time to introduce a basic income for all Canadians: to ensure that everyone is able enjoy a standard of living worthy of our great country.

A basic income policy is not only the right thing to do, it will also save us money. Less poverty means less stress on health care and public safety authorities. The evidence on this is clear. When people aren’t fighting to simply scrape by, they thrive. Despite what we’ve been led to believe, poverty and inequality are not inevitable.
A basic income is good public policy, since investing in Canadians gives them the tools to participate fully in society, access better opportunities, and achieve financial independence. It will not only reduce costs for the government in the long run, but also result in greater economic growth and productivity, helping many Canadians to achieve their full potential. As one of the world’s wealthiest democracies, we have the means to tackle this challenge in a meaningful way.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Musical interlude

CHVRCHES - Playing Dead

Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Paul Wells notes that the Trudeau Libs are having trouble keeping their story straight in pretending to appeal to Canada's middle class. And Brent Patterson writes that the renegotiation of NAFTA is just one more area where the Libs aren't interested in hearing from anybody but big business.

- NUPGE points out the connection between tax dodging and privatization - as a failure to bring in tax revenue is regularly trotted out as an excuse to sell off public assets.

- Helen Nadin discusses the U.K. labour movement's take on the spread of precarious work. Jordann Thirgood and Sunil Johal call for social supports which reflect the current labour market, rather than one based on employment stability which isn't actually available. And Noah Smith suggests taxing profits and building sovereign wealth funds, rather than focusing on pricing automation alone.

- Meanwhile, Erica Johnson exposes how the financial sector is exploiting the public to boost its own profit margins - and forcing workers to break the law in the process.

- Finally, Dermod Travis comments on the embarrassing state of British Columbia's political donation rules (or lack thereof). Nicolas Graham, Shannon Daub and Bill Carroll report on the $5.2 million funnelled into the B.C. Libs' coffers by the fossil fuel industry, while Carol Linnitt takes note of the massive donations from  the natural gas sector in particular - along with the constant access granted as a result. Karin Larsen reports that the illegal funnelling of money to the Libs through lobbyists has been referred to the RCMP for investigation just in time for this year's election campaign. And Justine Hunter reports that even Christy Clark's shameless election run against her own abuses doesn't include any intention of regulating donations.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Thursday Evening Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Duncan Cameron writes that democratic socialism can produce a fair economy for everybody. And the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives puts the possibilities in concrete terms with its alternative federal budget.

- Armine Yalnizyan argues that it's long past time for a budget focused on gender equality. And Kate McInturff points out a few simple steps which could be taken toward that goal.

- Andrew Jackson offers some hints as to implement progressive policies in the face of the Trump administration. But Chantal Hebert notes that Justin Trudeau seems more interested in using Trump as an excuse for regressive choices and broken promises.

- Risa Lavizzo-Mourey and Victor Dzau examine the many social factors that contribute to poor health - and the importance of investing in social equity to achieve better results. And Doug Irving offers a U.S.-focused summary of the social determinants of health.

- Finally, Tom Parkin discusses the contrast between the NDP's substantive and respectful leadership campaign and  the Conservative circus led by Kevin O'Leary. And Thomas Walkom analyzes the start of the NDP's race, while Michael Laxer writes about Niki Ashton's campaign launch.

New column day

Here, on how public enterprises (such as Crown corporations) and a heritage fund should both be part of a general plan to build social capital - and why the Saskatchewan Party's deference to business stands in the way.

