Thursday, September 19, 2019

Thursday Evening Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Martin Regg Cohn writes that Doug Ford's brutal austerity against the people who most need social support has been based on entirely made-up numbers. And David Climenhaga points out that Alberta's civil service has been shrinking over the past decade, showing that Jason Kenney is peddling lies of his own in pretending that public-sector workers can afford to take on more work for unconstitutionally-limited pay.

- Alex Hemingway discusses the need to extend democracy into our workplaces and economic planning - as even the U.S. and UK are having far more serious conversations about worker control than we are.

- Patrick Butler reports on new research showing that homeless people in the UK are being denied social housing precisely because they're poor enough to need it.

- Emma White suggests that it's time to explain climate change to recalcitrant politicians in terms that small children could understand. Lynn Giesbriecht reports on the Saskatchewan Party's choice to pull the plug on a solar installation program which was producing both clean energy and substantial economic activity. And Alex Kotch points out how Koch funding and Republican political power are being used to try to stifle the development of electric vehicles to keep people burning dirty fossil fuels.

- Finally, Shree Paradkar offers some important context for Justin Trudeau's multiple blackface and brownface revelations. And Debbie Douglas and Shalini Konanur recognize that Canada still needs to answer for and correct massive racial disparities.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Emily Stewart reports on Elizabeth Warren's message about the need to end corruption and corporatism in order to make U.S. politics work for people. Martin Wolf writes that a rigged economic system is undermining the prospect of viable democracy. And Andrew MacLeod examines where Canada's federal parties stand when it comes to tax fairness.

- Jennifer Wells makes the case for the federal government to buy GM's Oshawa plant as a hub for the development of electric vehicles in Canada. And the Guardian's editorial board offers its support to the spread of worker-owned industries as a means of sharing wealth and power.

- Oliver Milman reports on the growing desire for strong climate action in the U.S., with two thirds of the public demanding a policy response to our climate breakdown. Ben Ehrenreich discusses how public activism is vital in building the action needed to counter entrenched interests in business and government, while Geoff Dembicki wonders whether we'll see Canada's political parties match leading Democratic presidential contenders in calling out the oil industry as a villain. And Bill McKibben points out the significance of large pools of capital concluding they're not prepared to fund the continued degradation of our living environment.

- Meanwhile, Max Fawcett highlights how Jason Kenney is trying to amplify the most toxic of petro-politics.

- Finally, Fair Vote Canada has released the results of a new poll showing a strong majority of Canadians in favour of a proportional electoral system.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Huddled cats.





Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Ann Pettifor discusses how a Green New Deal will pay for itself while making use of readily available sources of financing. And Clive Thompson points out the positive social impacts of Dunkirk's decision to offer free transit.

- Meanwhile, Emily Holden reviews some of the most severe health issues caused by an ongoing climate breakdown. And Damian Carrington reports on the Food and Land Use Coalition's study into the massive agricultural subsidies which are contributing to environmental devastation.

- Matt Bruenig writes that the U.S.' existing welfare state is already doing plenty to alleviate poverty - and that it's entirely possible to eradicate poverty altogether by making better choices with current budget numbers:
(T)he market income poverty gap is $512 billion, which is to say that poor families are collectively $512 billion below the poverty line based on the distribution of market income. For disposable income, the poverty gap is $173 billion. This means that the welfare state cut the poverty gap by 66 percent.
...
(I)ncomes get above the poverty line at the 13.1st percentile, indicating that the disposable income poverty rate is 13.1 percent. But notice how much information you miss out on by only doing a head-count measure.

The head-count measure implies that only the red wedge between the 13.1st percentile and the 24th percentile matters when we are talking about poverty reduction. But clearly all of that red to the left of the 13.1st percentile also matters. Indeed, that is the majority of the poverty reduction delivered by the welfare state.

What these poverty gap figures show us is that the welfare state is perfectly capable of cutting poverty dramatically. We just need to make it bigger.
- But then, Melissa Healy points out how the rural counties facing the most ongoing poverty also suffer from higher suicide rates.

- Finally, David Macdonald examines how the Cons' tax slashing plan - like so many before it - tries to use language about helping lower-income Canadians to shovel money toward the upper middle class while doing nothing for people actually living in poverty.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- The L.A. Times' editorial board comments on the need for everybody to pitch in toward a just transition which preserves a habitable planet - including by moving away from reliance on fossil fuels. But Natalie Hanman interviews Naomi Klein about what instead looks to be the start of barbarism which dehumanizes the people facing the worst effects of a climate breakdown.

