Posts from our progressive community

Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition

Dawg's Blawg - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 08:21
Since when does a parliamentary committee turn into a showcase for religious revivalists and patronizing patriarchs? But at times the House of Commons Justice Committee, during its July 7-10 hearings on the government’s antediluvian and dangerous Bill C-36, seemed to... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 07:55
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- PressProgress highlights how the Cons' stay in office has been marked by temporary rather than permanent jobs, while Kaylie Tiessen writes that precarious work is particularly prevalent in Ontario. And Erin Weir notes that more unemployed workers are now chasing after fewer job vacancies than even in the wake of the last recession.

- Kathleen Harris points out that the Cons' attempt to label refugees as "bogus" based solely on their country of origin bears no resemblance whatsoever to reality, as numerous claims from the U.S. and other countries labeled as "safe" have been found to be valid by the Immigration and Refugee Board. And she also finds the Cons applying a rather unusual definition of "protection" for refugees:
Alexis Pavlich, spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, said refugee reforms that include restricting health care means more protection for those in need and faster removal of those who don't.That's right: the Cons are so callous as to claim that people in need get "more protection" by being denied essential health care.

- Meanwhile, Mike Palacek discusses the Cons' secret and deceptive plan to gut and privatize Canada Post - which of course was given a political push to replace the postal banking idea which would have resulted in better service and increased public returns.

- Tabatha Southey rightly observes that the Cons should want to distance themselves from Robert Goguen for grandstanding about a witness' gang rape. But the fact that they haven't seems to signal what seemed to me the most plausible explanation to begin with: is there any reason to think Goguen was doing anything but reading off his party's script to begin with?

- Finally, there are plenty of reasons to question Susan Delacourt's attempt to use relatively minor concerns about our current political system as a basis to eliminate political parties altogether - and Dale Smith neatly lays them out. But if we're looking for examples of the type of theory about political party operations which positively begs to be challenged, there are worse places to start than Jeffrey Simpson's insistence that leaders should hold the power to hand-pick their own pet candidates.

That Will Take Some Doing

Northern Reflections - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 06:00
                                                                                     http://bookdome.com/

Stephen Harper came to Ottawa like a bull in a china shop -- determined to get his way in all things, even if it meant destroying the shop in the process. But, Carol Goar writes, the bull has been wounded:

It took a while to find the chinks in Stephen Harper’s armour. But Canadians have done it now. They are chipping away at the prime minister’s policies on everything from electoral reform to military procurement. Advocacy groups have raised red flags, the media have highlighted the damage he is doing to people’s lives and communities and the courts have reined him in. But the primary thrust is coming from citizens who don’t like what is happening to their country. 
Goar then goes on to highlight several instances where Harper hasn't been allowed to get his way:

Their plan to the rewrite the Election Act , disenfranchising thousands of voters, ran into a wall of public opposition. The harder Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre pushed his proposal, the harder Canadians pushed back. Eventually he agreed to amend the controversial bill. The new version is not perfect, but its most contentious elements are gone. It will no longer allow the Tories to restrict the right to vote or withhold ballots from individuals whose identification doesn’t meet their standards.  Their plan to flood the labour market with temporary foreign workers worked for six years. But last April it began to unravel. The Royal Bank was caught replacing its information technology staff with temporary foreign workers. (The bank said the arrangement met the letter of the law, but apologized and launched a review of its outsourcing strategy.) Rather than squelching the controversy, that stoked it. Whistle-blowers in other sectors — mining, hospitality, food service — popped up, claiming they too had lost their jobs to temporary foreign workers. Employment Minister Jason Kenney tried to put a lid on the contagion but it was too late. On June 20, he announced a wholesale overhaul of the program, effectively shutting it down. Their plan to revamp — preferably abolish — the Senate without the agreement of the provinces was rejected out of hand by the Supreme Court of Canada. It delivered a stinging rebuke to the prime minister, pointing out he did not have authority to override the Constitution or change the rules under which Canadians are governed. Harper grudgingly accepted the court’s ruling, but tried to exact revenge six days later. His office issued a statement insinuating that Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin had improperly approached him. The evidence melted under scrutiny.  
What is most striking, however, is that the prime minister appears incapable of learning from these rebukes:

Their plans to crush prostitution and drive an oil pipeline through British Columbia will probably be next on the list.
Conservative policies are being thrown out with abandon these days. But the ultimate rebuke will be when Canadians throw Harper and his party out. That is still going to take some doing.


