Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Andrew Jackson discusses the challenge of ensuring that stable jobs are available in Canada:
Good jobs are a central mechanism in the creation of shared prosperity.

What matters for workers is not just being able to find any job but also security of employment, level of pay, working conditions, and the opportunity to develop talents and capacities.

Unfortunately, as has been documented in many studies, the long-term trend in Canada has been towards a much more polarized jobs market in which there has been a disproportionate increase in low pay, precarious jobs, and a concentration of income growth among higher-paid professionals and managers, especially the top 1%.
...
Many lower wage workers live in families with decent overall incomes, and income from wages is boosted by government programs such as child benefits and unemployment insurance. Still, the numbers show that a  significant minority of Canadians work in jobs which are insecure, and a surprisingly high proportion work in jobs which are low paid or very modestly paid. Indeed, the proportion of low paid workers in Canada, defined as earning less than two-thirds of the median wage, is, at 21.8%, the third highest in the industrialized world, according to the OECD.

Raising wages for lower-paid workers will require boosting minimum wages to at least $15 per hour and widening access to union representation, especially for workers in private sector sales and service jobs. These measures are critical to any realistic strategy to “grow the middle-class.”
- Anna Louie Sussman points out that stagnant wages even in the face of U.S. job growth can largely be traced to a lack of demand for additional labour. Richard Dobbs and Anu Madgavkar write about the UK's backsliding standard of living between generations. And Jim Stanford outlines a possible progressive response to the combination of stagnation and upward redistribution that's come to be treated as our economic norm.

- Andrew Mitrovica argues that a breakdown in trust arising out of the Iraq war paved the way to spread the politics of violence in the U.S. and the Middle East alike. Robert Reich emphasizes the need for Hillary Clinton to recognize the justified spread of anti-establishment sentiment while making the case against the bigoted form on offer from Donald Trump and the Republicans. And Doug Saunders reminds us that the most important problems facing the U.S. are wholly lacking from the Republicans' message.

- Steven Chase examines the connection between the arms industry and think tanks which are regularly put forward as commenters on military purchasing.

- Finally, Tom Parkin discusses how electoral reform can be expected to change the face of Canadian elections - and how a status quo which is easiest for party strategists isn't what's best for the public.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Couched cats.




Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Lana Payne comments on the combination of low wages and nonexistent security attached to jobs for younger workers. And Catherine Baab-Muguira examines the spread of the side hustle economy as a means of bare survival.

- Roderick Benns discusses how the isolation of remote communities represents a barrier to access to needed social supports - and how that can be remedied in part through a basic income. And Emily Badger writes about new research showing that no other housing policies will put a meaningful dent in the lack of decent housing in the absence of major public investment in construction and maintenance.

- Paula Simons notes that the Husky oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River should highlight the importance of a safe water supply, while the Canadian Press reports that it will be months before North Battleford, Prince Albert and other affected communities will be able to exercise that right. David Fraser reports on the Saskatchewan Party's wanton slashing of the regulator responsible for pipelines - which led to the province having no idea when the pipe which spilled was last inspected. And Emily Eaton points out that oil spills are in fact the norm across Saskatchewan even if they don't gather as much attention as one which flows directly into a major river.

- Meanwhile, David Brumer and Jayme Poisson document the decades of poison still being inflicted on the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation due to mercury contamination by poorly-regulated industries.

- Abacus' latest survey into the future expectations of Canadians shows that the public - unlike the political class - fully expects major greenhouse gas emission reductions in the very near future. And Joe Romm points out how the plummeting cost of solar power may make that possible.

- Finally, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression comments on the desperate need for serious analysis of the rights violations embedded in Bill C-51. But Michael Harris recognizes that Justin Trudeau couldn't seem less interested in reversing the Harper Cons' steps toward a surveillance-and-disruption state.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- David Blanchflower notes that there's virtually no dispute that the UK is headed into an economic downturn - meaning that there's also no excuse to hold off on fiscal relief for the public. And Brad DeLong points to a new study on the effectiveness of government spending in generating immediate economic growth well beyond the money actually spent.

- David Macdonald rightly recognizes a few important steps toward reducing poverty in Canada through broadly-available income supports.

- Jeff Guo highlights the connection between an increased workload and other job stressors, and overall health impacts on workers.

- Angella MacEwen and Laura Macdonald examine the Trans-Pacific Partnership's toxic effects on labour throughout the participating countries. And Greg Keenan reports on John Holmes and Jeffrey Carey's research showing how the TPP would harm Canada's auto sector.

- Finally, Joel French examines the massive amounts of public money being funneled into exclusionary private schools across Canada. And Morgan Modjeski reports that basic site elements including playgrounds have been left out of any design or funding for Saskatchewan schools - which both places the burden on individuals to fund-raise for community services, and effectively ensures disparity based on the wealth of a given neighbourhood.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Polluted by crimes, but torn by no remorse

Shorter Brad Wall on what's truly important as an oil spill pollutes drinking water along the North Saskatchewan River:
I only hope this monster running amok doesn't make it harder to sell new reanimation technologies.
Or in graphic form...


