What a load of crock ! We are supposed to be getting more choices to fly in a less expensive way! Yeah right! The Canadian Business article below is full of how pretty soon we will be paying a lot less when we decide to use Canadian air car…
Back in 2011, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that a man had been arrested in a very bizarre case. He had been caught publicly engaging in “sexual activity” with a pink inflatable pool toy . The Smoking Gun carried further details about the man, Edwin Charles Tobergata, then 32. Apparently, his neighbor had caught him in […]
The share of Ontario workers toiling for minimum wage has more than doubled from 4.3 per cent to 9 per cent since 2003, according to new research being released Tuesday. And those $10.25-per-hour workers are more likely to be women, … Continue Reading
Something very important happened this week.
For the first time, Presidents and Prime Ministers of several countries met with industry lobbyists to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic …
There is a deeper reason for the war on drugs, which is the central reason for the policy, even outweighing profits from private prisons and seizure of property by law enforcement officers, both of which no doubt are also significant and strong motivations for keeping the “war on drugs” going. Nearly thirty years ago, Chomsky […]
Bitcoin is going nowhere. I promise you that it won’t and I’m positive that I won’t be eating my words at a later date.
I’m going to tell you why: 1) Drugs and 2) Coffee:….
All in all, the Liberal Party’s “thinkers’ conference” was uninspiring and failed to deliver anything even approaching a complete and coherent election platform (which, by the way, was supposed to be ready by June 2009). Having said that, the main prom…
Small- and big-C conservative governments in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador have forced legislative votes on a Canada-EU trade and investment deal no one has seen and that the federal government admitted last week isn’t even finished…
The decade long petro-boom has caused major distortions in the Canadian economy, and has driven growing interpersonal and interprovincial inequality.
The flood of petro-revenue into Alberta — the source and destination of the vast ma…
Giant banks are the most powerful institutions in in the world — in many ways as powerful economically and politically as the biggest governments. Unfortunately, the banks frequently use their power in ways that damage the economy and hurt folks living around the world.
Two prominent research projects carried out in recent years paint a picture of a ruthless banking and financial sector powerful enough to dictate the nature of key parts of the world’s economy and challenge the strongest politicians.
Research carried out by three Swiss economists reveals the links and structure the giant financial institutions dominate and use to their advantage.
It’s likely that until recently very few people in Canada knew what a Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) was. But when the Harper government announced it had signed one of these things with China, the situation changed quickly. The F…
Perhaps the most ubiquitous justification for the P3 model is the notion of “risk transfer.” The City of Regina’s argument for the P3 wastewater treatment plant borrows heavily on this argument, regularly touting the transfer of risk from the pu…
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Joseph Stiglitz comments on the wider lessons we should take from Detroit’s bankruptcy: Detroit’s travails arise in part from a distinctive aspect of America’s divided economy and society. As the sociologists Sean F. Reardon and Kendra Bischoff have pointed out, our country is becoming vastly more economically segregated, which can be even more pernicious than being racially segregated. Detroit is the example par excellence of the seclusion of affluent (and mostly white) elites in suburban enclaves. There is a rationale for battening down the hatches: the rich thus ensure that they don’t (Read more…)
It started with a car accident in February, and the total loss of our 2004 Prius, which had only been ours for less than a year. We were quickly compensated for its market value and were in a position to buy another car, but we held off due to a…
Further to my earlier post on the OECD’s new data on employment performance across its 34 member countries (and Canada’s relatively poor ranking in that regard), another part of the OECD Employment Outlook 2013 that is also worth reading in detail is Chapter 2. It provides a thorough revision and updating of the OECD’s quantitative index of EPL intensity.
Assorted content to end your week.
- Martin Lukacs offers up the definitive response to the Lac-Mégantic rail tragedy:
The deeper evidence about this event won’t be found in the train’s black box, or by questioning the one engineer who left the train before it loosened and careened unmanned into the heart of this tiny town. For that you’ll have to look at how Lac-Mégantic was hit by a perfect storm of greed, deregulation and an extreme energy rush driving companies to ever greater gambles with the environment and human life.
