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Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 01/16/2017 - 07:04
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Tom Parkin points out that neither austerity nor isolationism offers any real solution to improve Canada's fiscal and economic standing. And Rob Carrick highlights what should be the most worrisome form of debt - being the increased consumer debt taken on to allow people to keep spending in the absence of wage increases:
“If wage growth slows, so does your purchasing power and so does the economy,” said Armine Yalnizyan, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. This is our strange economic reality today – people are taking on debt to make up for stagnant or declining purchasing power, but it’s not enough to jolt the economy. Growth is still on the weak side, December’s strong job creation numbers notwithstanding.
Ms. Yalnizyan was one of the economists who contributed to a must-read collection of 75 economic charts that Maclean’s compiled as a guide on what to watch in 2017. Her input was a chart showing the growth rate for the average hourly inflation-adjusted earnings of salaried and hourly employees. The chart is headlined, “Canada just can’t shake off the slowth,” a term that means slow growth.
Unfortunately, the data in the chart may understate the problem of income stagnation. Ms. Yalnizyan said the average data are pulled higher by workers with incomes at the highest levels, and by the skew in our working population toward older workers at the peak of their career earning power....We should probably spend a little less to keep our borrowing more in line with our incomes. But growth in household debt in the third quarter of last year was actually quite modest at 1.3 per cent. The debt-to-income ratio moved higher – to 166.9 per cent from 166.4 per cent in the second quarter – because disposable incomes rose a puny 1 per cent.
Higher incomes would help contain debt growth, but it’s hard to be optimistic about pay hikes in today’s slow-growth world. A report from CIBC World Markets late last year found that the quality of employment is falling, as judged by the proportion of part-time versus full-time jobs, self-employment versus paid employment and the compensation of full-time jobs.......There are two ways for the cycle of debt rising faster than incomes to end. Either an economic shock terrorizes people into borrowing less, or we get to a point where incomes rise faster than debt levels. The federal Liberals talk a lot about helping the middle class. We’ll know they’ve accomplished something if wage increases once again give us an advantage over inflation. - Meanwhile, Simon Enoch writes about the futility of any attempt to cut one's way to growth - with particular reference to the Saskatchewan Party's ill-advised attacks on Saskatchewan workers.

- Maiji Unkuri examines how Finland's basic income trial should ensure that people are able to seek out desirable work. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports that Ontario is just now starting to make some effort to document workplace diseases and ensure that workers receive the support they need in response.

- Charles Marohn discusses the impact of different types of public investment in housing, and concludes that poor neighbourhoods offer a far greater return than affluent ones.

- Finally, the CP reports on Oxfam's latest look at wealth inequality in Canada - featuring the revelation that just two people now have more wealth at their disposal than 11,000,000 of their fellow Canadians.

Keyboard warriors!

Trashy's World - Mon, 01/16/2017 - 06:50
Maybe it’s because I am getting a bit older and my skin is thinning somewhat, but more and more, I am getting annoyed with these Keyboard Warriors© who like to furiously and constantly hammer out their frustrations with <insert topic here> and the incompetence of the . That is all well and good. We are […]

Sabotaging The Economy

Northern Reflections - Mon, 01/16/2017 - 06:18

American stock markets have skyrocketed since the election of Donald Trump. The president-elect and giddy investors think they're on the cusp of Reagan 2.0. But, Ruchir Sharma writes, they can't go back to 1981:

The forces that underlie economic growth have weakened significantly since the Reagan years, worldwide. No nation, no matter how exceptional, can try to grow faster than economic forces allow without the risk of provoking a volatile boom-bust cycle.

The potential growth rate of an economy is roughly determined — and limited — by the sum of two factors: population and productivity. An economy can grow steadily only by adding more workers, or by increasing output per worker. During the Reagan years, both population and productivity were growing at around 1.7 percent a year, so the potential United States growth rate was close to 3.5 percent. In short, Reagan did not push the nation’s economic engine to run faster than it could handle.

