Saturday, November 18, 2017

Leadership 2018 Links

The latest from the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership campaign - though it's noteworthy at the outset how little of the activity in the race is taking place in the public eye. (One key exception there is the policy front, where both candidates have been very active - and which I'll address in future posts.)

- I haven't focused much on endorsements so far due to the reality that both Ryan Meili and Trent Wotherspoon figured to have ample support behind them. And I'll note that the start of the campaign has confirmed that expectation - with Meili unveiling endorsements from Cathy Sproule, Sheri Benson and Ron Fisher, and Wotherspoon enjoying the backing of Nicole Rancourt, Warren McCall, Carla Beck, Danielle Chartier, Buckley Belanger, Doyle Vermette and Lorne Scott.

- Chris Vandenbreekel reports on the candidates' time at the Saskatchewan Teachers' Association's member forum. And Alex MacPherson's weekly notebook series has offered a useful roundup of what's been happening in both the NDP and Saskatchewan Party leadership campaigns.

- Finally, Dennis Raphael argues that Meili's focus on a healthy society is reminiscent of Tommy Douglas' vision and leadership.

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Peter Goodman examines how a basic income could relieve against some of the most harmful effects of capitalist economics. And Sarah O'Connor discusses the plight of towns which have been left behind by economic change.

- Meanwhile, Matt Bruenig offers a reminder that most extreme high incomes are the result of capital ownership rather than labour.

- Alex Hemingway points out that a more progressive tax system is a key element of the fight against inequality. James Wilt looks into the use of tax havens by Canada's fossil fuel sector as yet another means by which public wealth has been hijacked for private profit. And Roberto Saviano notes that the techniques now used to withhold corporate wealth from public revenues were developed first to protect criminal enterprises:
The mechanisms are the same. Only the consulting firms involved and the islands where the news originated have changed. In the Paradise Papers there’s a bit of everything: from the legitimate—though ethically questionable—creation of offshore companies to lower tax liabilities to shell companies that could hide assets of a criminal origin.

Tax havens are where criminal capitalism and legal capitalism meet and merge. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. So is the fact that mafia organizations were the first to create and facilitate money-laundering mechanisms through tax havens.
I am convinced that the Panama and Paradise Papers represent only the tip of the iceberg and that we have no idea of the true shape or size of this problem. What has come to light in both the Panama and Paradise Papers leak proves that in tax havens, cocaine money, money from tax evasion, and legal money all live together, legitimizing one another.

Legal capitalism has learned from criminal capitalism that in the world of money, only rule-breakers survive. Drug traffickers were the pioneers of a free market model that has been slowly adopted by the legal economy.

Cocaine combined all of the pillars of contemporary capitalism: speed, globalization and economic power. Nowhere is this synthesis better in display than in offshore tax havens
- Gordon Hoekstra reports on the hundreds of millions of dollars in fines administered by the B.C. Securities Commission which have thus far gone unpaid, as fraudsters have been able to retain the fruits of their wrongdoing. 

- Finally, Jill Treanor reports on new research showing that the UK consumers who can least afford additional debt are disproportionately likely to have their credit limits increased without requesting it.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Musical interlude

Blue Stone - Waters Flow

Friday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to end your week.

- Laurie MacFarlane points out how increases in land values have resulted in massive and unearned disparities in wealth.

- Kevin Page, Claudette Bradshaw, Geoff Nelson and Tim Aubrey write that a national housing strategy needs to focus on the availability of both affordable housing, and social supports to allow people to stay in it. And Charles Gauthier highlights the importance of viewing people in homeless shelters as neighbours rather than outsiders.

- Michael Plant and Peter Singer discuss the folly of failing to provide mental health supports which would substantially improve well-being at no net cost. And Jim Guy comments on the need for pharmacare to complete Canada's health care system.

- But Alex Matthews-King reports on a new study showing the connection between austerian governments and a disregard for human life, as upwards of 120,000 people may have died from the UK's cuts just since 2010. And Frances Ryan notes that austerity politics are designed to do the most damage to the people who can least afford it:
I can’t decide what’s worse. That for the best part of a decade, this government and its predecessor have brought in a relentless string of cuts, and lined up the most marginalised members of society to take the burden; or that they are doing so while deliberately failing to monitor the damage it’s causing.

