Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Armine Yalnizyan makes the case as to why wealth equates to far too much power in Canada:
The problem is not that the wealthy are too powerful. The problem is that, with rare exception, as their power has increased, it has not been matched by an increase in their sense of responsibility. On the contrary, the wealthy have been using their power for decades to reduce their responsibilities to anyone but themselves.

The litany, en bref: Taxes are too high. Governments are too big. There are too many rules. Workers feel way too entitled. And boy is it hard to get good help these days.

Any restriction on the freedom of the wealthy is characterized as an attack on everyone’s freedom. Unions — which exist only at the pleasure of a majority of workers in a workplace — are portrayed as pariahs on the productive process. Governments — which are selected by the will of the engaged voting public — are viewed as leeches on the wealth creators. For those with wealth and power, the problem with democracy is that there is too much of it.

That’s not new. G.K. Chesterton said it best, 100 years ago — The poor sometimes object to being governed badly; the rich object to being governed at all.

What’s new is the degree to which countervailing power and voice, far from being viewed as beneficial for preventing a naturally tilted game from tipping over, are viewed as obstacles to be overcome.

The wealthy and powerful want to pursue their interests unchecked. But they’re on track for wrecking the game for everyone.
- Meanwhile, David Doorey notes that the Sask Party's Bill 85 represents yet another attempt to stack the deck in favour of big business - and that the end result will likely be greater difficulty in attracting workers who take a long-term view of their own interests. And Murray Mandryk writes that at the very least, the Wall government should make sure it knows what it's passing before ramming through massive changes to the laws governing work in Saskatchewan.

- Ezra Klein writes that both rules and inquiries which seem trivial on their face - such as Van Halen's much-mocked "no brown M&Ms" requirement - may be telling precisely because they signal whether we're considering our full range of possible options and obligations.

- Finally, Christopher Majka interviews Tom Mulcair, featuring this prime example of the depth of thought we should expect from a responsible government leader:
We have a development model that unfortunately is more akin to what one sees in third-world countries where you let a foreign power and companies come in and take what they want. We let all companies -- foreign and not -- use the air and water as an unlimited dumping ground. We don't internalize costs, in other words we're not including environmental costs, we're not making the polluter pay. It's as simple as that. We think we can do better. And we believe that the government of Canada can play a positive role in obtaining that result. The Conservatives have pulled away from all of that. They make a lovely slip of the tongue: instead of referring to the environmental assessment process, you often hear them talk of an environmental approval process. So the result is pre-ordained. And cabinet has even arrogated the right to change any condition that's been laid down. So that's what we've got to escape from.
In West Labrador there's a lovely college called the College of the North Atlantic. I went in with Harry Borlase, our candidate in a by-election up there. We met young people who are graduating in their one-year course as millwrights. "Have you found a job yet?" [I asked] "No, but it shouldn't be long. We're applying." We get over to the union hall -- we were waiting to see someone -- and we were told he wasn't going to make it. Why? The company had just announced that they were going to going to a model of "fly in, fly out." In Labrador City. We're not talking about an isolated site in the middle of nowhere where there's no development and no community, we're talking about a city in Labrador. And the company has essentially decided that it wanted to start to "de-vitalize" it, sucking the life out of this city by flying in and flying out millwrights. That's a recipe for disaster.

Those cities, which used to be mining towns, basically run by the mines -- with an appointed council, for example -- a lot of them don't even have primary sewage (treatment). There are a lot of things that are not being done up there. We need infrastructure. We need a vision, so that if we're going to have development, we look at the social, the economic, and the environmental [aspects] constantly, and in everything we do. We need a development model that allows communities to be vital, living places, and not places that are going to have the life sucked out of them by foreign companies that are going to come in, take what they want, and then leave.

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