Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jason Fekete reports that the Harper Cons are taking the side of international tax evaders against other G8 leaders trying to implement an effective enforcement system. And CBC reports that the Canada Revenue Agency has repeatedly turned down the opportunity to access information about tax cheats based on a policy of not offering enforcement rewards.

- In the wake of revelations about the U.S.' PRISM surveillance system (summarized by Mathew Ingram), Michael Geist warned that Canadians should be equally concerned about their privacy. And that observation looks particularly apt in light of Colin Freeze's revelation that Peter MacKay personally approved the revival of a dormant program which "incidentally" intercepts online communications.

- John Cotter reports that the Cons are once again slashing basic regulation - as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will let livestock producers decide for themselves whether it's worth doing anything to curb the spread of anthrax. And the CFIA is being particularly explicit in confirming that public health is being treated as a "business decision":
“It is very much a business decision or a cost-benefit decision on the basis of the producer and their veterinarian,” said Dr. Penny Greenwood, national manager of domestic disease control for the CFIA.

“When it is a business decision, it is really not appropriate for CFIA to be involved in the control of those diseases, as opposed to diseases that are very difficult to control.”
- Finally, Andrew Potter's take on Rob Ford is well worth a read. But I'll particularly highlight this point as to the type of personality issue that actually should concern voters assessing Ford and his enablers:
(T)here’s something more basic to Ford’s personality, and there’s nothing that appealing about it: the man has zero self-control. From reading while driving himself to work, drinking to excess at official functions, going to KFC while on a much-publicized diet or allegedly smoking crack and hanging out with drug dealers, it is clear that Ford is simply incapable of resisting temptation or delaying gratification.

And — it is crazy that this needs pointing out — there is nothing politically or morally praiseworthy about this. From Plato to Freud and everyone in between and since, self-mastery of the passions by our capacity for reason has been recognized as the key to being a proper-functioning adult and to the proper functioning of the city. No one has seriously made the case that rule by the passions, the id, the animal instincts, is a viable way to run a polity of any size. More to the point, no one has credibly argued that this is any way for a grown-up to behave.

Except, that is, Ford’s enablers, whose greatest fear is that he will go to rehab and expose their ongoing support for what it really is: a dangerous and foolish egging-on of a very sick man. Which is what makes Ford less of a buffoon and more of a tragic figure.

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