In recent years, America’s population and productivity growth have fallen to around .75 percent each, generously measured, so potential economic growth is roughly 1.5 percent, less than half the rate of the Reagan era. Any policy package that aims to push an economy beyond its potential could easily backfire — in the form of higher deficits and inflation.
Like all conservatives these days, the Republicans want to turn back the clock:

The nub of the problem here is nostalgia for a bygone era. The postwar world grew accustomed to the rapid growth made possible by the baby boom. Not every country with rapid population growth enjoyed a steady economic boom, but few economies boomed without it. And for most countries, the era of population growth is now over.
The pressure of falling population growth means that every class of countries needs to adopt a new math of economic success, and bring its definition of strong growth down by a full point or more. For developed nations like the United States, with average incomes over $25,000, any rate above 1.5 percent should be seen as relatively good.
As they have done before, the Republicans will sabotage the economy -- and try to blame it on somebody else. 
Image: OpEdNews

Donald Trump and the Maniac Twitler

Montreal Simon - Mon, 01/16/2017 - 04:08


They don't call Donald Trump Twitler for nothing eh? And yesterday the deranged demagogue's tiny fingers were busy trying to live up to that reputation.

By first pecking out this proclamation.



In the manner of Big Brother.

Before proceeding to ignore his own advice, and attack Saturday Night Live...
Read more »

Of Course He's Not Putin's Puppet. Where Would You Get an Idea Like That?

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 01/15/2017 - 18:15

The soon to be president has spoken. NATO is obsolete. Brexit, however, is the best idea ever.

President-elect Donald Trump, in remarks published on Sunday, described NATO as "obsolete" and suggested a deal with Russia that would reduce nuclear arsenals and ease sanctions on Moscow.

He also hailed Britain's exit from the EU and backed a speedy trade deal with the UK, but condemned as "catastrophic" Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to open Germany's doors to a flood of refugees.

"I said a long time ago that NATO had problems," Trump told The Times of London and Bild, Germany's biggest-selling daily.

"Number one, it was obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago," he said.

"Number two, the countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay."

"I took such heat, when I said NATO was obsolete. It’s obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror. I took a lot of heat for two days. And then they started saying Trump is right."

He added, though, "NATO is very important to me."

Trump also repeated his comments about dropping sanctions against Russia.
"They have sanctions on Russia -- let's see if we can make some good deals with Russia. I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it," Trump said.

"But Russia's hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit," said the president-elect, who has previously expressed admiration for Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Deep thought

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 01/15/2017 - 12:36
Some of us might offer a lot more outrage over the histrionics in response to Justin Trudeau's statement of fact on the need to phase out fossil fuels if his own attack dogs hadn't fomented the exact same hysteria when it suited their purposes.

On corruptible structures

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 01/15/2017 - 10:50
Yes, there's no doubt that Kevin O'Leary's suggestion of selling off Senate appointments is nothing short of asinine.

That's not so much because the idea is inherently unconstitutional, but because of its substantive implications. The sale of Senate seats it would involve institutionalizing the worst aspects of the Senate's historical purpose (creating a systemic on behalf of the wealthy against democratic decision-making) and practical use (to reward people based on their ability to shovel money into the political system).

But it's worth noting that the reason O'Leary is in a position to make the proposal at all is the continued existence of a legislative chamber which lacks both a check against abuses in appointments, and any coherent purpose.

At best, any explanation for the continued existence of the Senate (beyond complaints about the difficulty of amending the Constitution) tend to involve the fact that it includes some well-regarded public servants who sometimes use their authority to carry out useful research and analysis of public policy.

But that's a role which precisely the same people could engage in within their own areas of expertise through other structures, without their simultaneously receiving both a lifetime appointment and the ability to generally control the passage of legislation. And so "but sometimes it does good work!" doesn't serve as a particularly compelling argument for the Senate.

Meanwhile, O'Leary's scheme represents a new - yet entirely plausible - worst-case scenario.

To date, the worst the Senate has had to offer is partisanship run amok: appointees whose first and only loyalty is to to the political goals of the Prime Minister, resulting in little check on longstanding governments and potentially insurmountable obstacles to legislative action by new ones, as well as the occasional obstruction of legislation passed by our elected representatives. 

