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Beyond GDP – how can we measure progress?

earth debate: how can we measure progress?

Watch the video of the 2nd Earth Debate, hosted by the Natural History Museum on 22 February 2012.

The debate focused on the viability of GDP or its potential alternatives as a way to measure progress towards a sustainable future.

 The next Earth Debates will continue to explore issues that will be tackled at the Rio+20 Earth Summit. Find out about the debates.


‘Transition’ Sustainability Movement Launches at Mason

in transition movieMatt Abel, an 18-year-old senior at George Mason High School and member of the Transition Falls Church movement, put together a community screening presentation Feb. 18 of the documentary, "In Transition 1.0," a film that introduces audiences to issues like climate change and peak oil.

"What I see the transition movement to be," he said, "is an almost community renaissance of culture, economy, and energy. A way for us to make our local community, around the entire nation, more sustainable and able to make the things they need more. It's about getting plugged in to our neighbors and not Jersey Shore. It is a response to climate change, but it's meant to be a thing to get our local community more tight-knit and intertwined."

Abel first became interested in the movement after his teacher, Jamie Scharff, showed a film called "The Economics of Happiness" in class. Abel found much of the movie, which covers the problems of globalization and economy, disheartening. MORE


Why should banks be free to create credit out of thin air?

by Jim Stanford

In total, various federal agencies offered the banks up to $200 billion in cash and short term ultra-low-interest loansEver since the Occupy movement came to Canada – even before that, actually – there’s been an enormous myth propagated that Canadian banks did nothing wrong.

Our banks are strong and safe, our bankers and politicians assure us. They were prudent. And they weren’t bailed out.

They pat the occupiers on the head, and they say: “Go to Wall Street to have your little protest. But don’t bother protesting here on Bay Street. Because we didn’t do anything wrong.”

Well that’s simply a lie. It’s a bald-faced, empirically refutable lie. MORE


 

The Perils of CETA

Proposed Canada-EU trade deal a bad deal for most Canadians

CETAAs its name suggests, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (or CETA) is intended to be an ambitious agreement that will affect matters beyond international trade.

In every bilateral trade negotiation since NAFTA, Canada has been the larger party, able to set the terms of the talks and work from its existing trade treaty template. But the CETA negotiations are different. 

The European Union is a superpower, accustomed to getting its way in talks with smaller partners such as Canada.  Consequently, the CETA could result in major changes in the trade and investment rules affecting a broad range of Canadian policies and regulations, at all levels of government.

Investment protection: Investor rights agreements such as NAFTA Chapter 11 go well beyond fair treatment, granting special rights to foreign investors that enable them to bypass domestic court systems. Unaccountable arbitral tribunals can order governments to compensate investors allegedly harmed by public policies or regulations. MORE


 

The Drummond Report and the Environment in Ontario

green OntarioLast week, Economist Don Drummond released his much anticipated report on how to reduce Ontario's growing debt.  The sprawling 668 page report makes a wide range of suggestions on how to tackle the Ontario's financial problems. In reading the report, we picked up on several very interesting recommendations related to the environment that are worth a second look. 

Environmental Defence's Executive Director Rick Smith took the time to highlight some of these suggestions in his recent blog 'Green Drummond'. Notable ideas included ensuring that Ontario residents actually pay the real cost of electricity, ramping up 'time of use pricing' to encourage energy conservation, and asking for more help from the Federal government to support Ontario's renewable energy policies. MORE 



Drummond recanted on his own advice last June at economics meeting

Despite self-confessed ignorance, bank economist is calling the shots on cruel and counterproductive cuts in Ontario.

by Mel Watkins

one gets a sense of why so many people in Greece have resorted to the streets, burning effigies of the Drummonds of our world."It's the economy, stupid." So said, famously, a Clinton aide late in the last millennium who knew not how profoundly he had spoken. For those four words turned out to be the beginning of The Truly Stupid Times in which we are still stuck where the rule of the economy is absolute and efficiency as defined by cost accountants trumps everything else.

Now, here in Dalton McGuinty's middling Ontario, the phrase has morphed into "It's the economist, stupid." An ex-bank economist, Don Drummond, got an essentially one-person commission to tell the provincial government how to get rid of its deficit.

There's nothing wrong apparently with being, or having been, a bank economist. Even our public broadcaster regularly goes to one when in presumed pursuit of a value-free statement about the economy. (Economists working for unions don't qualify: they have a point of view.) To be fair, bank economists have the skills, so scarce in the academy, of speaking in words and of deigning to converse with the unwashed.

But value-free they are not, such a state being unachievable. They are, in this case, creatures of the conventional wisdom to use John Kenneth Galbraith's brilliant phrase—of their profession and their class and their times. (They are, whatever they may imagine, the unprogressive, regressive, economists of our times.) They supported the conventional wisdom that brought us these problems and now they appeal to the same conventional wisdom to solve them. This is not helpful. MORE

RELATED:

red dotDrummond Misdiagnoses Ontario’s Economy


Ontario demands public hearings on the Drummond Commission and budget

Cuts won't solve the deficit crisis, nor do Ontarians want them — survey.

by Kim Jarvi

“You can’t take that much money out without sharply cutting back services and destroying jobs.”February 15, 2012: Governments don't make policy in a vacuum. They respond to pressure. When it comes to economic policy, it is hard to ignore the very loud voice of the business community. During the 2008 financial meltdown, Ontario joined its counterparts in dutifully pumping money into the economy to help turn the corner on the recession. Having narrowly averted economic collapse, governments across the world are now fixated on their resulting deficits, as insisted by the very financial sector those governments had just bailed out.

