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Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

mar, 06/28/2016 - 18:33
Enclosed cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

mar, 06/28/2016 - 06:55
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Noah Zon points out that while it's impossible to avoid rhetoric about eliminating "red tape" for businesses, we've seen gratuitous barriers put in place to prevent people from accessing needed public support:
It’s a good principle to make interacting with government as easy as possible. For example the Ontario government has ensured that businesses only have to call one number to get business information — whether about buried utilities or regulations more generally. The federal government has implemented service standards for when businesses need to deal with regulators, and they are reporting on performance. Without the red tape slogan, you might just call these efforts good policy, good governance, or good service delivery.

Despite these efforts, some of the most problematic and unnecessary hurdles have been left untouched: the ones that affect individual people, most notably people living with low incomes. The maze of requirements and departments that low-income individuals have to navigate to access the benefits and services that they need and are entitled to is often more complex than those faced by businesses. This red tape burden exacerbates problems for vulnerable people and runs counter to the point of the policies and programs — which is to help people.

The compliance cost of getting and keeping the support that people are entitled to can be overwhelming. It takes away time and money from things that would improve people’s lives and help them move out of poverty, such as joining a community group or taking a course. Accessing and keeping social assistance can require extensive paperwork, starting from participation forms through monthly reporting, that take up the time of people in need, caseworkers and non-profit agencies. An individual needing support because of a disability could face multiple assessments to prove his or her need in different ways for different programs. To get the tax credits that people are entitled to and rely on, vulnerable people may have to rely on tax preparation services or miss out altogether if they don’t file taxes.

Researchers have found that excessive time spent navigating red tape can exacerbate poverty. Our poverty reduction policies are making things worse at the same time that they are supposed to be making things better. Making it easier to navigate the systems that are meant to help those living in poverty is essential to making it easier for people to improve their lives.- Daron Acemoglu, Jacob Moscona, and James A Robinson highlight the vital role technological investment by governments has made in past economic development. And Brendan Haley writes that a successful transition to a green economy will need to involve a combination of broad carbon pricing and targeted measures for polluting sectors.

- Marco Chown Oved reports on the Canada Revenue Agency's willingness to allow large-scale tax evaders to avoid being publicly named.

- The Star's editorial board writes that the Libs' plan for after-the-fact review by MPs sworn to secrecy falls far short of addressing the problems raised by an obtrusive security state. And Thomas Walkom is duly skeptical that the Libs will bother to address the real issue.

- Finally, Maxwell Cameron discusses the political incentives created by false majorities, and suggests that a more proportional system should lead to far better behaviour from our leaders.

Monday Morning Links

lun, 06/27/2016 - 06:17
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jeremy Smith argues that the Brexit vote result should serve as a compelling reminder of the dangers of neoliberalism. John Hood focuses on inequality in particular as a driving force behind the willingness of voters to leave the European Union, while Mike Carter points out the connection between economic and industrial decay and the vote.

- The Economist highlights the value of pre-school funding in ensuring that children from all economic backgrounds are able to fulfill their potential. 

- Reema Patel discusses the need to give citizens a direct role in setting economic policy - as well as one project designed to achieve that goal.

- Tom Parkin points out the vital role the labour movement played in fighting to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan. And Lana Payne comments that younger workers will gain the most from the CPP expansion.

- Bruce Campbell writes that rail safety is still in desperate need of improvement three years after the Lac-Mégantic disaster.

- Finally, John Anderson questions why Netflix, YouTube and other online media platforms are being exempted from the obligations of other media entities operating in Canada.

Saturday Afternoon Links

sam, 06/25/2016 - 15:22
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Albert van Senvoort points out that poverty is more difficult to escape in Canada today than it was two decades ago. And Jean Swanson discusses the desperate need for more action from all levels of government to ensure the right to housing is met in British Columbia.