But O'Leary looks to be treating the Senate much as Donald Trump views the U.S.' cabinet: a source of substantial formal power without the constraints of democratic processes, which can be parceled out for the benefit of his corporate cronies. And it's frightening to think what could happen if O'Leary were to get his way, as the wealthy few who could afford to bid on seats would be able to secure the formal capacity to block any public policy which sought to serve any interests rather than their own.

Unfortunately, the Senate as it stands is plainly vulnerable to the whims of a Prime Minister who wants to use it for plutocratic ends. And we'd best ask whether that's something we're prepared to leave in place before O'Leary has sold enough seats to block any potential change.

10 Years. 20 Years. 30?

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 01/15/2017 - 10:38

I succumbed and listened to a recent Guy McPherson radio appearance on what I think was an Australian station.

McPherson, a professor emeritus climate scientist from the University of Arizona, truly is the "voice of doom." As he sees it, you, and everybody you know, are now living in your tenth last year on Earth. He gives mankind a decade, max.

I don't like McPherson's claim and I don't want to believe it. I cannot bring myself to accept it. What would be the point in that?

He's at odds with everyone, even other climate scientists. Nobody else is talking ten years and then over the cliff. How does Dr. McPherson explain it?

For starters, he withdrew from active research several years ago. He needed the time to assemble, collate and analyze all the research flooding in from other climate scientists around the globe. He wanted to make sense of them all, collectively.

The science of climate change is a multi-disciplinary effort. It spans the range of physical and Earth sciences - geology; geography; atmospherics; hydrology and oceanography; glaciology; meteorology; paleontology; physics and chemistry; botany; biology; epidemiology; medicine; and, I'm sure, many more that elude my limited knowledge of sciences. There are two or three central theses against which the best and brightest in each of these individual disciplines do research to test the theory. If X then geology should show this, physics should show this, biology should show this - that sort of thing. You look for dissent, repudiation, refutation that challenges or even disproves the theory. Only that's not really happening. Just the opposite. This is the research that McPherson has made it his work to digest.

As he boils it all down, McPherson seeks to identify and log climate change "tipping points." These are man made changes, feedback loops, that may be the triggers of runaway global warming in nature. I can't bring myself to visit McPherson's web page "Nature Bats Last" but the last time I did I think he had documented just over 60 feedback loops underway.

McPherson says most scientists are approaching climate change from a narrower focus, just their own discipline and maybe one or two companion disciplines. To him a different picture emerges when you take all the pieces and assemble them in a mosaic. Only then, he claims, can you see what's really happening.

I hope he's wrong, way out in left field. I have to hope he's wrong. I have to count on it. Yet I cannot, with confidence, dismiss his views.

I couldn't begin to put a number on how many times I've argued, on this blog and elsewhere, that we can't solve climate change on its own as some stand-alone crisis. The only survivable solution to climate change requires that we simultaneously solve its two companion, existential challenges - our massive over consumption of Earth's resources and mankind's overpopulation. There are common threads that run through all three and those threads lead to a common solution. It's a path that we show not the slightest inclination to follow.

I hope McPherson's wrong. I hope he's just desperately trying to shake us up, to make us think about what we're doing. I hope we've got a good twenty, maybe even thirty years left. With what's at stake you wouldn't think that rational people would fail to act. Don't count on it.




Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 01/15/2017 - 09:56
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- David Masciotra offers a cultural case for a basic income:
Reward, purpose and meaning are the abstractions meant to pacify the poor and the working class. The rich have wealth, comfort and pleasure. They also have a universal basic income. In Jacobin, Matt Bruenig recently reported that 10 percent of national income is paid to the top 1 percent of income earners as capital income. It is curious that no one worries about the mental health defects they will experience due to lack of meaning.

What provides most people with the greatest satisfaction, nourishment and fulfillment is high-quality relationships, creativity and contribution to a cause of personal conviction. Conservative commentators argue that the removal of an incentive to “work hard” is a potential problem with universal basic income. It is actually a benefit.

