- Naomi Klein comments on how disaster capitalists have tried to turn Hurricane Sandy into a quick buck, while pointing out that there's a far more rational public policy response available:
The prize for shameless disaster capitalism, however, surely goes to rightwing economist Russell S Sobel, writing in a New York Times online forum. Sobel suggested that, in hard-hit areas, Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) should create "free-trade zones – in which all normal regulations, licensing and taxes [are] suspended". This corporate free-for-all would, apparently, "better provide the goods and services victims need".- Barbara Yaffe highlights the influence Canada's First Nations figure to have on resource development - as the constitutional duty to consult means they'll have a sound basis to challenge the Harper Cons' attempts to run over anybody who questions putting tar sands profits above all else.
Yes, that's right: this catastrophe, very likely created by climate change – a crisis born of the colossal regulatory failure to prevent corporations from treating the atmosphere as their open sewer – is just one more opportunity for further deregulation. And the fact that this storm has demonstrated that poor and working-class people are far more vulnerable to the climate crisis shows that this is clearly the right moment to strip those people of what few labour protections they have left, as well as to privatise the meagre public services available to them. Most of all, when faced with an extraordinarily costly crisis born of corporate greed, hand out tax holidays to corporations.
The flurry of attempts to use Sandy's destructive power as a cash grab is just the latest chapter in the very long story I have called the The Shock Doctrine. And it is but the tiniest glimpse into the ways large corporations are seeking to reap enormous profits from climate chaos.
Just as the Great Depression and the second world war launched movements that claimed as their proud legacies social safety nets across the industrialised world, so climate change can be a historic occasion to usher in the next great wave of progressive change. Moreover, none of the anti-democratic trickery I described in The Shock Doctrine is necessary to advance this agenda. Far from seizing on the climate crisis to push through unpopular policies, our task is to seize upon it to demand a truly populist agenda.
The reconstruction from Sandy is a great place to start road testing these ideas. Unlike the disaster capitalists who use crisis to end-run democracy, a People's Recovery (as many from the Occupy movement are already demanding) would call for new democratic processes, including neighbourhood assemblies, to decide how hard-hit communities should be rebuilt. The overriding principle must be addressing the twin crises of inequality and climate change at the same time. For starters, that means reconstruction that doesn't just create jobs but jobs that pay a living wage. It means not just more public transit, but energy-efficient, affordable housing along those transit lines. It also means not just more renewable power, but democratic community control over those projects.
But at the same time as we ramp up alternatives, we need to step up the fight against the forces actively making the climate crisis worse.
- And in case there was any doubt whether many Canadians will accept Harper's spin unquestioned, Environics provides the answer...
(O)nly 16 per cent of Canadians place “a lot of trust” in their Prime Minister, putting Stephen Harper near the bottom among all leaders in the Americas.- Finally, Thomas Edsall writes about how Republicans lost the U.S. culture war. But Tom Tomorrow rightly questions whether they'll realize it anytime soon.
“In an international context, Harper has a lower level of trust than almost every other national leader in the hemisphere,” Mr. Neuman said.