Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Leadership 2017 Reference Page (Pinned)

A one-stop source for general links on the 2017 NDP leadership campaign, to be updated as the race progresses. Please feel free to add additional suggestions in comments. (And note that new posts will appear below this one.)

General Information
NDP Constitution (PDF)
Leadership Rules (PDF) - Voting Process
NDP Leadership 2017
Leadership Debates: Ottawa (March 12) - Montreal (March 26) - Sudbury (May 28) - St. John's (June 11) - Saskatoon (July 11) - Victoria (August 2) - Montreal (August 27) - Vancouver (September 10)

Candidate Information
Candidate Website Twitter Profile Analysis Ranking
Charlie Angus CharlieAngusNDP.ca @CharlieAngusNDP Profile

Niki Ashton NikiAshton2017.ca @NikiAshton Profile

Guy Caron GuyCaron.ca @GuyCaronNPD Profile

Ibrahim Bruno El-Khoury n/a @wiseexpert Profile

Peter Julian PeterJulian.ca @MPJulian Profile

Jagmeet Singh JagmeetSingh.ca @theJagmeetSingh Profile

Pat Stogran PatStogran.ca @PatStogranNDP Profile

Other Resources

All Posts By Label

Babble threads: 1 - 2 - 3
Peter Julian Forum
Twitter: #ndp - #ndpldr

Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday Morning Links

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, many Americans bear much heavier non-tax burdens than their Canadian counterparts. These costs can be so large as to swamp any tax-rate differentials between the countries. Private health insurance in the U.S. can cost a family US$15,000 or more per year. Inferior public schools in parts of the U.S. can impel families who can afford it to expend large sums on private schooling.

When provided by U.S. employers, health insurance constitutes a heavy cost burden to business that their Canadian counterparts don’t bear. Those costs are covered by public health care in B.C., which accounts for much of our higher tax rates, but overall doesn’t detract from our tax competitiveness.

The authors further ignore the impact of B.C.’s astronomical housing costs on the health of the economy. B.C. businesses must offer higher pay to attract and retain employees or limit their hiring and expansion. Both the B.C. Greens and NDP have taxation-based proposals to reduce home prices — aimed at foreign and speculative buyers — which would assist local business hiring while augmenting public funds.

In short, “tax competitiveness” is a catchphrase with limited meaning unless one delves more deeply. Warnings that NDP and Green tax initiatives would endanger the B.C. economy are alarmism. Rather, the added revenues could support public programs shortchanged for years by the provincial government’s dogged quest to be “tax-competitive.”
- Meanwhile, Wendy Bach examines the difference between the lucrative and effort-free tax giveaways available for the wealthy in the U.S., and the miserly and punitive benefit system for people who actually need public assistance.

- Josh Keefe and David Sirota discuss the obvious corporatist bent of Donald Trump's infrastructure scheme - including his plan to hand free money to the corporations taking over what's already been built with public funds. And Bill Curry reports on the obvious vulnerability of the Libs' planned infrastructure bank to political interference.

- Finally, Michael Harris writes that the Cons' thoroughly uninspiring leadership race has left the door wide open for the NDP to make the most compelling offer of change for the better in the next federal election campaign.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Nick Saul reminds us of the need for strong and consistent public pressure to end poverty. And the Economist points out how punitive criminal justice policies coupled with a lack of rehabilitation strand people in poverty rather than allowing for a path toward contributing to society.

- Thomas Walkom comments on Ontario's relatively unambitious workplace review - and worries that even its modest suggestions won't end up becoming (or being enforced as) law. And Angella MacEwen examines the state of federally-regulated workplaces and finds plenty of precarity which needs to be addressed.

- Meanwhile, Lana Payne highlights the need to keep counting gender iniquities as long as they persist.

- Laurie Monsebraaten reports on the role a basic income can play in encouraging social entrepreneurship.

- Finally, Justin Ling writes that the Libs' attempt to normalize a less-accountable and more-disruptive surveillance state was met with ample public pushback - though it remains to be seen whether they'll bother to make good on their promise of any change whatsoever to the Cons' C-51.

On changing opposition

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 preliminary thoughts now - starting with a warning about knee-jerk reactions.

We shouldn't presume that Scheer's apparent lack of current definition will last long: the Libs are obviously wasting no time in trying to define him, while the fruits of the Cons' fund-raising machine will surely kick in quickly in response.

But nor should we presume that his being young means that he'll have multiple election campaigns to grow into the position.