You wouldn't know it by listening to the critics, but Ontario's debt position significantly improved under the current government prior to the recession. However, that trend was reversed—the necessary consequence of complying with the demand to fight the recession. Even if the government hadn't stepped in, the recession would have blown out the Ontario budget; that is what happens in recessions as revenue drops and expenditures rise.

February 15, 2012: Governments don't make policy in a vacuum. They respond to pressure. When it comes to economic policy, it is hard to ignore the very loud voice of the business community. During the 2008 financial meltdown, Ontario joined its counterparts in dutifully pumping money into the economy to help turn the corner on the recession. Having narrowly averted economic collapse, governments across the world are now fixated on their resulting deficits, as insisted by the very financial sector those governments had just bailed out.

You wouldn't know it by listening to the critics, but Ontario's debt position significantly improved under the current government prior to the recession. However, that trend was reversed—the necessary consequence of complying with the demand to fight the recession. Even if the government hadn't stepped in, the recession would have blown out the Ontario budget; that is what happens in recessions as revenue drops and expenditures rise. MORE

RELATED:

red dotOntario Clean Air Alliance—'Drummond Drops the Ball'


Drummond Commission report: countering cutbacks in Ontario

Amidst the release of the Drummond Commission report, CCPA  Research Associate Jim Stanford gives us ten macroeconomic factoids to keep in mind as we counter the overarching claim that Ontario just can’t afford our already-stretched network of public services.

Ten Points on Recession, Deficits, and Austerity in Ontario

Jim Stamford on the Drummond report: “This is pure shock-doctrine stuff (reminiscent of like propoganda that set the stage for Paul Martin’s austerity in the mid-1990s), and must be called out for what it is.”Ontario public service advocates and providers are becoming increasingly and rightfully alarmed about the direction of provincial finances, in the run-up to tomorrow’s public release of the Drummond Commission report, and a subsequent provincial budget that looks to be painfully austere.

The budget-cutting set are ramping up the rhetoric pretty dramatically: warning that Ontario is fast becoming the “Greece of Canada,” that we are about to hit the “debt wall,” that interest rates will skyrocket when the debt raters wake up, and similar nonsense.  This is pure shock-doctrine stuff (reminiscent of like propoganda that set the stage for Paul Martin’s austerity in the mid-1990s), and must be called out for what it is.

Ontario is not remotely Greece.  A good way to make us MORE like Greece would be to throw tens of thousands of broader public sector workers out of their jobs, in a misguided effort to dig our way out of a hole.  Investors love our bonds (and those of every other Canadian province)—that’s why they finance 10-year loans for interest rates barely above the rate of inflation.  The key task in strengthening the fiscal balance is to put people back to work: paying taxes (instead of collecting EI), and buying stuff (instead of hoarding cash).  While the provincial government’s toolkit in that regard is not infinite (the feds have far more ability to influence job-creation, through macro, monetary, exchange rate, and other policies), we can’t consider the provincial fiscal challenge without placing it in its appropriate macroeconomic context. MORE

RELATED:

Linda McQuaig: Confined to cuts

Drummond Commission's mandate did not permit tax increases.


 

Britain calls on the world to put a price on nature

Every country in the world should measure ‘natural capital’ as well as GDP in order to create a global economy that values the environment as well as money, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman will say.

Caroline Spelman, the UK Environment Secretary, said all countries should measure the state of natural resources as well as finances.The UK Government is setting up a Natural Capital Committee reporting to the Treasury that will work out our own wealth in terms of air quality, fresh water, wildlife and other natural resources.

Now Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, is going to propose that all countries begin "green accounting" that will audit the state of a nation's rivers, forests and other landscapes.

The initiative fits in neatly with David Cameron's efforts to outgun Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, in measuring happiness as well as GDP and makes the UK a key player at the Rio +20 conference in Brazil this June.

The conference, held 20 years after the ground-breaking 1992 Earth Summit, that launched the modern green movement, is expected to unite the world to protect the environment in the same way that the Millennium Development Goals have driven the fight against poverty.

'Sustainable Development Goals on the table include ensuring all agriculture is sustainable, protecting oceans, setting up an international court on environmental crime and appointing a "ombudsperson" or high commissioner to speak on future generations. MORE


 

Alternative Federal Budget Roundtable: Can Canada Escape a Lost Decade?

fix ottawa signAs part of the consultations undertaken in preparation of our forthcoming Alternative Federal Budget, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives hosted an economic roundtable, The Global Economic Crisis: Can Canada Escape a Lost Decade? on January 26, 2012.

The event brought together several leading Canadian economists to address the appropriate fiscal policy response to Canada’s anemic economic recovery, as well as three internationally recognized authorities who shared their perspectives on the nature of the global economic crisis, how it's likely to unfold, and obstacles to reform.