It’s little wonder, then, that today’s oil and rail barons have cut corners with ease. They’ve been using old rail cars to ship oil, despite the fact that regulators warned the federal government they were unsafe, as far back as 20 years ago. A more recent report by a federal agency reminded the government that the cars could be “subject to damage and catastrophic loss of hazardous materials.” All were ignored. To top it off, the federal government gave the go-ahead last year to Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway to operate with just one engineer aboard their trains.
All of which means it will not suffice to find out if a brake malfunctioned the night of the disaster, or limit ourselves to pointing at the failings of lax regulation. The debate should be about the need for another kind of brake, over the mad pursuit of infinite resources, and the unshackling of reckless corporations, on a finite and fragile planet.
Canada’s political class will not be pleased by the lessons to be drawn. The government needs to get back into the business of heavily regulating corporations – through incentives, through taxes, and through sanctions. And this will involve not just grappling with the dangers of the transport of oil – which will remain unsafe, whether by rail or by pipeline – but starting a rapid transition away from an extreme energy economy entirely. That will not happen as the result of any government inquiry, but a noisy social movement that puts it on the public agenda.
- And Mike de Souza finds the Cons characteristically lying about their responsibility for lax regulation.
- Rick Smith tries to take some solace in the expected replacement of Peter Kent as the federal environment minister. But while I fully agree with his criticisms of Kent, I’d see little evidence that any Con in the same role could be expected to produce better results.
- Meanwhile, Jeffrey Simpson recognizes that the Cons won’t take a single step to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sector beyond what they’re forced into by outside actors. Nick Fillmore writes that any such pressure is limited by corporate influence over some environmental groups. And Clare Demerse offers a look at what we should expect from a changing climate.
- Finally, Richard Wolff discusses how more sophisticated rent-seeking and tax-sheltering at the top is cutting off most of the U.S. from the promised benefits of economic development:
Capitalism’s great relocation places a remarkable political question on history’s agenda today: can the system survive its relocation?
Capitalism grew successfully in its old centers despite working-class oppositions, expressed by labor unions, socialist and communist parties, anti-capitalist intellectuals and artists and by the resistances of its colonized subordinates. Part of that success – a basis of its 200-year global hegemony – was the ability of its working classes to wrest rising wages and/or standards of living.
In sharp contrast, capitalism’s great relocation now underway both presses and enables capitalists to cease raising wages and standards of living in its former, old centers (Europe, North America and Japan). Indeed, it is lowering them.
This and that to end your Thursday.
- The Huffington Post discusses a study showing how poor Canadians pay the highest marginal tax rates on income that pushes them over benefit thresholds. But it should be fairly obvious that the solution is to set up rational models for social programs which avoid counterproductive incentives – rather than following the C.D. Howe Institute’s apparent preference to freeze them in place. And indeed, Jordon Cooper writes that strategies based on the principle of investing where it’s needed most can go a long way in propelling citizens out of poverty for the (Read more…)
Five years after a global economic crisis unleashed chaos on markets everywhere, income inequality has become an inescapable political and economic issue, in Canada as elsewhere. That’s because of mounting evidence that the increasingly skewed d…
The next installment in our special series of commentaries celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic article on staple theory, focuses our attention on the latest staple boom to remake Canada’s economy: the bitumen sands of northe…
“I don’t get my authority from this preexisting paradigm which is quite narrow and only serves a few people. I look elsewhere for alternatives that might be of service to humanity.”
In an interview with BBC Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman, comedian Russell Brand lays into a discussion about political apathy, democratic inequality and capitalist institutions, bringing a mainstream light to the messages of marginalized people.
Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.