- Kelly Grant reports on a plan for Toronto's University Health Network to build affordable housing to address some of the causes of ill health - signalling the lack of supports available outside the health care system. And Richard Schneider laments how many mental health issues are addressed through criminal courts.

- Torsten Bell discusses how any proposal to eliminate the UK's inheritance tax would provide grossly disproportionate benefits to the wealthy - offering a reminder of how Canada is exacerbating intergenerational inequality by lacking one to begin with.

- Finally, John Ashton writes about the need for public activism across Alberta to challenge the Kenney UCP's plans for austerity and attacks on workers.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Kerri Breen reports on the public's understandable frustration with Canada's political system. Don Martin offers a prime example as to why that's justified, as Justin Trudeau has cynically concluded that it would be counterproductive to stand up for people facing religious discrimination in Quebec as a result of Bill 21. And Karl Nerenberg examines Trudeau's track record of broken promises - including some of the most important commitments which earned him a look from progressive voters in 2015.

- Meanwhile, Charlie Smith notes that Jagmeet Singh may be ideally positioned to offer a desperately-needed alternative to corporate service as usual.

- Common Dreams takes note of a new study showing both the ubiquity of plastic ingredients in the bodies of German children, and a familiar pattern of inequality in which less wealthy children are more likely to face dangerously elevated levels of pollution.

- Chris Varcoe points out that the City of Medicine Hat has joined the ranks of traitors to Jason Kenney's fossil fuel cause by planning to shut down gas wells which can't produce a viable return.

- Finally, William Horobin discusses Thomas Piketty's latest book, including its proposals for political and economic remedies to the scourge of undue inequality.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Meghna Charkabarti interviews Branko Milanovic about the destructive amount of inequality embedded in capitalism as it's currently structured. Connor Kilpatrick and Bhaskar Sunkara argue that the corporate class has only tolerated an acceptable distribution of income and wealth when it's been accompanied by the credible threat of expropriation and nationalization. And Robert Frank reports on Thomas Piketty's push for a substantial wealth tax based on the principle that every billionaire represents a policy failure.

- Meanwhile, Denise Balkissoon highlights how our political system all too often excludes people who don't already enjoy a significant level of economic status and privilege.

- Sandy Garossino discusses how Jason Kenney has joined the club of strongman figures seeking to criminalize any attempt to protect our planet from environmental destruction. And the Globe and Mail's editorial board recognizes the threat Kenney poses to democracy.

- Jeremy Gong highlights the importance of closing the loopholes which have resulted in gig workers being treated as "independent contractors" rather than employees. But Sharon Block and Benjamin Sachs write that such recognition is only the first step toward providing the opportunity for collective bargaining.

- Finally, Christopher Guly wonders whether Justin Trudeau will pay a price for his betrayal of voters who believed his oft-repeated promise of electoral reform. And Andrew Coyne rightly laments another election campaign in which most voters are seen as superfluous to deciding who will hold power.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Musical interlude

The Philosopher Kings - Still The One

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Richard Wilkinson, Kate Pickett and Wanda Wyporska neatly summarize the insidious social effects of inequality:
(I)nequality is socially divisive, making status more important and strengthening the view that some people are worth more than others.

As we judge each other more by status, we fear more how we are judged. Status anxieties increase in all income groups, intensifying attempts to enhance appearances of personal worth – including through status consumption. Heightened social comparisons increase stress and doubts about self-worth, with consequences for health, violence, bullying, children’s educational performance, and addictions. And rather than increasing initiative and creativity, a large recent analysis showed that inequality makes societies less inventive, producing fewer patents per head of population. Falling well beyond the boundaries of economics, inequality’s effects now demand interdisciplinary research and political action.
- Meanwhile, Bob Ascah, Trevor Harrison and Richard Mueller discuss how Alberta can avoid what's already an overstated complaint about deficits and debt (to say nothing of the austerity which Jason Kenney plans to inflict as a "cure") merely by taking in public revenue remotely comparable to every other Canadian province.

- Michael Mann offers a reminder that we need a systemic transition in order to rein in catastrophic climate change. And Adele Peters writes that clean energy has already reached the point of being more affordable than fossil fuel alternatives such as natural gas - as long as the latter aren't receiving massive subsidies.

- Andrea Ledding reports on the exploitative and poorly-regulated logging industry which is threatening Saskatchewan's forests along with residents.

- Finally, Rob Carrick writes that Canada's housing policy needs to focus on making rental space available, rather than further driving up prices for would-be home buyers.