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Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 07:55
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Bill Moyers writes about the conflict between the wealthy few seeking to preserve their privilege, and the balance of society seeking fairness for everybody:
I keep in my files a warning published in [The Economist] a dozen years ago, on the eve of George W. Bush’s second term. The editors concluded back then that, with income inequality in the United States reaching levels not seen since the first Gilded Age and social mobility diminishing, “the United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society.”

And mind you, that was before the financial meltdown of 2007–08, before the bailout of Wall Street, before the recession that only widened the gap between the super-rich and everyone else. Ever since then, the great sucking sound we’ve been hearing is wealth heading upwards. The United States now has a level of income inequality unprecedented in our history and so dramatic it’s almost impossible to wrap one’s mind around.

Contrary to what the president said at Rutgers, this is not the way the world works; it’s the way the world is made to work by those with the money and power. The movers and shakers—the big winners—keep repeating the mantra that this inequality was inevitable, the result of the globalization of finance and advances in technology in an increasingly complex world. Those are part of the story, but only part. As G.K. Chesterton wrote a century ago, “In every serious doctrine of the destiny of men, there is some trace of the doctrine of the equality of men. But the capitalist really depends on some religion of inequality.”
...
...The winners bought off the gatekeepers, then gamed the system. And when the fix was in, they turned our economy into a feast for the predators, “saddling Americans with greater debt, tearing new holes in the safety net, and imposing broad financial risks on Americans as workers, investors, and taxpayers.” The end result, Hacker and Pierson conclude, is that the United States is looking more and more like the capitalist oligarchies of Brazil, Mexico, and Russia, where most of the wealth is concentrated at the top while the bottom grows larger and larger with everyone in between just barely getting by.  - Chris Lehmann reviews Brooke Harrington's Capital Without Borders as a useful look at how "wealth management" serves to sever wealth from social responsibility. But Canadians for Tax Fairness point out some good news in the CRA's response to the Panama Papers - including audits of 60 individuals and corporations caught in the offshoring scheme.

- Unfortunately, John Ivison suspects that the Libs are gearing up to push through the Trans-Pacific Partnership to further the trend toward corporate control.

- Phillip Inman reports on the latest study from Global Justice Now showing that corporations are pushing further up the list of the world's largest economic entities, leaving an increasing number of countries behind. But there may be some opportunity to direct that news toward positive ends: if we're going to need some outlet for Canadian national pride, surely staying ahead of Wal-Mart should be a reasonable minimum standard for global relevance.

- Finally, Kendall Worth offers some suggestions as to how to teach students about poverty in order to better understand the lives of people in their communities. Alana Semuels points out how the U.S. in particular has gone in the opposite direction by setting up institutional barriers to any serious economic study of inequality. And Peter Armstrong discusses how traditional economic policy is failing to produce the growth that would normally be expected - with a top-heavy distribution of wealth and power looming as the prime culprit.

Joseph Stiglitz On The TPP

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 06:02
A very brief video, but a very important message about the dangers of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism that is a central part of the Trans Pacific Partnership, and something enthusiastically embraced, it would seem, by our 'new' government:

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What You Do To Lose

Northern Reflections - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 05:01


Donald Trump should be losing the race for president -- and he should be losing badly. Tom Walkom writes:

He is a serial bankrupt who, during his career has left customers and suppliers alike high and dry.
His take-no-prisoners approach to immigration, combined with his remarkable rudeness, has alienated entire voting blocs, including women, Hispanics and Muslims.
Even for a politician, he is singularly untruthful. PolitiFact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times, has rated 35 per cent of his statements as flat-out false and an additional 18 per cent as “pants-on-fire” whoppers.
His platform contains some content. But much is a hodgepodge of braggadocio and bluster.
Yet the polls are getting tighter because Hillary Clinton keeps stumbling -- literally, as she did on Sunday -- and figuratively as well:
Alas for the Democrats, the answer seems to be that Clinton — while perhaps able as an administrator — is a terrible presidential candidate.
Her friends insist she is warm and personable in private. But on television, she comes across as strident and defensive.
She is so wary of the press that it became news around the world last week when she finally allowed reporters onto her campaign plane.
Her platform is more comprehensive and nuanced than Trump’s. But I suspect few American voters would be able to tell you what’s in it.
And like Trump, she is not entirely truthful. According to PolitiFact, she tells fewer whoppers and flat-out falsehoods than Trump. But she makes many more statements that are rated “mostly false.”Indeed, when the three categories of “mostly false”, “false” and “pants on fire” are added up. Trump and Clinton almost tie. Some 71 per cent of his statements are rated untruthful compared to 69 per cent for Clinton.
It's on the notion of truthfulness that both campaigns are faltering. Hillary's refusal to acknowledge her battle with pneumonia plays into voter doubt more than anything Trump could say about her.
The old saw remains true: It's not what you do to win that makes the difference. It's what you do to lose.
Image: slate.com