Setting a fire and then walking away doesn’t mean no one is going to get burned. Nowadays, for some, the flames are increasingly hard to avoid. This week alone, academics released research establishing austerity can be linked to 120,000 extra deaths between 2010 and 2017, with cuts to the NHS and social care dubbed “economic murder”. Meanwhile, as more than 40,000 children prepare to be left with no money over Christmas because of the rollout of universal credit, the Trussell Trust estimates that food banks will need an extra 2,000 tonnes of food because of the hunger this will cause.

It’s little wonder ministers are doing all they can to avoid a chain of evidence linking what’s happening in this country to the policies they’re bringing in. The Conservatives may not want the public to know, but thanks to the EHRC, it is there in black and white: while the wealthy are being protected, seven years of austerity is inflicting gross hardship on Britain’s poorest.
- Finally, Thomas Walkom comments on the massive gap between the Libs' rhetoric and actions on climate change and human rights. And Jordan Press fact checks Justin Trudeau's false claims about his response to tax evasion.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Canadians for Tax Fairness discusses the appallingly small tax contributions made by Canada's largest companies, the vast majority of whom have foreign subsidiaries to avoid paying their fair share.

- Meanwhile, Robert de Vries and Aaron Reeves point out the unfortunate reality that far too many people are prepared to overlook how the wealthy manipulate our tax systems while holding people living in poverty to a spotless ethical standard.

- Martin Regg Cohn writes about the Ontario Libs' purely political choice to hand free money to businesses as the price of increasing the province's minimum wage.

- And Sara Mojtehedazeh reports on the Wynne Libs' decision to open the door to massive loopholes to allow employers to impose unpredictable scheduling on workers.

- Josh Gordon discusses the need for a property surtax in British Columbia to ensure both a modicum of tax fairness, and sufficient funding to provide public services.

- Finally, Tim Quigley asks whether Saskatchewan voters can reasonably trust a Wall government which has repeatedly broken its promises on Crown corporations - and rights argues that if not, then an immediate repeal of Bill 40 is in order to protect our Crowns. 

New column day

Here, on the Trudeau Libs' willingness to favour the concentration of money, power and privilege.

For further reading...
- Peter Zimonjic reported on the fallout from Bill Morneau's profit off of his own decisions as Finance Minister, while Kathleen Harris discussed his belated attempt to distance himself from his own choices. And in the example of appalling coverage discussed in the column, Donovan Vincent managed to allow Morneau to portray himself as Bruce Wayne while glossing over or outright ignoring the ethical lapses which have put him in the headlines.
- Harvey Cashore, Chelsea Gomez and Gillian Findlay reported on Stephen Bronfman's involvement in Cayman Islands tax sheltering, then followed up with both their own confirmation and the response from Bronfman and Trudeau.
- Finally, Peter Mazereeuw reports on the Libs' credibility gap in talking to the middle class while serving as a government of, by and for the privileged few. Justin Ling weighs in on Trudeau's immodesty - most recently in attempting to substitute his personal mandate letters for the Libs' election promises. And Andrew Coyne points out how even an effort at self-promotion is only highlighting the Libs' broken promises.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Dani Rodrik writes that politicians looking to provide an alternative to toxic populism will need to offer some other challenge to a system biased in favour of the wealthy and powerful:
(P)oliticians who want to steal the demagogues’ thunder have to tread a very narrow path. If fashioning such a path sounds difficult, it is indicative of the magnitude of the challenge these politicians face. Meeting it will likely require new faces and younger politicians, not tainted with the globalist, market fundamentalist views of their predecessors.

It will also require forthright acknowledgement that pursuing the national interest is what politicians are elected to do. And this implies a willingness to attack many of the establishment’s sacred cows – particularly the free rein given to financial institutions, the bias toward austerity policies, the jaundiced view of government’s role in the economy, the unhindered movement of capital around the world, and the fetishization of international trade.