- Danielle Ivory, Ben Protess and Kitty Bennett shed light on the U.S.' widespread privatization of emergency services - with its obvious implication of putting profit before the most urgent needs of citizens:
The business of driving ambulances and operating fire brigades represents just one facet of a profound shift on Wall Street and Main Street alike, a New York Times investigation has found. Since the 2008 financial crisis, private equity firms, the “corporate raiders” of an earlier era, have increasingly taken over a wide array of civic and financial services that are central to American life.
Today, people interact with private equity when they dial 911, pay their mortgage, play a round of golf or turn on the kitchen tap for a glass of water.
Private equity put a unique stamp on these businesses. Unlike other for-profit companies, which often have years of experience making a product or offering a service, private equity is primarily skilled in making money. And in many of these businesses, The Times found, private equity firms applied a sophisticated moneymaking playbook: a mix of cost cuts, price increases, lobbying and litigation.
In emergency care and firefighting, this approach creates a fundamental tension: the push to turn a profit while caring for people in their most vulnerable moments.
For governments and their citizens, the effects have often been dire. Under private equity ownership, some ambulance response times worsened, heart monitors failed and companies slid into bankruptcy, according to a Times examination of thousands of pages of internal documents and government records, as well as interviews with dozens of former employees. In at least two cases, lawsuits contend, poor service led to patient deaths. - Michal Rozworski points out that a combination of corporate tax slashing and generous treatment of tax havens has led to massive amounts of cash being stashed offshore rather than being invested in

- Finally, Robert Reich argues that the key issue for Hillary Clinton in the midst of a tumultuous presidential campaign should be to clean up the mess that is the U.S.' political system and make democracy work for citizens. And James Wood examines the proposals on tap from Alberta's political parties to do the same at the provincial level.

Musical interlude

ven, 06/24/2016 - 19:39
Pearson & Hirst - Endor

Friday Morning Links

ven, 06/24/2016 - 08:21
Assorted content to end your week.

- In the wake of yesterday's Brexit vote, David Dayen points out how the failure of technocratic policy left many voters believing they had nothing to lose in abandoning the European Union. Dawn Foster highlights the role Conservative-driven austerity played on that front. And Owen Jones comments on what comes next:
(W)hile much of the blame must be attributed to Cameron, far greater social forces are at play. From Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders, from Syriza in Greece to Podemos in Spain, from the Austrian far-right to the rise of the Scottish independence movement, this is an era of seething resentment against elites. That frustration is spilling out in all sorts of directions: new left movements, civic nationalism, anti-immigrant populism.

Many of the nearly half of the British people who voted remain now feel scared and angry, ready to lash out at their fellow citizens. But this will make things worse. Many of the leavers already felt marginalised, ignored and hated. The contempt – and sometimes snobbery – now being shown about leavers on social media was already felt by these communities, and contributed to this verdict. Millions of Britons feel that a metropolitan elite rules the roost which not only doesn’t understand their values and lives, but actively hates them. If Britain is to have a future, this escalating culture war has to be stopped. The people of Britain have spoken. That is democracy, and we now have to make the country’s verdict work.

If the left has a future in Britain, it must confront its own cultural and political disconnect with the lives and communities of working-class people. It must prepare for how it responds to a renewed offensive by an ascendant Tory right. On the continent, movements championing a more democratic and just Europe are more important than ever. None of this is easy – but it is necessary. Grieve now if you must, but prepare for the great challenges ahead.- Steve Burgess discusses the difficulty in placing strong views on free trade at any single point on the political spectrum. And Branko Milanovic discusses the different underlying issues giving rise to populist movements around the globe.

- The Associated Press reports on the IMF's recommendation that the U.S. catch up to the world on minimum wage, social benefits and tax policy.

- Charles Mandel writes about Canada's failing fisheries. And Jason MacLean notes that our environmental laws as a whole need to be brought back up to par following their gutting by the Cons.

- Finally, Alex Boutilier reports on Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien's rightful concerns that Canadian privacy law is also decades out of date.

Thursday Morning Links

jeu, 06/23/2016 - 08:29
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Oxfam points out the latest World Wealth Report showing that extreme inequality and wealth continue to grow around the globe. And AFP reports on the IMF's warnings that inequality and poverty represent significant dangers for the U.S. economy.

- Kim Moody writes about the state of the U.S.' working class, and notes that issues such as temporary and precarious employment are only part of the larger economic puzzle. And Robert Skidelsky makes the case that a basic income could address problems with both our current job market and our fraying social safety net.

- Shannon Daub discusses the connection between austerity and climate politics, as a starved public sector both forces people into survival mode in the short term and limits the resources available for a transition in the long run.

- Michael Wilshaw laments the continued disparity in educational outcomes based on wealth in the UK. And Sandy Garossino points out how private schools in Canada are subsidized with massive tax breaks, even as our public education system is under attack.

- Finally, HealthDay reports on new research suggesting that even a modest increase in the minimum wage can work wonders for child health.

New column day

jeu, 06/23/2016 - 08:12
Here, on this week's Canada Pension Plan announcement - and the Wall government's surprising decision to merely delay rather than outright obstruct a national boost to retirement security.