Click on the keynote speeches HERE to watch online (via CPAC):


 

CBC IDEAS: Left Behind, Parts 1 - 3

economy for the 99%Over the past 30 years, the benefits of economic growth in Canada, the US and much of the rest of the world, have gone increasingly to the top one percent of the population. For the majority of families, however, incomes have stagnated. This rise in inequality coincided with a sea change in government policy. Beginning in the 1980s, governments in much of the English-speaking world embarked on what has been called the neoliberal revolution - deregulation, privatization and tax cuts, aimed at liberating markets and stimulating the economy. The rising tide was supposed to lift all boats, but it didn't. Jill Eisen explores what happened.

audio

Listen to Left Behind, Part 1 (broadcast January 16); Listen to Left Behind, Part 2 (broadcast January 23); Listen to Left Behind, Part 3 (broadcast January 30) HERE


 

Ecocide: A law for sustainable development

Polly Higgins, environmental lawyer and barrister, founder of the Eradicating Ecocide campaign

oil rig burning in Gulf of MexicoRio+20 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create targets for sustainable development. I applaud the aspirations of Sustainable Development Goals, they are our starting point. To make these aspirations a reality, international law that places people and planet first is necessary to establish a level playing field for everyone around the world. Achieving this requires a commitment to outlawing destructive business practices and creating laws that prioritises green, clean, and life-enhancing business. One law that does just that is my proposal to make Ecocide a crime..

In April 2010, I proposed the concept of an Ecocide law to the UN, and the law has now been drafted. An Ecocide Act was tested in a mock trial at the Supreme Court in London, England in September 2011, which allowed a team of lawyers to examine the application of the proposed law before it is enacted. The mock trial was an opportunity to iron out any issues before the Act is adopted by nations across the world. The first step is to commit to amending the Rome Statute to include a 5th crime: Ecocide. This will create a level playing field in which all companies are legally bound to ensure that the consequences of their activities are examined before deciding to act. Under the law, CEOs and Heads of State will be personally responsible for any extensive environmental damage that arises out of their decision making. A law of Ecocide is an upstream solution. By turning off the tap at source, companies stand to gain. It is far more cost effective to pre-empt damage and destruction than to shore it up in the aftermath.

The Zero Draft document for Rio+20 states: “We view the green economy as a means to achieve sustainable development, which must remain our overarching goal.” Making Ecocide a law at Rio will put in place the foundations for our global green economy. According to the most recent estimates set out in the 2010 TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) report , the cost of destruction to the planet, by the top 3,000 corporations, was US$2.2 trillion in 2008. However, fines to defray the damage do not work. A law of Ecocide will shift corporations away from ‘polluter pays’ to ‘polluter does not pollute’. We view the Rio+20 as the most important meeting of Heads of State for 20 years; a moment in history when world leaders can demonstrate their commitment to the Earth. Under an Ecocide law, the world can opt-in to a law that places people and planet first. MORE


An opportunity to help end Ecocide with the Earth's Lawyer

On the 18th of February, Polly Higgins will be in Toronto for one night only. She has an ask: to meet faith, environmental, youth and political leaders to discuss how to make Earth law at the Earth Summit.

Polly Higgins will be speaking at Friends' House, Saturday, February 18 at 4:00 pm followed by potluck dinner at 6:00 pm. The event is free.

polly higginsAbout Polly:

Polly Higgins, award-winning author of Eradicating Ecocide, barrister and international environmental lawyer proposed to the United Nations in April 2010 a law of Ecocide to be classed as an international law alongside Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, Crimes of Aggression and War Crimes as a 5th Crime Against Peace. Ecocide is defined as the mass "damage, destruction to or loss of ecosystems of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished."

Polly has a background in rights law. In 2008 she proposed to the United Nations the need for a Universal Declaration of Planetary Rights; Bolivia has taken into the UN the renamed Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Just as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was implemented at the same time as the crime of Genocide to protect the Human Right to Life, so now she is proposing the crime of Ecocide to govern the Earth's Right to Life.

Polly has been a vocal spokesperson on Earth Jurisprudence for a number of years and is recognised as an expert in the field of Earth law.

red dotCOMMENTARY: Ecocide in Canada


 

The Ecocide Trial in Full is now on YouTube

A bit of history on the route to an Ecocide Act!

The full Ecocide Trial is now posted on YouTube in 28 parts HERE The initial trailer is also posted on YouTube HERE

Filmed before the Trial in London's Supreme Court of the United Kingdom 30 September 2011, London barrister Polly Higgins talked to PositiveTV about the trial in and its rational and implications.

Polly Higgins explains, "Once upon a time people did grievous harm to the environment without fully understanding the consequences of their actions. That defence is no longer available, and that sure knowledge we now have entails equally sure moral obligations. In this context, the idea of establishing the crime of Ecocide is both timely and compelling."

Jonathon Porritt, former Chair, Sustainable Development Commission, observed: "In these days when the human impact on the environment is becoming everyday more evident and proves to be not only damaging to our surroundings but a serious threat to human life and survival, it is imperative that we should declare Ecocide a Crime Against Peace."

this is ecocide

Today large scale habitat destruction, massive soil depletion, extensive deforestation lead to worldwide disruption of natural cycles and the irreversibility of extinction. Today instances of mass extinction occur with greater frequency, greater rapidity and greater impact than at any other time.

Each day 100 living species become extinct, 1,000 acres of peat bogs are excavated and 150,000 acres of tropical rainforest are destroyed. Each day, 2 million tons of toxic waste is dumped in to our rivers and seas, 22 million tons of oil are extracted and 100 million tons of greenhouse gases are released.

Is Ecocide a Crime?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHCRIgvPgxMAs oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico from BP's Deepwater Horizon rig in May 2010, and then CEO Tony Hayward made his infamous statement that he wanted his life back, he likely had little fear of it being taken in a court of law.

But that reality could be changing as a movement to make business executives and political leaders legally accountable for environmental destruction gains global momentum. Campaigners are calling for the introduction of a new internationalized law of ecocide - the mass destruction of ecosystems—that would be on a par with genocide and similar crimes against humanity.