Few people could afford to live solely off of their UBI payment. So, while they would still have careers, they might have more time and energy to devote to the passions and priorities outside of their careers. They could dedicate themselves to the artistic or artisanal project they once felt too tired to consider making part of their weekly routine. They could enjoy more time with family and friends, and they might have the necessary surplus of energy to volunteer for charities and political campaigns that they support. Leisure might also become more abundant, and offer treatment for the addiction of careerist madness, along with the cutthroat competition of many offices, that leads Americans to sacrifice millions of paid vacation days every year.

The belief that most people, if given some free money every month, would transform into gluttonous sloths requires paralytic cynicism. Critics of the UBI are correct that most people want to feel the joys of accomplishment and importance, but it is stunningly narrow to believe that the average adult will spiritually and intellectually profit solely in traditional employment. It is more likely that the typical person will devote available time and energy to pleasurable and purposeful activities, even if they do not pay well or at all.

Universal basic income will not create a utopia — poverty will still exist, and many people will still spend too much time at what one Swiss economist calls “bullshit jobs,” but it will provide the poor with relief, and push everyone else in the direction of work-life balance, and overall sanity. - Dan Levin's article on British Columbia as the "wild west" of Canadian politics is well worth a read - though it's of course worth noting that nearly all of the same criticisms apply to Saskatchewan's lack of fund-raising rules (and associated party payments to the Premier).

- Meanwhile, Murray Mandryk rightly questions why the lowest-paid public employees in Saskatchewan are bearing the brunt of the Saskatchewan Party's attacks on workers. And Anne Kingston discusses how the spread of private paid blood donation in Saskatchewan stands to affect Canadian health care more broadly.

- Finally, Tabatha Southey rightly recognizes the need to limit the use of "fake news" to content known and intended to be fictitious, rather than merely using it as a catch-all response to stories which contradict one's own preferences.

The 70 Year Old "Troubled Teen" With the Nuclear Launch Codes

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 01/15/2017 - 09:46

Hyper-narcissism, check. Anger management issues, check. Attention Deficit Disorder, check. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, check. Nuclear launch codes, check.

I expect that a 12-year old boy who exhibited Donald Trump's personality disorders would be heavily medicated. Ritalin to be sure. IV Ritalin? Not sure if that's even a thing.

To say that Donald Trump lacks the stability, aptitude and skill set required of an American president today is a grotesque understatement. Yet, in a matter of days, he'll be installed in the White House. To the American people who voted for him, thank you, you miserable peckerheads.

As Princeton professor, David Bell, concludes, Donald Trump is the ultimate loose cannon. "It's now all too easy to imagine his troubled personality leading to his country's collective fall."

What is a "loose cannon" anyway? In the days of sail it was a cannon that slipped from its restraints in the midst of a battle or storm and endangered both the ship and crew. Today it's used to mean an uncontrollable or unpredictable person who can damage or destroy his own faction, political party or even nation.

The Democrats no longer have the means to stop him and the Republicans in Congress lack the courage to stand up to him. Worse yet, he's assembled a cabinet of dodgy characters who, almost to a man, play to his every flaw.

Kevin Phillips, in his 2005 book, "American Theocracy," offers a helpful exploration of how power transitions from one dominant power to its successor. There is a pattern. America has been on this very glide path for the last 30 years.

In Phillips' model, the superpower rots from the inside out. The decay begins when it abandons the core economy that brought it to the top of the heap - manufacturing. It yields to the allure of much greater wealth to be had by restructuring to a FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) economy while its enterprises outsource their manufacturing sector elsewhere. In this way the dominant power uses its power and wealth to grow what eventually becomes its successor's economy.

As Phillips shows, the FIRE economy produces much greater returns in the short term, a matter of decades. But the FIRE economy, unlike the manufacturing economy, is brittle, fragile and much more susceptible to economic shocks such as recessions. The manufacturing economy also experiences setbacks from recessions but it's more robust and bounces back quickly. The more economic shocks the more fragile and vulnerable the FIRE economy becomes.

Eventually there's some seismic economic event, war perhaps, and the once dominant nation slips to a new steady point, making way for the next king of the hill. The nation in decline doesn't collapse. Usually it just falls into line behind the new dominant economy.

Anybody else smell the faint scent of a seismic event in the air? Maybe it's just me.


