- Ian Welsh discusses the nature of prosperity - and the illusion that it means nothing more than increased economic activity:
All other things being equal more productive capacity is better. The more stuff we can make, in theory, the better off we’ll be. But in practice, it doesn’t always work that way.- Meanwhile, PressProgress highlights the Cons' latest efforts to make sure workers don't share in any benefit from corporate operations.
Part of the problem is due to hierarchies and inequality. Inequality is undeniably bad for us. The more unequal your society is, the lower the median lifespan. The more unequal the society, the sicker, in general. More heart attacks, much more stress. The more unequal, the more crime. These links are robust.
The links run two ways. On the one hand, humans find inequality stressful. The human body, if subject to long term stress, becomes unhealthy and far more likely to be sick. People who feel unequal act less capable than those who feel equal. This is true for the rich and powerful in unequal societies and the poor. Everyone suffers. Though the poor and weak do suffer more, even the rich and powerful would be healthier and live longer in equal societies, most likely simply due to the stress effect.
The second part is distribution, or rather, the question of who gets to decide the distribution. The more unequal a society, the less stuff the poor and middle class have, comparatively. Some technologies tend to lead to more inequality, some tend to lead to more equality. ...
Increases in productive capacity and technological advancement do not always lead to welfare and when they do, it do not have to do so immediately. The industrial revolution certainly did lead to increased human welfare, but if you were of the generations thrown off the land and made to work in the early factories, often 6 1/2 days a week, in horrible conditions, you would not have thought so. You were in virtually every way worse off than before being thrown off the land, and so were your children. A few industrialists and the people around them certainly did very well, but that is not prosperity, nor is it affluence.
Prosperity, in the end, is as much about power and politics as it is about technology and productive ability. The ability to make more does not ensure we are making the right things, or that the people who need them, get them. Productive capacity which is not shared is not prosperity.
- Keith Stewart writes that the oil sector's interest in fostering dependence on its product runs contrary to the social interest in generating clean and renewable energy, while Andrew Gage explains the NEB's choice not to take seriously the most obvious risks involved in the Gateway pipeline and tanker project. And Erin Weir offers up PCS' minimal royalty projections as the latest example of how Saskatchewan's dependence on corporate potash production is producing little return for the province's resources.
- Finally, Greg Weston reports on CSEC's illegal intrusion into the online activity of travellers at Canadian airports:
The latest Snowden document indicates the spy service was provided with information captured from unsuspecting travellers' wireless devices by the airport's free Wi-Fi system over a two-week period.
Experts say that probably included many Canadians whose smartphone and laptop signals were intercepted without their knowledge as they passed through the terminal.
The document shows the federal intelligence agency was then able to track the travellers for a week or more as they — and their wireless devices — showed up in other Wi-Fi "hot spots" in cities across Canada and even at U.S. airports.
That included people visiting other airports, hotels, coffee shops and restaurants, libraries, ground transportation hubs, and any number of places among the literally thousands with public wireless internet access.
The document shows CSEC had so much data it could even track the travellers back in time through the days leading up to their arrival at the airport, these experts say.