In late September the Hamilton Group—an NGO promoting sustainable development - staged a mock trial at the U.K.'s Supreme Court. The day-long proceedings saw two fictional oil company execs - played by actors—face three counts of ecocide. Their multinationals stood accused of killing migratory birds and degrading the environment in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and in the tar sands in Canada, with the pair facing a volunteer jury, one supposedly screened to be free of activists.

“We took it very seriously,” says jury foreman Huw Spanner, a 51-year-old writer and editor. “It seemed a mixed group—there were some green skeptics,” he adds of the jury.

Their unanimous convictions on two of the three charges were perhaps a meaningless victory for Greens given that the proceedings—despite being based on real events and featuring genuine barristers, expert witnesses and a judge - were entirely devoid of legal status. But those involved insist it provides a telling example of how an ecocide law could operate in practice. MORE


nb Infographic: The 99% vs. The 1%


Corporate Rule Is Not Inevitable

7 signs the corporatocracy is losing its legitimacy ... and 7 populist tools to help shut it down.

by Sarah van Gelder

occupy the courts posterYou may remember that there was a time when apartheid in South Africa seemed unstoppable.

Sure, there were international boycotts of South African businesses, banks, and tourist attractions. There were heroic activists in South Africa, who were going to prison and even dying for freedom. But the conventional wisdom remained that these were principled gestures with little chance of upending the entrenched system of white rule.

“Be patient,” activists were told. “Don’t expect too much against powerful interests with a lot of money invested in the status quo.”

With hindsight, though, apartheid’s fall appears inevitable: the legitimacy of the system had already crumbled. It was harming too many for the benefit of too few. South Africa’s freedom fighters would not be silenced, and the global movement supporting them was likewise tenacious and principled.

In the same way, the legitimacy of rule by giant corporations and Wall Street banks is crumbling. This system of corporate rule also benefits few and harms many, affecting nearly every major issue in public life. Some examples: MORE


Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us


Population growth, development, and stability

Egypt as an example

ostrich with head in sandMedia reports on the wave of unrest sweeping the Arab world for the most part ignore a crucial underlying factor: rapid, unsustainable population growth.

Seventeen years ago, Egypt, one of the countries at the center of the current unrest, hosted the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Under the influence of feminist and social justice NGOs, population reduction as an end in itself was off the agenda as antithetical to women's rights. A focus on development alone was expected to bring about a reduction in population growth.

In the absence of national or international (UN) population strategies, financial support for family planning has fallen sharply and population growth has remained rapid. Consequently, development has lagged and a deteriorating environment and resource scarcity have led to conflict in many regions. This article challenges the arguments used to suppress discussion of and action on population growth and invites readers to break the population taboo. HERE 


What economic recovery?

Jim StanfordWe've all heard political leaders boast that the Canadian economy has fully recovered from the recession and that the recession was not as severe in Canada as in other countries. It turns out that both of those claims are false because they don't take population growth into consideration.

Canada's Incomplete, Mediocre Recovery, a new CCPA study by Jim Stanford finds that, after adjusting for population growth, neither GDP nor employment growth have yet to recoup the ground lost during the 2008-09 downturn. Real per capita GDP remains 1.4% lower as of the third quarter of 2011 than it was at the beginning of 2008. And the labour market is still much weaker than it was before the recession—measured by the employment rate, less than one-fifth of the damage has been repaired.

As for international comparisons, once population growth is factored in, Canada's GDP performance ranks 17th out of 34 OECD countries. Canada also ranks 17th (out of 33 reporting countries) in terms of employment growth. MORE


 

Public services being used as 'get-rich' schemes by corporate executives

OPSEU calls on Ontario government to stop letting private operators profit from public money.

cash cowTORONTO, ON, January 12, 2012: The government takeover of ORNGE air ambulance should serve as warning to taxpayers that the privatization of public services only succeeds in harming services and making a select few executives millionaires with public money, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU, said the government needs to learn from its mistakes and immediately halt any plans to privatize government-run services such as ServiceOntario.

"How many spending scandals must this government deal with before it learns that privatizing public services harms the public?" asked Thomas. "First there was eHealth, now ORNGE. The only thing these ventures accomplished was to create a cash cow for a few corporate executives, who lined their pockets with millions in taxpayers' money."

"What gets proven over and over is that when the government gives up responsibility for delivering services, it's the taxpayers who pay more in the long run." MORE

RELATED:

red dotNew Brunswick Auditor General criticises government's decision to build P3 schools

red dotJasper National Park could be privatized

Project would establish a dangerous 'parks-for-profit' precedent—Green Party.


 

Federal cutbacks will cost more than 60,000 jobs and slash services

60 nthousands job cutsIn its 2010 and 2011 budgets, the federal government announced cuts totalling $7.82 billion. A new CCPA study explores the impact of these cutbacks and finds between 60,100 and 68,300 jobs will be lost as a result.

The study, The Cuts Behind the Curtain: How federal cutbacks will slash services and increase unemployment, identifies areas that are already seeing cuts and may see more of the same, including: programs for Aboriginal on-reserve housing, training and primary health care; support for low-income families, seniors, and the unemployed; environmental programs; workplace and food safety inspectors; and Canada's international profile.

The study also raises serious concerns about the government's lack of transparency about what will be axed, and why.

