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Showing posts from October 26, 2014

The tar sands train that couldn’t

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[Oil sands developers have said that governments might as well approve pipelines, in part, because they will otherwise simply ship their product by train. This article shows that their argument is full of holes. "What is clear is that far from proving the feasibility of tar sands by rail as an alternative to pipelines, the company pioneering this activity has proven it to be a highly risky business. Canexus’s share price is down nearly 50 percent since the beginning of the year, it has cut dividends and replaced its CEO. It is also considering selling Bruderheim in order to revive its balance sheet and support its other core businesses." *RON*]
Lorne Stockman, Oil Change International, 21 October 2014, Update: October 23, 2014


News from Canexus today indicates that it is only getting worse for the Bruderheim terminal. A major customer has terminated its contract. Now only 40% of capacity is under contract. But not even that is being use…

The Unattainable Illusion of Meritocracy

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[I love his use of a quote from Camus used to describe the talented poor struggling to rise through the ranks - "We must imagine Sisyphus happy." Tax the bastards. *RON*]
by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, October 26, 2014

I’m a big fan of Richard Bookstaber, the author of the important book A Demon of Our Own Design. And while I’m glad to see a rare new post from him, on how to deal with the matter of inequality (as in whether to deal with the problem ex ante, by creating more equal opportunities, or ex post, by trying to reduce disparities of outcomes), I found one of the core parts of his discussion, on merit and meritocracy, to be maddening. In fairness, this isn’t Bookstaber’s fault; he’s working within an established framework of thinking on this topic.

Repeat after me: in complex societies and organizations, merit is a complete illusion. We nevertheless pretend to achieve that for reasons of institutional legitimacy, and also, to the…

Conservative support slipping in Alberta: poll

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[By way of the Lethbridge Herald, no less. *RON*]

Dave Mabell, Lethbridge Herald, 25 October 2014

For Stephen Harper, there’s no place like home. Calgary – and most of Alberta – can be counted on to elect a Conservative MP every time.

But the Conservative party support continues to slip across the province, according to the latest survey from the Citizen Society Research Lab in Lethbridge. It’s fallen to 41.5 per cent of Alberta voters, down from 53 per cent just two years ago.

If there’s any good news for the governing Tories, it’s that neither of the main opposition parties seem to be gaining ground.

“People are tired of the Conservatives,” reports political scientist Faron Ellis. “But they just can’t stand voting Liberal or NDP.”

Despite his personal appeal, Justin Trudeau and his Liberals attracted just 16.7 per cent of the “if an election was held today” voting intentions. That’s up from 10.7 support for the Liberals two years ago – but down from…

Bill C-42, 'Common Sense' Gun Law, Shelved In Wake Of Ottawa Shootings

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[I was saying a few days ago that I don't suppose we'll be hearing much about the Long Gun Registry in the wake of the attack on Parliament. In Harper's Canada you need to remain vigilant; he will re-introduce this Bill once he thinks we've forgotten all about murdered Armed Forces personnel - we'll need to remind the public at that time of why the Bill was withdrawn the first time around. *RON*]
Althia Raj, Huffington Post, 25 October 2014

OTTAWA — The Conservative government appears to be quietly shelving its controversial “Common Sense” gun bill in light of Wednesday’s shooting.

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan’s office was silent Friday about the future of Bill C-42. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney’s office refused to comment, directing inquiries to Van Loan. The Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act was scheduled to be debated for the first time on the day of the shootings, with three days set aside for discussion.…

U.S. income inequality is bad, but wealth inequality is a bigger problem

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["the overgrown wealth of an individual [may] be deemed dangerous to the State.... In economic terms, whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right." Thomas Jefferson *RON*]

Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 24 October 2014
Emmanuel Saez, that assiduous tracker of economic inequality in the U.S., has been shifting his attention away from income inequality to a broader, thornier and more intractable issue: wealth inequality. As he observes in a paper published this week at the blog of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, wealth inequality is "exploding," constituting "a direct threat to the cherished American ideals of meritocracy and opportunity."
Saez, an economics professor at UC Berkeley, wrote his paper with Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics. A longer, more technical vers…

Why income inequality is America’s biggest (and most difficult) problem

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[It's time to take take America's wealthiest down a peg — but how? There is evidence that increasing voter turn-out among the poor is helpful. *RON*]

Sean McWelwee, Salon, 26 October 2014

Bold prediction: Rising inequality of income and wealth will be the most important political battleground over the next few decades.

Just take a look at the figures. The share of income accruing to the top 1 percent increased from 9 percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2011. The richest 0.1 percent controlled 7 percent of the wealth in 1979 and 22 percent of the wealth in 2012. Meanwhile, there are a number of studies out there showing that the most effective way to reduce this inequality would be higher taxes on income and wealth, but the rich won’t let it happen.

Consider also this: The rise of income inequality and wealth inequality are intimately connected, and causes all sorts of problem over the long term. As Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman write,
Incom…

"Call the Americans." Canadian Coast Guard cutbacks now an issue in the US Senate

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["The inadequate Canadian Coast Guard resources in the Pacific region bring rare agreement between Enbridge which wants to build the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline and the project’s environmental opponents.... The Enbridge team admitted under questioning from the audience that the company would urge to Canadian government to call on US Coast Guard resources from Alaska and as far away as California in the event of a major spill." *RON*]
Robin Rowland, North West Coast Energy News
The controversy over the Harper government’s cutbacks to Canadian Coast Guard resources on both west and east coasts has now become an issue in the United States Senate.

While most of the media attention last week was on Newfoundland, where there are fears not only of moving the search coordination centre from the island to Trenton, and the possible privatization of the entire search and rescue service, the cutbacks on the northern coast of British Colu…

Industry group urges B.C. to invest in 'clean energy' instead of Site C

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[Yes to clean energy. Yes to First Nations involvement. Yes to savings. Is our government even remotely capable of doing the right thing? *RON*]
Wendy Stueck, The Globe and Mail, 16 October 16 2014


With the clock ticking on a government decision on Site C, an industry group has released a study that claims the province could save up to $1-billion by investing in multiple, small “clean energy” facilities instead of one, massive dam.

Along with saving money, a stable of smaller energy projects would provide other advantages, including more opportunities for First Nations involvement and more flexibility to adapt to changing technology or markets, the study concludes.

The report, prepared by London Economics International, a Boston-based consulting firm, and released Thursday by Clean Energy B.C., adds to a continuing debate around Site C, which BC Hydro bills as the cleanest and most cost-effective way to meet future energy needs and opponents decry …