For further reading...
- Kevin Milligan, Sheila Block, Adam Mayers and the Canadian Press each offer useful looks at what the CPP expansion means. And Milligan has also pointed out this chart from the OECD on the small amount of social security contributions currently made by Canadians:

- Meanwhile, Jennifer Paterson compares Canada's pension system to other countries in terms of the benefits currently offered. And anybody looking for source information can find it from Service Canada.
- In light of the distance Canada has to go in order to catch up to other developed countries, Jeremy Nuttall reports on Hassan Yussuff's push to further strengthen the CPP.
- Finally, CBC reports on the Saskatchewan Party's grudging acceptance of the deal - along with its spin that delaying implementation is somehow a worthwhile achievement. And David Giles highlights the view of the CFIB and other corporate spokesflacks that any income security for workers is too much.

Wednesday Morning Links

mer, 06/22/2016 - 10:40
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Paul Willcocks discusses British Columbia's two-tiered education system and the role it plays in exacerbating inequality - which is well worth keeping in mind as Saskatchewan deals with the fallout from the Wall government's refusal to fund public schools. And Charlie Smith reviews Andrew MacLeod's A Better Place on Earth as an important contribution to understanding the reality of poverty and inequality in B.C.

- Meanwhile, David MacDonald highlights new Statistics Canada data showing how parental income tends to influence children's opportunities:
Previous estimates in Canada put our income transmission at 23%, but the new report pegs it at 32% . Put another way, a third of what you’ll make in your best years can already be predicted by what your parent made in their best years. That means that both advantage and disadvantage are passed down generationally from parent to child.

In Canada, our income transmission rate isn’t quite as bad as the US, where half of a person’s income is pre-determined by what their parent made. So, what does that mean for the rags-to-riches “American Dream?” Well, it’s actually a bit of an impossible dream. Of developed nations, the US is actually one of the countries where it’s least likely for children to move from abject poverty to millionaire’s row.
If you look only at the intergenerational income transmission of rich parents to their kids, it’s far higher than the average, at 45%. This means that half of the keys to the top 1% club in Canada are passed from parent to child. Since this linkage is so strong, it also means that it’s much more difficult for someone whose parents were middle class (or low income) to work their way up into the top 1%.- Noah Smith comments on the IMF's belated recognition that forced austerity is generally an obstacle to economic development, not a factor promoting it. And Tracy Brown Hamilton outlines the Netherlands' upcoming study of the effect of a number of basic income models.

- Alison writes about the first meeting of Canada's parliamentary committee on electoral reform - with particular emphasis on Nathan Cullen's work to encourage direct public participating in the proceedings, coupled with Jason Kenney's determination to stifle it.

- Finally, Andrew Mitrovica points out the mathematical certainty that the Libs' idea of oversight for Canada's surveillance state will be insufficient.

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

mar, 06/21/2016 - 17:10
Illuminated cats.

On risk factors

mar, 06/21/2016 - 07:58
Yes, "grasping at straws" is the right analysis of the Sask Party's attempt to make excuses to gift SaskTel to the corporate sector. But it's also worth noting something those straws have in common.

Presumably any risk to SaskTel can be paired with an opportunity for another party looking to profit within the telecom sector.

For example, the risk that SaskTel will be sold off for scrap means that some corporate benefactor will profit at the expense of Saskatchewan's public. And so too does the presence of any risk from telecom providers looking to expand their presence in Saskatchewan imply a correlated opportunity for a telecommunications provider which is able to plan outside a single province's borders.

Needless to say, it was the Sask Party government's choice to take that opportunity away from SaskTel with a "Saskatchewan First" policy - which prevents SaskTel from even looking for ways to generate profits and mitigate risk by using its knowledge around the world. And if SaskTel is indeed weaker for that gratuitous decision, there's nobody to blame but Brad Wall.

Tuesday Morning Links

mar, 06/21/2016 - 07:37
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Neil Irwin writes about the White House Council of Economic Advisers' study of employment policy which found that superior protections for workers (rather than the undermining of employment standards in the name of "flexibility") correlate to improved workforce participation.

- MaxSpeak discusses the value of universal social supports in contrast to means-tested programs which compromise the idea of a common interest - and warns of the dangers of pushing the latter at the expense of the former:
The fact is that the great, social-democratic systems of Europe are powered by mass consumption taxes that finance big spending programs. The most powerful, time-tested tool against inequality is universal social insurance, not means-tested benefits. The prominence of the latter in the U.S. welfare state is a bug, not a feature. Trading social insurance for means-testing is a concession to inequality. Sometimes such concessions can facilitate reasonable bargains for greater benefits, sometimes concessions are required in adversity. The problem is elevating such a device as a basic ideal.

