Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Andrew Nikiforuk writes that air quality in Alberta's Upgrader Alley may be among the worst in North America, including dangerous concentrations of cancer-causing chemicals. And Danny Harvey points out that the planet as a whole stands to be damaged by excessive tar sands development which is utterly incompatible with meaningful action to combat climate change.

- Andrew Jackson discusses how preferential tax treatment of stock options both exacerbates inequality and warps incentives for big business:
One objectionable aspect of paying already well-remunerated executives in the form of stock options on top of their salaries and bonuses is that the gains are not taxed as ordinary wage and salary income, but as if they were capital gains. In other words, just 50% of the windfall from exercising an option is liable to income tax, even though tax experts argue that there is no risk of a loss, but only of a small or no gain.
Moreover, stock prices vary widely over time rather than being directly related to profitability or other indicators of company performance. As much as anything else, they reflect the overall state of the economy as filtered though the expectations of markets and the upswings and downswings of speculation.
Even worse, Martin argues, stock options give senior managers a perverse incentive to boost short-term stock performance so that they can be in the money when their options are about to come due. Short-terms (sic) expectations which move markets are subject to manipulation.

As a result, stock options generally encourage short-term horizons and game playing with stock market expectations at the expense of boosting long-term corporate performance through major new investments and other determinants of company performance in the real economy.
- Scott Clark and Peter De Vries point out that the Cons' latest omnibus budget bill is just another attack on the concept of a functional parliamentary system. But perhaps more telling is the fact that the Cons are using the latest bill which they refuse to have properly analyzed to fix mistakes in a previous set of bills they rammed through without proper review - raising the question of whether those mistakes (obvious to others at the time and to the Cons in hindsight) could be avoided if Stephen Harper would countenance some reasonable debate and amendment opportunities in the first place.

- Marty Klinkenberg reports on musings that the Cons will reintroduce an expanded temporary foreign worker program as soon as they get the chance.

- And finally, Shahla Khan Salter writes that Canadians should take notice of the abuse of First Nations rather than allowing our shameful track record to be swept under the rug:
First Nations communities across Canada are uniting, in the struggle to maintain and preserve their land from environmental destruction, as corporations remove resources on native land with our governments' blessing. In doing so, they are also working to save their individual and treaty rights from further deterioration.

A movement has taken hold. It arose amidst the apathy and racism of mainstream Canadian society that surrounds First Nations people wherever they go.

It arose notwithstanding the torturous abuse First Nations people withstood as children and youth at Canada's residential schools which took place during the course of my generation and previous generations. The after effects of the abuse continue to haunt communities.

It is a movement that exists despite the poverty that indigenous people face daily.

It is a movement that has gained strength notwithstanding the challenges First Nations communities face as a result of addiction, violence and suicide.

And it has been born to oppose a system, instituted by our governments, who remove native control of resources on reserve land and continuously fail to deliver basic necessities such as food, water, adequate shelter and education to First Nations families.
As the children of immigrants, it is not our role, no matter how many connections we may make between the injustices we face anywhere and the injustices they face here, to provide the sort of support that may deny, in any way, the existence of qualified leadership within First Nations communities.

We can only stand in solidarity behind our First Nations friends and in doing so, open our eyes to the corporate greed, environmental damage and the breakdown of civil liberties that will soon affect us all. And convey our thanks for the land on which we find ourselves standing.

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