- Sean McElwee discusses the crucial distinction between wealth and merit – while recognizing which actually serves to improve the condition of those around a particular individual:
Because the wealthy are no longer willing to use their wealth for good, they have decided to glorify the wealth itself as good, thus, Harry Bingswanger writes in Forbes,Imagine the effect on our culture, particularly on the young, if the kind of fame and adulation bathing Lady Gaga attached to the more notable achievements of say, Warren Buffett. Or if the moral praise showered on Mother Teresa went to someone like Lloyd Blankfein, who, in guiding Goldman Sachs toward billions in profits, has done infinitely more for mankind. (Since profit is the market value of the product minus the market value of factors used, profit represents the value created.)Here we see the Randian vision in all its idiotic glory. If you could make a profit by pressing puppies into coffee, you deserve more moral praise than someone who dedicates their life to the poor. As E.F. Schumacher observed about capitalism, “Call a thing immoral or ugly, soul-destroying or a degradation to man, a peril to the peace of the world or to the well-being of future generations: as long as you have not shown it to be ‘uneconomic’ [unprofitable] you have not really questioned its right to exist, grow, and prosper.” To justify their wealth, the titans of industry must make themselves the center of economic progress and society, but the dirty little secret is that they aren’t; they’re just along for the ride. As Richard Hofstadter observed about American capitalism, “Once great men created fortunes; today a great system creates fortunate men.”…It seems almost axiomatic that no good person has ever done something great merely for a profit. They seek something more important than material possession. So why should we fear if the wealthiest left us? I would fear for the world if the empathetic, the intelligent, the compassionate, the fearless and the creative left us. We don’t celebrate these virtues unless they somehow lead to monetary gain, but often they don’t. Norman Borlaug, father of the “Green Revolution” that by some estimates saved 1 billion people from starvation and who was hailed as “… a towering scientist whose work rivals that of the 20th century’s other great scientific benefactors of humankind,” didn’t work for money; he worked to help people. A Dallas Observer story about him noted that he, “rarely indulged in the comforts of the industrialized West for any extended period of time. His choice has been to immerse himself in locales where people stare death in the face every day.” When a reporter saw Mother Teresa helping a disfigured leper, he said to her, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” Mother Theresa said, “Neither would I.”
- Tim Harper discusses how the Cons’ tough-on-crime standards don’t apply to Rob Ford (or anybody else within their political tent). Ivor Tossell recognizes that Ford has always preferred celebrity status to political responsibility – and that his consistent abuses of public office only feed into the former even as they make him unfit for the latter. And Tom Mulcair rightly points out that the Cons’ constant support for Ford means that they own his reckless behaviour.
- Finally, Margaret Munro reports that the Cons’ philosophy of not letting bad news get out has led them to suppress information about antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Canadian hospitals – making it far more difficult for health care providers to actually limit the damage from superbugs.
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- Nick Cohen writes that the corporate sector is home to some of the most dangerous cult philosophy in the world: (T)he language of business has become ever more cultish. In the theory of “transformational leadership”, which dominates the business schools, the CEO is a miracle worker. In Transformational Leadership, by Bernard Bass and Ronald Riggio, he is described, not by some gullible Forbes hack, but by two supposedly intelligent American academics. The transformational leader “inspires” his follower to “achieve extraordinary outcomes”, they say. He “empowers them” to “exceed expected performance” and show (Read more…)
I hope so. The hype and the unrealistic price tags, especially for the new downtown Toronto condominiums, was destined to end some day. The sooner the better, IMO.
On the other hand, the “bubble burst” doom and gloom has been predicted for the last several years and it has not made even a pinpoint of a dent in the roaring real estate market in not only Ontario but other cities of Canada.
So, let’s take all the gloom and doom with a pinch of salt.
Brenda Bouw writing at Yahoo Finance:
….‘Dr. Doom’ warns Canada’s housing bubble about to burst.
It’s the doctor versus the governor in the ongoing debate over the direction of Canada’s housing market.
On the pessimistic side there’s Nouriel Roubini, the man known as “Dr. Doom” for his pessimistic outlook on the global economy. He recently pinpointed Canada’s housing market as a bubble set to pop.
Canada is in the company of other housing markets that Roubini (known as one of the few to correctly predict the U.S. housing crash) says are showing “signs of frothiness, if not outright bubbles,” including Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
More optimistic is Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz, who reiterated again last week that he doesn’t see a bubble. Instead, he believes there will be a gradual slowing of sales activity in the years to come.
“The bank continues to expect a soft landing in the housing market,” he said, repeating calls economists have been making for the past several months.
So far, predictions on both sides are proving to be incorrect as Canada’ housing market continues to defy expectations. That’s despite rising borrowing rates being offered by the banks and government moves to tighten mortgage conditions to prevent a U.S.-style crash.
“2013 was a year of pleasant surprises for Canada’s housing market,” BMO Capital Markets senior economist Sal Guatieri said in a recent note. “Far from extending last year’s deep sales dive on mortgage-rule turbulence, the market pulled up sharply and is cruising at an above-normal altitude.”….
