Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

As Judge Rules NSA Surveillance "Almost Orwellian," Obama Prepares to Leave Spying Program Intact

A federal judge ruled Monday the National Security Agency’’s bulk collection of American’s phone records “almost certainly” violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon described the NSA’s activities as "almost Orwellian." He wrote, "I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen." Judge Leon was appointed to the bench by Republican President George W. Bush in 2002. Leon suspended enforcement of his injunction against the program pending an expected appeal by the government. The lawsuit was brought by conservative attorney Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and based on information leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. In a statement Monday, Snowden said, "I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many." We are joined by Sascha Meinrath, director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. He served as an expert witnesses on the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications, which was tasked by President Obama to review NSA’s activities.

Author: --

Canada Post cuts: A Scrooge of a message from Harper government

In a move that caught everyone off guard, Canada Post announced a five-point "action plan" last week that included phasing out home delivery of the mail over the next five years, making Canada the only G7 nation to do so. Why? To "protect taxpayers."

Of all the reasons that merit discussion as to whether letter carriers belong to a redundant class of workers, like the milkman or iceman, taxpayer protection isn't one. This Crown corporation is more likely to make money than lose it.

Everything You Need to Know About Today's Court Ruling on NSA Spying

Score one for Edward Snowden. In the first judicial challenge of the NSA's constant, suspicionless surveillance of Americans' cell phone records, a federal judge appointed by George W. Bush ruled that the "metadata program" is likely unconstitutional: "The plaintiffs have a substantial likelihood of showing that . . . the NSA's bulk collection program is indeed an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment," wrote District Judge Richard J. Leon. Today's ruling granted the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction – but stayed that order at least six months pending the Obama administration's inevitable appeal.

Rob Ford emblematic of the dark place where our politics are headed

If there is one thing on which Rob Ford and his worst critics on the left agree, it is that the unrelenting opposition he has aroused, while nominally directed at the phenomenal string of missteps and misdeeds he has committed in office, is really about his conservatism.

The mayor of Toronto is fond of dismissing opponents as downtown snobs, well-heeled beneficiaries of the “gravy train” driven mainly by a desire to stop him from saving the taxpayer’s money. And his critics — some of them — reply with something of the same argument.

Woodland caribou still at risk, despite federal plan to help

An environmental group says more needs to be done to prevent an iconic Canadian animal from going extinct.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is releasing a report today, co-authored by the David Suzuki Foundation, on the status of woodland caribou.

CBC News obtained an embargoed copy of the report, "Population Critical: How are the caribou faring?"

St. Anne's Residential School survivors face off with Ottawa

St. Anne's Residential School survivors are before the Ontario Superior Court today in a bid to get the federal government to release documents the former students say would help corroborate their claims of abuse.

The documents they want are from a five-year Ontario Provincial Police investigation in the 1990s, as well as files from the subsequent trials that resulted in several convictions against school staff and supervisors.

Jang Song Thaek execution tests North Korea's Kim, China's patience

Already in a class of its own for the grotesque and inscrutable hyperbole of its bulletins, the (North) Korea Central News Agency outdid itself recently with the announcement of the execution of dictator Kim Jong-un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek.

The 2,700-word document, which described Jang as "a despicable political careerist and trickster," "worse than a dog," and "human scum" left North Korea-watchers gasping for breath. And struggling to hedge their bets.

Mystery of Michigan Tar Rocks Solved?

Stephen K. Hamilton thinks he may have solved part of the mystery of "the tar balls" or odd-looking rocks that were noticed in the Kalamazoo River after the catastrophic Enbridge spill of diluted bitumen of 2010 -- about which The Tyee published a story on Monday.

The Michigan State University ecologist says the weird looking rocks are not bitumen-made but natural carbonate or "tufa" rocks. They form in the Kalamazoo wherever mineral rich groundwater enters the river.