Kellie Leitch and the Con Cinderella

Montreal Simon - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 04:08


I'm sure Kellie Leitch was desperately delighted when her campaign manager, the Prince of Darkness Nick Kouvalis, suggested a way to boost her profile.

And make her the Cinderella of the Con leadership campaign.

By slipping on the slipper of bigotry again, and proposing to screen immigrants for "anti-Canadian values."

But although it has raised Leitch's profile, it hasn't quite made her the Cinderella she was hoping to become.
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The Ghastly Hypocrisy of the Demagogue Donald Trump

Montreal Simon - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 02:35


I don't know how Donald Trump has managed to restrain himself, and not gloat about Hillary Clinton's bout of pneumonia. It must be really difficult.

Considering what he was tweeting just six days ago.


And how hard he has been trying to portray her as "lying AND dying Hillary Clinton."
Read more »

Maybe We Can Rent Space in Guantanamo

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 18:11
You might expect something goofy from Tony Clement and it seems he never disappoints. What is it this time? Why it's terrrurissts, that's what. They're in our midst, everywhere and, besides, Kellie Leitch has no monopoly on brain farts.

Tony's idea is to jail potential terrorists. People deemed a terrorist threat should either be monitored 24/7 or, failing that, simply given free room and board at the GreyBar Hotel.


"If the safety of the public cannot be guaranteed through a peace bond, it has to be guaranteed through incarceration," he told reporters on Parliament Hill.

Clement also wants terrorist suspects to be on a published "wanted" list.

Clement said both measures would be subject to judicial review and require an "evidentiary threshold" be met.

There you go, first Leitch and now Clement. And you thought this sort of bullshit only happened in the States.


A Helluva Time to Have a Prime Minister Stuck in 1980s Economics

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 18:01


It's hard to guess what's going to be left of Canada or its economy when Justin Trudeau wakes up from his Rumplestiltskin economics and discovers the world he's been dreaming of has left the building - just like Elvis.

Justin, sad to say, is asleep at the wheel when it comes to Canada's economy. He still believes globalism and free trade remain viable. He's also probably got a polyester leisure suit tucked away in the recesses of his closet just in case they come back in style (hint: they won't).

The problem with Justin's economic orthodoxy is that it's from a time past. The economy has moved on and the old rules are no longer working.

"The economy today is much more confusing than it used to be," says Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with CIBC World Markets. "We used to have a normal economic cycle where the economy goes up, inflation goes up, you raise interest rates, you go into a recession and then you cut interest rates and everything goes back to normal."

"Now we have a situation where it's not working," he says.

Tal says today's economy is much harder to predict. Our integrated modern economy means what's happening in China has a direct impact on mortgage rates here in Canada. "And this link, this correlation is much larger than it used to be because of globalization." But Tal says that's only part of the picture.

"There is a growing gap when it comes to income distribution in Canada. This means that average numbers don't tell you anything any more," he says. "Because you look at average GDP and average income and it doesn't really tell you the story. So you cannot look at average numbers and say 'Canada is doing OK' because within this number you have a huge gap between people who have a lot and people who don't have much."

The old models don't necessarily work any more. Tal points to one odd fact that stands out for him. Canada is the No. 1 country in the world in terms of education, but we are also the No. 1 country in terms of educated people who live in poverty.

"Economics 101 is obsolete in many ways," says Tal. "The great recession changed a lot of things. That is why we are trying all kinds of things we never tried before: negative interest rates, quantitative easing and that's clearly confusing."
The last thing Canada needs right now is a prime minister clinging to a failed and destructive economic ideology, neoliberalism. Yet Junior keeps making it plain - he's that very guy.

Fetal Gore Impact Study FAIL

Dammit Janet - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 16:28
Back here I promised to have at the "study" commissioned by the Fetal Gore Gang that tries to deliver on its long-standing claims that shoving gory images in people's faces does anything but make them recoil and occasionally toss chocolate milk.