The Continuing Adventures of the Con Clown Kellie Trump

Montreal Simon - Sun, 01/15/2017 - 07:57


As we all know too well, and too painfully, the Con clown Kellie Leitch has been making an absolute fool of herself for what sometimes seems like forever.

With the worst Donald Trump impersonator third-rate drag show act Canada, and possibly the world, has ever seen.

Where Kellie Trump claims that only she can save our Canadian values, while violating every one of them.

And even more outrageously if that's possible, claiming she's against the "elites" when Leitch herself is one of them.
Read more »

They Have To Speak French

Northern Reflections - Sun, 01/15/2017 - 03:22

Back in the 1990's -- when Preston Manning burst on the scene -- a new kind of sign sprouted on lawns in my neck of the woods. Its message was blunt: "No more prime ministers from Quebec." The sign's unstated assumption was that French is spoken only in la belle province. But, when Brian Mulroney was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party, Stephen Maher writes, that he

liked to tell Conservatives that they had to choose a leader who could speak both languages. “There are 102 ridings in the country with a francophone population over 10 per cent,” he said. “In the last election the Liberals won 100 of them, we won two. You give Pierre Trudeau a head start of 100 seats and he’s going to beat you 10 times out of 10.”
New Brunswick is our only officially bilingual province. Manitoba has a significant French population. And northern Alberta also has a a significant number of French communities. That's why Maher maintains that, if the Conservatives choose a leader who can't speak French, they'll lose. His or her French doesn't have to be perfect:

It is not necessary to speak both languages as well as the Trudeaus, Mulroney or Tom Mulcair. Stephen Harper never captured the music of the langue de Molière, and Jack Layton’s Montreal street French sometimes sounded too folksy, but both politicians were able to express themselves, which is what is necessary.

It works the same the other way. Jean Chretien’s English was not elegant, but he could communicate enough effectively to hammer home his point.
Chretien's syntax could be just as fractured in French as it was in English. But the message was always the same -- and Canadians knew it.

What does that mean for the Conservative candidates?  In the upcoming French only debate:

Chris Alexander will be good, and Michael Chong, Andrew Scheer and Erin O’Toole ought to be able to unspool some talking points, but Brad Trost, Kellie Leitch and Lisa Raitt face de facto disqualification if they parler Français comme une vache Espagnole.
The same rule will apply to whomever the New Democrats choose to be their leader. Prime Ministers don't have to come from Quebec. But they have to speak French.

Image: J.J's Complete Guide To Canada

Slouching Toward Washington

Dawg's Blawg - Sat, 01/14/2017 - 13:31
A quick quiz for those of you who still doubt that we have entered the End Times and that the Trumpocalypse looms. Quick, who said the following: “Barack Obama was a principled and able president who governed in relatively peaceful... Balbulican http://stageleft.info

Saturday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 01/14/2017 - 12:41
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Dean Baker discusses some of the myths about the effects of corporate globalization - with particular attention to how our current trade and immigration structures are designed to provide easy profits for capital at the expense of labour around the world. And Jason Hickel reports on new research showing how the developed world (or at least its upper class) is extracting trillions of dollars from the countries which can least afford to lose them.

- James Kwak comments on the massive gap between the effects of minimum-wage increases as threatened based on oversimplified economic theories, and the real-world impacts which have been beneficial for workers and the broader economy alike. 

- The International Labour Organization reviews the continued lack of secure employment around the globe. And Ashley Cowburn reports on the UK public's strong support for the idea of reining in CEO income compared to that of a business' general workforce.

- Alexander Kaufman highlights Rex Tillerson's implausible denial that he has any idea Exxon and other oil companies enjoy public subsidies. And Ross Belot points out that based on then Libs' combination of nominal greenhouse gas emissions targets and plans which fall far short of meeting them, we're likely to see yet another public giveaway to the oil sector in the form of carbon bailouts.

- Finally, Dennis Gruending offers his take on the need for a public response to the threat of mass surveillance.

Could Donald Trump Destroy the United States?

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 01/14/2017 - 11:23


It's Canada's major trading partner so we would do well to think hard on what Donald Trump might do - not to China or Mexico or Europe - but to the United States itself.

Princeton University professor, David Bell, writes that Trump could wind up taking America down.