Click here to to download the study in English


We live on a finite planet with finite resources.

earthEarth Overshoot Day marks an unfortunate milestone: the day in which we exhaust our ecological budget for the year. Once we pass this day, humanity will have demanded all the ecological services – from filtering CO2 to producing the raw materials for food – that nature can provide this year. From that point until the end of the year, we meet our ecological demand by liquidating resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In 2010, we reached Earth Overshoot Day on August 21st.

Earth Overshoot Day has been creeping earlier in the year as human consumption grows.

The science is clear: global warming is happening faster than ever and humans are responsible. The growth in pollution from economic growth is a major problem because global warming destabilizes the delicate balance that makes life on this planet possible. Just a few degrees in temperature can completely change the world as we know it, and threaten the lives of millions of people around the world.

In Canada, energy resource development is presently a strong economic driver. Canada's tar sands have been described as the world's largest Ecocide. Hydrocarbon export revenues contribute to Canada's GDP and help fund public services such as healthcare and education. But profound change is coming, and we must be ready for it. We must prepare for a day when we fund these critical public services with alternative revenue sources.

In 2050, Canada could be enjoying a vibrant, diverse economy and an international reputation as a developer of energy production and conservation technologies, innovative transportation products, and other value-added innovations. Our economy would produce a much higher rate of GDP per unit of energy consumed, drastically improving our energy productivity.

RELATED:

red dotRichard Heinberg: Life after the end of economic growth

red dotDOWNLOAD The End of Growth HERE


Financial Crisis as a Way of Life

Neoliberalism drives chronic worldwide financial instability

downwrd graphFrom Wall Street to Iceland to Greece to Ireland, the world is lurching from one financial crisis to another. The financial panic of 2008 has morphed into the era of financial crises. If you think you live in an oasis secure from financial meltdown, think again. Financial markets are so twitchy (and so interdependent) that a problem anywhere could become a problem everywhere.

How did we become hostage to financial markets? We're in this mess because a generation of neoliberal finance set the stage for chronic worldwide financial instability:

1. Inequality has become much worse: Worldwide, we have seen a growing trend for wealth and income to become more unequally distributed. In a more egalitarian society, regular folks use their slice of the economic pie to do regular stuff like buy a car or repair the roof, which sets the stage for real economic activity (the production of goods and services). When the affluent get their hands on a greater piece of the economic pie, they don't need the extra cash for daily living. Instead, they can use these funds to fuel financial speculation.

2. Tax systems favour the rich: Taxes are one way to reduce inequality, but neoliberalism has mounted one long tax revolt, particularly by the wealthy and corporations. MORE


 

A Tribute to The Automatic Earth

A Tribute video for invaluable work of Stoneleigh and Ilargi at The Automatic Earth. video (6:10)

RELATED:

red dotHow to face fallout from unfolding global financial crisis

red dotANALYSIS: Financial Crisis as a Way of Life


There's no contest when it comes to CEO compensation

empty pocketsThe Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' annual look at CEO compensation looks at 2010 compensation levels for Canada's highest paid 100 CEOs and finds they pocketed an average of an average $8.38 million in 2010—a 27% increase over the average $6.6 million they took in 2009.

Even in these turbulent economic times, the average of Canada's CEO Elite 100 make 189 times more than Canadians earning the average wage.

The full report, Canada's CEO Elite 100: The 0.01% is available here.

You can also visit our interactive counter, The Clash for the Cash: CEO vs. Average Joe, to find out how much these contenders have earned so far.MORE


New World Order: Brazil Becomes World's 6th Largest Economy

dollar signBrazil has overtaken the UK as the sixth largest economy in the world. The world ranking of the most powerful economies based on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) places the US as the most powerful economy, followed by China, Japan, Germany, France and Brazil. The UK is now 7th while Italy, India, and Canada, are in the 8th, 9th and 10th positions respectively, according to IMF. MORE


Disaster-struck Japan set for record-high spending

fukushimaTOKYO (AP)—Disaster-struck Japan is headed to record-high budget spending of 96 trillion yen ($1.2 trillion) as the nation tackles the costs of recovery from the March earthquake and tsunami.

The Cabinet approved the draft budget for the fiscal year starting April 2012 on Saturday, covering massive costs for disaster reconstruction in northeastern Japan as well as decontamination efforts for radiation leaked from a tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant.

The government will rely on new debt for 49 percent of its annual revenue, the highest level ever, according to Kyodo News service.

Japan's ballooning public debt is expected to renew the push from the government to raise the consumption—or sales—tax, now at 5 percent, a move certain to meet resistance from a public disenchanted with what some have criticized as wasteful spending favoring bureaucrats.

"Unless we do a fundamental review of the tax system, we are reaching our limit in trying to maintain our welfare services," Finance Minister Jun Azumi told reporters.

Japan is reducing its spending for developing atomic energy. But it will need to spend far more than the amount saved to safely close down Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which went into meltdown following the disasters.MORE


WANT TO GET A HANDLE ON CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION?

Here's some sobre second thought

Do you want to know how many hours a year you work for a given expenditure, taking into account taxation? If so, check out What Did I Work For It.


The Innovation Gap and the Problem with Research Funding in Canada

cost of rejecting a grant now exceeds the cost of giving one

ccpa logoWhile concerns about Canada's innovation gap have become cliché, too often these observations ignore the elephant in the room: funding for Canadian Researchers is based on a broken funding system. We hope to re-ignite a longstanding conversation in Canada about how to better use limited research dollars to support more Canadian researchers in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Central to this conversation is the academics themselves.

