Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Thomas Walkom points out that while Stephen Harper managed to push the world in the wrong direction over the past few years, he may be missing the boat on where it's headed:
The Harper government’s failure is longer-term. It still operates under the assumption that free trade and free markets will conquer all. This is an old model. It is out of date. True, the Great Depression of the 1930s was aggravated because there were too many barriers to the free movement of labour, goods and capital. But the Great Recession of the 21st century is aggravated by the fact that there are too few.

This is the lesson of the crippled eurozone. It is also the lesson of Japan, which started to do better only after it elected a nationalist (and right-wing) government willing to challenge trade orthodoxy.
Harper and his government have seen us through some bad years. They could have made matters far worse but didn’t. In a roundabout way, they deserve credit for this.

But their overall plans for the economy are based on stale assumptions. What they do not understand is that the Great Recession is changing everything, politically as well as economically.
At some point, the Chinese won’t want to pay top dollar for oil. At some point, the Americans will conclude that jobs at home trump trade deals abroad. Then what do we do?
- The Canadian Medical Association and the Wellesley Institute have both released noteworthy studies on the connection between social ills and poor health - with the latter being traceable to the former. And Jane Gerster reports on Dr. Roland Wong's efforts to make sure that his patients aren't kept sick by a lack of healthy food:
A Toronto doctor found guilty of professional misconduct last December for exaggerating allergies to help patients on welfare access special diet allowances is allegedly still doing it — with no regrets.

“Regrets? Only that the government doesn’t help the poor,” Dr. Roland Wong told the Star Monday outside of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, where a committee is meeting this week to determine his penalty.
John Clarke, an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, said the doctor deserves “a medal and keys to the city,” not a punishment.

A crowd of people showed up Monday morning to support Dr. Wong, shaking his hand and filling the small hearing room.

“To us, these are all rarefied legal arguments,” Clarke said. “One decent man stood up to ensure that people lacking the basic necessities of life could get nutrition and health, and to punish him would be to intimidate anyone else who might follow his example.”
- Conversely, Alex Pareene writes about the antisocial Washington consensus calling for already-poor citizens to suffer more in the name of further giveaways to the wealthy.

- Finally, Purple Library Guy neatly dissects some familiar corporatist tropes by asking an inconvenient question: if the unavoidable effect of the market is to create inequality and insecurity, then why would we be anything but pleased to see policies counter market norms?

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