For further reading...
- Stefani Langenegger reported on yesterday's impressive rally in support of Saskatchewan's Crowns and public services. And Emily Jackson discussed Brad Wall's latest contortion on the Crowns - as he's now attempting to gloss over a dubious plan to pass legislation which would allow him to sell major stakes short of a majority without public review or consultation.
- And Louis-Philippe Rochon has commented repeatedly on how the Trudeau Libs' policies (including privatization) have also favoured corporate elites over the public, while Scott Dippel reports that Naheed Nenshi is among many who don't want to see our federal commonwealth sold off.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Chris Dillow examines a few of the reasons why neoliberalism hasn't produced the promise of economic growth as the supposed benefit in exchange for dissolving social links. And William Berkson discusses the importance of an activist government in building a strong economy:
The new books on the history of the growth of economies all have different focuses. But they have the same critically important policy implication: While the short-term impact of government spending is difficult to disentangle from other factors, government investment in the economy is what actually has grown economies in the long term. Successful long-term economic growth has never come from government getting out of the way of the private market. Growth has always come from government leadership that leverages private sector growth. Government investment in public goods and services, targeted and sustained over decades has in fact always been necessary for sustained growth of the private economy and increasing opportunity for all.
Laissez-faire advocates harbor the false belief that money in the hands of the rich is always better for the economy than the same money taxed and spent on public goods and services. In reality, wise spending on public goods and services doesn’t “crowd out” private investment; rather it “crowds in” private investment, lifting it to a higher and more effective level—as was the case for the smart phone. The bottom line is that some of the money that a rich individual would spend on a bigger house would be better taxed and spent by government on public education, in order to promote opportunity for all. And some of the money that a car manufacturer would spend on a still higher salary for its CEO would be better taxed and spent on repairing roads and bridges—better for both the car company and for society at large.

Leadership through public investment is a vision that goes beyond overall growth. It is also a powerful argument to support social insurance and other “safety net” programs to promote opportunity for all. For governments can stimulate overall economic growth but still fail to grow opportunity for all. In fact, this is what has happened since Reagan. The actual Republican policies have been what Rep. Barney Frank called “weaponized Keynesianism”: huge deficit spending on the military, and starvation of other domestic spending. The result has overwhelmingly benefited the rich. To achieve broad-based growth in jobs and income, and opportunity for all, government needs to invest directly in education, research, health care and infrastructure, and also to fund social insurance and other ‘safety net’ programs.
The complaints that we are too broke to invest are not credible when rich individuals are stashing hundreds of billions in offshore banks, and corporations are not vigorously investing. Furthermore, when government has a clear purpose and role, it can do the opposite of what has happened under recent Republican administrations, with the capture of government by private interests and an orgy of corporate welfare and tax benefits for the super-rich. With a focus on investment, and with oversight and feedback, government can, as Mazzucato has pointed out, be more efficient and effective, so there is a virtuous cycle of taxation, wise investment and economic growth.
- Meanwhile, Paul Buchheit points out how market-based policies have done little but shovel wealth from the bottom 90% to the very top of the spectrum. And Bruce Campion-Smith observes that the Trudeau Libs' planned privatization binge will only exacerbate matters by further turning common wealth into private profit centres.

- Solomon Israel is rightly skeptical that the term "sharing economy" can be seen as a fair descriptor of a new system of rent-seeking and regulatory arbitrage.

- Rutger Bregman writes about Dauphin's Mincome experiment as part of a review of the effects of a basic income.

- Finally, John Paul Tasker reports on the status of a bill to prohibit genetic discrimination - and the reality that Trudeau government insiders appear to be the only MPs who want to leave the door open for discrimination based on genetic information.

[Edit: fixed typo.]

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Attentive cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading:

- Percy Downe notes that both the Harper Cons and Trudeau Libs have stood in the way of identifying and recouping tens of billions of dollars in unpaid taxes - leaving everybody else to pay the share of tax evaders. And Riley Sparks discusses how secret settlements - like the one reached with Manulife over its breach of money laundering rules - do nothing to deter corporate wrongdoing.

- Meanwhile, Chantal Hebert notes that Justin Trudeau has also taken his time in appointing officers of Parliament who are needed to ensure fair elections, language rights and government ethics. And Nick Gamache reports on the Libs' choice to prioritize secrecy in security oversight by rejecting amendments which would have gone some way in allow a review committee to both review and report on information beyond what the government chooses to allow it to see.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board expresses its disbelief that Christy Clark and her donors have found a way to systematically break British Columbia's appallingly lax political financing laws. And Gary Mason writes that no amount of international embarrassment seems likely to change the B.C. Libs' money-first orientation.