Affordable Housing: Some Parts Just Aren't City Hall's Job

On the phone from the home he shares with his wife and children in East Vancouver, David Wong's voice is heavy with exhaustion. The Vancouver-raised architect and author is burnt out, he says. He's spent the last two weeks speaking out publicly on behalf of the Ming Sun Benevolent Society, whose former headquarters at 439 Powell Street made headlines when news of the 122-year-old building's impending demolition spread.

Until recently the building's upper floor housed 10 low-income, Chinese-speaking seniors, a population known to struggle to find affordable and culturally appropriate housing. The Ming Sun Benevolent Society, which owns the building, also rented out the 1,000-square-foot space on the main floor to a local artists' collective, Instant Coffee, for $1,000 a month. 
In late November, City engineers ordered both the seniors upstairs and the artists downstairs out, saying the aging building had become unsafe.

An open letter to Dave Hancock, Deputy Premier: Why you should quit … Now … Really!

Dave Hancock
Deputy Premier of Alberta
Minister of Human Services
Government House Leader
MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud

Dear Dave,

I'm writing you today because I think you should resign.

Certainly you should quit Premier Alison Redford's cabinet, and maybe her Progressive Conservative caucus too. And, no, this isn't because of those kids who died in government care, the ones whose deaths your government didn't see the need to tell anyone about, but got found out anyway on your watch. I am quite confident we both agree that was an outrage and a tragedy.

Demand Your Privacy

It seems our elected officials have no intention of reining in the National Security Agency’s mad-scientist quest to know everything about our communications and movements. If we want our privacy back, we’re going to have to fight for it.

Months after Edward Snowden spilled the beans, the NSA—whose mission is supposed to be foreign surveillance—is still compiling a comprehensive record of our domestic phone calls. Every time you dial, the government can find out who, what, when and where.

Liz Sidoti, Associated Press Political Editor, Joins BP

Associated Press national political editor Liz Sidoti is leaving the news organization to become US head of communications for BP, according to a memo obtained by The Huffington Post.

Given that the AP covers BP, Sidoti will no longer be involved in an reporting, editing or news management, the memo stated.

"I am grateful for all of the opportunities the AP has generously given me over nearly 15 years," Sidoti said in a statement to HuffPost. "The AP has not just been my employer, but it's also been a home. And my colleagues, a family. I will always look back fondly -- and with pride -- at my time with the AP, and will always be thankful for having been able to be a part of this extraordinary, necessary institution filled with the industry's most dedicated journalists."

Senators Call For Extension Of Key Energy Tax Credits

WASHINGTON -- Twenty-four senators are asking the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee to renew a slate of tax credits for renewable energy and efficiency, some of which are set to expire at the end of the year.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) took the lead on the letter, sent to Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and the committee's ranking member, Orrin Hatch. In it, Markey identified 10 different tax provisions designed to benefit clean energy that the senators want to see extended as soon as possible. Twenty-two Democrats and two Independents, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, signed the letter, which argues that the tax incentives help create jobs while lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

How A For-Profit College Created Fake Jobs To Get Taxpayer Money

Eric Parms enrolled at an Everest College campus in the suburbs of Atlanta in large part because recruiters promised he would have little trouble securing a job.

He'd seen the for-profit school's television commercials touting its sterling rates of job placement, and he'd heard the pledges of admissions staff who assured him that the campus career services office would help him find work in his field.

But after completing a nine-month program in heating and air conditioning repair in the summer of 2011 -- graduating with straight As and $17,000 in student debt -- Parms began to doubt the veracity of the pitch. Career services set him up with a temporary contract position laying electrical wires. After less than two months, he and several other Everest graduates also working on the job were laid off and denied further help finding work, he says.

Algonquin’s land protection camps forces Quebec to Agree to a Process to Protect Sensitive Zones from Logging: Next Step Implementation of Landmark Co-Management/Revenue Sharing Agreements

Territory/December 17, 2013) – After community members of the Barriere Lake First Nation established a land protection camp to protest clear-cut logging on sensitive areas of their land, Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources has agreed to respect a previously negotiated process to harmonize forestry operations with the community’s traditional activities. Called the “measures to harmonize” process it involves field visits by Barriere Lake Algonquins to the proposed cut block areas and identification of buffer zones of various sizes to protect cultural sites and ecological areas.

