The Age of Austerity

Notes: Keynote talk, CCPA Post-Austerity session, Toronto, January 9, 2013 We are living in the “Age of Austerity” or at least so says David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister. He made this announcement in 2009 at the Conservative convention just before becoming prime minister. This meant, he explained, that he would have to fix the … Continue reading

Going, Going, Gone: Dismantling the Progressive State

Now that some time has passed since the federal budget it might be useful to step back and assess what it says about where the government is taking us. Reaction has been pretty muted. The “centrist punditry” generally see this as an incremental budget, business as usual, “balanced” and “mature”. For our Globe editorialists, for … Continue reading

The Price Of Austerity

Austerity, we have been told repeatedly by pundits and political leaders, is the defining issue in these uncertain times, the solution to our economic challenges. We have been given fair warning that the next federal budget will be first about cuts – cuts to government even as we continue to cut taxes. We can expect … Continue reading

Trust, Traps, and Taxes

A short while back, I posted a piece on why we vote against our own interests which provoked diverse responses including several which insisted that, to the contrary, we do know perfectly well who serves our interests and we vote accordingly. My problem, this argument goes, is that at best I just don’t like the … Continue reading

A Dangerous Experiment

Here is a take on the G20 commitment to cut deficits and reduce debt. David Leonhardt, not quite echoing Paul Krugman’s dire warnings, does set out the question with clarity.  Will the G20 deficit and debt targets lead to greater private sector confidence and spending to fill the space left by the end of stimulus … Continue reading

Big Government, Little Government: Blah, Blah, Blah

In debates about government at least, size, it seems, does matter. In Canada, the issue of size has not spawned the equivalent of the Tea Partyers, but it’s impossible to believe that we aren’t influenced by what’s going on with our neighbours. The Tea Party is only the latest expression of an ideology that has … Continue reading

Fire! Fire! But where?

So we have entered the age of crisis and that means confusing times. As I have written before, stealing happily from Emanuel and Machiavelli before him, crises are destabilizing and therefore create opportunities for big debates and dramatic changes not normally possible. A few decades ago, Mancur Olson, the American economist and social scientist, wrote … Continue reading

Let’s Raise Taxes!

Paul Krugman bravely continues his counter-offensive against the assault on government. Here he talks about what the current environmental disaster in the Gulf and Katrina have in common. His answer: they both reveal the dangerous deterioration in government competence, the inevitable result of cuts in taxes and cuts in government and, one might add, the … Continue reading