Last week, Statistics Canada released data from the third and final instalment of its 2011 National Household Survey (NHS). The new data dealt with housing and income of Canadians. It is still unclear how compatible this new data is with the Cen…
TORONTO – Two years after graduating from college with an accounting degree, Amanda Coombes expected to be working full-time in her field. Instead, she’s living with her mom and working at McDonald’s. These days, in hard-hit Ontario, a job is … Continue Reading
This and that for your Thursday reading.
- Alan Pyke observes that instead of reflecting any particular merit, massive payouts to CEOs are all too often made despite (or because of) executive incompetence and illegality: The best-paid CEOs in American business have overseen companies that were bailed out, been fired, and been caught committing fraud at alarming rates over the past 20 years, a new report finds. Out of the spots on an annual list of the highest-paid CEOs, nearly four in ten have gone to individuals who were eventually “Bailed Out, Booted, Busted,” according to the 2013 (Read more…)
The answer is Welfare.
No wonder people hooked to welfare never want to get off it. In some areas of the USA, welfare pays more than the PRETAX salaries paid to teachers, secretaries and even computer programmers. Yup …. better believe it. It’s the madness of the USA … and I fear it’s the same here in Canada and the UK and the rest of the EU. Is it any wonder that people flock to the West. Many immigrants come here for the safety and freedom that is in the DNA of the Judeo-Christian nations …..but the rest probably come for the free money. Do you blame them?
Brenda Cronin writing at Wall Street Journal:
.….Hawaii offers the most generous welfare benefits package in the U.S., but a cluster of New England and Mid-Atlantic states aren’t far behind…..
…. The state-by-state estimates are based on a hypothetical family participating in about seven of the 126 federal anti-poverty programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; the Women, Infants and Children program; Medicaid; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; and receiving help on housing and utilities.
In Hawaii, that translates into a 2013 package of $49,175 — up $7,265 from an inflation-adjusted $41,910 in 1995. Rounding out the top five areas for welfare benefits, along with their 2013 amounts, were: the District of Columbia ($43,099), Massachusetts ($42,515), Connecticut ($38,761) and New Jersey ($38,728).
The state with the lowest benefits package in 2013 was Mississippi, at $16,984, followed by Tennessee ($17,413), Arkansas ($17,423), Idaho ($17,766) and Texas (18,037)……..
…….The authors found that in 11 states, “welfare pays more than the average pretax first-year wage for a teacher [in those states]. In 39 states, it pays more than the starting wage for a secretary. And, in the three most generous states a person on welfare can take home more money than an entry-level computer programmer.”………..
Assorted content to end your week.
- Henry Blodget recognizes that the systematic corporate squeeze on mere workers represents a deliberate choice rather than an inevitability:
One of the big reasons the U.S. economy is so lousy is the American companies are hoarding cash and “maximizing profits” instead of investing in their people and future projects.
This behavior is contributing to record income inequality in the country and starving the primary engine of U.S. economic growth–the vast American middle class–of purchasing power. (See charts below).
If average Americans don’t get paid living wages, they can’t spend much money buying products and services. And when average Americans can’t buy products and services, the companies that sell products and services to average Americans can’t grow. So the profit obsession of America’s big companies is, ironically, hurting their ability to accelerate revenue growth.
One obvious solution to this problem is to encourage companies to pay their people more — to share more of the vast wealth that they create with the people who create it.
The companies have record profit margins, so they can certainly afford to do this.
But, unfortunately, over the past three decades, what began as a healthy and necessary effort to make our companies more efficient after the malaise of the 1970s has evolved into a warped consensus that the only value that companies should create is financial value (cash) and that the only thing managers and owners should ever worry about it making more of it.
This view is an insult to anyone who has ever dreamed of having a job that is about more than money. And it is a short-sighted and destructive view of an economic system…
- And Kendra Coulter makes the case for a retail revolution to ensure that the employment of the future provides a reasonable standard of living for workers:
Most retail jobs epitomize the scourge of precarious work. Retail jobs usually mean poverty-level wages and income insecurity. Schedules are erratic, volatile and provided at the last minute. Retail workers are often disrespected and dismissed as lacking skill, education or value. In other words, retail does not simply reflect inequities. Retail contributes to increasing inequality. This needs to change.
