Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Suzanne Goldenberg discusses the World Bank's findings that a smart set of policies to combat climate change can actually improve global economic growth. And Duncan Cameron makes clear that the perpetual austerity demanded by the same parties who insist we can't afford to act on climate change serves only to make sure that growth doesn't benefit workers:
Dating back to the 1980s, CUPE studies by John Calvert and his successor Toby Sanger, have shown how wages have consistently lagged economic growth. Both Andrew Jackson, and now Angela McEwan of the CLC have demonstrated how private and public wages have stagnated, though union members do make out better than non-union workers.

The CCPA Inequality Project has documented how the Canadian income gap is growing, partly as a result of poor wage growth. Anti-poverty activists and social economists point to the Canadian minimum wage as having peaked... in 1969.

It is reasonable for public workers to ask for a fair share of increases in public income. Stagnating wages causes the Canadian economy to underperform. By resisting further restrictions on wage growth OPSEU and the BCTF are trying to fix an economy that is not working for Canadians.

The quality of life is tied to how much people earn, not how much the stock market went up, or the price of gold increased. How long do people have to wait until the Ontario and B.C. governments recognize the need for public sector workers to be paid fairly?
- James Abro proposes that we should talk about poverty as "acute financial distress" to emphasize its possible application to nearly anybody.

- Chris Mooney ties financial problems to our democratic deficit, discussing how stress of all kinds can reduce voter turnout and political activity. And Cindy Blackstock describes the price being imposed on Canadian activists by telling her story about being spied on by federal officials.

- Finally, several scientists lament the Cons' efforts to break links between scientific evidence and public policy. And Ian Millhiser writes about the effect of broken or gridlocked government on progressive political discussion:
The problems Sotomayor described at the opening of the ACS convention are not easy problems to solve, and they will require considerable expertise to address in an effective an sensible way. The Congress that Newt built is ill-equipped for this task. Moreover, in this age of dysfunction, the dumbing-down of Congress is getting even worse. As former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) told Glastris and Edwards, “those who are nourished by accomplishment are starving.” Hill staff typically “come highly motivated, they want to feel good about their challenge, their work, what they’re doing for the country. When they’re not getting that, they start looking around.”

This unfed hunger for accomplishment stretches far beyond the people who work on Capitol Hill. There is an entire network of advocates, public interest lobbyists, litigators and think tankers whose job is to influence Congress and the Supreme Court. If many of the best liberal lawyers in the nation are not able to see a clear path through a dysfunctional government, then these jobs become much less attractive. Bright young progressives choosing between a life of public service and a job that pays three times as much in the private sector will be much more inclined towards the latter. The brain drain is likely to extend far beyond the halls of Congress.

Meanwhile if conservatives like many of the lawyers I met at the Federalist Society awake every day believing that it could be the day when the justices hand them their next great victory, then their movement will only become more energized. The best, as William Butler Yeats once wrote, will lack all conviction, while the worst will remain full of passionate intensity.
 [Edit: added link.]

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