Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Dean Beeby reports on the utter uselessness of the latest set of publicly-funded Con propaganda. But more importantly, John Ibbitson notes that most of the provinces have little use for the lone new announcement - meaning that it's for the best if Canadians have indeed tuned out the Cons rather than relying on promises which likely won't come to pass.

- Meanwhile, Dan Leger writes that we should be just as concerned about the Cons' list of friends should be of just as much concern as the enemies lists which have received so much attention:
But as sinister and nasty as the idea of an enemies list is, I worry more about the friends. The memo directs ministerial aides to come up with lists of friends. To what end?

Are these friends going to benefit from plush government contracts? Will special friends enjoy special legislation? Will these friends be appointed as judges, CRTC commissioners, ambassadors or God forbid, senators?

In some ways, it’s almost worse to consider how these friends with benefits will be treated than the enemies, who can’t be treated with much more disrespect than they get now from the government. Enemies are loud and obvious; that’s what makes them enemies. Friends are more subtle and stick to the backrooms where they can operate quietly and profitably.

The ministerial list-makers in Ottawa might be keeping a watch out for the government’s enemies. Canadians would be wise to keep a close eye on its friends.
- Paul Campos discusses the second major insult involved in McDonalds' condescending "financial planning advice". The Observer makes the case for a reasonable living wage. And Ellie Mae O'Hagan reminds us to be skeptical of corporate outlets trying to silence the labour movement in pointing out the imbalance between profits and people:
I've always been mystified by the media's willingness to publish commentary on the labour movement by people who have barely been to so much as a branch meeting. When I've queried this troubling practice to journalist friends, they often lament that it can't be helped because union structures are just "too complicated" to try to get to grips with. That's interesting, because I've never seen a Financial Times reporter write a shoddy article about the markets and then justify it by saying, "it's not my fault, it's the FTSE 100 – it's just too hard!". We don't see articles on morning sickness by Will Hutton; Liz Jones doesn't get commissioned to talk about EU trade agreements, so why is it acceptable for columnists to opine about trade unions when they don't show the slightest interest in understanding them?

Now that Len McCluskey (full disclosure – I work for Unite) has given an interview to Patrick Wintour in the Guardian, I am sure these writers will once again leap towards giving us the benefit of their latest thoughts on the matter. I can summarise every article right here: "Of course we all like unions in principle, but isn't it uncouth when they actually try to do something?"
At the end of the day, trade unions aren't interesting to the media because working-class politics aren't interesting to the media – largely because so few people in the media are actually working class. The lack of interest, bordering on contempt, towards unions simply reflects the wider marginalisation of working-class issues in the public sphere.
- Finally, Mark Wilson nicely highlights the absurdity of an Apple ad which utterly crushes the concept of subtlety in directing consumers to turn away from genuine experience in favour of "products".

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