A principled progressive would have welcomed discussion of Sanders’  proposals, rather than revert to bromides about fiscal austerity. The simple truth is that any universal benefit financed by progressive taxation will retain a net, progressive redistributive impact. This is not an economic theory; it’s arithmetic. Nobody has suggested that Sanders’ tax proposals are not progressive. Of course the practicality of any proposal is fair game, but that was not the basis for most criticism. Instead we had ostensibly liberal Democratic Party politicians upholding the tenets of neoliberalism.- Fortunately, at least one of Canada's major social programs is now set to be expanded and improved thanks to the federal-provincial agreement to boost the Canada Pension Plan.

- Michael Hiltzik suggests that prescription drug costs can be expected to drop if manufacturers are simply required to account for their pricing.

- Judith Lavoie discusses a push by Canadian health care providers to end the use of coal power. And Charles Mandel points out the Canadian connection between big coal and climate change denialism.

- Finally, Katrina Vanden Heuvel comments on the importance of freedom of the press to challenge all forms of concentrated power. And Jordon Cooper points out that any place of power or privilege can and should be used to help the many people excluded from those positions.

Monday Morning Links

lun, 06/20/2016 - 08:13
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Andrew Leach's after-the-fact addendum to his review of Alberta's climate change policy offers an important reminder as to the costs of inaction on climate change - and the message is one which applies equally to other jurisdictions which are seen as climate laggards:
Our emissions do not simply come from our large industries—almost everything else we do has greenhouse gas emissions impacts, whether it’s driving our cars and trucks, heating our homes, or purchasing goods delivered here by plane, truck or train. Reducing emissions in Alberta will not be easy—we don’t have a magic wand, and if cost-effective, lower-emissions substitutes were available in all cases today, we wouldn’t be facing this problem. But, not reducing emissions in Alberta is also potentially very costly. We’ve already seen policies and actions aimed at our resource sector whether through the rejection of pipelines, the application of low carbon fuel standards, or challenges to companies investing here from their shareholders or from sustainable investors. If Alberta chooses not to act, those costs won’t go away. And, we’re part of a federation, and our federation has committed to an ambitious target to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions. There will be costs if Alberta is not a constructive partner in those efforts—continued market access challenges or unfavourable policy design. Those costs may be difficult to quantify, but that doesn’t mean they’re not real. Finally, of course, we know that emissions impose costs on others around the world—if we use the most recent estimates, we are each imposing on average $2,800 to $4,500 worth of costs on current and future global citizens every year with our emissions, and many of these impacts affect some of the poorest countries on earth.
(T)he business-as-usual case that a modeller might use to assess the costs of these actions does not exist for Alberta. We see today increasing pressure on firms to mitigate carbon risk, increasing pressure on governments to achieve their Paris commitments, and increasing focus on Alberta as a symbol of inaction on climate change. We do not see how a comparison to a case where Alberta can continue to find viable markets for its products and see investment return to the oil sands in the absence of credible action on greenhouse gases exists. What would likely exist as an alternative is a world where Alberta faces increasingly discriminatory and punitive policies and barriers to trade both from within and from outside Canada, and where firms face mounting shareholder and institutional investor pressure not to invest in Alberta. The costs of these are speculative, and more difficult to quantify, but we are confident that they far and away exceed the cumulative costs of the actions we’ve recommend. - Meanwhile, Larry Buhl reports on widespread wage theft by the U.S.' oil industry.

- Rejean Hebert makes the case for publicly-funded home care and long term care to avoid the need to use our hospital care system to address disabilities and chronic conditions.

- Charles Smith points out the dangerous (if consistent) precedent set by the Saskatchewan Party's refusal to fund the contract it negotiated with Saskatchewan's teachers.

- Finally, Martin Regg Cohn traces the path toward an expanded Canada Pension Plan. And Mark Hancock writes that an improved CPP needs to produce a more secure retirement for everybody, rather than being whittled down to nothing by exceptions and carve-outs.

Sunday Morning Links

dim, 06/19/2016 - 08:36
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Brian Nolan, Max Roser, and Stefan Thewissen study (PDF) the relationship between GDP and household income across the OECD, and find a nearly universal pattern of nominal economic growth which isn't finding its way into households (which is particularly extreme in the U.S.). Roy van der Weide, Christoph Lakner and Elena Ianchovichina examine (PDF) high-end house prices as an indication of the exorbitant high-end incomes which don't show up in individual tax records. And Sean McElwee and Roberta Barnett discuss how big-money donors are able to distort U.S. politics.