The Lethal Dysfunction Of The Far Right: A Mound of Sound Guest Post

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 05:10


Problem: you're already getting hammered by early-onset climate change. Solution: deny it's happening, look the other way, think happy thoughts.

It sounds ridiculously dysfunctional and it is but that is the approach being taken by governments, state and municipal, in parts of the American south.

Take North Carolina, for example, where the uber-rightwing state legislature has found a solution to scientific projections of at least a metre of sea-level rise this century - pass legislation banning any mention of that.

And then there's posh Miami, Florida where real estate prices are sky high and still climbing. Miami now floods regularly and there's nothing anyone can do about it. The problem is that the city is very low-lying and it sits atop a dome of porous limestone through which rising sea water passes virtually unobstructed. Seawalls and dikes don't work here because sea water simply comes up from underneath. The city already stands defenceless against seasonal high tides and regular storm surges.

Philip Stoddard is particularly well-placed to judge what is happening in Miami. Tall, thin, with a dry sense of humour, he is a politician, having won two successive elections to be mayor of South Miami, and a scientist, a biology professor at Florida International University.

"The thing about Miami is that, when it goes, it will all be gone," says Stoddard. Nor will south Florida have to wait that long for the devastation to come. Long before the seas have risen a further three or four feet, there will be irreversible breakdowns in society, he says. "Another foot of sea level rise will be enough to bring salt water into our freshwater supplies and our sewage system. Those services will be lost when that happens."

"You won't be able to flush away your sewage and taps will no longer provide homes with fresh water. Then you will find you will no longer be able to get flood insurance for your home. Land and property values will plummet and people will start to leave. Places like South Miami will no longer be able to raise enough taxes to run our neighbourhoods. Where will we find the money to fund police to protect us or fire services to tackle house fires? Will there even be enough water pressure for their fire hoses? It takes us into all sorts of post-apocalyptic scenarios. It makes one thing clear though: mayhem is coming."

Yes, mayhem is coming. So how are Florida's rightwing leaders responding?

"...what really surprises visitors and observers is the city's response, or to be more accurate, its almost total lack of reaction. The local population is steadily increasing; land prices continue to surge; and building is progressing at a generous pace. ...signs of construction - new shopping malls, cranes towering over new condominiums and scaffolding enclosing freshly built apartment blocks - could be seen across the city, its backers apparently oblivious of scientists' warnings that the foundations of their buildings may be awash very soon.

"Not that they're alone. Most of Florida's senior politicians - in particular Senator Marco Rubio, former governor Jeb Bush and current governor, Rick Scott, all Republican climate-change deniers - have refused to act or respond to warnings ...or to give media interviews to explain their stance, though Rubio, a Republican party star and possible 2016 presidential contender, has made his views clear in speeches. 'I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. I do not believe the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.'"


Miami, in fact the entire state of Florida, is an invaluable object lesson, a miners' canary to demonstrate rightwing dysfunction at work in the fight against climate change. It's one but just one of several spots in the US expected to be particularly hard hit by global warming. Another is the American southwest from California through to Texas.

In already hot and dry Phoenix, Arizona, they're being warned to expect 10-degrees Fahrenheit warming this century. That translates from an average summer high temperature of 104 soaring to Kuwait City temperatures of 114F. In a region already severely water stressed, heating on this scale could undermine the major cities.