John Baird says suggestion Canada’s foreign policy is only about jobs ‘ridiculous’

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is rejecting suggestions the federal Conservative government, in directing Canadian diplomats last month to be constantly on the prowl for commercial opportunities, is selling out for the Almighty Dollar.

And he accuses those who suggest otherwise of “extremist fear mongering.”

“I think critics of the government somehow think we’re going to be closing down our human rights division, we’re going to be closing down our nuclear disarmament division, and it’s all going to be about jobs,” Baird told Postmedia News in a year-end interview last week. “That’s ridiculous.”

Iowa Republican Spent $150,000 To Expose Voter Fraud, Instead Found Nothing Significant

Eighteen months and $150,000 later, a rigorous voter fraud investigation commissioned by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) has failed to produce any statistically significant evidence of voter fraud in Iowa, according to The Des Moines Register.

Since taking office in 2011, Schultz has made safeguarding the ballot box from fraud a top state priority, striking a two-year deal with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation in 2012 that directed $280,000 of federal funds toward voter fraud inquiries. Additionally, a full-time agent was hired and assigned to pursue voter fraud cases.

The pensions swindle sees labourers dropping dead a year after they retire

We live longer, so we have to work longer. It's a pretty rational, self-evident statement which has become the mantra for those seeking to justify raising the retirement age in the UK. However, when a policy is based on national averages, it can obfuscate some startling inequalities.

Back in the 1930s, the average life expectancy for a professional man was about 61. A retirement age of 60 was seen effectively as a short sabbatical from work, during which a patriarch could get his affairs in order before dropping dead. More recently, the dream has been of retirement as an extended period of mellow rest, a long holiday reward for those who have spent a lifetime working, with the mortgage paid off, no alarm clocks and long commutes, without the pressure of raising children. The dream turned out to be just that.

The 'fake' Mandela memorial interpreter said it all

Our daily lives are mostly a mixture of drab routine and unpleasant surprises – however, from time to time, something unexpected happens which makes life worth living. Something of this order occurred at the memorial ceremony for Nelson Mandela last week.

Tens of thousands were listening to world leaders making statements. And then … it happened (or, rather, it was going on for some time before we noticed it). Standing alongside world dignitaries including Barack Obama was a rounded black man in formal attire, an interpreter for the deaf, translating the service into sign language. Those versed in sign language gradually became aware that something strange was going on: the man was a fake; he was making up his own signs; he was flapping his hands around, but there was no meaning in it.

Car insurance too high, says Competition Commission

Car insurance premiums are too high, with the way no-fault claims are settled and contracts between insurers and price comparison sites among the issues driving up costs for consumers, the competition watchdog has said.

The Competition Commission's investigation of the £11bn motor insurance market found it was not working well for motorists . It said too many drivers were footing the bill for unnecessary costs incurred during the claims process following an accident, and that this is adding between £150m and £200m a year to motorists' premiums.

The Financial Crisis: Why Have No High-Level Executives Been Prosecuted?

Five years have passed since the onset of what is sometimes called the Great Recession. While the economy has slowly improved, there are still millions of Americans leading lives of quiet desperation: without jobs, without resources, without hope.

Who was to blame? Was it simply a result of negligence, of the kind of inordinate risk-taking commonly called a “bubble,” of an imprudent but innocent failure to maintain adequate reserves for a rainy day? Or was it the result, at least in part, of fraudulent practices, of dubious mortgages portrayed as sound risks and packaged into ever more esoteric financial instruments, the fundamental weaknesses of which were intentionally obscured?

Pennsylvania School Tries To Kick Out Two Students After Their Families Became Homeless

As if their lives hadn’t been thrown into enough turmoil when their house was foreclosed on and their family became homeless, two Pennsylvania students learned last Monday that they were no longer welcome at the school they had attended their entire lives because the campground they were living in was located just outside of town.