Not only is Trump becoming the leader of the most powerful state the world has ever seen, but thanks to Republican control of Congress — and soon, quite possibly, the Supreme Court — Trump has the potential to become the most powerful president in American history. And he is one of the most radically unpredictable men ever elected to that office. He is not guided by a distinct, systematic ideology, and he is not, to say the least, constrained by humility or self-doubt. In foreign policy, he has surrounded himself with advisors like Michael Flynn and Frank Gaffney who give credence to conspiracy theories and see Islam — not just radical jihadism, but Islam itself — as an existential threat to the United States. In domestic policy, he has assembled a team whose ties to international business and the “swamp” of Washingtonian corruption contradict much of his own populist rhetoric.

...


Donald Trump  ...is so willful and thin-skinned, so convinced of his own abilities, so enamored of his own unpredictability, and at the same time so unable to concentrate on any particular issue, that he is far less likely to appreciate the constraints that have weighed so heavily on his predecessors or even to understand them. He is also far less likely to listen to his advisors, and these advisers themselves are, overall, far more ignorant of their supposed areas of expertise than any other group of high-level administration officials in American history.

Even in crisis situations, U.S. presidents have generally done their best to follow predictable, well-established decision-making protocols. ...Donald Trump, alas, is almost certainly less likely to follow established protocols than any of his predecessors. In a crisis situation, how is he likely to react? Can anyone know?

...There is no shortage of scenarios — a major terrorist attack in the West, a collapse of the nuclear agreement with Iran, renewed Russian aggression in its “near abroad” — that could present an American president with deeply consequential decisions to make.

In these decisions, Donald Trump’s personality could assume, difficult as it is to apply these words to him, world-historical importance. As a consequence, the personalities of other leaders, especially Vladimir Putin, could also come to matter in critical ways, as they come into conflict with Trump. If impersonal forces led to Trump’s personal rise, it’s now all too easy to imagine his troubled personality leading to his country’s collective fall.

BREAKING: YOU Are Subsidizing Anti-Choice Fake Clinics

Dammit Janet - Sat, 01/14/2017 - 10:45
Canada has a feminist Prime Minister, a gender-balanced cabinet, and a promise from said PM to stand up for feminism and diversity against the rising tide of intolerance and repression to the south.

So people would probably be surprised to learn that religious agencies whose sole purpose is to thwart the exercise of Canadians' right to reproductive choice get both direct and indirect government subsidies, yes?

Well, it's true. And the numbers are pretty shocking.

Following up on its study of the largely fraudulent online claims of Crisis Pregnancy Centres (CPCs) (or as they are more correctly called, Fake Clinics), Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) last week released a new report examining the online tax filings of 112 such operations that, incredibly, have been allowed charitable status by the federal government.

(We'll get to the abomination of such status in a minute.)

ARCC volunteers pored through tax filings for the period 2011 to 2015.

The bottom line: fake clinics are bilking you and me of millions of dollars.

MATH WARNING: Ciphering is about to occur. If this is a problem skip down to below ************.

First, the direct funding. Over five years, these operations received $3.5 million in cash from various levels of government -- over half a million from the federal level, mostly through their enthusiastic embrace of the Canada Summer Jobs program. Of the remainder, $2.6 million came from the provinces, the rest from municipalities and regions. The grants come from various programs, not easily tracked down, and as we will see, not always properly reported.

Next, the indirect funding. Canadian taxpayers subsidize the anti-human rights work of fake clinics in two ways, both of them operational purely because of their charitable status.

As registered charities, fake clinics pay no income taxes. Over the period studied, fake clinics had a combined revenue of $65.8 million, totally exempt from taxes.

So, that's lost tax money that has to be made up by someone. And you know it's not the oil companies.

The other way allows donors to shield income from taxes through tax receipts. As registered charities, fake clinics are allowed to issue receipts that donors use to exempt some income from tax. If you've ever done your own taxes, you know that there are two levels of exemptions. For donations under $200, the rate is 15%; everything over $200 is discounted by a generous 29%.

