Friday, July 04, 2014

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Reich discusses how a reasonable balance of economic and political power is necessary to any protection of meaningful personal freedom:
In reality, corporate free speech drowns out the free speech of ordinary people who can’t flood the halls of Congress with campaign contributions.

Freedom is the one value conservatives place above all others, yet time and again their ideal of freedom ignores the growing imbalance of power in our society that’s eroding the freedoms of most people.
The so-called “free market” is not expanding options and opportunities for most people. It’s extending them for the few who are wealthy enough to influence how the market is organized.

Most of us remain “free” in limited sense of not being coerced into purchasing, say, the medications or Internet services that are unnecessarily expensive, or contraceptives they can no longer get under their employer’s insurance plan. We can just go without.

We’re likewise free not to be burdened with years of student debt payments; no one is required to attend college. And we’re free not to rent a place in a neighborhood with lousy schools and pot-holed roads; if we can’t afford better, we’re free to work harder so we can.

But this is a very parched view of freedom.

Conservatives who claim to be on the side of freedom while ignoring the growing imbalance of economic and political power in America are not in fact on the side of freedom. They are on the side of those with the power.
- But in fairness, it's probably true that our corporate overlords have reason to fear even the slightest scrutiny - as Joe Friesen reports that Manitoba's investigation into employers using temporary foreign workers found labour violations in nearly half of the workplaces involved.

- Meanwhile, PressProgress exposes internal Department of Finance documents discussing how the Cons' income-splitting scheme runs directly contrary to the basic principles of tax policy - most notably the principle of minimizing interference with personal choices. And Annie Bergeron-Oliver reports that the cruel, unusual and unconstitutional nature of the Cons' cuts to refugee health care has now been confirmed (PDF) by the Federal Court.

- Bryce Covert points out that contrary to the usual anti-wage spin, U.S. states with increasing minimum wages are actually generating more job growth. 

- Finally, Aaron Wherry rightly questions why the Prime Minister has the sole discretion to schedule by-elections. But I'd think that in the spirit of fixed general election dates as a means of allowing for greater certainty for parties in candidates, there's reason not to trigger by-elections immediately upon a vacancy either. Instead, wouldn't it make sense to have fixed by-election dates available at three- or six-month intervals since the previous general election, with all vacancies generated in that time period then filled at once?

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