Here is the announcement of the study's birth.

The study titled A Statistical Analysis on the Effectiveness of Abortion Victim Photography in Pro-life Activism was commissioned by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR). The CCBR developed a survey — administered by the independent company Blue Direct — which targeted the population of geographic areas in which CCBR campaigns had been run using abortion victim photography. With a sample size of more than 1,700 respondents, the survey results are sufficient to gauge public opinion within a five-point margin, the study claims.
Link to PDF for them's as like to look for themselves.

The PhD in need of a few bucks author of the report is Jacqueline Harvey. Among her credentials: U.S. Policy Analyst for Euthanasia Prevention Coalition International, team member at Charlotte Lozier Institute (anti-choice wannabe answer to prestigious Guttmacher Institute), and featured for-hire false witness.

'Nuff said there.

The independent company mentioned in the LieShite quote is Blue Direct.

It's based in Alberta and it pitches itself thus:
As a results oriented company, we’ll work with you while continuously testing and tweaking what we’re doing to ensure you get the best results.I read the "study" (twenty minutes I'll never get back). My eyes were already crossed by the biased language and idiosyncratic categories when I got to page 20 and saw this table.



First, just try to make any sense of that. "Cultural impact" is a thing? Not in any sociology textbook I can find. Also "cultural impact" heading has some numbers, but the footer has some other numbers.

"Pro-life percentage points gained"? Is that like IQ points lost trying to make sense of this scientifically and statistically illiterate word salad?

And the "points gained" is 1.20% and the MOE of the study is acknowledged at 5%?

Moronic.

The take-away: This is why Real Science™ requires peer review.

The conclusion: Come back, Fetal Gore Gang, when you can get this kind of crap published in a real scientific journal.

Fake Clinics Use Federal Money to Fund Summer Jobs for Apprentice Liars

Dammit Janet - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 14:52
A few days ago, we reported on fake clinics, aka crisis pregnancy centres, getting government funding.

We wondered what programs these lying liars could possibly qualify for.

So we went looking.

It's tremendously tedious but it's possible.

One has to search by department or agency.

We went to Service Canada looking for organizations that have received funding and found this or the downloadable/searchable PDF.

Golly gee, in 2015 the Canada Summer Jobs program gave our money to four fake clinics in Alberta.

Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre: $12,782 (2 jobs)

• Lethbridge Pregnancy Care Centre: $5,817 (1 job)

• Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre Society: $6,038 (1 job)

• Cochrane Pregnancy Care Centre: $3,766 (1 job).

Congratulations, Canadian taxpayers. You/we funded five students just in Alberta just in one year to learn to lie to and manipulate pregnant people at religious fake clinics.

We looked further. The Calgary fake clinic has been receiving federal money to fund summer jobs every year since at least 2010, starting then at $11,000, going up to the present $12,782 (inflation?).

But we're just getting started.

We have identified 22 other fake clinics taking federal money to create summer jobs, some, like the Calgary gang, for several years.

We'll be delving into those in future posts, as time allows. (We do have to make a living. No taxpaying chumps are funding this research.)

She Asked For It

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 13:53
Kellie Leitch has made her 'values test' a central issue in her leadership campaign, and Evan Solomon, now host of CTV's Question Period, asked a logical question about her politics of division and exclusion. However, as you will see, Leitch clearly lacks even the scintilla of integrity it would take to answer his question honestly.

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A Eulogy for Our Modern Golden Calf

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 11:23
Has America's 2016 election spelled the demise of the West's Golden Calf? Harrison Stetler, writing in The New Republic, claims this election may have undermined America's, and by extension the West's, compulsive bond to GDP growth.

“These are thy Gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” Such were the words with which the Israelites greeted the Golden Calf furnished by Aaron during Moses’s absence, as the prophet ascended Mount Sinai to converse with God. The proverbial Golden Calf is a fetish, a false idol, an irrational obsession that afflicts a community and blinds its members to more sober and realistic habits of mind. The story is a reminder that, whether or not God himself exists, humans will always create a god to prostrate themselves before.

