Saturday, June 09, 2012

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Erika Shaker points out how Quebec's student protests are a natural and justified reaction to the policy choice to saddle young workers with debt:
(T)he effects of student debt are not exactly “character building”. Postponement of owning a home or starting a family. Fewer assets. Having to settle for temporary, insecure and part-time jobs that often become long-term while trying to pay off loans and living in your parent’s basement. Graduates are finding themselves taking jobs—any job—regardless of how well-suited it is, or whether they have a future in this line of work, or whether they want it…or just desperately need the paycheque.
Youth is a life stage characterized by economic dependence and this can be maintained or changed at the cultural and political level. But the collective impact of growing personal debt, cuts to public services, governments wedded to self-amputation, growing inequality, and a precarious labour market with a youth unemployment rate of more than 20% has extended this stage of dependence. It’s a one-two punch: governments are reinforcing the economic instability that restricts authentic choices for youth for longer periods of time, and media punditry blames youth for not being more economically independent.
(W)hen we vilify people for wanting something better than what they’re told is their lot in life, we condemn us all to social regression. We can only make gains when we are prepared to fight for improvements that we may never personally enjoy—but our kids will. Or our grandkids. Or someone else’s kids. Which is why the argument that “others have it worse, so what right do you have to complain?” is the ultimate red herring.
- Thomas Walkom rightly notes that Stephen Harper figures to use any new global economic downturn to do what he tried to do last time: slashing jobs and social programs even further at a time when economic growth is most needed. And Harper's refusal to answer questions about his plans only looks to confirm that expectation.

- Nanos is the latest pollster to confirm that the NDP and Thomas Mulcair are both still on the upswing as the debate over polluter-pay continues to play out - even as so many pundits have proclaimed that Mulcair would have no choice but to back down on any interest in environmental responsibility.

- Meanwhile, Don Lenihan raises one noteworthy question about the relationship between the federal and provincial governments: namely, is Harper even pretending that his role involves anything other than being a fully-owned subsidiary of the Alberta oil industry (leaving Alison Redford to play prime minister)?

- Finally, as much as I tend to disagree with Michael Taube on policy issues, I'll give him full credit for being a rare conservative willing to call for smarter and better-informed politics.

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