"Climate Central used the IPCC predictions - which generally estimate that summer high temperatures will be seven to ten degrees higher by 2100 - to make an interactive map to compare the current temperatures with cities that already experience those temperatures. For example, Sacramento will feel more like Tucson in the summer. Boston will feel like Miami. And Austin, where the average summer high is currently about 94 degrees, is projected to be more like Gilbert, which has an average summer high of nearly 104 degrees.

Meanwhile, on the clean, renewable energy front, Aviation Week has recently published several articles about space solar power (SSP). The idea is to capture solar energy in near-Earth space, convert it to microwaves and them beam the energy down to power grids on the surface.

“Space solar power has as a concept never been more appealing and more promising than it is right now,” says John Mankins, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory veteran who spent a decade as manager of advanced concepts studies at NASA headquarters. “The new technical architecture, which exploits all of the technological advances of the past 30 years in terrestrial technology—electronics, robotics, materials—makes the approach to space solar power both affordable and scalable.”


Maybe, maybe not. At the very least, though, it's a technology worth exploring.

Recommend this Post

Stephen Harper and the Losing Battle for Quebec

Montreal Simon - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 04:26


Well as you know, and as I mentioned the other day, Stephen Harper has set out to try to woo the province of Quebec. 

Or at least the people in the relatively small region in and around Quebec City, where he is planning to hold a special cabinet meeting. 

The rare cabinet meeting to be held outside Ottawa, which is in preparation for early September, will allow Mr. Harper to promote the role of Conservative Fathers of Confederation in protecting the rights of the provinces when Canada was founded in 1867.

Because in the rest of the province his amatory advances wouldn't stand a chance...



But so deranged and desperate is Great Leader, that he has started comparing himself to George-Étienne Cartier.

And claiming credit for vanquishing the SEPARATISTS !!!!
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 19:58
Sandy Rivera - Changes

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 08:17
Assorted content to end your week.

- Linda McQuaig discusses how a renewed push for austerity runs directly contrary to the actual values of Canadians, who want to see their governments accomplish more rather than forcing the public to settle for less:
Their formula for achieving small, disabled government is simple: slash taxes (particularly on corporations and upper-income folk), leaving government with no choice but to cut spending -- or risk deficits and the wrath of Moody's, Ivison, the National Post, etc.

The Harper government, deeply committed to this ideology, has followed the formula closely. It has slashed taxes to the point that Ottawa now collects less revenue (as a proportion of GDP) than it did in 1940 -- before we had national public programs for health care, pensions and unemployment insurance.
...
The real problem right now isn't the deficit, but getting the economy back in shape -- a point even acknowledged by David Dodge, former governor of the Bank of Canada and former deputy minister of finance.
...
Asked in an Environics poll to choose between two views of government, 68 per cent of Canadians selected "Governments are essential to finding solutions to important problems facing the country" while just 27 per cent chose "Governments are more often than not the cause of important problems facing the country."

While the conservative revolution and media deficit hysteria have left us with dwindling revenues, the dream of an activist government apparently lingers somewhere deep in the Canadian soul.- CBC reports that the Cons' politically-ordered crackdown on public advocacy by charities now extends well beyond the environmental movement - but is still limited exclusively to groups which tend to disagree with their anti-social policies. And Gareth Kirkby looks in detail at how the policy of silencing opposition has affected the work of the charities affected.

- Julian Beltrame reports on Canada's latest job numbers - which show our unemployment rate now exceeding the U.S.', with particularly little employment available for young workers. And David Climenhaga details the absurdity of the businesses a right to indentured labour through the temporary foreign worker program - pointing out that the effect of the program is to suppress wages for everybody for the sole purpose of keeping fast-food outlets open past 3 AM.

- Alexander Ervin and David Woodhouse lament the corporatization of Canadian universities.