It just so happens that the 2016 election has ushered in a rejection of a similar Golden Calf, a god that has been imagined as offering a panacea for fundamental social and political problems. That Golden Calf has been the idea that economic growth and a constantly expanding gross domestic product are the ultimate bellwethers for economic and social health. “It’s the economy, stupid.” Just make it grow and the rest will fix itself.
...One of the most important developments of the 2016 cycle has been the challenge by counter-establishment forces against base assumptions of what makes a vibrant and equitable economy. Across left and right, we are witnessing the emergence of a new politics, a revolt against the growth fetish that has been propagated by the political leaders of the preceding decades.
...Despite the fact that the United States’ GDP now exceeds pre-crisis levels by over $2 trillion, and the unemployment rate is at a post-recession low of 4.9 percent, a growing proportion of the American electorate is not impressed. Economic growth has returned, the voters have understood, but that has by no means correlated with an economic system that works for them.

Bernie Sanders’s insurgent campaign was propelled by different data: gaping income inequality, stagnant wages, the amount of growth siphoned off by the 1 percent, and the underemployment rate. Donald Trump’s campaign has partly been a cri de coeur against a neoliberal consensus that had favored trade deals at the expense of manufacturing jobs in the United States. Both candidates, using new economic criteria, brought new voters into the fold and have helped lay the foundation for an alternative way to determine whether the economy is doing what it should be doing.

The real escape from the stranglehold of growth, however, was achieved on the left of the American political spectrum. Sanders’s discussion of a “rigged economy” was an effort to break free from New Democrat economic orthodoxy. We’ve had periods of “economic growth” over the past three decades, Sanders’s argument ran, but that hasn’t translated at all into a healthy economic life for the majority of Americans. Sanders also argued that this economic growth more often than not ran parallel with a relative decline in the standard of living enjoyed by most Americans.
Sanders’s shattering of the New Democratic model, which came on the heels of Occupy Wall Street and its offshoot movements, came at a fortuitous time for leftist Democratic politics. A deluge of academic research has confirmed that economic growth is not a reliable indicator of broad-based economic health. The greatest contribution to this field in recent years has been Thomas Piketty’s totemic work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century,which argued that over the last four decades the overwhelming majority of the population in the United States has witnessed a relative decline in income and standard of living—all while economic growth has continued apace.

...Sanders has made it excusable to mention the interests of workers, as opposed to that of growth and profit, when it comes to gauging economic health. His egalitarian vision has gone a long way towards expanding our collective vocabulary for considering economic life. And that vocabulary, in significant ways, has become embedded in the platform of the Democrat who defeated him in the primary and will likely occupy the Oval Office come 2017.


Has Sanders sent America's pendulum swinging back? Will this election mark the beginning of a process to change America's economic and political paradigm? What of Canada where we have a prime minister who tenaciously clings to the Golden Calf?

Well That Season is Just About On Us Again So Listen Up, Guys.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 10:07
 If you're like most guys, you know this is true


Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 08:19
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- David Dayen and Ryan Grim write that "free trade" agreements are in fact turning into little more than cash cows for hedge funds and other big-money speculators:
Under this system, a corporation invested in a foreign country can appeal to arbitration panels, consisting of three corporate lawyers, if that country enacts a law or regulation that violates a trade agreement or discriminates against the company. The ISDS courts can then award billions of dollars to the corporation to compensate it for the loss of expected future profits.

The problem is that these courts can also be used by speculators, who buy up companies for the sole purpose of filing an ISDS claim, or who finance lawsuits from corporations for a piece of the claim award.

“ISDS allows a small group of ultra-rich investors to extract billions of dollars from taxpayers while they undermine financial, environmental and public health rules across the world,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), an early opponent of ISDS, told HuffPost. “Our trade deals should not include ISDS in any form.”
...
The use of ISDS as a moneymaking engine, rather than for its initial purpose ― to protect foreign investors from having their factories expropriated or their businesses nationalized ― raises the question of whether there’s a better system available.

“Why should hard-won sovereign advances, like rules against polluting or consumer protections, be at risk when the obvious solution is for the investors to put their skin, not ours, in the game?” wondered Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden and a critic of TPP. “The simple solution is to have them self-insure against investment losses.”- Mike Balkwill highlights the need to stop consulting endlessly about poverty, and instead take action by ensuring people have enough resources to meet at least their basic needs. Ann Hui reports on the especially dire circumstances facing First Nations families in Northern Ontario who have to spend upwards of half of their income on overpriced food. And Miguel Sanchez criticizes the Wall government's attack on benefits to people with disabilities in Saskatchewan.

- Nicole Thompson points out how the Libs' changes to the temporary foreign worker program are actually making matters worse for caregivers by eliminating any right to apply for permanent resident status. And Martha Burk documents how workers can lose out when employers force them to accept payroll cards rather than paycheques.

