Al Engler

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Allan Engler is a longtime trade unionist and the author of Apostles of Greed. His Economic Democracy, the working-class alternative to capitalism has just been published by Fernwood.

Tax the rich: increase employment and sustain demand

Transnational finance, the corporate media, and rightwing political parties are using high government deficits as pretexts for cuts to public employment and social programs.

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Jobs! Money! Nope! Benefits of LNG exports grossly exaggerated

Photo: flickr/Chris Yakimov

In the 2013 provincial election, Christy Clark's Liberals promised that exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia would provide jobs and expand government revenues.

A year and a half later this boom is nowhere to be seen.

Fifteen liquefying plants and pipelines have been promoted. Six were reported to be on the verge of starting construction. But in early October, Petronas -- the company closest to seeking regulatory approval -- announced that it was considering shelving its proposal.

The Malaysian government-owned corporation wanted assurances that provincial and federal taxes and royalties would be kept low and that the company could bring in workers from abroad to construct and operate its facilities.

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Breaking: Capitalism actually widens economic disparities

Capital in the Twenty-First Century

by Thomas Piketty
(Belknap Press,
2014;
$39.95)

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Thomas Piketty's, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is a sensation -- an economics textbook, translated from the French, that has been on The New York Times Best Seller list. It is an important work. If you ignore more than 100 pages of notes, it is still a long, but easy read.

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'The Sixth Extinction' and our looming catastrophe

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

by Elizabeth Kolbert
(Henry Holt and Co.,
2014;
$28.00)

Carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet, melting glaciers and polar ice caps, raising sea levels, causing more destructive hurricanes, floods, and droughts and increasing ocean acidity. So far corporations, governments, electoral parties and the media are largely indifferent.

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Book review: Thieves of Bay Street

Thieves of Bay Street: How Banks, Brokerages and the Wealthy Steal Billions from Canadians

by Bruce Livesey
(Random House Canada,
2012;
$32.00)

The Harper government claims that Canada's finance industry is stable and well regulated. In Thieves of Bay Street journalist Bruce Livesey makes the case that the Canadian government and the courts turn a blind eye to scams, rip-offs and blatant frauds by brokers, investment houses, banks and corporate executives.

Livesey -- who has worked for CBC, PBS, and the New York Times -- reminds readers of the billions lost by investors in Bre-X, Principal Trust and Sino-Forest Products. He makes the case that brokers, investment dealers and banks who defraud their clients rarely face criminal charges. He points to the failure of securities commissions in Canada to bring charges against Conrad Black and David Radler.

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Confronting Canada's colonialist past

Orienting Canada: Race, Empire, and the Transpacific

by John Price
(UBC Press,
2011;
$34.95)

In Orienting Canada, John Price, professor of history at the University of Victoria focuses on 20th century racism and on Canada's role as junior partner in British and U.S. imperialism. This is a work of scholarship and an engrossing narrative that should be widely read.

Anti-Asian racism in Canada in the first half of the 20th century has been well documented. Immigrants from China, Japan, and India faced head taxes and outright prohibitions. Laws excluded Canadians of Asian origins from neighbourhoods, post-secondary education and professions. Japanese Canadians were forcibly removed from coastal areas during World War II.

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Occupations, capitalism, and a 99 per cent solution

Occupy Wall Street, Oct. 5, 2011. Photo: Sunset Parkerpix/flickr

Occupy Wall Street and occupations around the U.S. and Canada are a radically new response to an old problem. The old problem is capitalism, a system that entitles wealthy minorities to direct economies for their private profit. What is radically new is seeing the alternative as the right of all to participate as equals in the decisions that affect their lives.

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Bernard Harcourt: Free markets lead to less, not more freedom

The Illusion of Free Markets, Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order

by Bernard E. Harcourt
(Harvard University Press,
2011;
$29.61)

Stephen Harper campaigned for a majority so that his government could end judges' discretion in sentencing and make criminals serve full jail terms. Even though crime rates in Canada have been steadily declining, and California and other U.S. states are concluding that filling prisons to overcrowding does little to reduce crime and is an unacceptable drain on public finances, Harper continues to insist that this is a priority of the Conservative majority.

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Has capitalism reached its limits?

The Enigma of Capital

The Enigma of Capital

by David Harvey
(Oxford University Press,
2010;
$27.95)

David Harvey is an internationally renowned social geographer, author of numerous books and a Marxist. He began his academic career in the U.K., spent decades in the U.S., and has taught in France, Korea and China.

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The Venezuelan alternative

The Socialist Alternative

The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development

by Michael Lebowitz
(Monthly Review Press,
2010;
$16.41)

Michael Lebowitz is a professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University now living in Venezuela working with Centro International Miranda, a government-supported think tank. In The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development, he contrasts Venezuelan policies with the top-down socialism of the 20th century. The latter had focused on rapid industrial development through state ownership and top-down command. In Venezuela the government of Hugo Chavez focuses on human development, on the cooperative meeting of human needs, on social ownership and on participation in community and workplace decisions.

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