Thursday, July 21, 2016

New column day

Here, on how the City of Regina's actual treatment of key information runs contrary to its stated commitment to open government.

For further reading...
- Natascia Lypny's report on the City's delays and denials of access to information about Regina's new stadium and wastewater treatment plant is here
- I previously wrote about the City's initial open data policy announcement here, featuring this warning which seems particularly on point:
(E)ven the most cynical governments are often eager to use selective “open government” (in the form of limited operational data) as a distraction from opaque political decision-making – with a one-way flow of politically-convenient information substituted for any particular effort to interact with citizens or respond to their concerns. So while we should look forward to what can be done with the information that is included in the city’s data portal, we should keep an especially close eye on what’s left out and how information is handled going in the opposite direction.
- And the new policy discussed in the column is found here (PDF).

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Light blogging ahead

Off hither and/or yon for a few days. Try to entertain yourselves.

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Lucy Shaddock offers a response to the Institute for Fiscal Studies' report on poverty and inequality in the UK, while McKinsey finds that hundreds of millions of people in advanced economies are seeing their real incomes stagnate or decline. And Mariana Mazzucato and Michael Jacobs provide their take on what the UK needs to reduce inequality:
Can May succeed in building an economy of broadly shared prosperity? Only if she is willing to govern with the revolutionary zeal seen in that speech. To address the problems she identified will require a complete departure from Osborne’s failed plans. But more than that, it will require a departure the orthodox economics that shaped them.

Policymaking over the past half-century has relied on a narrow school of economic thought, dominated by a simplistic idea of “markets” and “market failures”, of “competition” and “shareholder value”. May’s new agenda will need to draw on a much richer palette.

...(M)arkets are not external forces that bind firms to inevitable choices. They are created by the decisions made inside private and public institutions, as well as pressures from civil society. So not only can policymakers fix “market failures”, but they can also actively reshape and create markets for better ends.
- Andre Picard rightly argues that global targets to reduce the spread of AIDS can't be met without a thorough effort to fight poverty and prejudice.
 
- Chris Hatch weighs in on the need to revamp how Canada evaluates and regulates pipelines and other environmental risks. Will Horter notes that there's no reason for optimism based on the Libs' attempt to paper over the National Energy Board's failings. And the Toronto Star criticizes the Libs' lack of follow-up on a loud announcement about removing and banning asbestos.

- Jim Bronskill reports on the Communications Security Establishmen's newfound refusal to provide even statistical data about the sharing of information which may lead to torture.

- Finally, Marc-André Miron, Marie-Claude Bertrand and Cym Gomery point out that the typical talking points against proportional representation lack any basis in reality.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Clingy cats.




Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Armine Yalnizyan points out the choice between a basic income and the provision of basic services, while making a strong case to focus on the latter:
At the federal level, the cost of raising everyone’s income above the poverty line is an estimated $30 billion a year. The Alternative Federal Budget shows we could permanently expand the stock of affordable housing, child care, and public transit; and almost eliminate user costs for pharmacare, dental care and post-secondary schooling for half the annual cost ($15 billion).

After a decade, we would have expanded access to more high-quality, affordable necessities of life, not just for the poor but for everyone.

A little more, and you could have free access to community and recreation centre programming, expanded mental health services, universal access to low-cost internet, and more legal aid. The net result: greater participation, greater mobility, greater potential, greater health.

Both a basic income and a basic service model put more money in people’s pockets, one with a cash transfer, one by offsetting the costs of necessities.

Basic income requires everyone to pay more to provide a small number of our most vulnerable neighbours more choice and more dignity. Basic service also requires we pay more, and also helps the most vulnerable, but benefits everyone by making incomes and markets matter less. It builds both potential and solidarity, and is a far easier sell in an era of slow growth.

Basic income talk has fired imaginations across the globe. Mr. Segal’s exercise offers a unique opportunity to test whether we’re better off when we have more income, or need less of it.
- Meanwhile, Susan Prentice, Linda White and Martha Friendly offer a useful outline to build a national child care system. And Bill Curry reports on this week's health care summit - though there's reason for concern in both the Libs' unwillingness to negotiate funding with the provinces, and their apparent inclination to eliminate universality in favour of means-testing. 

- And in case we needed a reminder as to the importance of shared knowledge of problems, Elizabeth Payne reports on how a week of management eating the meals previously served to patients at the Ottawa Hospital led to a revamping of the menu.

- Larry Elliott reports on the Institute for Fiscal Studies' report showing that the insecurity now facing middle-class families in the UK is comparable to the burden on households recognized as living in poverty a generation ago. But on the bright side, Jessica Elgot writes about Labour's plan for a national investment bank to both spur economic development, and give the public a greater stake in prosperity.

- Finally, Andrew Mitrovica points out why we should be skeptical of the security state's attempts to proclaim itself essential in the wake of attacks which it can never prevent.