We argue that the existing model wastes money and time and creates motivation problems for the next generation of researchers; that the peer review system undermines innovation and creative thinking; and the existing system hinders the kind of diverse expertise required to benefit Canadian society and advance its industries. MORE

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red dotCanada's rich still getting richer: OECD


CETA is about ownership and control not efficiency and competitiveness

CETA logoIn the Throne Speech in June, the Harper Conservatives presented Canadians with their priorities for the coming year. High on their list is the securing of an economic partnership with the European Union, the CETA (comprehensive economic and trade agreement). Negotiations between Canada and the EU began in the summer of 2007 and are set to conclude in 2012.

The agreement is about a good deal more than tariffs and the cross-border flow of goods. CETA will involve such broad matters as investment, government procurement, energy, telecommunications, the environment and intellectual property. The purpose of the agreement, according to its crafters, is to enhance national competitiveness and prosperity.

It is striking to note the absence of public meditation over the CETA. Contrast this with two decades ago when Canada was convulsed in debate over the prospect of a North America-wide trade and investment liberalization regime. The stakes were high back then and no one pretended otherwise.MORE


Over 80 EU, CDN civil society groups demand an end to CETA

Negotiations for sole benefit of transnational corporations.

 

corporate greedOTTAWA, ON, October 20, 2011: As a 9th round of Canada-EU free trade talks came to an end in Ottawa, over 80 European and Canadian civil society groups demanded that political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic stop negotiating the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and release the offers now.

"Our organizations say NO to this agreement, which has been negotiated for the sole benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of people's rights and of the protection of the environment," says the declaration.

"Neither the European Union nor Canada has ever informed their populations of what is really at stake in these negotiations," it continues. "Requests and offers from each party have never been discussed nor revealed to the public. These negotiations are thus clearly a total denial of democracy." MORE


If We End Corporate Personhood We Can Define the Terms of a New Economy

unequal protection by Thom Hartmannby: Thom Hartmann, Berrett-Koehler Publishers | Book Excerpt

If you believe that corporations should not have the same rights as people - if you are appalled by the 2010 Citizens United decision - then this is the book for you.

Thom Hartmann wrote this prescient book, now updated, about the threat posed to democracy by granting corporations the rights enjoyed by citizens of the United States. With extensive research and a sense for the nuances of legal history, Hartmann skillfully traces how big business legally bullied its way into receiving rights reserved in the Constitution for humans, not institutions.

"With the end of corporate personhood, it will be possible for the humans of the United States and every nation in the world to define the terms of a new economy. With natural persons once again in charge of government, we can redefine the rules of business so that corporations are profitable when their actions lead to sustainability and a clean environment, respond to values defined by local communities, and promote and develop renewable forms of energy." MORE

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Want a copy of the book? Receive "Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became 'People' - And How You Can Fight Back" as a thank-you gift with a donation of $35 or more to Truthout.

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Hartmann: Have corporations overplayed their hand & a backlash is now underway?

Boulder, Colorado passed by a 3-to-1 margin an amendment that says corporations are not people and money is not speech and 6 Senators introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Have corporations overplayed their hand - is the backlash now underway?


The Story of Citizens United v. FEC (2011)

 

red dotFree Download from the Caledon Institute of Social Poliicy: Trends in Canada's Payroll Taxes

This short paper is the first in a new Caledon series, caledon social statistics.  Using a combination of illustrative graphs and explanatory text, the series will explore social programs, tax benefits and trends in low income and other major social and economic indicators. DOWNLOAD HERE


3 Options for a More Sustainable Society

by Bob Willard

1. Take to the streets

A3 doorss a North American, I am accustomed to seeing riots and demonstrations somewhere else. In August, rioters in the UK and Israel showed their dissatisfaction with the status quo. It takes a lot to get Canadians and Americans into public demonstrations and general dissatisfaction with the “economic system” is not usually one of them. Until this fall. The upsurge of the Occupy Wall Street / We Are the 99% movement from mid-September to hundreds of cities in North America and 1,700 cities worldwide, shows that the public demonstration option is very much in play as that movement evolves.

2. Create a parallel economy with new business models

Abandon the status quo business models and build better ones from scratch that are variously called hybrid organizations, social enterprises, B Corporations, and fourth sector companies. The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) and the Transition Network are working with local communities to build resilient, more self-sufficient, more robust, local economies all over the world. They are using exciting new forms of ownership and capitalization to form more sustainable enterprises, very analogous to the cooperative movement, to develop a local parallel economy.

3. Morph unsustainable companies into sustainable enterprises MORE

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red dotvideo Three things that we can do to make businesses sustainable (Bob Willard)


Economist Steve Keenvideo Steve Keen on BBC HARDtalk

Sarah Montague talks to Steve Keen, one of the few economists to have predicted the global financial crisis, about the possibility of another Great Depression, and how to avoid it.

'Another Great Depression is all but inevitable'—that's the view of Steve Keen. He's been called the 'Merchant of Gloom', but he's one of the few economists to have predicted the global financial crisis. While he used to be a lone voice in challenging the economic consensus, more and more people are now listening to him. His way of avoiding depression? Write off the debt, bankrupt the banks, nationalise the financial system, and start all over again. He talks to Sarah Montague. video HERE

 

 



red dotHow Did Taxes Become a Bad Word?