While the standard take seems to be that Scheer is the new version of Stephen Harper, I'd think the better comparison and cautionary tale for Scheer is Joe Clark: a young and little-known compromise candidate whose missteps as a leader will be amplified by the lack of many people particularly committed to him within his own party.

On the balance, Scheer's election looks to be relatively good news compared to the alternatives - not because of his merits as a candidate, but due to the greater electoral and policy risks posed by the alternative.

I'd considered Bernier the most dangerous of the Cons' potential leaders, being comparatively more likely to assemble a winning coalition in a near-term federal election (particularly by being able to win votes as a native son in Quebec), to make reckless policy choices if he managed to take power, and to be the main focus of the next federal election in a way that causes the race to polarize between the Libs and Cons.

In contrast, Scheer's starting point involves a distinct lack of meaningful policy priorities or avenues to build support beyond the Cons' base.

That doesn't mean he can't change matters with time. After all, Harper managed at various times to win seats with appeals to Quebec voters and immigrant communities who were far outside his initial core of supporters.

But for now, Scheer is essentially a blank sheet of stationery with Reform Party letterhead. And it remains to be seen whether there's anything he can write on the page to be seen as a viable candidate for power.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- David MacDonald studies the federal government's loopholes and giveaways targeted toward those who already have the most - noting that there would be plenty of revenue to fund the programs we're told are unaffordable if that preferential treatment was ended. And Felicity Lawrence highlights
how multinational corporations are planning to exploit international trade deals to siphon $55 billions away from the UK's public coffers.

- On that front, Jerry Dias argues that having dodged the bullet that is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Canada shouldn't waste any more time (or endanger the public interest) by trying to renegotiate and revive it.

- Andrew Jackson points out how inequality worsened during the Harper Cons' stay in power. Zohra Jamasi highlights how Canadian wages continue to lag behind inflation. And Pedro Nicolaci da Costa discusses the U.S.' similar lack of wage growth due to the destruction of workers' bargaining power, while Chris Rexrode writes that U.S. households are returning to their pre-crash pattern of borrowing against home values to paper over the gap.

- Meanwhile, Jim Stanford examines Air Canada's history of selling itself off for parts as an example of businesses similarly prioritizing easy and quick money over long-term planning - making a few insiders rich, and everybody else worse off.

- Finally, Ashifa Kassam calls out Justin Trudeau for using public relations stunts as a substitute for government accountability to citizens. And a few creative commentators (particularly @ajhtweeting) have put Trudeau's running away from issues into some handy visuals:

Friday, May 26, 2017

Musical interlude

Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts - I'm Shattered

Thursday, May 25, 2017

On sucker's deals

While my Leader-Post column won't be running this week, I'll take the opportunity to offer some context and an update on Geoff Leo's must-read report on Brightenview's founders who have become the Wall government's latest corporate darlings.

By way of background, Leo was also the one to break the news about how the Saskatchewan Party's campaign promise based on Brightenview was built on an incomplete deal, as well as the province's giveaway to CP which was supposed to provide an anchor tenant for the Global Transportation Hub to encourage other businesses to build without the need for massive public subsidies. And Julie Mintenko and David Giles reported on Brightenview's disappearance of its past promises of a Dundurn megamall.

With that in mind, should we expect anything different from Brightenview in the GTH? To answer that, let's take a photographic tour of its planned development.

First, here are artist's renderings of what it's supposed to look like (from Leo's report):

Second, the "breaking ground" photo op three weeks ago (also from CBC's report), showing what was advertised for public consumption as the start of work:

And for the punch line, the same site in its current condition:

Needless to say, the smart money looks to be on past performance predicting future results. But since Brightenview and the Saskatchewan Party each seem to have contributed to each other's confidence games, whether they lead to any benefit for the public is at most a secondary consideration.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett write about the psychological and social harms arising out of inequality:
Members of species that have strong ranking systems need social strategies for maximising and maintaining rank while avoiding the risk of attacks by dominants. Although there are many variations in the way ranking systems work in different species, what we might call the ‘pure’ logic of ranking systems is that position in the dominance hierarchy determines who has precedence over whom in access to scarce resources; orderings are based on strength and power, and disputes are resolved by trials of strength; you show respect and deference to superiors and treat inferiors with impunity and disdain.