Over 2011-15 fake clinics issued nearly $38.2 million in such receipts. At the minimum rate of 15%, this represents a drain on federal tax coffers of at least $5.7 million, with provinces facing similar losses. In Ontario, the rates are 5.05% and 11.16%.

Let's pretend for a moment that all the money was donated in Ontario. At minimum, that would represent another $2 million.

At the maximum rate, these tax receipts represent a potential loss of $11 million, again with cash-strapped provinces losing too.

So, while it's impossible to say what proportion of donations were discounted at which rate, it is safe to say that the amount lost at the federal level alone is somewhere between $5.7 and $11 million. And at least another $2 million at the provincial and territorial level.

And there's another wrinkle. Through the magnificent generosity of the registered charity program, charities can give money to each other. Fake clinics received a further $11.8 million from other registered charities which had issued their own tax receipts.

There's another $1.8 lost to federal income tax, with proportional loses to the provinces.

******************************************************

Bottom lines:
Direct government funding: $3.5 million

Money sucked out of federal tax coffers: At least $7.5 million and as much as nearly $13 million.

Money sucked out of provincial tax coffers: At least $2 million.

The bottomer-bottom line: That lost money is made up by you and me. WE are actively subsidizing these fake clinics.

******************************************************

Is that a lot of money?

I think one red cent is a lot of money for organizations that use misinformation and deceit to further their goal of recriminalizing abortion and contraception.

But in a country where $3.3 billion a year in tax money for the oil industry raises nary a hair yet $16 for a glass of orange juice causes mass hysteria, who the hell knows?

One more point before I leave the ARCC study. Volunteers found many anomalies in the filings. For example, nearly 60% of groups receiving government money -- 34 fake clinics -- misreported that funding. ARCC has asked CRA to initiate reviews of these irregularities.

For me the bigger question is -- as I've asked many, many times -- WHY THE HELL DO THESE GANGS HAVE CHARITABLE STATUS IN THE FIRST FUCKING PLACE?

Most people suppose that because the Government has accredited a group as a "registered charity" that group must be on the up-and-up, with noble purpose, working for the greater good of the whole community.

As we pointed out recently, generous people like the One Hundred Who Care Movement include "charitable status" among their required criteria, on the blithe assumption that no fraudsters would make it past the vigilance of the revenuers.

Ha.

CALL TO ACTION

We have a feminist government. After the cabinet shuffle, we have three women heading ministries that could do something about this.

Diane Lebouthillier is the Minister of National Revenue in charge of CRA and its awesome power to award or strip groups of charitable status as well as to examine the books of said groups. Diane.Lebouthillier@parl.gc.ca @DiLebouthillier

Patty Hajdu is the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, in charge of the Canada Summer Jobs program, so successfully milked by fake clinics. Patty.Hajdu@parl.gc.ca @PattyHajdu

Maryam Monsef is the new Minister of Status of Women. In a feminist *cough* government, one might think the Status of Women minister might have something to say about anti-choice outfits being subsidized by taxpayers. (And maybe regain some credibility.) Maryam.Monsef@parl.gc.ca @MaryamMonsef

I sent some tweets the other day.

@DiLebouthillier As Minister of National Revenue in #Feminist gov., will you instruct #CRA to examine #FakeClinics w/ charitable status?

— Fern Hill (@fernhilldammit) January 12, 2017

@DiLebouthillier New study reveals how much $ they suck out of tax coffers, subsidized by taxpayers. https://t.co/dCuqlBLfBd

— Fern Hill (@fernhilldammit) January 12, 2017

@DiLebouthillier Because it's (now) 2017, time to look at #FakeClinic charities? Their entire mission is as political as can be. #cdnpoli

— Fern Hill (@fernhilldammit) January 12, 2017

I forgot to use hashtags. These would be good: #ExposeFakeClinics #ExposeCPCs

For those who like to see for themselves and those who like to play with spreadsheets, we got you covered. All that and more -- like the letter sent to CRA -- here.

How Fast is Enough?

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 01/14/2017 - 10:21

A story in The Guardian reminded me of how I've backed away from posting on climate change lately. The headline reads, "New study confirms NOAA finding of faster global warming." The long and short of it - the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency reported that global warming as coming on even faster than expected and subsequent research confirmed the claim.