The Former Clerk of the Privy Council, Alex Himelfarb, discusses why we should be investing more, not less, in our future. While today's political leaders exalt the benefits of increased tax-cutting, Himelfarb argues that further tax cuts will come with serious consequences, including cuts to services and deeper inequality. According to Himelfarb, what we need is nothing less than a re-think about what our future is worth. His lecture was produced in collaboration with the Literary Review of Canada. See the video HERE


The 99% Vs The 1% - An Animated Explanation

You may well have been scratching your head recently about the 99% and the 1% - figures that keep being bandied about to describe the gap between the rich and the poor. It can take some explaining, too, even if you know what you are talking about. Probably some of the key words of the Occupy Wall Street movement, not to mention the other Occupy sites that have sprung up around the world, a simple and straightforward explanation would be nice!

Step forward the interactive team at the British newspaper The Guardian. Thank you, that's much clearer now! With statistics like this it is a wonder that there hasn't been more of a revolution than the mostly peaceful protests we have seen so far. You can certainly see why the Occupy protests started, that's for sure.

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Feeling overworked? You must be Canadian

89% of Us Think We're Overworked

overworkedWorkload complaints have reached staggering proportions among Canadian employees, a global research firm said Monday. Eighty-nine per cent reported heavy workload as a complaint among staff, results of a Towers Watson study show.

“Canadian respondents cited excessive workloads, lack of work/life balance, unclear or conflicting job expectations and inadequate staffing as top sources of workplace stress,” concludes the study by the professional services company.

A similar study on the health and productivity practices of Canadian and U.S. companies by the same firm two years ago found 64 per cent of employers reported excessive-workload complaints among staff, a difference of 25 percentage points. “Most organizations report that employee stress is a major and growing business issue,” the latest results also show. MORE

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red accentWanted: Career Monogamy—Employees Seek Long-Term Relationships With Employers, According to New Towers Watson Study


Less Work, More Living

Working fewer hours could save our economy, save our sanity, and help save our planet.

adults playingMillions of Americans have lost control over the basic rhythm of their daily lives. They work too much, eat too quickly, socialize too little, drive and sit in traffic for too many hours, don't get enough sleep, and feel harried too much of the time. It's a way of life that undermines basic sources of wealth and well-being—such as strong family and community ties, a deep sense of meaning, and physical health.

But fewer work hours for people with jobs is a key step toward solving the unemployment crisis—while giving Americans healthier lives. Fewer hours means more jobs are available to people who need them. Living on less pay usually means consuming less, making more of the things one needs at home, and living lighter, whether by design or by accident. MORE


Families, Time and Well-Being

Inequality in well-being has increased even more than inequality of income

ccpa logoInequality of well-being among families with children is increasing at an even faster rate than income inequality, according to a new study by Peter Burton and Shelley Phipps, "Families, Time, and Well-Being in Canada". They find that total family working hours have increased over the past decade, but not for those at the top of the income spectrum who have been receiving the largest gains in income.

"We study changes in time and money available to families with children from 1971 to 2006. Increases in incomes at the top of the Canadian income distribution since the mid-1990s have taken place without any significant increases in total family hours of paid work. On the other hand, for families in the middle of the income distribution, family income has stagnated, despite the fact that parents jointly supply significantly higher hours of paid work. If both time and money are valuable resources for the production of well-being for family members, these findings suggest that inequality in well-being has increased even more than inequality of income." MORE


UN women report: Access to justice remains a work in progress

Flagship report from the new UN agency shows there is a way to go before improvements in the legal position of women are translated into equality and justice for all

progress of women in the persuit of justiceMore than half of working women in the world, 600 million, are trapped in insecure jobs without legal protection, according to the first flagship report of the new agency UN Women. A similar number do not have even basic protection against domestic violence, it finds, while sexual assault has become a hallmark of modern conflict.

Michelle Bachelet, the executive director of UN Women, said the document showed that many millions of women had no access to justice.

"The report reminds us of the remarkable advances that have been made over the past century in the quest for gender equality and women's empowerment," she said. "However it also underscores the fact that despite widespread guarantees of equality, the reality for many millions of women is that justice remains out of reach."

For millions of women in both rich and poor countries, the search for justice is fraught with difficulty and is often expensive; laws and legal systems frequently discriminate against them. In Cambodia, for example, the forensic test necessary to lay a rape charge costs two weeks' wages, while in Kenya a land claim in an inheritance case can cost $800 and extend across 17 different administrative stages. MORE

DOWNLOAD:

Progress of the World's Women: In Pursuit of Justice


A Looming Social Crisis

Canadian governments should prepare for rising homelessness—Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

woman with sign homeless and hungryYou can step over homeless people, but you can't ignore them. The Great Recession is fading, but we haven't seen all of the after-effects, especially when we're talking about homelessness. And if our political leaders don't come to terms with this looming crisis soon, we'll see a steep rise in homelessness in the near future.

The homeless population of a given jurisdiction is typically the last group to see a change after a recession, making homelessness the opposite of the proverbial canary in a mineshaft....

It's also no secret that Employment Insurance (EI) coverage is nowhere near as generous now as it was in the early 1990s, while welfare benefits in Ontario (not including child benefits) are barely half what they were during the last recession.

The most recent statistics available for welfare in Ontario tell us that caseload numbers have yet to stop rising. As of May, there were more than 458,000 people on welfare in Ontario, roughly 24% more than when the recession started.

Finally, even with government stimulus money for social housing¸ we are only building about one-third the number of units on an annual basis than we were after the recession of the early 1990s. MORE


Richard Wilkinson: How economic inequality harms societies

We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.

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Website: The Equality Trust

red dotCCPA: Income Inequality: A Problem for Everyone


Overpopulation: The More the Merrier?