- Sujata Dey points out that even from the standpoint of gross economic numbers, there's reason to be wary of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other new trade agreements. But Cory Doctorow highlights the greater danger of deals which undermine democratic decision-making and public interests.

- Steven Chase reports on Canada's increased sales of military equipment to human rights abusers.

- Rob Carrick points out that financial institutions are being forced to plan for a millenial generation with little capacity to borrow or save.

- Finally, Nicholas Kristof acknowledges that the theory behind draconian welfare policies was entirely wrong - and that the primary effect of restricting access to social programs has been to foment poverty in a country which can afford to eliminate it.

Saturday Morning Links

sam, 06/18/2016 - 10:29
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Phillipe Orliange discusses the significance of inequality in the developing world as a problem for both fairness and economic development:
The question of inequality has become so important because societal cohesion broadly depends upon it. It is not normal for 1% of the population to possess as much wealth as the other 99%.
There is also a moral side to the question. We cannot say that we are building a shared world in which nobody will be left behind, while accepting this unreasonable monopolisation of wealth. This alone is reason enough to act.

We now also know that inequality is bad for economic growth. A number of studies from the IMF prove this to be true. And finally, the victims of inequality are at higher risk of exposure to the effects of climate change.

So not only is inequality morally reprehensible, but it is also economically inefficient. And the effect is cumulative.- Meanwhile, Hassan Yussuff points out that all Canadians stand to benefit from the added security of an improved Canada Pension Plan.

- David Suzuki discusses the role of feed-in tariffs in encouraging the development of distributed renewable power. And Kevin O'Connor reports on Mark Jacobson's lesson to Brad Wall on the relative costs and benefits of transitioning toward cleaner energy as opposed to barrelling ahead with a fossil fuel-based economy.

- Finally, Marie-Danielle Smith reports on Libs' decision to provide extra funding to Canada's Information Commissioner to deal with a serious backlog of complaints. But as Keith Reynolds notes in discussing new plans in British Columbia, most governments reviewing the access-to-informatoin system end up taking obvious steps to undermine its operation where it seems inconvenient for the party in power - and the Trudeau Libs look to be no exception.

Friday Evening Links

ven, 06/17/2016 - 19:21
Assorted content to end your week.

- Ed Finn reminds us that "free trade" agreements have always served to increase the wealth and power of those who already have the most at the expense of social interests. And Scott Sinclair and Angella MacEwen each offer their take on Parliament's hearings into the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

- Meanwhile, Zach Dubinsky reports on another set of unfair deals which have allowed corporations to send profits offshore to avoid paying taxes with (primarily the Cons') government approval.

- But in case anybody expected the Libs to live up to any different set of principles, Mia Rabson points out Robert-Falcon Ouellette's craven politicking around a basic income - consisting of seeking media attention for his support for at least studying the concept before going along with a party-line vote against it. (And it's particularly striking that even the Con members of the finance committee were willing to support the motion - leaving the Libs alone to shoot it down.)

- Frances Baum, David Sanders, Matt Fisher, Julia Anaf, Nicholas Freudenberg, Sharon Friel, Ronald Labonté, Leslie London, Carlos Monteiro, Alex Scott-Samuel and Amit Sen examine the influence of multinational corporations on the health of individuals, while pointing out the desperate lack of any meaningful assessment on an organizational basis. 

- Finally, Teuila Fuatai discusses how Canada's employment insurance system is set up to disadvantage mothers in lower-earning families.

Musical interlude

ven, 06/17/2016 - 16:25
Lumineers - Stubborn Love

Thursday Morning Links

jeu, 06/16/2016 - 07:54
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Rafael Gomez and Juan Gomez offer a look at the state of Canadian workplace democracy, as well as some useful proposals to improve it.

- The New York Times editorial board points out how the U.S.' temporary worker programs are predictably being abused by employers to lower wages. And Sean Silcoff and Michelle Zilio report that the Trudeau Libs are going out of their way to make it easier for Canadian employers to do the same - even as their Labour Minister claims (at least in front of an audience of workers) that she'd prefer to rein in our reliance on temporary foreign workers.

- Rachel Obordo highlights the challenges facing young workers trying to pay increasingly inaffordable rents out of limited wages. Rayhanul Ibrahim discusses the contrast in spending patterns based on income, with the inability of poor individuals to afford durable goods standing out as a particularly stark difference. And Jim Tankersley points out that exactly that gap may exacerbate recessions as poorer people without sufficient social supports feel compelled to put off any spending during economic downturns.

