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Archive for January, 2007

Socialist conspiracy watch

Surely, the Tories knew this was coming. Just when Harper comes out swinging with those nasty attack ads, reminiscent of the anti-Kerry swift-boat ads in 2004, the Liberals (unlike the Democrats) counter-punch very effectively. I think the months to come are going to be pretty ugly in Ottawa. Harper letter decries Kyoto as ‘socialist scheme’ […]

What does “the good economy” look like?

The UK’s Compass Institute, loosely tied to the Labour Party, has issued its second of three big picture think pieces. The first, The Good Society, was highlighted on RPE last Fall. The second is called A New Political Economy. It is a thick document full of good ideas, most of which are relevant beyond the […]

Legal advice on TILMA

Steven Shrybman, a lawyer at Sack Goldblatt Mitchell, offers a short summary of TILMA, drawing from a longer legal opinion in development: February, 2007 [Updated version] Re: A Very Short Synposis of TILMA In April, 2006, Alberta and British Columbia entered into a Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (“TILMA”). Certain provisions of the scheme […]

Meanwhile at Nairobi’s World Social Forum

I was at the very first World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, back in 2001. My wife and I were travelling in Brazil and Argentina, fuelled by cheap passes from a relative at Air Canada, so we had to make a stop to check out the WSF. It was amazingly new and sexy (perhaps […]

Red Ken on the 2007 World Economic Forum

London Mayor Ken Livingston reflects on the World Economic Forum in Davos: Davos 07: lessons of the week I may not have found socialist soulmates in Davos, but I did not come away disappointed by the discussions. Ken Livingstone Davos is one of the world’s most important economic forums. In London 700,000 people are employed […]

Who’s still cool on global warming?

A good article in the Toronto Star profiling the climate change denial industry. Funny how they want conclusive proof of harms caused by human-induced global warming, but seem to have no problem proffering dubious evidence themselves. It is also curious how these “free thinkers” come up with the exact same positions and arguments. Like an […]

The Economics of the Minimum Wage

The minimum wage debate is heating up once again, with the NDP and labour strongly pushing for a minimum wage of at least $10 per hour in Ontario and at the federal level (as recently recommended by the Arthurs Report.) Anti poverty groups and the Toronto Star now strongly endorse a decent minimum wage as […]

The Devil wears TILMA

Murray Dobbin, in his Tyee column, connects the dots between North American integration and the BC-Alberta deregulation deal known as TILMA. The danger is that Saskatchewan fails to contain the prairie fire, and it roars eastward. Dobbin paints some very plausible scenarios of what might transpire under TILMA’s investor-to-province dispute setlement scheme. To me, it […]

Krugman on Friedman

The February 15 edition of the New York Review of Books has an (extensive) intellectual obituary of Milton Friedman by Paul Krugman (Who Was Milton Friedman?). I’m impressed the Krugman does not really pull his punches much. He is very critical of Friedman the public intellectual after some kinder words about Friedman the economist’s economist.

Globe: Your public school sucks

The Globe and Mail’s recent Unhealthy Schools series finds that our public schools are mouldy, serve unhealthy food, and are lacking in programs such as physical education. As a parent I can appreciate the anxiety people feel about the quality of our schools. This series just adds to that anxiety by citing anecdotes that reflect […]

RRSP Silly Season

I don’t entirely agree with Jim Stanford that RRSPs are a bad way to save for those not fortunate enough to be covered by a good pension plan, but I am struck by the absence of sober, independent analysis as we head into RRSP season. Today’s special Report on RRSPs in the Globe and Mail […]

Drug policy and maintenance programs

Vancouver is suffering from a plague of poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, mental health issues and crime. The good news is that all of these are inter-related, and that senior governments have the funds to make a difference. So with the Olympics coming is just three years, the political culture of neglect is showing signs of […]

State of the Union

Two months ago, Andrew Jackson noted that Jim Webb, the new Democratic Senator from Virginia, seemed willing to discuss class and inequality with a candour seldom heard in Canadian politics, let alone American politics. Last night, Webb delivered the Democratic response to President Bush’s “State of the Union Address”. The excerpts below feature more frank […]

Wheat Board Plebiscite

Yesterday, the Conservatives announced three ballot options for an upcoming mail-in vote on the Canadian Wheat Board’s marketing of barley: (1) maintain single-desk marketing, (2) end the Board’s marketing of barley, or (3) have the Board market barley without its monopoly. In effect, Board elections have always been plebiscites on the organization’s role and supporters of […]

Policy Implications of the Jim/Stephen Debate

In terms of pure economics, Jim’s most interesting comparison may have been of investment to GDP, which has sparked a discussion about how to properly measure investment. For public policy, I think that Jim’s most interesting comparison was of investment to business finance/profits. If one accepts Stephen’s interpretation, then falling capital prices have allowed firms […]