The two students, one eighth-grader and one twelfth-grader whose names are withheld because they are minors, have lived in a camper with their parents in eastern Pennsylvania since losing their home to foreclosure in 2011. The campground where they were able to find refuge is located just outside the school district’s boundaries.

Port Metro Vancouver Hires Disgraced Edelman PR Firm, American Lobby Group to Push Coal Exports

When it comes to shipping coal, it looks like the Vancouver Port Authority is taking a page out of the U.S. coal lobby's books. In an effort to combat negative public opinion about coal and the proposed expansion of coal exports through Fraser Surrey Docks, the port authority has hired public relations firm Edelman Vancouver to revamp its image.

Edelman is the largest public relations firm in B.C. and the company has a history of both pushing coal exports and disregarding public opinion. Until recently, the firm represented the pro-coal organization Northwest Alliance for Jobs and Exports, one of the largest groups in Washington state pushing for an increase in coal exports.

This Is The Most Important Paragraph In The Court Decision Against The NSA

The National Security Agency went into Judge Richard Leon’s courtroom with a powerful precedent on its side. In its 1979 decision in Smith v. Maryland, the Supreme Court held that individuals do not have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in the numbers they dial on their phone because “[t]elephone users . . . typically know that they must convey numerical information to the phone company; that the phone company has facilities for recording this information; and that the phone company does in fact record this information for a variety of legitimate business purposes.” When someone voluntarily discloses information to a third party, they assume “the risk that the information would be divulged to police.”

Judge Rules Against NSA Spying; Congress Should Do the Same

Civil liberties advocates on the left and the right have argued for many years—but especially in the aftermath of revelations this year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden—that spying by the National Security Agency disregards privacy protections outlined in the Fourth Amendment and is surely unconstitutional. Indeed, as the American Civil Liberties Union has argued, the NSA’s “unconstitutional surveillance” represents “a grave danger to American democracy.”

Now, a federal judge has recognized the constitutional concerns.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval,” wrote US District Judge Richard Leon.

Conservatives fundraising on Throne Speech’s ‘seizing Canada’s moment,’ opposition MPs slam move

PARLIAMENT HILL—The Conservative Party has “erased the line” between government business and partisan pitches for political contributions by morphing a catchy “Seizing Canada’s Moment” line from the October Throne Speech into an appeal for donations during an end-of-year fundraising drive, opposition MPs say.

Liberal and NDP MPs say they suspect PMO speechwriters who prepared the Speech From the Throne for Gov.-Gen. David Johnston to deliver at the opening of a new session of Parliament may even have penned the phrase in anticipation of a last-minute fundraising drive.

Canada Pension Plan reform stalls without Ottawa's support

Ontario is ready to go ahead with pension reform on its own after Ottawa blocked a consensus on Canada Pension Plan reform.

At a news conference following a meeting with his provincial counterparts in Meech Lake, Que., federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said now is not the time to move on the pension issue​. Flaherty said there was a "frank discussion" about CPP changes, but he believes the economy is too fragile.

Sadly, Rob Ford epitomises what Canada has become

Pope Francis might be Time magazine's person of the year, but for Canada, there can be little doubt who our main noisemaker has been. Toronto's mayor, Rob Ford, with his acknowledgments of crack smoking, drunken stupors, driving while under the influence and socialising with drug dealers, has made Canadians cringe in an unexpected way.

Consider that Canadians view much of the world through American media, which places us in a very odd, existential state: we experience much of the world from the perspective of a country that barely knows we exist. When Canada does make the news, either as a Simpsons one-liner or a news story about some extreme weather, it sets off a collective frisson – a brief but thrilling sensation of being acknowledged.

The Rumored Chase-Madoff Settlement Is Another Bad Joke

Just under two months ago, when the $13 billion settlement for JP Morgan Chase was coming down the chute, word leaked out that that the deal was no sure thing. Among other things, it was said that prosecutors investigating Chase's role in the Bernie Madoff caper – Chase was Madoff's banker – were insisting on a guilty plea to actual criminal charges, but that this was a deal-breaker for Chase.