The fact is it's an important story, something we all need to know. We should be aware of the pace of global warming. That's going to play a role in our lives and more so for our children's lives.

What does it mean when someone says the Earth is warming faster than previously thought? Not very much at all, I fear. Climate scientists are rupturing their lungs screaming warnings about the "climate emergency" unfolding in the Arctic when, in the 24-hour blackness of the Arctic winter, they're recording temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius above normal but we're tuning out their frequency, surfing the dial for something a bit more enjoyable. Thelma & Louise.

Maybe, like the Arctic, we've entered a stage of 24-hour darkness about these rapidly looming threats. Out of sight/out of mind. Judging by the somnolence of our federal and provincial governments, it's easy to suspect that they've closed that book.

What if they have figured that it's too late, that climate change is now unstoppable no matter what they might do? Had they come to that conclusion, how might we expect them to behave? Probably pretty much just like they are acting today.

It would be great if they would even acknowledge what's underway and give us some assurances that they've got our backs, they have some plan, we'll be as okay as possible.

It's their silence that's driving me crazy.

Sunny Ways Don't Work With Him

Northern Reflections - Sat, 01/14/2017 - 06:43


Justin Trudeau is encountering a lot of blowback these days. His cash for access troubles have him in hot water. And his announcement yesterday that the oil sands will have to be phased out will be met with cold fury in Alberta. But these are nothing compared to the blizzard that's blowing in from Washington. Michael Harris writes:

Forget about Trudeau’s domestic adversaries — his most deadly political foe is a real estate mogul and part-time president of the United States. As Trudeau fares against Trump on a handful of key policy areas, so his government will rise or fall.

That’s not to say that there aren’t domestic issues that matter. There are, including the still-unlamented Bill C-51, broken promises on the environment, and a sophomoric attempt at electoral reform. But Trump will cast a far longer shadow over public affairs in this country than any of them.
Harris goes on to catalogue the types of nasty weather that will blow across the border:

You can be certain that the Trump government will return to one of the preoccupations of U.S. policy: getting Canada to agree to a ballistic missile defence shield (BMD). The Americans have been trying to make this sale ever since Ronald Reagan saw Star Wars one too many times. In 2005, Paul Martin turned down the Americans on joining BDM, even though President Bush personally lobbied him on it.

In the course of throwing other toys out of his policy pram on his way to the White House, Trump has promised to rip up NAFTA. He already has, in a way, because the Tweeter-in-Chief has threatened General Motors, Ford and Toyota with a “big border tax” for building cars in Mexico. That, of course, is illegal under NAFTA — which is why he wants to tear it up.

And if Trump is ready to violate trade treaties and walk away from NAFTA if he can’t get the changes he wants, imagine what he’ll be asking of Canada in these negotiations. You can bet he’ll be playing shamelessly to his own lumber lobby by placing restrictions on Canadian softwood lumber going into the United States.

And while maximizing production in the U.S. and insisting on favourable trade balances with his trading partners, Trump will come after other major concessions from Canada. The Americans have always wanted market access to our agricultural sector, and it will come as no surprise when they demand in a new NAFTA an open door to dairy products.

And that’s to say nothing of Canada’s highly vulnerable auto industry, which will soon catch the eye of a man who would sooner see its jobs in Michigan under his ‘America First’ initiative.
All those clips of Trump in and out of the WWE ring are part of the Donald Trump Show. Sunny ways don't work with him.

Image: Mic/WWE

The Con Media and the Fake Helicopter Scandal

Montreal Simon - Sat, 01/14/2017 - 06:02


It was a horrible way to end a long and grim week. I crawled across the Friday finishing line, turned on the TV, and there was Rosemary Barton, looking even more like a dominatrix than usual.

And leading her grim increasingly boring show with the story of Justin Trudeau, the helicopter, and the Aga Khan's island. For about the fifth day in a row.

Even though the story couldn't be more trivial, and the only Canadians outraged or excited by it are the ghastly Cons. 

And of course the pathetic parliamentary press gallery, led by the boys from Postmedia.
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 16:05
HAIM - If I Could Change Your Mind

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