To mainstream ears, the rhetoric of such leaders will often sound jarring and extreme. Yet wooing voters back from populist demagogues may require nothing less. These politicians must offer an inclusive, rather than nativist, conception of national identity, and their politics must remain squarely within liberal democratic norms. Everything else should be on the table.
- Meanwhile, Marco Chown Oved reports on the widespread use of tax havens by Canadian businesses - and the tens of billions of dollars lost to the public purse as a result.

- Reuters reports on Credit Suisse's finding that millenials are worse off than the generation before them. And Samantha Beattie reports on new research showing that nearly half of Ontario students have missed school due to anxiety.

- Alissa Tedesco, Katie Boone, Chetan Mehta and Jim Deutch argue that a fair basic income funded by progressive taxes would work wonders to alleviate the health and social consequences of poverty.

- Finally, Tzeporah Berman offers a reminder of the environmental devastation wrought by the extraction of Canada's tar sands.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Bagged cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Rupert Neate reports on a new Credit Suisse study showing that the 1% owns half of the world's wealth. And Heather Long notes that hundreds of U.S. millionaires are pushing not to have their taxes cut when it will only serve to exacerbate inequality.

- Mark Townsend reports on new research from the Lancet showing how excluded groups face massively increased mortality risks, while Chukwuma Muanya examines how the risk of heart attacks in particular is exacerbated by financial and work stress. Russell Jackson discusses the widespread stress faced by workers. And Lucy Pasha-Robinson reports that once-eradicated diseases such as tuberculosis and rickets are returning to poorer areas of the UK.

- But on the bright side, Phillip Inman notes that a national living wage has managed to drastically reduce the number of UK workers living in poverty. And Steven Greenhouse points out how the work of unions has helped to keep people safe and families whole.

- Cara Ng and RJ Aquino argue that the construction of new social housing may not only provide homes for people who need them, but also better integrate otherwise-isolated people into their communities.

- Finally, Tony Smith writes about the benefits of publicly-funded and open-source innovation - while noting that private rent-seeking is the primary obstacle to making the best use of the knowledge that's been accumulated.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Steve Burgess points out that we shouldn't be the least bit surprise by the latest news of politically-connected billionaires managing to tilt the tax system in their favour. Ed Broadbent calls for a much-needed end to tax policy that favours the wealthy in efforts to avoid contributing to the public good. And Tom Parkin suggests that Murray Rankin's bill to better regulate international cash flows would offer an important starting point.

- Andy Beckett tells the story of UK Labour's left, and how it has managed to outlast multiple strains of neoliberal leadership to earn a promising opportunity to win power. And Jessica Elgot reports on John McDonnell's call for billions of pounds to be redirected from corporate giveaways to public purposes.

- The Standard discusses how the latest incarnation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership isn't a meaningful improvement over the previous versions.

- Alex MacPherson reports on the utter lack of any analysis or consultation before the Wall government decided to trash the Saskatchewan Transportation Company.

- Finally, Geoff Leo reports on the Saskatchewan Party's disappearing e-mails and other efforts to hide what they've done while in office. And Bill Waiser writes that there's plenty more to be discovered and concerned about in the Wall government's avoidance of accountability.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Gabriel Zucman discusses how the wealthy currently avoid paying their fair share of taxes - and how to stop them by properly attributing income and ensuring registers of wealth. And Micah White is optimistic that the public response to the Paradise Papers may be to develop lasting solutions, rather than merely expressing momentary outrage.

- Andre Picard calls for data-driven decision-making on health care, while noting that plenty of important information isn't yet being properly tracked.

- Brittany Andrew-Amofah highlights three key areas where the Libs' immigration plans are in glaring need of improvement. And in a prime example of how Justin Trudeau's party is falling far short of its supposedly inclusive brand, Daniel Leblanc reports on the split developing within the federal Libs when it comes to Quebec's anti-Muslim Bill 62.

- Meanwhile, Brent Patterson calls out the Libs' broken promise of transparency on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other corporate-friendly trade deals.

- Finally, Murray Mandryk writes that Bronwyn Eyre's ignorance of Saskatchewan's history - including the relationship between settlers and Indigenous peoples - renders her utterly unfit to be education minister. And Liz James documents just how wrong Eyre is about the curriculum under her ministerial portfolio.