Something had to give, and now, apparently, it has. Last week, it was reported that the state and Chase were preparing a separate $2 billion deal over the Madoff issues, a series of settlements that would also involve a deferred prosecution agreement.

What should we lament? Canada's foreign policy, international trade or 'corporate shill' status

On Wednesday November 27, John Baird officially redefined Canada to the world as a corporate shill.

Prime Minister Harper told Ed Fast, the Minister of International Trade after the 2011 election that he wanted Canadian foreign policy to focus on foreign trade. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development’s new Global Markets Action Plan is the result of that order. But it isn’t all that new -- it’s been developing ever since Bev Oda scrawled "NOT" on CIDA’s funding approval letter to KAIROS.

Actually it’s been developing a lot longer than that.

Why there’s no shame in Ottawa

If we can accept, as Scott Reid wrote for the Citizen on the weekend, that Canadian politics lacks shame — or, at the very least, the ability to administer it properly at the right times — then the next logical question is: Why is there no shame? A combination of factors, no doubt. But primarily, it might have something to do with too much discussion and not enough dialogue.

There’s a bad recycled joke in Ottawa about how the government’s reluctance to provide complete or informative responses in the House of Commons each afternoon should come as no surprise. It’s called question period, not answer period, the gag goes. But, in some fairness, answering questions put to it is only one of the options officially available to the government during question period. Ministers can also: defer the question; take the question as notice; explain why they can’t give an answer at that moment; or say nothing at all.

Peter MacKay defends victim surcharge

OTTAWA - Justice Minister Peter MacKay is deflecting criticism of a new, mandatory victim surcharge, saying judges opposed to the measure will eventually "see the wisdom" of making sure victims of crime receive proper help.

MacKay was responding Monday to reports that say judges in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta have either refused to order criminals to pay the surcharge or found ways to make it impossible for authorities to collect the fee.

Some judges and justice critics have said the surcharge places an unfair burden on those who don't have the means to pay.

MacKay said the money gathered from the surcharge is used to help victims with counselling and other services.

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Canada Caving On Controversial Issues?

The federal government is staying quiet on reports it has caved to U.S. demands on intellectual property and copyright issues in a new Pacific trade deal currently under negotiation, saying only that talks are ongoing.

Citing a report from the Washington Trade Daily, the Council of Canadians says Canada has backed off its resistance to “outrageous” new intellectual property rights the U.S. wants to see included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Chicago and the Municipal-Industrial Complex

On Tuesday I quoted Chicago anti-privatization activist Tom Tresser about why corporate America is falling in love with cities: “We have a massive global movement of capital which, because they’ve burned their own fucking houses down through their own greed, don’t have the gilt returns that they’re used to receiving…. So the new guaranteed annual returns that big business and big capital are looking for is our assets.”

Consider the very model of the modern major municipal contractor: Cubic. Trading on the NASDEQ with a market capitalization of almost a billion dollars under the adorable stock symbol CUB, Cubic earns over 99 percent of its revenues from government contracts, according to a Credit Suisse equity research report. When it’s not mismanaging urban fare-transit collection systems like Chicago’s Ventra, it does a once-pretty trade as “the leading pure-play provider of [the] defense training and mission support service areas which stand at the heart of modern military practices.” But, as we’ll see, defense isn’t offering the gilt-edged returns it once did. So look for Chicago’s very stupid smart cards to come soon to a city bus near you. Look, in other words, for Cubic to be picking your pocket, too.

Lawyer Behind NSA Lawsuit Once Sued His Own Mother, Believes Obama Is Kenyan Socialist Muslim

WASHINGTON -- The guy who successfully convinced a judge that the NSA's metadata program was likely unconstitutional is a conservative lawyer who once sued his own mother, is closely affiliated with the birther movement, and thinks President Barack Obama is a Muslim.