Economic Ironies and The Crisis of the Forest Industry

The Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) organized a lively and informative forum on the forest industry crisis today on Parliament Hill, bringing together leading union,  community, industry and environmental spokespersons.  Some 20,000 jobs have been lost over the past three years due to literally scores of  mill closures in both the pulp and paper […]

Taxing the Oil Sands

Last week, John Baird publicly questioned federal tax loopholes for the oil and gas industry. Although his comments were more about partisanship than policy, they still sound like a step in the right direction. There seem to be some grounds for cautious optimism on this issue. At the beginning of the decade, there were only […]

More On Investment: “Real” and Real

My note on the weak investment spending of Canadian businesses earlier this week sparked several comments, including one from me on the methodological problems encountered in trying to measure “real” investment effort.  Here’s some more grist for the mill of how we understand “nominal” versus “real” business investment.  Point 1 is empirical, and Point 2 […]

The price of gas

I am in Ottawa, where the price of gas is 78 cents per litre. When I left Vancouver a couple days ago, the price of gas was $1.05 per litre. Would someone please explain to me how gas prices could be so different, especially given that BC is right next to Alberta. Is it that […]

The windstorms of political change

The status of the environment as the new top issue of 2007, and the coming federal election, is now uniformly accepted in the popular media. PM Stephen Harper is belatedly and desperately rolling out some “new” environmental initiatives (or reintroducing initiatives they previously had canceled) to try to out-green former Environment Minister, Stephan Dion. I doubt this will work, as […]

Canada’s Underperforming Corporations

In neoclassical economic theory, corporations are supposed to “work”, just like the rest of us do.  Their economic function is to organize production, innovate, and grow.  This process, when it happens well, generates jobs and incomes (which is not to say there are not better ways to generate jobs and incomes).  One way to measure […]

More Dion-omics

There have been a couple of important developments since I last posted about Stéphane Dion’s lack of progressive economic policy. A week ago, Murray Dobbin pointed out that Marcel Massé, Dion’s “principal secretary”, was a driving force behind the Chrétien government’s slash-and-burn approach to the Canadian state. Yesterday, Dion outlined his economic policy in a […]

Poverty in Canada and its Newspapers

As Marc noted, the Toronto Star is waging a journalistic “war on poverty”. The editorial in Monday’s National Post chastised “The Toronto Star’s poverty scam” for using the Low-Income Cut-Off, a relative measure, as an indicator of poverty. Today’s National Post includes the following letter from yours truly: In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith, the […]

Wage Reductions for Laid-Off Workers

http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/070116/d070116a.htm One thing we don’t know about the current round of manufacturing job losses is what is happening to laid-off workers – though employment rates are slipping for older male workers in Ontario and Quebec, and even a supposedly “tight” job market is generating little if any real wage growth for most workers. This suggests […]

Heat – or How Can We Save the Planet?

I have just finished reading, and highly recommend, Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning by George Monbiot (Doubleday Canada, 2006.) Monbiot is a columnist for The (UK) Guardian, probably best known for his work on environmental issues. He sets himself the difficult task of devising a credible plan to reduce UK greenhouse gas […]

Toronto Star: Waging war on poverty

The latest from the Toronto Star “war on poverty” series. Here is David Olive:   A constant state of dread TheStar.com – News – A constant state of dread If the poor weren’t so conveniently invisible, maybe we’d come to our moral senses and devise a national strategy for eliminating poverty. But the one in […]

More truthiness from the Fraser Institute

Last week the Fraser Institute released a report arguing for a shift in Canada’s tax mix that would increase the GST to pay for personal and corporate income tax cuts. The proposal would be a massive gift to the richest among us. It is kind of like asking everyone to make out a cheque for […]

The World Trade Organization We Could Have Had

The World Trade Organisation We Could Have Had Now is the time to rediscover John Maynard Keynes’s revolutionary ideas for an international trade organisation and adapt them to rebalance the world’s economies in the 21st century. Susan George THE Doha agenda, launched at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in the Qatari capital in […]

Philanthropy and the super-rich

Philosopher Peter Singer asks what the super-rich should give in order to reduce global poverty. Drawing on Piketty and Saez, Singer finds that doing the right thing would barely be noticeable to their standard of living. From New York Times Magazine: What Should a Billionaire Give – and What Should You? By PETER SINGER December […]

Prosperity and sustainability

UBC’s David Boyd takes on dinosaur-in-chief Terence Corcoran on the nexus between environment and economy, and Canada’s lagging rankings: Old ideas produce heat, not light … The myth that nations must choose between economic prosperity and a healthy environment has been conclusively debunked.Countries including Sweden, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands are similar to Canada with […]