- And finally, Matthew Mendelsohn makes an effort to engage in a detailed, fact-based policy discussion with Joe Oliver. Which figures to end about as well as anybody's attempt to speak truth to a broken record.

Oh, And One More Thing

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 06:04


It seems I, Martin Regg Cohn and Cheri DiNovo aren't the only ones to take issue with Andrea horwath's leadership these days:

Re:Horwath admits ‘bittersweet’ election result, July 9

I wonder what Robin Sears has to say about Cheri DiNovo. The day Andrea Horwath walked away from the Liberal budget I cancelled my membership in the Ontario NDP. This decision was not taken lightly. I worked in my first election in Grade 9 and was a member of the party for decades. When the famous letter of “the 34” was made public, I felt better. Others were also disappointed at the move away from core NDP values to populist austerity rhetoric.

Then, enter Robin Sears. He dismissed all of us as over-the-hill, negative and anti-party. And now we have Cheri DiNovo saying “we can’t ever give up our core values and principles.” I hope there are more like DiNovo and fewer like Sears in the party. If that proves to be the case I will return to the fold. I voted Liberal and I respect Kathleen Wynne but I am not a Liberal because I don’t share their core values and principles.


Peggy Stevens, NewmarketRecommend this Post

The Moody Blues

Northern Reflections - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 05:41


No sooner had the newly elected Kathleen Wynne tabled her budget than Moody's -- the bond rating agency -- pounced. But, Linda McQuaig writes, it wasn't much of a pounce:

In fact, Moody’s only tweaked things slightly — it maintained Ontario’s perfectly acceptable current rating (Aa2), but downgraded the outlook from stable to negative – not a huge change, and one that didn’t even lead to higher interest on Ontario bonds.
Conservatives, however, jumped all over the news:

“It’s a very big deal,” solemnly cautioned Stockwell Day, former Conservative finance minister, on CBC-TV’s Power and Politics. “It should be taken very seriously.”

The National Post’s John Ivison dismissed as “baloney” the Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s suggestion that Ontario has a revenue problem.

“It’s not a revenue problem. It’s a spending problem,” thundered Ivison in his broad Scottish accent, sounding like a Dickensian character responding to the request “please sir I want some more.”
For conservative pundits, there is no such word as "investment." Everything comes down to spending. They make no distinction between wise spending and foolish spending -- even though a good case can be made that our present masters do spend foolishly, on things like F35's and advertising. Their ranting about spending is a smokescreen to hide their real objective -- to downsize government to the point where they can, in Grover Norquist's words, "drown it in a bathtub:"

The Harper government, deeply committed to this ideology, has followed the formula closely. It has slashed taxes to the point that Ottawa now collects less revenue (as a proportion of GDP) than it did in 1940 – before we had national public programs for health care, pensions and unemployment insurance.

With such reduced revenue, the government insists it has no choice but to cut spending. Got to get those deficits down, Moody’s is coming, etc.

As a result of Harper’s spending cuts, Ottawa is projected to spend only 14 percent of GDP by 2018/19 – the lowest level of spending by Ottawa in seventy years ago.
The problem is that all this downsizing has been going on during the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Conservatives have completely ignored the lessons that tragedy taught us.

 The only thing they know how to do is sing the Moody Blues.


Stephen Harper and the Coming Storm

Montreal Simon - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 04:04


It's summer in Canada. The tragically short season when one should be allowed to forget about our grubby political scene, think about more beautiful things, and enjoy them while it lasts.

But this is Harperland, and there is a storm on the horizon.

Stephen Harper is on the move, and the next election campaign is about to begin in earnest.

With a barrage of propaganda. 
Read more »

The Bigot Rob Ford and the Homeless Gay Kids

Montreal Simon - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 00:57


OK. I know that only last night I strongly suggested that the time had come to ignore Rob Ford.

That since by now it has been clearly established that he is a crass bully, a vulgar misogynist, a low life thug, and a filthy bigot.

