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Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 07/21/2015 - 09:00
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Christopher Majka reviews Henry Mintzberg's Rebalancing Society as a noteworthy discussion of the need for balance between the public, private and "plural" sectors. And David Madland is pleased to see the U.S.' Democrats finally fighting back against the view that the corporate sector is the only one worth favouring through government.

- But there's far more to be done in putting the public back in public policy - particularly when, as Bill Tieleman points out, we're being asked to accept more and more strict "trade" agreements designed to ensure that democracy can't overcome corporate interests.

- Barrie McKenna writes about the absurdity of using public money to generate profits for private sports teams.

- Anne Kingston reports on a bizarre new set of conflict of interest rules the Cons have imposed on employees of Natural Resources Canada - where employees with such risk factors as friends in the workplace or an academic background are apparently seen as more of a priority for targeting than those actively lobbying for the oil industry. And the Vancouver Observer exposes the "delusional" Enbridge argument that First Nations are prepared to abandon their territories to the ravages of the Northern Gateway pipeline.

- Trevor Timm wonders whether the "tough on crime" theme has run its course in the U.S. - though once again if the rest of the world is headed toward policy aimed at achieving results rather than designating and bashing political enemies, the Cons will be the last to acknowledge the change.

- Finally, Dan Taekema and the CP each report on a much-needed court challenge to Bill C-51. And the CP also notes that by the RCMP's own account, the establishment of a secret police force may make us less safe.

Anon Poses Some Questions

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 07/21/2015 - 06:21

I received the following as a comment in my previous post, but decided to feature it here, as I suspect the writer would like readers to offer their answers to the questions posed:

I have two questions and an observation:

I do not understand the statement that the Child Tax Benefit, benefits the rich more than the rest of us. For example, in families with a three old child, do the families not receive the same amount regardless of their income bracket? Is it because the benefit is tax free and there is no claw back?

I would like to understand why it is that when a private citizen has a mortgage taken out or the purchase of goods is made using their stolen identity, the police do nothing and say it is a private or a financial matter between the citizen and the bank or credit company.

Ashley Madison has its client accounts stolen and Anonymous threatens to reveal the names if they do not cease to operate. The police begin an immediate investigation. Is it because of the threatened demise of the legal corporate entity or do the clients have more political power or sway over the police?

Please "Square the Corners" for me.

Those are good questions, Anon, but I think I can answer the first one. A story in today's Star reveals that the child benefit payments are taxable and will, in fact, be clawed back from many of the recipients:
The benefit is taxable on the lower income earner in every household. Canadians who received the payments can expect to see some of it taxed next April unless their income is so low that they don’t pay income taxes.Of course, that begs the question of why the cheques are being sent out to everyone who has applied, no matter their income level. The answer, I fear, is too obvious - to get the most political bang for the buck three months from the election. Says David Macdonald, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:
“You get a cheque and it’s tangible. You have no idea what you’re going to pay back at the end of the year”.At the end of the year - well after the election.

I invite readers to weigh in here.Recommend this Post

Strong And Stupid

Northern Reflections - Tue, 07/21/2015 - 05:40

Joe Oliver has informed Kathleen Wynne that the Harperites will do absolutely nothing to help set up the Ontario Pension Plan -- which is essentially an expansion of the Canada Pension Plan. At the same time, he says that he is "consulting" Canadians about  "voluntary" contributions to the CPP -- an idea which his predecessor, Jim Flaherty, said wouldn't work.

Alan Freeman writes that the CPP works very well:

The CPP has been fabulously successful. When it ran into funding difficulties in the 1990s, the federal government at the time (Liberals, again), in cooperation with the provinces and backed by a strong public service, fixed the plan and created the CPP Investment Board, now one of the world’s most respected pension fund managers.