- Erich Hartmann and Alexa Greig argue that it's long past time for Canada's federal government to provide stable funding for health care in partnership with the provinces, rather than contributing only as much as it wants to at any given point. And Tom Blackwell reports on the dangers of relying on private providers by highlighting how they inevitably leave the public system to deal with complications.

- Finally, Tom Parkin notes that we should base our discussion of electoral reform on the actual experience of similar countries, not the obviously-false claims of people wanting to fearmonger us into accepting the status quo. And Andrew Coyne draws a parallel to the census as an argument for mandatory voting.

Trudeau Has Some Explaining To Do

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 06:05

While our 'new' government continues upon the Harper neoliberal path, apparently never having met a free trade agreement it doesn't like, one issue that never seems to be honestly addressed by either Mr. Trudeau or his most ardent acolyte, Chrystia Freeland, is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions.

Thanks to always astute Toronto Star readers, this contentious issue is being kept in the public forum.
It seems if we look behind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ‎”sunny ways” persona, we find he is perpetuating the agenda of the Harper government.

The hearings and meetings being held across the country are a sham, as the PM’s G20 remarks on European trade and the Trans Pacific Partnership ‎show the Liberal government is right in line with the Harper regime, promoting flawed so-called trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Consultation with Canadians on the TPP has consistently raised concerns and objections over the same issue that concerns Europeans – the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses that give corporations power above that of the federal government and bypass our judicial court system‎.

The PM states that Canadians are largely supportive of international trade, but, like Stephen Harper’s omnibus bills that contained lots of hidden, usually objectionable, legislation, the TPP is only partly concerned with trade.

Justin Trudeau seems intent on ignoring Canadians concerns over increased corporate powers as well as the relatively toothless and unequal protections the TPP offers for workers’ rights and the environment‎.

He misleads Canadians by characterizing those who are opposed to the “hidden” aspects of the TPP (and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA) as being “anti-trade.”

In this respect, he is simply following in Stephen Harper’s shoes, albeit with a sunnier disposition, placing corporate interests above those of the Canadian people.

Terry Kushnier, ScarboroughWhat is missing in this news report is that most people, in fact most Americans as well as Canadians, are not against the enhancement of international trade. They are against the dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS) that is included in most trade agreements, which requires dispute settlement by non-governmental arbitration panels.

Historically these are loaded toward corporations that sue sovereign governments, which are legislating on behalf of their citizens. Abuse of this system abounds, for example tobacco companies suing Uruguay for loss of income due to anti-smoking campaigns. They lost that one in the end but the inhibition of social (and environmental and labour) programs, and the cost to governments in worrying about and fighting such “disputes” so that corporations can do international business unfettered, is inexcusable. Much of the opposition to recent draft trade agreements such as CETA by social democratic countries in Europe is for this reason.

Roger H. Green, Brighton

Apparently, Justin Trudeau is going to continue the foolish initiative of Stephen Harper and grant investor protection rights to powerful corporations in order to sign CETA, the Canada-Europe trade deal. These rights would allow foreign companies to sue the Canadian taxpayers for billions of dollars if our elected Parliament passes laws regarding, for example, the environment, health or financial regulations, that adversely effect their bottom lines.

What twisted ideology would inspire any thoughtful politician to undermine our democracy in this way? That Justin would even consider this trade-off is proof that corporations already possess too much power. And these are the same corporations that protect billions of dollars through tax avoidance and evasion.

Stop this madness. Mr. Trudeau, please refuse to sign any trade deal that would erode our sovereign rights.

Cliff Lelievre, BurlingtonIn addition to the above letters, there is a wealth of information readily available demonstrating the folly of embracing deals that elevate corporations over citizens. What happens next is up to all of us.
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How Times Have Changed

Northern Reflections - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 05:36


Peter Mansbridge will retire on July 1st of next year. Michael Harris will not mourn his passing. But what really gets Harris' goat is Mansbridge's salary. According to Jesse Brown at Canadaland, Peter pulls down a million dollars a year and then some:

If Brown has it right (Mansbridge declined to cite alleged inaccuracies in the story) Canada’s decaffeinated Ted Baxter makes that every year for reading the news — and occasionally ad libbing when there is nothing to report. That, in fact, may be the best job description of Mansbridge —Bloviator-in-Chief of the CBC. His idea of breaking a story is announcing that Santa’s sleigh is a tad late leaving the North Pole, or that he, Mansbridge, is sporting the same tie as Justin Trudeau.