All that remained was to defeat him, humiliate him.

Or let nature takes its course...



If the Polar Bear God of the Great White North should choose to save us that way.

But I can't ignore this.
Read more »

Lies, damned lies, and...

Feminist Christian - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 17:17
Statistics. I am so tired of hearing shitty science extolled as good science by people who are trying to point out shitty science. Convoluted, no?

Okay, so it's like this. Some study comes out showing a correlation between X and Y. Not a causal relationship, but a strong correlation and a note in the study saying more research is necessary.

Crazy Nutbars Who Can't Distinguish Between Correlation and Causation (CNWCDBCC) jump on this study and scream WE TOLD YOU X CAUSES Y!
Snarky Motherfuckers Who Know Less About Stats Than They Claim (SMWKLASTTC) start snarking that correlation != causation, and conclude that X cannot cause Y, because crappy understanding of Science.

Listen SMWKLASTTC, in an observational study, a strong correlation is required for proof of causation. It is not the only requirement by a longshot. You also need to have a well-designed study, consistency (hence the "more research is necessary" in the study), dose-response relationship (more people exposed, more people affected), reversibility (remove the potential cause and the incidence rate should decline), biological plausibility and coherence with known facts.[1]

It's those last two that have the SMWKLASTTC crowd screaming. It's not plausible, blah blah blah. Remember when rheumatic fever was most emphatically NOT caused by strep? Yeah. That was what science said then. Now it doesn't. Because they proved it, and changed the known facts.

And what's really important is controlling your study. Removing or randomizing associated factors and doing so with a large enough sample isn't easy. Especially when studying the cause of Y (Cancer, autism, OCD, roseacea, obesity, warts, whatever). Because human genetics aren't easy to control for if you don't know what you're looking for.

Suppose for the sake of simplicity that we're looking at whether the sun causes skin to burn. We get a nice random sample of people from all around the world, and they're all sorts of natural shades, from ivory to black coffee. We've got hundreds of thousands of people, because we're awesome. But we don't know anything about melanin, because we're not scientifically advanced enough yet. All we know is that in 15 minutes in the sun, only a tiny fraction of our millions in the sample are burnt. So we conclude that the sun doesn't cause burns. Nope. Because science! Because stats!

Oh, but we left them out for another 15 minutes, and all of a sudden, a lot more of them are burned. Oh, huh. And it's only the pale ones. But there's no reason for this (remember, we still don't know about melanin), so the pale ones must be having a psychological reaction. Because science! Because stats! But the CNWCDBCC are screaming WE TOLD YOU X CAUSES Y! Crazy nutbars.

And then someone comes up with the idea of melanin. Crazy bastard! EVERYONE knows that pale redheads are just psychologically weak. But eventually, the idea catches on, and he proves that it exists. Huh. Cool. So the sun does cause burns in short periods of time. But only in people who are genetically sensitive to it. Well, I'll be damned! Science was wrong! New info! The correlation between being in the sun and getting a burn was actually causal all along. But until they knew about melanin, they couldn't prove it. And the crazy nutbars? Well, lucky guess, right?*

And what's worse, is that the same motherfuckers who swear that X doesn't cause Y are the same ones that love to jump into an argument about obesity and scream that overeating is the cause of obesity because of that whole calories in/calories out bullshit lie. They holler that eating too much and obesity cause diabetes, even though there is no causal link proven. There is a strong positive correlation. But they pick and choose. Much like we all do, I suppose. Some correlations we assume to be causal and some we don't, based on our beliefs. But if you're going to get sanctimonious with me about suggesting that I'm going to stay away from X because of its correlation with Y, and claim I fail at science, I am so going to do it right back at you.

