Assorted content to start your week. – Rhys Kesselman challenges the Fraser Institute’s grossly distorted conception of “tax competitiveness”: Even with lower overall tax burdens,Continue reading
While there will be plenty more to discuss about how the Conservatives’ choice of Andrew Scheer as their new leader, I’ll offer a few preliminaryContinue reading
The latest on the NDP’s leadership campaign. – Karl Nerenberg sees the youth debate in Montreal as having shown more differences in style than substance,Continue reading
Assorted content to end your week. – Rutger Bregman writes that the most extreme wealth in our economy is based on rents rather than productivity:Continue reading
This and that for your Thursday reading. – Erica Johnson reports that the problem of bank employees being pushed to fleece customers (legality be damned)Continue reading
The Libs have made it official that they’re breaking their promise of electoral reform with no reason other than their own blinkered refusal to acknowledgeContinue reading
Yes, there’s no doubt that Kevin O’Leary’s suggestion of selling off Senate appointments is nothing short of asinine. That’s not so much because the ideaContinue reading
Assorted content for your weekend reading. – Arancha González Laya distinguishes between international trade and corporatism – arguing that we should be looking to ensureContinue reading
Here, comparing the Conservative Party’s leadership race based on fear and division to the NDP’s which looks set to bring a progressive coalition together. ForContinue reading
It wasn’t long ago when a series of Canadian federal elections saw Stephen Harper and his Conservatives take more and more power – culminating inContinue reading
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.Continue reading
This and that for your Sunday reading.
– Chris Hamby starts off what looks to be a must-read investigation on the effect of ISDS rules by discussing how they’re used to prevent governments from punishing corporate wrongdoing:
(A)n 18-month BuzzFeed News investigation, spanning three continents and involving more than 200 interviews and tens of thousands of documents, many of them previously confidential, has exposed an obscure but immensely consequential feature of these trade treaties, the secret operations of these tribunals, and the ways that business has co-opted them to bring sovereign nations to heel.
Reviewing publicly available information for about 300 claims filed during the past five years, BuzzFeed News found more than 35 cases in which the company or executive seeking protection in ISDS was accused of criminal activity, including money laundering, embezzlement, stock manipulation, bribery, war profiteering, and fraud.
Among them: a bank in Cyprus that the US government accused of financing terrorism and organized crime, an oil company executive accused of embezzling millions from the impoverished African nation of Burundi, and the Russian oligarch known as “the Kremlin’s banker.”
Some are at the center of notorious scandals, from the billionaire accused of orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme in Mauritius to multiple telecommunications tycoons charged in the ever-widening “2G scam” in India, which made it into Time magazine’s top 10 abuses of power, alongside Watergate. The companies or executives involved in these cases either denied wrongdoing or did not respond to requests for comment.
Most of the 35-plus cases are still ongoing. But in at least eight of the cases, bringing an ISDS claim got results for the accused wrongdoers, including a multimillion-dollar award, a dropped criminal investigation, and dropped criminal charges. In another, the tribunal has directed the government to halt a criminal case while the arbitration is pending.
– And Dharna Noor interviews James Henry about the need for international cooperation – at both the government and public level – to crack down on tax evasion.
– Kev responds to the spread of #goodriddanceharper by pointing out that as satisfying as it was to turf the Cons from office, we’re still facing most of the same anti-social policies with a more media-savvy face. And Doug Nesbitt reminds us that the Trudeau Libs are no friends of labour – with Canada Post’s appalling attacks on vulnerable workers serving as just the latest example.
– Finally, the Canadian Press reports on a much-needed push for resources to address mental health in Canada.Continue reading
This and that for your Sunday reading.- Chris Hamby starts off what looks to be a must-read investigation on the effect of ISDS rules by discussing how they’re used to prevent governments from punishing corporate wrongdoing:(A)n 18-month BuzzFeed News …Continue reading
This and that for your Sunday reading.- Aditya Chakrabortty sums up George Osborne’s legacy – and give or take a Brexit vote, it looks awfully familiar for corporatist governments in general:The multi-million-pound spending spree wasn’t justifiable, …Continue reading
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- Mary O’Hara reviews Daniel Hatcher’s new book on the U.S.’ poverty industry which seeks to exploit public supports for private gain:(A) new book published last week by law professor and advocate Daniel…Continue reading
Assorted content to end your week.- Murray Dobbin is hopeful that we may be seeing corporate globalization based on unquestioned neoliberal ideology come to an end: There is no definitive way to identify when an ideology begins to lose its grip on the…Continue reading
Miscellaneous material to start your week.- Tyler Hamilton offers a roundup of the growing threat of climate change – and Canada’s shameful contribution to making it worse. – Andy Blatchford reports on the Libs’ plans for a massive selloff of federal p…Continue reading
Assorted content to start your week.- Tom Parkin points out that the Trudeau Liberals are falling far short of their promises to fund infrastructure even while tripling their planned deficit. – Jared Bernstein highlights how top-down block grants coupl…Continue reading
This and that for your Tuesday reading.- Glen Pearson makes the case for transcending cynicism in our politics, including the choice to stay involved once an election is done. And Ian Welsh reminds us that our definition of property is socially establi…Continue reading
This and that for your Sunday reading.- Steve Roth discusses how inequality and excessive concentration of wealth result in less growth for everybody – even as the researchers finding that correlation try to report the opposite. – Meanwhile, Davide Fur…Continue reading