Faced with longer life spans, the erosion of traditional employer-based pension plans and the uncertainty of investment returns from the contributory plans that have replaced them, Canadians like the idea of a modest expansion of the CPP. The provinces are generally on side as well. But the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), the country’s most influential lobby group, is firmly opposed.
And, in  Harperland, the CFIB calls the shots:

The CFIB (which seems at times to have more influence on government policy than the Department of Finance) feels no responsibility to the millions of low-salary, non-unionized workers whom its members employ — the very people who would benefit most from an expanded CPP. For the CFIB, an expanded CPP is “a job-killing payroll tax” — a phrase Mr. Oliver tends to parrot whenever asked. Calling the CPP premiums a payroll tax is disingenuous to say the least. Unlike income tax, CPP contributions don’t disappear from paycheques into government coffers. The money goes into the pension plan and every cent that an employee contributes results in credit for a future pension. Better still, every employee dollar is matched by an employer contribution. It may be forced savings but it’s not a payroll tax — and Canadians know it.
Beyond the CFIB, the reason the Harperites are opposed to an expansion of the CPP is that the pension plan was a Liberal idea:

 It was created by a Liberal government in the 1960s — which makes it, to Harper’s way of thinking, intrinsically bad, like peacekeeping, support for the United Nations or the Maple Leaf flag. Making it worse is the fact that the CPP is a social program that is based on the idea that government, employees and their employers have a joint responsibility to help Canadians of all incomes save for their retirement. For Tories of the Harper ilk who believe that government exists to cut taxes and support the armed forces — and little else — this is anathema.
Obviously, Mr. Harper is a man of strong -- and let's be frank -- stupid opinions.

Climate change

Metaneos - Tue, 07/21/2015 - 05:16
The climate is changing.
We, too, should be changing. Our hearts, our minds. It should all change.
The world tomorrow will not be the same as the world today. Today's world has little similarity with yesterday's.
We can look to the past, and see what has all happened, but to see the future, we need to turn ourselves around.
All we do is watch the past. We know nothing but the past. Since we know the past so intimately, shouldn't we then know the future?
We do know it, though. Its form, its voice. We know it. We should know it.
We know the world is going to be a difficult place to survive as today's events continually pile upon one another to give the future world its shape. We know.
What the hell do we do, then?
We are faced with dire prospects. We are in danger.
Extinction is probably not merely a prospect any longer, but something more definite.
For nearly a century, the human world faced annihilation from nuclear war. We are in the same danger, again, from mismanagement of our world's free resources. We should preparing to fight this danger, but instead, we're averting our attention, casting our gaze toward superfluous possessions and frivolous ideas.
We are ignoring what we should be facing.
To face the danger of climate change, today, however, is a revolutionary act. It would drive proponents directly into ridicule and ostracization. Into legal trouble, and possibly danger from violence.
To propose the change that is needed will force one into great difficulty. However, the coming future, the predictable future, will be much worse.

I was told a story by my brother. He'd mentioned hearing of an old belief of my people's elders.
The world's history can be divided into three ages. The age of the people eaters. The age of the animals. And the coming age: the age of humans.
In many ways did this belief shape my people's relationship with our mother Earth. We understood, at least intuitively, that life on this world was finite, fragile. We people were given great, grave power over this world, and we did not understand it in full. Or even in part.
The animals were to teach us how to use this power. However, we have forgotten many of these lessons. And our relationship with the animals has atrophied. We can no longer learn the same lessons our forebears did, as we cannot understand the animals as we once did. We have become distant, alien from the old world.
The coming age of humans. I cannot see us surviving for long in such a world, unless we take drastic measures. And even then, these measures won't save this current world. We are done, now. We must change, in order to survive the change that is coming right at us.

Why Stephen Harper's Porky Plan to Buy the Election Won't Work

Montreal Simon - Tue, 07/21/2015 - 04:27

Well there was Stephen Harper yesterday, looking and sounding like a sleazy used car salesman, declaring it was Christmas in July, and feverishly trying to buy an election.

And in all the years of writing about him and his corrupt, morally depraved regime, I don't think I've ever seen a more disgusting spectacle.

Two days ago in this letter marked "confidential" he was urging his caucus to look like Con Santas, and lie like thieves.

Let me be perfectly clear: if Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair form the next government, they will take these benefits away from families, raise taxes, and put Canada back in a cycle of spiralling deficits. We only have to look at Greece to see where that plan leads.

And yesterday, in a what was called a "special message" by his propaganda machine, there he was in all his greasy glory...
Read more »


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