- Andrew Nikiforuk examines some of the consequences of fracking which have resulted from dangerous development in the absence of meaningful study or regulation. And Katie Herzog discusses why we can expect the future to be shaped by renewable energy investment rather than by fossil fuels.

- Finally, Gus Van Harten studies the special privileges the Trans-Pacific Partnership would hand to the investor class at the expense of the general public.

New column day

jeu, 06/16/2016 - 07:36
Here, on the Senate's recent attempts to claim any relevance to Canadian politics, and what they should tell us about the failures of our actual elected representatives.

For further reading...
- OpenParliament's status report on Bill C-14 (featuring the votes from the House of Commons) is here. Catherine Tunney reported on the Senate's debate on amendments to Bill C-14, while John Paul Tasker follows up on its final vote.
- The report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce seeking to undermine provincial governance is here (PDF). And for background as to the absurdity of demanding wholesale limitations on government based on a small number of "barriers" which could best be addressed individually, see here, here and here among other examples.
- And finally, for more on the Trudeau Libs' refusal to develop a federal policy on climate change, see my past discussion here and here

Wednesday Morning Links

mer, 06/15/2016 - 09:09
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Louis-Philippe Rochon reminds us why even if we were to (pointlessly) prioritize raw GDP over fair distributions of income and wealth, inequality is bad for economic growth in general:
The more we redistribute income and wealth, the more consumption increases, which then increases demand. In turn, this should encourage the private sector to invest, thereby accelerating the growth process.

So reducing inequality, in addition to social and health benefits, has important economic implications: our economies grow, and growth itself becomes less volatile. In short, inequality is bad economics.
To restart economic growth, a major preoccupation of many Canadians, there are a number of policies that can be adopted. For instance, higher incomes can be taxed at a much higher marginal rate, including capital gains and income earned from dividends; wealth can also be taxed more.

In light of the Panama Papers, government can close tax loopholes; we can also prevent the private-sector practice of buying back their own shares, which unnecessarily inflates the dividends of shareholders, which in turn favours short-term financial gains to the detriment of long-term economic growth.

Finally, we can adopt a full employment policy.- Meanwhile, PressProgress points out new research by Cristobal Younga, Charles Varnera, Ithai Lurieb andRichard Prisinzanob showing no statistically significant connection between tax rates and millionaires' locations - signalling that there's no reason to take seriously any threat that more progressive taxes will lead the wealthy to move to avoid paying their fair share.

- Aru Pande discusses how U.S. non-profits are being forced to try to fill in glaring gaps in public services for children living in poverty.

- Ian McLeod reports that the Libs' plans to do anything about C-51 are limited to secret Parliamentary oversight after the fact - meaning that the public will have continue to have no idea how its rights are being violated. And Michael Geist writes that there's no longer any doubt just how much needless surveillance is taking place in Canada.

- Finally, Zeynep Engin reviews Beth Simone Noveck's Smart Citizens, Smarter State on the future of governance:
The key terms that I believe best describe the spirit of the book emerge as ‘targeted expertise’, ‘crowdsourcing’, ‘experimental governance’ and ‘citizen engagement’. Instead of the traditional advisory committee model that mainly relies on stakeholder representation (missing the epistemic value of committee membership) and typically produces a report or a set of recommendations over months or even years, Noveck suggests that new technologies should allow us ‘to make consultation on a day-to-day basis and to strive for constant conversation with an engaged and knowledgeable public’. Going beyond ‘crowdsourcing widely to crowdsourcing wisely’ to match the right experts to the right opportunities on a large scale is more likely to lead to faster and better decision-making. Modes of expert engagement can be accommodated at all stages of ideation, discussion, formulation and assessment as opposed to limiting public participation to consultation on pre-formulated drafts of ‘professional policy-makers’ in government departments. This would also lead to redefinition of ‘the public service and the public servant as the steward of such a conversation’. The challenges with this type of engagement and potential strategies to overcome them are also covered widely.
Those with technology and ‘hard’ sciences backgrounds would hugely benefit from a comprehensive understanding of government and policy domains in order to set new research agendas with significant potential for wider impact. At the other end of the spectrum, those with politics and social science backgrounds would find it very helpful for understanding the current technologies of expertise and the new trends in public decision-making, offering great promise for transforming the ways that governments should operate under the ongoing data revolution.