"I'm not overselling this, and I'm not trying to beat my own chest, but this is the equivalent of winning the Super Bowl," Larry Klayman told The Huffington Post in an interview shortly after the ruling on Monday. "This is the worst violation of constitutional rights in American history. The NSA is an outlaw organization that is out of control."

Oklahoma Plan For School Storm Shelters Thwarted By Tax Cut

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — After a huge tornado ripped through the Oklahoma City suburbs this spring and demolished two elementary schools, killing seven children, a longtime legislator thought the time was ripe for the state to act on a well-known problem.

Although Oklahoma averages more than 50 tornadoes a year, and sometimes gets more than 100, about 60 percent of public schools have no shelters. Cash-strapped districts can't afford to build them.

Rep. Joe Dorman, who represents the small farming town of Rush Springs, proposed a bond issue, taking advantage of the state's rebounding economy and revenue from a business tax that was already on the books.

The Question at the Heart of the Democratic Schism Should the burden of proof be on reformers—or on vested interests?

Throughout the summer and fall, a group of writers (including me) began documenting the growing appeal of economic populism and the rising influence of its practitioners. We populist-boosters mostly had the field to ourselves for several months. But in the last few weeks, the skeptics have gotten vocal, culminating with a Wall Street Journal op-ed two weeks ago by the centrist group Third Way. The Third Way piece decried “the economic populism of New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren,” which it labeled a “dead end for Democrats.”

NSA Phone Program Likely Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules

A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency's phone record surveillance program is likely unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon said that the agency's controversial program, first revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden earlier this year, appears to violate the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures. The program collects records of the time and phone numbers involved in every phone call made in the U.S., and allows that database to be queried for connections to suspected terrorists.

Oilsands Tailings Ponds Released Into Rivers? Industry, Governments Discuss

EDMONTON - Oilsands producers are talking with the federal and Alberta governments about conditions under which water from the industry's tailings ponds could be released into the environment.

Officials say releases would only involve treated water and wouldn't happen until the end of a mine's life.

Environmentalists are watching the discussions closely and warn that quality standards for released tailings water should be high.

When will Stephen Harper appoint another senator?

At last report, the Prime Minister said he had “no immediate plans” to appoint another senator and when I asked last week about the Prime Minister’s current plans I was referred to those comments of his in August.

The Prime Minister’s last round of appointees was announced on January 25 (the appointment of Scott Tannas was announced on March 25, but Mr. Tannas had the benefit of having been elected in Alberta). Less than a week later, the Harper government announced that it was referring Senate reform to the Supreme Court.

Wither human rights in Alberta? Premier Alison Redford supports the passing of anti-union bills

That Nelson Mandela's memorial be celebrated on International Human Rights Day is destiny; a more poignant coupling of events cannot be imagined. It seems unusually cruel then to sully the tributes to this great man with grumblings of suppression and abuse, but the irony of the day's events coinciding with anti-union legislation passed in Alberta demands comment. At the same time that her government pushed Bill 45 through the Alberta Legislature, Premier Alison Redford was paying tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Big banks continue gambling with our financial security

This is the fourth installment of an investigative series looking at the safety and conduct of Canadian banks. Please read part onepart two and part three.

The next major threat to Canadian and international financial systems is very likely to come from reckless investors gambling with derivatives, the dangerous betting vehicles that contributed to the 2008 collapse of financial services firm Lehman Brothers and the start of the Great Recession.

The Staple Theory at 50: Watkins, Innis and Canadian economics

When economic historian and theorist Harold Adams Innis died in 1952 at the age of 58, Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent sent his wife Mary a telegram.

While Innis was not a public figure, he was widely respected for his academic work on the cod fishery, the fur trade, rail transport, and communications. And Innisian ideas about how Canada developed as a country were influential in universities, and in wider discussions of public affairs.

Mel Watkins was a student of Innis, and remains engaged with his work today. Interestingly, at MIT, Mel also studied under Paul A. Samuelson: another economic sciences giant, though of another theoretical persuasion altogether.