Monday, 9 December 2013

Merry Christmas: Analyses to Chill Your Holiday Spirit from Krugman and the Toronto Star

Paul Krugman can be counted on for setting things straight, and in his column today he talks about the holiday present that the US is preparing to give the long term unemployed on Jan. 1, 2014: "1.3 million American workers, many of them in desperate financial straits, are set to lose unemployment benefits at the end of December."

"Merry Christmas," he adds.

The culprits, as usual, are those right wing politicos who combine a vindictive spirit with bad economics, he says.  "The point is that employment in today’s American economy is limited by demand, not supply. Businesses aren’t failing to hire because they can’t find willing workers; they’re failing to hire because they can’t find enough customers. And slashing unemployment benefits — which would have the side effect of reducing incomes and hence consumer spending — would just make the situation worse."

But don't think this attitude is confined to the US.  The Toronto Star today has a tabulation of all the programs that the Stephen Harper Conservatives have cut since they came to office.   The story quotes former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow:

“It is changing Canada,”  he says of the current federal approach to social and economic policy.
 “Unchecked, if we continue down this path, the big danger is a more regionalized and more unequal nation,” Romanow, who headed a royal commission on the future of health care in 2002, told the Star.

"Social programs long valued by Canadians are in the Conservatives’ crosshairs.

"Federal health-care spending is to be reined in. Canadians in future will have to work two years longer before receiving old age security — a measure Harper said was meant to address Canadians’ disproportionate focus on “our services and entitlements.”

"And at a time when 1.3 million are without jobs, the federal government has toughened the criteria that employment insurance recipients must meet to hang on to their benefits. In all, only 37 per cent of jobless Canadians are eligible for EI benefits."

Ironic, isn't it, that right after Black Friday when we were exhorted to buy, buy, buy, it's getting harder and harder for millions to keep food on the table and shoes on their kids' feet.

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