Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Geoff Dembicki interviews Leah Gazan about the need to put people over corporate profits in our political system.

- Dale Eisler writes about the need for our conversation around climate change to focus on an honest appraisal as to how we can rein in carbon emissions. But Jason Markusoff points out how petro-jingoism is drowning out any willingness to consider the massive costs of continued fossil fuel extraction. And Paul Willcocks highlights the glaring partisan divide which has seen conservative parties tamp down any interest in acting to avert a climate crisis.

- Meanwhile, Andrew Leach observes that the right-wing strategy of opposing consumer-level pricing and incentives only figures to ensure that more of the cost of any action will be incurred by the extraction industry and other major emitters.

- Ian Austen looks back at the causes of the Lac-Mégantic explosion - and the minimal regulatory response so far.

- Finally, Ricardo Tranjan calls out the Ford government's stinginess in slashing funding for a seniors' transit tax credit. And Leyland Cecco discusses Innisfil's disastrous experiment replacing public transit with ride-sharing which has increased both costs and pollution.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Slumbering cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Alastair Campbell discusses how the latest group of right-wing demagogues has progressed from being post-truth to being post-shame.

- IMFBlog examines how the perpetual slashing of corporate tax rates has eliminated needed public revenue - particularly in lower-income countries - without producing any desirable outcomes.

- Tim Ross writes about the need for a renewed commitment to co-op housing to ensure stable and safe homes are available for everybody.

- Jim Bronskill reports on Nathalie Provost's resignation from the Libs' federal firearms advisory committee which had proven to be just for show. Nora Loreto points out that we can readily afford to eliminate student debt if we care to do so, rather than seeking to burden young people with long-term liabilities to further enrich the wealthy. And Max FineDay points out that the genuine hope for reconciliation among young people in Canada needs to be supported by the political will to ensure Indigenous people are no longer facing systemic disadvantages.

- Finally, the Globe and Mail's editorial board warns that we can expect the Libs to approach this year's election season with scare tactics to try to paper over their failings in government.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Cédric Durand and Razmig Keucheyan highlight the return of economic planning as a widely-recognized public policy option - while pointing out the need for our democratic systems to allow for public direction of the planning process. And Lauren Townsend writes about the importance of ensuring that workers play a lead role in shaping a Green New Deal.

- Jamie Margolin discusses the multiple systems of oppression behind our climate crisis - and the need for an activist movement able to counter all of them. Michael Savage reports on Jeremy Corbyn's recognition that developed countries don't help the global cause of mitigating climate damage by claiming reductions on paper while pushing carbon emissions offshore. And Peter Newell and Andrew Simms make the case for a non-proliferation treaty to wean all countries off of dirty energy sources.

- Meanwhile, David Suzuki notes that fracking isn't viable either as a climate transition measure, or as a base of economic development. And Keith Gerein writes that the Kenney UCP's gleeful gutting of any environmental plans will only make it even more unsympathetic in complaining about climate activists.

- Ben Oquist examines the Australian Capital Territory as an example of progressive policy earning support over a period of multiple election cycles - though the significance of a stable coalition government carries important lessons for our choices about our electoral system.

- Finally, the Star-Phoenix and Leader-Post editorial boards call for the Saskatchewan Party to finally provide adequate funding to local school divisions, rather than demanding that an already-stretched education system continually try to do more with less. And Dan Jones reports on Ryan Meili's push to end a birth alert process which serves largely to tear Indigenous families apart.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- PressProgress reports on federal government focus groups indicating the twin problems of precarious employment and high costs of living:
According to recently published public opinion research commissioned by the Privy Council Office (PCO) newly reviewed by PressProgress, the Trudeau government’s own internal research shows Canadians are most worried about rising living costs, stagnant wages and job insecurity.

Three cycles of focus groups, one for each of January, February, and March 2019, were polled by the market research firm Corporate Research Associates Inc., on behalf of the PCO — the bureaucratic arm of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Among young Canadians, the researchers found youth consistently pointed to a lack of “suitable, full-time employment,”

“There was a clear perception that youth face many challenges that did not exist in the past,” the report notes, adding that in addition to precarious job market, young Canadians are worried about “the high cost (and resulting debt) of education” and a “perceived inability to ever own their own home.”

However, the report notes young Canadians believe government action can help address affordability issues: “When considering how government could help young adults, the greatest emphasis was placed on actions that would help make life more affordable.”

The report says that “it was felt that these issues could be addressed by government through housing assistance programs, rent control policies, increasing minimum wage and supporting the diversification of the economy.”
- Veena Dubal offers a warning as to how vulnerable workers and citizens will be corporate giants become their landlords as well as their employers and service providers. And Jim Rankin reports on the debt bondage used to control migrant workers in Canada.

- Ethan Earle, Manuel Pérez-Rocha and Scott Sinclair discuss what a progressive trade agenda should include - particularly a focus on human rights rather than corporate profits.

- Anne Kingston discusses the connection between the purging of any women premiers from Canada's political scene and the Trudeau Libs' choice to break its promise of electoral reform with messages about the need for one-man government.