This contrasts sharply with the social strategies that in more egalitarian societies replace rank as the main determinant of access to resources. These include social accounting systems based on reciprocity, sharing and cooperation, in which trust and trustworthiness are essential. People who seem to be more trustworthy, generous and kind will be preferred as mates and as partners in cooperative activities. But as well as selection for pro-social characteristics, Boehm shows that there was also deselection for anti-social characteristics: Selfishness and anti-social behaviour in hunting and gathering societies would result in people being ridiculed, ostracised or even killed (Boehm, 2012).

Because the contrast between the behaviour appropriate in each of these two systems is so great, it is important to match one's behaviour to one's setting. Generosity and selflessness are valued and rewarded among friends and in egalitarian settings but would simply be taken advantage of and exploited in a dominance hierarchy. Similarly, the naked pursuit of self-interest and self-aggrandisement appropriate to a rank ordered society would have led to ostracism in a typical hunting and gathering society. It is therefore crucial for behaviour to be sensitive to how hierarchical or egalitarian a society is.

This leads us to expect the pattern of differences in behaviour that we see between more and less egalitarian societies (egalitarianism as judged from the distribution of material resources or income). As we shall see, in more unequal societies, status becomes more important, status anxiety increases and self-serving individualism and self-aggrandisement increase. Community life, rooted in trust, reciprocity and public spiritedness, declines; bullying and violence increase. Of course, rather than using one social strategy or another, everyone uses a mix of dominance and affiliative strategies in different areas of life. Our hypothesis is simply that the balance between these strategies shifts depending on the level of inequality.
- Ann Pettifor discusses how democracy is suffering due to the failures of neoliberal economics. And the Kansas City Star points out that Donald Trump's choice to follow Sam Brownback's failed prescription only stands to make matters worse for most people.

- Alex Collinson points out how increased borrowing has replaced wage growth as a major support for consumer spending. And Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider comment on the stresses caused by income volatility.

- Freddie Deboer examines how the U.S.' exclusive private universities exacerbate inequality - particularly as public universities face severe government cutbacks. And Colette Shade laments the reality that the Smithsonian and other cultural institutions are serving to provide prepackaged corporate messaging rather than neutral or public-focused content.

- Finally, the Star's editorial board asks all levels of government to make sure that social housing is maintained and retained, rather than being allowed to crumble.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Gary Younge examines how Jeremy Corbyn and an unabashedly progressive campaign platform are making massive gains in a UK general election cynically called to exploit Labour's perceived weakness:
Seeing the response to Labour’s election manifesto last week was a clear illustration of just how powerful the amnesiac qualities of that system can be. For the past two decades, even as inequality grew to obscene levels, the notion that a government could tax the wealthy in order to fund public services had been all but banished from the public square. Similarly, the idea that we could take back into national ownership private companies delivering abysmal but essential public services, such as trains and utilities, was simply not discussed. These arguments were never lost; they were simply marginalised until we just stopped hearing them.
[Corbyn] was never going to succeed on the terms of the mainstream media and significant sections of the parliamentary party. For them, his failure was pre-scripted. Last Monday Corbyn was mobbed by enthusiastic crowds in Leeds while Theresa May was confronted by a woman with learning difficulties in Abingdon over the disability cuts. On Tuesday the Daily Mail front page headline was: “Corbyn’s tax war on the middle classes”. Meanwhile, those who abstained on the Tory welfare bill and ignored a million people marching against a war long ago abdicated the right to accuse anyone of failing to provide opposition.

The problem was that Corbyn was failing on his own terms. As such, the manifesto has had an almost therapeutic effect. Beyond reintroducing basic social democratic policies to the arena, it provides the clearest illustration yet of what the last two traumatic years within the Labour party have been about. This unexpected left turn in the party’s leadership was, it turns out, not about delivering the party to Hamas, but delivering decent public services and a programme for tackling inequality.
- Meanwhile, Abi Wilkinson sees Labour now having a substantial chance of winning an election where pre-election punditry focused on little more than a presumed wipeout. And Matt Zarb-Cousin notes that the requirement for fair coverage during a campaign is likely helping matters significantly.

- Dean Beeby reports on the real-time reaction of Canadians to the most recent federal budget - with higher taxes on the rich ranking as by far the most-appreciated message on offer. And Yves Engler suggests that the benefits of incorporation could be limited to businesses who act based on some recognition of social responsibility.

- Alex Hemingway discusses the social costs of poverty and austerity in British Columbia. Claire McIlveen highlights the social benefits of a $15 minimum wage. And George Crisp comments on the connection between inequality and poor health in Australia.

- Finally, Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood studies the gap between promises and actions when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.