Population is about both scale and detail. In terms of scale, it can be hard to grasp. There are seven billion of us now, according to the United Nations. That is twice as many as fifty years ago, and our numbers will rise by almost half again over the next seventy-five years. That must have some sort of impact. The more of us there are, the more pressure we surely put on the environment, on resources and on our own quality of life. We all know about falling fish stocks, deforestation, climate change and concerns over future supplies of food and water. Yet that impact is hard to measure. And there are other contributory factors too, including inequality, consumption rates, technological practices and government priorities, making the precise effect of population growth less clear. MORE

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Sustainable prosperity and social justice are the only solutions to runaway population growth.


Canadian Index of Wellbeing provides a wider measure of progress

woman carrying a giant clock on her back

Not everything can be measured in dollars and cents. That's why economists and politicians who measure progress strictly according to Gross Domestic Product and claim that our lives are better just because the number goes up seem increasingly out of touch.

The GDP quantifies just one part of the equation—economic output. It doesn't count the cost of achieving those gains, whether it's environmental degradation or a work-life imbalance that stresses families and saps joy from lives. It also says nothing about the distribution of all that additional wealth. As Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots show, most people do not think that the rich getting richer while everyone else falls further behind is laudable progress.

Now, finally, Canadians have a more comprehensive measure. One that doesn't just tell us how the economy is performing (as vital as that is), but tries to get a broader sense of how people are living. The Canadian Index of Wellbeing measures eight major areas: living standards, community vitality, democratic engagement, education, health, environment, leisure and culture and how we spend our time. MORE

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red accentAre Canadians fulfilled?

 


New index of wellbeing challenges Canada's GDP as sole measure of progress

canadiaan index of well-being logoFirst-Ever CIW Composite Index Shows GDP Gains not Translating into Better Quality of Life

How are Canadians Really doing? Is our overall quality of life getting better or worse? Are we getting closer or moving farther away from realizing the kind of Canada we want to live in?

MORE


New index of wellbeing challenges Canada's GDP as sole measure of progress

canadian faceWATERLOO, ON, Oct. 20, 2011—Canada has become a world leader in measuring wellbeing with the launch of a new comprehensive composite index set to challenge the gross domestic product (GDP) as the sole measure of our country's progress, says the Honourable RoyRomanow, advisory board chair for the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW), located at the University of Waterloo.

The CIW today is releasing a comprehensive composite index designed by an interdisciplinary team of accomplished Canadian and international experts to measure the overall wellbeing of Canada. It shows that Canadians' quality of life hasn't improved at anywhere near the pace of economic growth as measured by GDP.

"Since 1994, the starting point for the CIW, Canada's wellbeing has seen an overall improvement of 11 per cent - paling in comparison to the 31 per cent growth in the country's GDP over that same time frame," says Romanow.

"The CIW shows us what GDP cannot: our country is not reaping all of the benefits of our economic growth. Our quality of life has actually gone down in areas such as the environment, leisure and culture, and time use, with only modest gains in health. And even in areas where growth has been robust, our research shows that it was the top 20 per cent that received the lion's share of rising income and wealth during the boom years, while the gap down to the bottom 20 per cent grew even larger. That's the Canadian reality." MORE

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10 surprising stats about small business in Canada

business spreadsheetSmall businesses are often touted as the backbone of Canada's economy, but how much do they actually contribute to the country's gross domestic product? How many small businesses are there, and how many do they employ across the country? And what exactly is a small business, anyway?

To mark the Oct. 17 start of small business week in Canada, CBC compiled some of the big numbers behind small businesses in this country. MORE


Happiness goes global

happinessHappiness is grabbing an enormous amount of attention in terms of global public policy. A resolution passed at the UN General Assembly in July stated that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal” embodying the globally agreed targets in the Millennium Development Goals.

UN member-states along with civil society groups and foundations also embraced the offer of Bhutan, the tiny Himalayan country that uniquely has adopted the concept of gross national happiness over gross domestic product as the barometer of developmental success, to convene a panel discussing happiness during the current General Assembly session in New York.

This campaign to bring happiness into the core of global governance builds on the momentum created by a number of national initiatives among developed states. The best known of these is the backing given by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France for the recommendations of a report by Nobel-prize winning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen that wealth should be measured by an index of happiness. MORE


VIDEO:Graham Hill: Less stuff, more happiness


World Bank: Women Are 40 Percent Of World's Workforce But Have Just One Percent Of Its Wealth

gender gappThe World Bank has released its latest World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development, and the findings show the depths of economic and social inequalities between men and women. Shockingly, the report notes that women are 40 percent of the world's labor force but only have 1 percent of its wealth. It isn't so much a matter of lack of education.  After all, women account for half of the world's university students and are the majority of students in many countries' colleges and secondary schools.MORE


Opportunity: Transition Prince Edward Provides a Local Energy Descent Conversation

An Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP) is a local plan for dealing with Peak Oil.  It goes well beyond issues of energy supply, to look at across-the-board creative adaptations in the realms of health, education, economy and much more.  An EDAP is a way to think ahead, to plan in an integrated, multidisciplinary way, to provide direction to local government, decision makers, groups and individuals with an interest in making the place they live into a vibrant and viable community in a post-carbon era. MORE

Transition Prince Edward provides an opportunity to explore what contributions or services you would most like to bring out of yourself, and what transitions you most would like to see here in Prince Edward County. Some present initiatives include reskilling workshops, transition town research, transportation, and food and celebrations. A great place to learn and meet your neighbors!

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