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Showing posts from March 4, 2016

Turkish court jails 2 men over death of Alan Kurdi

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[About time, but the sentence is meager given the crime. All along I haven't understood why so little is being done to punish the smugglers as harshly as they have treated their 'customers.' *RON*]
Suzan Fraser, Associated Press / CTV News, 4 March 2016
ANKARA, Turkey -- A Turkish court on Friday sentenced two Syrian smugglers to four years and two months each in prison over the deaths of 5 people including 3-year-old Alan Kurdi, who galvanized world attention on the refugee crisis when a photo was published of him lying lifeless on a beach.

The court in the Aegean resort of Bodrum convicted the two of human trafficking but acquitted them of the charge of causing the drowning deaths through deliberate negligence, the agency said.

The image of the Alan's body, face down on a Turkish beach, graphically illustrated the magnitude of the migrants' suffering.

Understanding The Austerity Obsession

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[Trickle-UP politics is as popular as ever. *RON*]

by Simon Wren-Lewis, Social Europe, 4 March 2016

It has often been argued, loosely following Keynes, that economists should be like doctors.

Martin Wolf writes “The austerity obsession, even [sic] when borrowing costs are so low, is lunatic”. The IMF, the OECD and pretty much the whole of informed opinion agree. Yet those subject to this austerity obsession are in charge of levels of public investment in the the US, Germany and the UK. One interesting question that arises is whether they are all suffering from the same disease?

The diagnosis in the case of the Republican party in the US is reasonably clear. Judging from the remaining presidential candidates and the actions of Congress the main economic goal is to cut taxes, particularly for the very rich. That requires, sooner or later, less public spending. What about evidence that more public investment would help everyone in the economy, includin…

Ottawa willing to impose carbon price if impasse drags on

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[Provinces seek "flexibility" (read "weasel room"), but the federal government is intent on action. These have got to be some plenty-tense meetings. See also: First ministers meeting will test seriousness of Paris climate promises. *RON*]

By David Cochrane, CBC News, 3 March 2016
The federal government is prepared to impose a national price on carbon if Canada's premiers fail to come to an agreement on their own, CBC News has learned.

Putting a price tag on pollution would pit Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government against some provincial premiers who see the move as another blow to an enfeebled economy.

Trudeau is meeting with premiers and territorial leaders today in Vancouver.

A senior official close to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Liberal government campaigned on environmental change and won a majority.

The rise of American authoritarianism

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[A must-read. Also, a good book by a Canadian psychologist on this topic is: Johson, Judy J. (2009) What's So Wrong With Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief. A niche group of political scientists may have uncovered what's driving Donald Trump's ascent. What they found has implications that go well beyond 2016. "We may now have a de facto three party system." *RON*]

by Amanda Taub on March 1, 2016


The American media, over the past year, has been trying to work out something of a mystery: Why is the Republican electorate supporting a far-right, orange-toned populist with no real political experience, who espouses extreme and often bizarre views? How has Donald Trump, seemingly out of nowhere, suddenly become so popular?

What's made Trump's rise even more puzzling is that his support seems to cross demographic lines — education, income, age, even religiosity — that usually demarcate candidat…

A Blueprint for More Inclusive Economic Growth

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[Interesting things come out of the Harvard Business Review now and again. This piece is on inclusive economic growth, which conceptualizes and gives some guidelines for measuring the idea that "growth needs to improve living standards for all." *RON*]

Amy Liu, Harvard Business Review, 3 March 2016


A recent survey of Harvard Business School alumni found that fully 71% of respondents felt their business was harmed by rising inequality, middle-class stagnation, growing poverty, or limited economic mobility. And 66% of respondents felt that addressing these issues mattered more than promoting economic growth.

Nonetheless, too many employers still act as if improving the well-being of workers and families is someone else’s job.

That mindset is a mistake. Business leaders are not just employers: as frequent board members for regional economic development entities, they have a major influence on the civic agenda in the cities and metropolitan re…

Our real debt time-bomb: Personal debt, austerity and the parasite banks

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[A well-documented missive: "Government debt is perfectly manageable with almost zero interest currently being paid on it; whereas personal debt is a ticking-time bomb that the forces of austerity, QE and the parasite banks are driving us into penury with." I'm making a big stew today so I'll be running around between my computer and the kitchen! :-) *RON*]
Ben Wray, A Book of Ideas / Common Weal, 2 March 2016

The real UK debt problem is personal debt and is being actively promoted by the Chancellor through austerity and quantitative easing for the "parasite banks". Many people in Scotland are on the brink financially, but one group in society benefits - Britain's banking sector

COMMON WEAL Policy’s analysis piece on the UK economy last Thursday [25 February] argued that George Osborne’s commitment to austerity flied in the face of the fiscal policy prescriptions of just about every economist on the planet. Nonethel…