Plausible Socialism

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was a widespread sense that liberal capitalism had triumphed in the battle of ideas, and that socialism as a plausible alternative was pretty much dead. But the many crises of contemporary capitalism – obscene levels of economic inequality, looming ecological disaster, the rise of the racist and anti democratic populist right, the […]

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Reflections on the Social Democratic Tradition

The Broadbent Institute and Douglas-Coldwell Foundation have just published a paper of mine as part of a larger project on social democratic renewal, The paper is mainly retrospective, and touches on social democracy as an approach to economic policy. Comments are most welcome. The link is here: http://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/reflections_on_the_social_democratic_tradition 1.0 Executive Summary: The purpose of this paper is to provide a […]

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Alberta Alternative Budget 2017

Media Release Foundations for an Alberta Alternative Budget released today (March 14, 2017-Edmonton) Today, a coalition of researchers, economists, and members of civil society released a plan to boost Alberta’s economic growth while reducing income inequality. “For too long Alberta’s public services have been strained from decades of underfunding and reliance on volatile energy markets,” said contributing economist Robin Shaban, […]

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Progressive, pro-family, pro-growth

A good parental leave system makes children more affordable, and improves gender equity in the labour force and at home. In Quebec, parental leave innovations include time reserved solely for the father, higher replacement rates, and flexibility. This has dramatically increased the number of fathers taking parental leaves, which in turn has a long-term impact on the distribution of labour […]

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Tony Blair and the Corporatization of Social Democracy

Tony Blair, by any sensible yardstick, is a douchebag. Recently, The Guardian, under the headline “Toxic”, detailed Blair’s “downward spiral”. This included the revelation that he may have been having an affair with Wendi Murdoch, the now ex-wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Blair was once good pals with Murdoch and Wendi and is godparent to one of their two […]

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Why Is Tom Mulcair Opposed to Tax Increases?

A recent online article suggests that Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is opposed to increasing federal tax rates. I find this quite surprising. According to the August 8 article: Mulcair seemed surprised when he was asked if taxes would go up under an NDP government. “You’re the first person who’s ever asked me that,” he said, adding quickly that they […]

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Meilinomics I: The Little Boats

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Ryan Meili’s new book, A Healthy Society: How a Focus on Health Can Revive Canadian Democracy. There’s a family that comes frequently to the West Side Clinic; we’ll call them Lucas and Annie. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t see them in for a medical visit or just hanging out in […]

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How the NDP Can Win

With the NDP leadership debates soon to get underway, I thought I would post some thoughts on what themes and issues the party should be emphasizing To form a majority federal government, the NDP will have to make another big leap, from 30% to about 40% of the popular vote, with much of that increase concentrated in growing suburban areas […]

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The Ontario NDP Platform

Pollsters tell us that Ontario’s New Democrats may double their seat total in next month’s provincial election. It’s also entirely conceivable that they could be part of a coalition government at Queen’s Park. But what’s actually in the party’s election platform? One central feature of the NDP’s proposals is to implement a tax credit for companies that hire new workers. The tax credits would be valued at […]

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Did NDP Sectarianism Screw Canada? Part 2

On Saturday, May 7, The Toronto Star, published a front-page “Exclusive” article entitled “What Really Sunk Ignatieff and the Liberals”, written by veteran reporter Linda Diebel. You can read it here: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/987422–exclusive-what-really-sunk-michael-ignatieff-and-the-liberals?bn=1 Among the reasons it cites for the Liberal’s demise was the fact that during the April 12th leaders’ debate, NDP leader Jack Layton drew blood by calling out […]

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Did NDP Sectarianism Screw Canada?

While NDP supporters might be celebrating last night’s election results, the reality is that it was an umitigated disaster for Canada. The Tory majority will mean more tax breaks for corporations, the gutting of social services and cultural institutions, the widening of the already cavernous income gap, the public defunding of political parties, and the continual sell off of Canada’s […]

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Is Social Democracy Dying? – Part 2

I would venture there are three reasons why social democracy is pretty much kaput: 1) a flawed ideology 2) the power of capital and 3) a propensity for selling out and drifting to the right. 1) Flawed ideology Ever since people have exploited other people’s labour for their personal gain, it’s long been the dream of the slave, serf, peasant […]

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Is Social Democracy Dying? – Part 1

Rob Ford, a belligerent right-wing serial liar with a proclivity for infantile temper tantrums and drunkenness, was elected mayor of Toronto this past week. Handily. This was after seven years of competent and scandal-free leadership by an NDP mayor, David Miller. The man Miller endorsed to replace him was a long-time NDP councilor renowned for his decency and sterling public […]

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Corporate Tax Incidence and Social Democracy

Over at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, Stephen Gordon critiques the last federal NDP platform’s reference to “Canada’s wealthiest corporations” on the grounds that people, not corporations, own things. But as Declan points out in several pithy comments on Stephen’s post, corporations clearly can and do own things. The corporations that own the most valuable things in Canada can quite reasonably be […]

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Work and Labour in Canada

CSPI have just published the second edition of my book, Work and Labour in Canada: Critical Issues. While this is written mainly as a text for university level courses, others may find it useful as a resource on a wide range of labour market issues and trends, including the role of unions. The book can be ordered from CSPI or […]

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Uniting the Left

There’s a lot of talk on the net and in the media right about how to “unite the left” post election, with Murray Dobbin, many folks at rabble.ca and a few others talking about the need for an immediate coalition of the opposition parties to defeat the Conservatives. The project of some immediate union of the supposed left of centre […]

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Saskatchewan’s Tax Cuts

The conventional wisdom may be that political parties cannot successfully campaign against tax cuts. But the federal NDP recently achieved its second-best electoral result ever by running squarely against Harper’s corporate tax cuts. South of the border, the US Democrats just won a massive victory partly by campaigning against the Bush tax cuts. In public opinion polls, citizens often prefer better […]

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Economics for Everyone

I’m surprised that Jim Stanford has not made a plug for his new book on this site. A modest one, our Jimbo. So let me say a few words about Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism. Jim has outdone himself on this one. So many times I have had people ask me for a straightforward […]

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Saskatchewan’s Incredible Shrinking Government

During the sixteen years that the NDP governed Saskatchewan, provincial expenditures fell from just over 30% to just over 20% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This accomplishment is dubious for a political party committed to using government as a vehicle to redistribute wealth and finance important public programs. Why did the proportion of Saskatchewan’s economy available for these purposes decline […]

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Economic and Social Impacts of Wage Floors

Leading Canadian economist Richard Lipsey (with co author Swedenboorg) has written quite an interesting paper for the NBER, “Explaining Product Price Differences Across Countries.” http://www.nber.org/papers/w13239 The abstract reads as follows: “A substantial part of international differences in prices of individual products, both goods and services, can be explained by differences in per capita income, wage compression, or low wage dispersion […]

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Free University Tuition – A radical position?

A friend just pointed a UN treaty (the International Covenant on Economic, social and cultural rights), to which Canada adhered in 1976, which states that signing parties should strive to tend towards free tuition for post-secondary education. It is in fact one of the “nine core international human rights treaty” (dixit UN website). The relevant article (see provision c) and […]

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Study on Unemployment in Sweden vs the US

http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/sweden_unemployment_2007_06.pdf Right-wingers have countered social democratic citation of the Swedish model as a success by claiming that Sweden has high but hidden unemployment – a claim that recently helped defeat the Swedish social democrats. True, active labour market policies do provide a fair bit of government subsidized employment in Sweden, but, on the other hand there is a lot of […]

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