- Tavia Grant writes about Canada's continuing gender pay gap. And Sarah Rieger notes that while the Trudeau Libs' record on gender parity is generally uninspiring, it's downright abysmal when it comes to jobs and wages.

- Finally, Brent Patterson discusses the twin benefits of protests in both shifting public opinion on an issue, and increasing political engagement. And Rosemary Westwood points out that those results explain why people seeking to avoid public participation in politics are so quick to dismiss activism.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Louis-Philippe Rochon chimes in on why Justin Trudeau's faux populism is entirely beyond belief when compared to his actions while in power:
Since coming to power, the prime minister has openly pursued policies that have only exacerbated the economic situation by raising corporate profits, and by contributing to the existing precarious job market.

For instance, his unflinching support of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is not all good news for Canadians. In a recent study using the United Nation's Global Policy Model, economists Pierre Kohler and Servaas Storm estimate that in the long run, CETA will actually cost Canadians jobs.

"CETA would lead to net losses in terms of employment, personal incomes, and GDP in Canada," the authors say.

Moreover, Trudeau has also mused publicly about privatization and deregulation, core ideas of the neoliberal model that exacerbated income inequalities and contributed to the great financial crisis in 2007.
But the oddest of contradictions is that after more than a year in office, Trudeau has done nothing, or very little, to alleviate the burden of the working class and reduce inequality.

After all, he is prime minister and there is much he can do. He has the ability to put an end to many of the ills he mentioned.

Don't like high corporate profits? Well, tax them, and raise corporate tax rates. Don't like low-paying jobs and precarious part-time jobs? Well, stop complaining and do something about it: actively pursue job creation or better yet, full employment.

You want cities to adopt a living wage? Then call a meeting of mayors in Canada and spearhead the policy. Show them the benefits of such a policy and how it would help working families, single mothers and young Canadians.

Don't like corporations not paying their share of taxes? Then close those loopholes that allow them to have offshore accounts that rob the government of billions of dollars in revenue.
- And Miles Grant highlights why the prescriptions to deal with poverty and inequality from the neoliberal centre are utterly useless.

- Stephanie Ross discusses the growth of precarity both in work and in life. And Jason Hickel points out the role a basic income could play in reducing its effects on both fronts - provided it's seen as a matter of rights rather than charity. 

- The Economist analyzes the potential effects of a tax on automation both to fund needed social supports, and to ease anticipated technological adjustments. 

- Finally, Martyn Brown argues that John Horgan's success in this year's British Columbia election depends on his taking a strong stance in favour of a people's agenda. And Libby Davies offers similar advice to the next federal NDP leader, while also highlighting several of the policy areas which look ripe for development.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Carol Linnitt notes that British Columbia's provincial pipeline spill map has been conspicuously disappeared by the Clark Libs in the lead up to an election where environmental protection is a major issue. And Kathy Tomlinson is the latest to highlight both the glaring lack of reasonable fund-raising regulations in B.C., and the fact that corporations are still managing to break the law with impunity.

- Meanwhile, Emily Eaton and Simon Enoch examine how the oil industry is distorting education in Saskatchewan. 

- Bob Berwyn warns about the impending release of greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost. And Robin McKie writes that the loss of sea ice is threatening the entire Arctic ecosystem.

- Kate Lord discusses Canada's shameful history of systemic discrimination against indigenous children. Michael Enright writes that there's no excuse for the continued lack of clean water on many First Nations reserves, while Sarah Giles, Lindsay Hancock and Lisa Letkemann point out that allocated funding for health services isn't being spent due to an overly stingy travel policy which prevents needed treatment from being approved. And Paul Dewar suggests that instead of following through on the Cons' ideological anti-communism memorial, we direct our efforts toward building a National Aboriginal Centre.

- Alan Freeman notes that money launderers are effectively being welcomed to Canada and told they'll be shielded from public view. And Harvey Cashore, Kimberly Ivany, Frederic Zalac and Gillian Findlay expose a few of the bigger names linked to KPMG's offshore tax evasion, while noting that none of them figure to face any consequences for cheating the public.

- And finally, Jim Bronskill reports on CSIS' glaring failure to assess privacy risks before it approved the wholesale collection of metadata.