So stop that shit. If someone tells you vaccines or glyphosate cause autism, strep causes OCD, aspartame causes cancer, eating sugar causes diabetes, or that wearing shoes will give you cancer*, feel free to tell them that current scientific consensus says that's not true. And when they yank out some study that shows a correlation, feel free to remind them in as condescending a tone as you can manage that correlation doesn't imply causation. But do try to remember that correlation doesn't exclude causation either. There may be some factor missing in the studies and those crazy nutbars may one day be vindicated. You know, like the ones who insisted that cigarettes cause cancer. The ones who were certain that epilepsy was physical, not psychological. The ones who said BPA was dangerous, even in tiny amounts - especially in tiny amounts. The ones who screamed that the poor air quality was giving them asthma. All of those crazy nutbars who couldn't prove causation until they did.

*And of course, sometimes the crazy nutbars are just crazy nutbars.
[1] http://learnandteachstatistics.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/proving-causation/
I picked my links more or less randomly. Fair warning! :)

An additional fact about Italy

Dawg's Blawg - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 15:08
Apropos of very little, I’m just here to remind you of one more thing about Italy that Dawg may have left out of his travel journals. I don’t know how he could have forgotten this! Did you know that... Mandos http://politblogo.typepad.com/

Turnabout: WE Have Conscience Issues Too

Dammit Janet - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 10:56
This is good.

An Edmonton teenager and her mother have successfully filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, alleging the Edmonton Public School District’s use of a Christian fundamentalist abstinence education program infringed upon their rights as non-Christians.
And it should start a trend.

@fernhilldammit @Auragasmic @01CindyLee @blueskies366 "...infringed upon their rights as non-Christians." WHY HAVEN'T MORE PEOPLE SAID THIS?

— MsBlack (@InternetPerson6) July 10, 2014

A similar objection to sex-ed taught by religious nutbars, who, by the way, run fake abortion clinics in the schools' neighbourhoods, was based on the lies and distortions typically offered in such courses.

Why bother with facts and science and tolerance? Let's just cut to the chase and use their tactics against them.

In other words, you have fucking conscience issues, nutbars? So do we.

Take your Christian Sharia crap and stuff it.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 07:36
This and that for your Thursday reading.

 - Joseph Heath responds to Andrew Coyne in noting that an while there's plenty of room (and need) to better tax high personal incomes, there's also a need to complement that with meaningful corporate taxes:
(A) crucial part of the Boadway and Tremblay proposal is to increase the personal income tax rate on dividends and capital gains. That’s where the “soak the rich” part comes in. The argument — and it is an interesting argument — is that dividends are currently taxed at a lower rate in the hands of individuals, in order to avoid “double taxation,” once in the hands of the firm, again in the hands of the beneficiary. However, if the corporation is able to shift the tax on profits to other constituencies, then the tax paid by corporations isn’t really being paid by shareholders. So by taxing corporations less, and taxing individual investment income more, the Boadway/Tremblay policy makes it more difficult for the rich to shift their tax liabilities onto others.

I can see the argument for this. However, there always the danger of equivocation when talking about “the rich” or “inequality.” There is broad-based economic inequality, of the sort captured by a GINI coefficient, and then there is the specific problem of the very rich (whom we can refer to, for simplicity, as the 1%). While it is true that most Canadians are already able to exempt the entirety of their investment income from taxation (through home ownership, RRSPs, TFSAs), this is manifestly not the case with the 1%, who continue to use corporate ownership as a vehicle for tax avoidance.