- Finally, Gary Younge looks to Syriza as a cautionary tale as to how progressive parties need to plan to build movements to push for social change, not merely hope that electoral success will be sufficient to bring about that result.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Owen Jones offers a needed reminder that no matter how often it gets trotted out as a basis to ignore the ideological underpinnings of parties oriented toward the concentration of wealth and power, the concept of compassionate conservatism is nothing more than a self-serving myth.

- Donna Borak reports that the Trump tax giveaway to the wealthy has predictably led to a massive increase in the U.S.' deficit (which is of course now being used as an excuse to call to slash social supports). And Scott Kohn notes that almost immediately after reversing course from its own exercise in trickle-down fundamentalism, Kansas is seeing its economy and budget start to recover.

- David Hughes points out that the partisan politics behind the purchase and approval of the Trans Mountain have nothing to do with the public interest. Fiona Harvey reports on the lack of reporting and planning from the planet's worst corporate polluters. And Don Thompson reports on a new California spill in which hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil were dumped into a canyon.

- Bronwen Tucker reports that a year after Greyhound shut down its intercity bus service (even after the Saskatchewan Party dismantled STC based on belief in magical free-market replacements), nobody has stepped in to fill the void on any substantial scale.  And the Canadian Press reports on Jagmeet Singh's call for a national cycling strategy as part of the transition toward cleaner and more community-friendly transportation.

- Finally, Michelle Ghoussoub reports on research showing a direct connection between residential school attendance in one generation and the taking of Indigenous children into state care in the next.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Musical interlude

Delerium feat. Mimi Page - Blue Fires

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Mike Pearl discusses the climate despair of people understandably having difficulty working toward a longer term which is utterly neglected in our most important social decisions. But Macleans' feature on climate change includes both Alanna Mitchell's take on what a zero-emission future might look like, and an editorial calling for far more action to get there than either the Libs or Cons is willing to even suggest (let alone deliver).

- Meanwhile, Gregory Meyer offers a reminder as to how methane leaks make natural gas a non-starter when it comes to maintaining a liveable climate. And Nerilie Abram, Matthew England and Matt King point out the dangers of instability in giant Antarctic ice sheets.

- But John McMurtry discusses how the Koch Brothers and other plutocrats are trying to buy public ignorance to ensure that environmentally destructive plans are permitted. And David Climenhaga writes that Jason Kenney is looking to distract from any issue worthy of public discussion by funding conspiracy theorists to write fiction about environmental activists, while Graham Thomson also calls out the lack of any rational basis for Kenney's McCarthyite project.

- David Macdonald offers a primer on tax fairness for Canadians examining their options in this fall's federal election. And the Canadian Press analyzes how British Columbia's anti-speculation tax has collected $115 million for a fund dedicated to affordable housing.

- Finally, Jolson Lim reports on the decision of human rights advocates and labour representatives to resign from a Trudeau-appointed advisory body which was falling short of offering anything remotely resembling corporate responsibility.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Thursday Morning Links

 This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Robert Reich points out that the most significant political divide is the one between the wealthiest few and the rest of the population:
In reality, the biggest divide in America today runs between oligarchy and democracy. When oligarchs fill the coffers of political candidates, they neuter democracy.
The oligarchs know politicians won’t bite the hands that feed them. So as long as they control the money, they can be confident there will be no meaningful response to stagnant pay, climate change, military bloat or the soaring costs of health insurance, pharmaceuticals, college and housing.

There will be no substantial tax increases on the wealthy. There will be no antitrust enforcement to puncture the power of giant corporations. There will be no meaningful regulation of Wall Street’s addiction to gambling with other peoples’ money. There will be no end to corporate subsides. CEO pay will continue to skyrocket. Wall Street hedge fund and private equity managers will continue to make off like bandits.

So long as the oligarchy divides Americans – split off people of color from working-class whites, stoke racial resentments, describe human beings as illegal aliens, launch wars on crime and immigrants, stoke fears of communists and socialists – it doesn’t have to worry that a majority will stop them from looting the nation.
Divide-and-conquer allows the oligarchy free rein. It makes the rest of us puppets, fighting each other on a made-up stage.
- Paul Krugman writes about the Trump administration's dangerous coupling of additional incarceration and corporate corruption. And Bidesh Sarma and Jessica Brand rightly challenge the criminalization of poverty and homelessness.

- Josh Rubin interviews Jim Stanford about the reality that precarious work and stagnant wages are the result of policy choices. And David Madland offers some suggestions to move toward sectoral bargaining and broader labour power in the U.S.

- Finally, Gregory Shill laments the imposition of car culture as a matter of government decision-making. And Jonathan Cote and Peter Ladner write that a shift toward modernized transit to reduce the harms of excessive traffic should be a key election issue.

New column day

Here, on the bleatings from far too many corners that there's no right time to discuss meaningful policy choices - and the federal NDP's push to prove otherwise.

For further reading...
- The NDP's set of campaign commitments is here (PDF). And I'll be looking at some of the specific proposals in more detail over the summer.
- The Cons' sad excuse for a climate plan is receiving duly scathing reviews - even from some of the party's most reliable cheerleaders.
- Finally, one of the few other commentators to note the significance of the NDP's platform is Karl Nerenberg, while Jim Warren was the one to make the stunning claim that the party shouldn't have released anything at all. And the few voices questioning the NDP's policies in substance are ones whose opposition should be welcomed.