Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- In case anybody hasn't yet seen Andrew Coyne's takedown of anti-intellectual populism, it's well worth a read:
(T)here Mr. Ford sits, immovably: disgraced, largely powerless, but still the mayor. Is that his fault? The city’s? Or is it the fault of those who put him there in the first place, and sustained him through the long train wreck that followed: the staff who failed to report his misdeeds; the commentators who excused them; the partisans who ignored them. Disasters on the Ford scale, we are taught, do not just happen, and while the mayor’s endless supply of lies, manipulativeness and sheer chutzpah have helped to preserve him in office until now, he could not have done it alone.

And of all his enablers, the most culpable are the strategists, the ones who fashioned his image as the defender of the little guy, the suburban strivers, against the downtown elites, with their degrees and their symphonies — the ones who turned a bundle of inchoate resentments into Ford Nation. Sound familiar? It is the same condescending populism, the same aggressively dumb, harshly divisive message that has become the playbook for the right generally in this country, in all its contempt for learning, its disdain for facts, its disrespect of convention and debasing of standards. They can try to run away from him now, but they made this monster, and they will own him for years to come.

Get help? He’s had plenty.
But it's also worth noting that while Ford may make for a particularly vivid example of the dangers of protect-the-leader politics, a similar support system of toadies and apologists surrounds Stephen Harper and other figures as well. And while it may take longer for the problems with a complete lack of personal reflection and responsibility to emerge out of the office of a leader less self-destructive than Ford, we should be working to avoid them in any form.

- Rhys Kesselman and Lana Payne both make the case for a more secure CPP retirement system. And Payne in particular highlights why we shouldn't buy the Cons' excuse for refusing to strengthen the CPP:
This week, the federal government announced it will be in surplus, conveniently, in time for the next election. And despite it being two years away, the federal Conservatives have announced what they will be doing with that surplus. More tax cuts. Sigh!
Of course the current deficit is, in large part, due to failed tax-cut policies that left the cupboard bare. An empty cupboard means the federal Conservatives have a handy excuse to ignore legitimate needs in the country, like investing in a new Health Accord. That fits fine with their agenda regarding health
care: eroding Canada’s universal medicare system through sheer neglect.
So it is clear. The Harper government has taken care of corporate Canada, but what about people, citizens; in particular, future retirees?

Unfortunately and stupidly, the federal government continues to drag its heels with respect to the retirement crisis facing Canadians, and is doing nothing to address the real problems facing Canadian workers.
 - Doug Cuthand discusses the Cons' appalling choice to spend upwards of a hundred millions of dollar per year on legal fees to attack First Nations in court - rather than working on improving the lives of First Nations citizens.

- Finally, David DesBaillets reviews the opportunities and challenges facing the Quebec NDP.

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