Mansbridge apparently gets “prominence and excellence” pay, begging the question who decides those momentous issues? Could it be Petey himself? There is also a lump sum cheque in lieu of “overtime.” The public even pays for this shopworn meat puppet’s expensive suits — $20,000 a year, or about a new suit every month. Did the taxpayers have to rent him an extra walk-in closet too?
And, until recently, like other CBC "stars," Mansbridge was a hit on the speaking circuit. Canadaland claims that:

Peter Mansbridge was paid $28,000 for a single speech to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), while he was still actively reporting on their industry. Mansbridge tried to dismiss the whole story as the mischief of a gaggle of bloggers.
His pension won't be meager, either:

He did not correct Canadaland when it reported that he will pull down $500,000 a year when he is finally dragged out of the studio. If that indeed is the real figure, it is not a pension, it is looting the public purse, because all of this, the outrageous salary, the unnecessary perks, the pension that is really a cash-for-life lottery win ($10,000 a week) each and every year of his retirement, is paid for by the “cash-strapped” CBC, a.k.a. the government; a.k.a. the taxpayer; a.k.a you and me.
Mansbridge isn't the only CBC personality whose activities have caused an uproar lately. Think Rex Murphy, Amanda Lang and Evan Soloman.

The problem, Harris writes, goes back to CBC management:

While passionate champions of public broadcasting like Ian Morrison fought the Harper government to preserve the CBC’s budgets, these managers pissed away a king’s ransom on third-rate egomaniacs who thought they should have constellations named after them.

And at the same time as they were doing that, these same managers allowed their news and information shows to be overrun by lobbyists, stink tanks, and political hacks. Who in their right mind would put Stockwell Day on an expert panel?
No one ever claimed that CBC newsreaders were scintillating personalities. But, then, no one ever accused Earl Cameron or Stanley Burke of stealing the cookies from the cookie jar. And the Mother Corp used to produce some genuine journalists, like Morley Safer or gravel-voiced Norman DePoe.

How times have changed.

Image: cbc.ca


Why Hillary Clinton's Illness Could Boost Her Campaign

Montreal Simon - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 03:10


I didn't think the U.S. presidential race could become even more nightmarish. But I was wrong.

For on a day when that country was remembering its 911 dead, and vowing to stay strong. And less than sixty days before the election.

There was Hillary Clinton wobbling worrisomely and practically collapsing with pneumonia.
Read more »

Sunday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 09/11/2016 - 12:55
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Christopher Ingraham points out that while many luxuries are getting cheaper with time, the necessities of life are becoming much more difficult to afford:
Many manufactured goods — like TVs and appliances — come from overseas, where labor costs are cheaper. “International, global competition lowers prices directly from lower-cost imported goods, and indirectly by forcing U.S. manufacturers to behave more competitively, with lower prices, higher quality, better service, et cetera,” Perry said.

On the flip side, things like education and medical care can’t be produced in a factory, so those pressures do not apply. Compounding it, many Americans are insulated from the full costs of these services. Private and public insurance companies pay most medical costs, so there tends to be little incentive for individuals to shop around for cheaper medical care.

In the case of higher education, the nation’s massive student loan industry bears much of the upfront burden of rising prices. To the typical 18-year-old, a $120,000 tuition bill may seem like an abstraction when you don’t have to start paying it off until your mid-20s or later. As a result, the nation’s college students and graduates now collectively owe upward of $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.
“Prices rise when [health care and college] markets are not competitive and not exposed to global competition,” Perry said, “and prices rise when easy credit is available.” Hence, our current predicament. We can afford the things we don’t need, but we need the things we can’t afford.- Alex Usher notes how one of the same cost pressures applies in Canada, as universities losing public funding are squeezing students for massive tuition increases. And Lindsay Kines reports that the Clark government's decision to make life less affordable for people with disabilities in British Columbia has led to 3,500 people giving up their transit passes.

- Natalia Khosla and Sean McElwee discuss the difficulty in addressing racism when many people live in denial of their continued privilege.

- Paul Wells comments on SNC Lavalin's long track record of illegal corporate donations to the Libs and the Cons.

- Finally, Gerry Caplan points out how Justin Trudeau is dodging key human rights questions. And Mike Blanchfield reports that the Libs' willingness to undermine a treaty prohibiting the use of cluster bombs represents just another area where they're leaving the Cons' most harmful policies untouched.

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