Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- Thomas Walkom writes
that the federal Libs' idea of "real change" for the economy reflects nothing more than the same old stale neoliberal playbook:
At its core, the federal government’s “bold” new plan for economic growth is strikingly familiar.
The scheme, worked out by Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s hand-picked advisory panel, relies on privatization, deregulation, public-private partnerships and user fees.
It would reserve profitable public infrastructure for the private sector but have governments alone foot the bill for those schemes — such as environmental remediation and First Nations projects — that are destined to lose money.
It would have the government set up a new agency to convince foreign investors that Canada is open for business.
The panel, if I understand it correctly, thinks it insufficient to simply have the government borrow money at rock-bottom interest rates in order to build the things that need to be built.
Rather, it wants private capital to build and own, in whole or in part, these new infrastructure projects.
To make ownership worthwhile to private investors, the government would “attach revenue streams” to both new projects and to some already in existence.
Simply put, this means figuring out way to let private participants reap profits from, say, a bridge or subway line.
This is an old strategy. It is the one that underlies, for example, Ontario’s Highway 407, a toll road built with money raised by the provincial government and owned by private-sector operators.
It is also the strategy behind the current Ontario Liberal government’s baffling plan to sell off most of Hydro One, the provincial electricity transmission monopoly.
The problem with privatization is that it usually ends up costing consumers more. Various auditors general around the world, including Ontario’s, have made that point when examining public-private partnerships. - Michael Harris warns
Justin Trudeau about the dangers of breaking his most important promises (in terms of public cynicism as well as partisan outcomes), while Tom Parkin notes
that we shouldn't be surprised to see the Libs once again taking progressive support for granted. The Star's editorial board argues
that it's particularly important to keep commitments to accountable government, while Dene Moore reports
that indigenous leaders are rightly calling out Trudeau's year of failures. And Karl Nerenberg calls Trudeau out
for personally undermining his own promise of electoral reform.
- But if there's anything worse than breaking one-time promises, it's a government's inclination to approach all problems from an anti-social perspective - and Lib Finance Minister Bill Morneau's declaration
that workers should settle for precarious lives looks particularly telling on that front. Meanwhile, Peter Armstrong reports
on the fading prospects for retirement among younger generations of workers.
- Steven Pressman argues
that income inequality should be the core test for the U.S.' next president, while Kate Pickett reminds us
why it remains a vital issue everywhere.
- Finally, Sam Pizzigati proposes
a minimum base tax rate on the wealthy to help rein in inequality at both ends of the income spectrum.