…More retail workers are joining a growing movement of low-wage service workers who recognize the need to transform lousy jobs into better jobs. Workers at Sirens in Brampton have just chosen unionization as a way to raise the standards at work, for example. These young workers believe retail jobs can and should be good jobs, regardless of who shops in the stores and which brands are sold. Notably, Holt Renfrew workers have repeatedly told me that high prices do not automatically translate into high quality jobs.Undoubtedly, the retail terrain will change, but retail jobs are here to stay. It is high time to look beyond the brands and the boardrooms, to how retailers of all kinds treat us. We are not numbers, nor are we disposable. We are workers, citizens, and people who matter.
- Sum Of Us is rightly challenging Eli Lilly’s attempt to sue Canada for following an unbiased patent approval process rather than simply handing over half a billion dollars in public and patient money.
- Don Lenihan discusses the difference between the “political” and “policy” types of politicians – and I’ll readily approve of his implied view that we should encourage more of the latter. But I do think it’s worth noting that the few Cons who have ever ventured into that territory have faced more reprisals than just being denied cabinet positions, while having no apparent role in shaping legislation – meaning that there’s only so much power to be taken back by individual MPs without some more concerted push.
- And finally, Glen McGregor’s story on Stephen Harper’s continued refusal to allow repairs at 24 Sussex Drive might serve to perfectly sum up the Cons’ philosophy: Harper and company are perfectly happy with their current life of luxury, and aren’t about to let trifles like the public interest interfere.
Chrystia Freedland, the prominent Reuters editor just recruited by the Liberals to contest the nomination in the Toronto Centre riding vacated by Bob Rae, remarks how capitalism deserves credit as “the best prosperity-creating system humanity has come up with so far.” True enough, it has done better than feudalism, slavery, hunting, fishing and food gathering. The issue is whether it is time to move past profit seeking as the answer, and on to a better economic system, or whether capitalism just needs to evolve.
South Granville street in Vancouver has lost almost all its grocery stores, as commercial rents skyrocket. This has left seniors without good food options. The West Side Mobile Market aims to fill the gap. ZsuZsi Fodor is the coordinator of the West Si…
Remember that literary classic, Frankenstein? Scientist Victor creates a monster, then realizing the mistake he has made tries desperately to kill the beast. Seems an apt description for Canada’s housing market and Ottawa’s so far futile efforts to cool it off. This more modern story takes us back to the early days of the great financial crisis, when Canada seemed to be teetering on the brink of the worst economic crisis since the great depression. Back in 2006 and before, the housing market was pretty simple,you saved up some money for a down payment and then applied for a (Read more…)
Ottawa, ON – Responding to reports today that Canada and the European Union have concluded negotiations on a massive new corporate rights treaty called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the Council of Canadians is demanding that parliament and the public be given an opportunity to review and make changes to the deal, or even to reject it outright, before it can be signed.
I’ve been away from my desk for a few weeks (late vacation) and in that time we’ve seen several reports of an impending conclusion to the four-year-old Canada-European Union negotiations on that thing called CETA.* One said there had been a brea…
After weeks of rumours, it’s now official: the CETA talks have produced an “agreement-in-principle.” This proposed treaty is about far more than simply trade. It is a constitutional-style document that affects patent protection for drugs, f…
Assorted content to end your week.
- David Green asks whether decades of corporate insistence on “flexible” labour markets (i.e. ones which offer no stability for workers) have resulted in the improved wages promised at the outset: Increased wages are how we share the benefits of economic growth among a wide range of people in our society. It’s hard to see the fairness in policies that seek to stamp out wage increases wherever possible.
But this raises the second question – has the policy of increased labour market flexibility worked? Has it delivered a better life for most Canadians?
Senator Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin made headlines these past two weeks asking the Prime Minister to keep them on the Senate so they could afford their prescription drugs.
It’s not often that we hear of people unable to leave a job in Canada be…
Buried in the federal government’s recent Update of Economic and Fiscal Projections are figures showing the Harper government is set to squeeze federal government’s role to the smallest it has been in 70 years. (Bill Curry at the Globe…
This piece from Linda Tirado – describes herexperience of what it is like to be poor and how that works into your life and your goals… go read the full article at Alternet.org.
“I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don’t pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It’s not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn’t that I blow five bucks at (Read more…)