Shortly after writing about this, I came across the following working paper, by Michael Wolfson, Mike Veall and Neil Brooks, “Piercing the Veil – Private Corporations and the Income of the Affluent.” It seems to me that before we talk about “soaking the rich,” or about the distributive effect of corporate taxes generally, the issues raised by this paper need to be addressed.- And Eric Reguly discusses the role of executive pay and stock options in exacerbating inequality:
The rich and the super-rich are getting richer. We all know that. The question is why? Every economist on the planet has a theory. Some blame waning productivity gains or workers' losing their war with the robots. Others argue that the "offshoring" of jobs has suppressed wages, still others that lower taxes on capital gains have benefited the investing class. Thomas Piketty, the suddenly famous French economist whose bestselling book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has fired up the wealth-gap debate around the world, argues that the inequalities in income distribution have risen sharply because of enormous corporate pay packages. He's generally right (even though the Financial Times found fault with some of his historical data) but what he does not do in any detail is break down those packages into their component parts. He and his research colleague, Emmanuel Saez, use U.S. Internal Revenue Service data, which lumps all pay together as "salaries." But salaries make up only a tiny portion of the haul for top executives. The biggest single component is stock-based pay: the realized gains from exercising stock options and the vesting of stock awards.

How did stock-based pay turn into a monster? The simple answer is that no one--not shareholders, not employees, not regulators--has been able to stop the executives from rigging the game in their favour. What seemingly started out as a reasonable idea--handing executives some shares so they would have an extra incentive to boost shareholder value--has tipped so far into the executives' favour that the richest bosses are gaining oligarch status. Through the repricing of options and ever-rising stock awards, many executives have been able to ratchet up their pay even when their company's share price falls.
...
The executive pay system is so well organized, and so sublimely immoral, that it has taken on a racketeering flavour, all in the slick guise of aligning the interests of management and shareholders. Executives pad their boards with yes-men and -women who wouldn't dare suggest their boss is overpaid; compensation consultants are happy to recommend that the CEO's pay should fall in the peer group's top quartile; and the regulatory climate has been benign, thanks to the lobbying power of the companies.- Alison highlights yet another set of foreign-funded corporate mercenaries complaining that we shouldn't listen to environmental and social groups because they might be foreign-funded. And Kayle Hatt calls out the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's attacks on humanities research and other evidence-based analysis.

- James Moore's latest push toward a national corporate-privilege agreement has apparently given up on identifying more than a single trade barrier in favour of labelling the fictitious as "extraordinarily stupid" in the hope that will make up for the lack of actual examples.

- Finally, Seumas Milne writes that a reversal of privatization is one of the essential building blocks of long-term growth and stability:
Privatisation isn't working. We were promised a shareholding democracy, competition, falling costs and better services. A generation on, most people's experience has been the opposite. From energy to water, rail to public services, the reality has been private monopolies, perverse subsidies, exorbitant prices, woeful under-investment, profiteering and corporate capture.

Private cartels run rings round the regulators. Consumers and politicians are bamboozled by commercial secrecy and contractual complexity. Workforces have their pay and conditions slashed. Control of essential services has not only passed to corporate giants based overseas, but those companies are themselves often state-owned – they're just owned by another state.

Report after report has shown privatised services to be more expensive and inefficient than their publicly owned counterparts. It's scarcely surprising that a large majority of the public, who have never supported a single privatisation, neither trust the privateers nor want them running their services.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 07:13
Here, on the importance of coming together and putting people first in a time of crisis - contrasted against Stephen Harper and Brad Wall's apparent view that the real tragedy is that the oil sector might find it tougher to extract profits when it's causing humanitarian disasters.

For further reading...
- Harper's statement on the Lac-Mégantic oil-by-rail explosion is here. In addition to the callous focus on economic messaging, you'll also note a conspicuous lack of words like "oil", "rail" and "explosion".
- Similarly, here's Wall lamenting the fact that massive flooding might affect the accessibility of oil leases.
- Murray Mandryk points out that we should be planning for more extreme weather events based on both their increased frequency in the past few years, and the science of climate change. In contrast, Wall figures that if there isn't a perfect precedent for a type of disaster, then it's not his job to plan for it.
- Kim Mackrael and Justin Giovannetti report on MMA's latest statement that they'd have handed the oil shipped through Lac-Mégantic differently if they'd known how dangerous it was. Chalk this up as one more triumph for self-regulation.
- And finally, Katie Valentine maps out the at-risk areas for future rail disasters.

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