The Economic Pay-Off from Public Education

On a trip back to Toronto this week I attended the launch of a new report commissioned by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, and written by Aimee McArthur-Gupta from the Conference Board of Canada. The report presents some estimates of the economic, fiscal and social benefits of public education programs. The full report is here. It is a useful […]

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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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What Impact will the 2019 Federal Budget have on Canada’s Housing Market?

I’ve written a blog post about what the recent federal budget means for Canada’s housing market. Points I make in the blog post include the following: -The budget contains several initiatives designed to make it easier for households of modest means to become homeowners. -Such initiatives are often framed as being win-win propositions, while their unintended consequences are rarely discussed. […]

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Ontario Electricity VII – Committee Testimony

The PC Government in Ontario has introduced Bill 87 which would eliminate the rate-based borrowing to subsidize electricity prices and replace it with Government borrowing. Last week’s Provincial Budget estimates that the required borrowing to subsidize electricity prices for 2018/19 was $2.8 billion. It is likely to exceed $3 billion in 2019/20. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America […]

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Jason Kenney’s tax plan full of holes

Jason Kenney has proposed that he will revive the Alberta economy and create jobs by cutting corporate taxes from 12% to 8%. The thinking goes that profitable businesses already located in Alberta will take their larger tax returns and make capital investments or hire more workers. This also assumes that businesses in other provinces will decide to move their operations […]

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Populism in the Time of Neoliberalism

The way of the world in recent and present time is the preach and the practice of neoliberalism, of pushing markets to their extremes. The Turkish writer and political analyst Ece Temelkuran in her new book How to Lose a Country: the Seven Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship, draws on her Turkish experience and applies its lesson elsewhere, notably to […]

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Help please!

Can anyone out there help me? Just saw a headline on CNN saying that, in spite of Brexit chaos, unemployment was at an historic low. Likewise in US where in spite of Trump — could it really be because of? — unemployment is also at an historic low. Reminds me that back in the late 1970s there was a G-7 […]

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Technology and Democracy (continued)

Post the Second World War, the US became dominant in the world economy and a shift from coal to oil was deliberately taken by the state to weaken the power of coal-centred industrialization and tie the Middle East into American and European control. Transport of oil by pipeline and tanker created a fluidity that tended to eliminate nodal points where […]

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Technology and Democracy: Contrasting Coal and Oil

The opening sentence of the 2011 book, Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil by the historian Timothy Mitchell, reads “Fossil fuels helped create both the possibility of modern democracy and its limits.” Carbon democracy is “a certain kind of democratic politics.” He observes: “Countries that depend upon petroleum resources for a large part of their earnings from […]

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Statistics Canada’s Ongoing Consultation about the Market Basket Measure Needs Recalibration

Things are moving quite fast, even too fast, since the federal government’s first poverty reduction strategy was published in August, at least for the aspects of this strategy which are problematic. The unilateral decision to consider the Market Basket Measure (MBM) as “Canada’s Official Poverty Line” is one of those. It ignores some useful expertise developed about the MBM over […]

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2019 PEF Student Essay Contest is Open

The 2019 PEF Student Essay Contest is now open! Calling all Canadian students anywhere in the world and all post-secondary students in Canada who are working on papers taking a critical approach to the functioning, efficiency, social, and environmental consequences of unconstrained markets. The winning essays will receive a cash prize of $1,000 for the graduate student category and $500 […]

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An update on Canada’s National Housing Strategy

Steve Pomeroy, arguably Canada’s top affordable housing policy expert, has written a status update on Canada’s National Housing Strategy (NHS). His overview includes some great background material on Canadian housing policy generally. Points raised in his analysis include the following: -The Trudeau government’s much-anticipated NHS was unveiled in November 2017. -In most provinces and territories, federal funding accounts for less […]

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Socialism For Realists

I recommend reading Sam Gindin’s paper “Socialism for Realists” to be found in the current issue of the relatively new socialist journal, Catalyst. Sam spent most of his working life as a union economist and assistant to the President of the CAW, and writes often with Leo Panitch, most notably as co-authors of The Making of Global Capitalism.   I […]

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Supportive housing for persons with serious mental health challenges

I’ve recently written a ‘top 10’ review of a new book on supportive housing—i.e., subsidized housing with social work support—for persons with serious mental health challenges. The book’s an anthology that was edited by three Ontario-based researchers. A key questions that emerges in the book is: Should such housing be owned and operated by for-profit providers, or by non-profit providers? […]

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The Anthropocene and the New World

In recent decades all but the wilfully ignorant have had to face two facts: that climate change is taking place and that it is the result of what we humans are doing. The term Anthropocene was coined in 2000 in recognition of that latter hugely important fact. When had this new era began – and with it the end of […]

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Possessive Individualism

That’s what the political theorist C.B. Macpherson (1911-1987) saw emerging historically with the rise of capitalism. Frank Cunningham in his just published intellectual biography of Macpherson, The Political Thought of C.B. Macpherson: Contemporary Applications describes possessive individualism as “The individual is proprietor of his own person, for which he owes nothing to society”. That sounds like an apt description of […]

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Abraham Rotstein and the Radical Decade from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies

Remarks at a posthumous book launch of his Myth, Mind and Religion at Massey College, University of Toronto, October 2018 For more than 50 years, going back to the days of the old Department of Political Economy, Abe was my colleague in teaching and researching economic history and political economy, my intellectual soulmate, and my closest friend. I have many […]

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Is there life after NAFTA?

  Like all sensible folk I was myself opposed to the NAFTA at the outset, convinced that it did more for the corporations than for the rest of us. I’m still of that view. Is it possible that the biggest change that is now taking place is in the name itself, from NAFTA to USMCA- perhaps done so that Trump […]

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The New Language of Resource Exploitation: From Staples Dependency to Extraction Empire

“Staples dependency” we know from Innis onwards.  It can mean reliant upon, dependent on, the export of staples, and permits of a staple theory of linkages as economic theory. It can also mean a resource margin of a more developed imperium. Economic theory is infused by the power relations inherent in “dependency” and is transformed into political economy. In the […]

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Teaching macroeconomics as though Lehmans didn’t happen

September 15th marked the tenth anniversary of the fall of Lehman Brothers, destabilizing Western economies at levels not seen since the 1930s. It also marked the second week of fall classes, with many economics graduate students cranking through equations that define the discipline’s conventional macroeconomic models. With such names as New Classical, Real Business Cycle and New Keynesian, these models […]

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Call for federal support of cancelled Ontario basic income project

Members of the Progressive Economists Forum noted with dismay the premature cancellation of Ontario’s basic income pilot and have penned an open letter to Federal Minister Jean-Yves Duclos (Families, Children and Social Development) calling for federal support for the project. So far, the letter has been signed by 50 Canadian economists and researchers. _____ Dear Minister Duclos: As economists and […]

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