Monday, July 07, 2014

Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Stephen Hwang and Kwame McKenzie discuss the connection between affordable housing and public health and wellness:
In 2009, researchers followed 1,200 people in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver who were homeless or at risk of homelessness. It was found that they experience a high burden of serious health problems like asthma, high blood pressure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They are also at high risk for conditions like depression and anxiety, and of going hungry.

There’s more. We know that housing in disrepair can lead to accidents, fires and infestations. That overcrowding can lead to infections. We also know that, if you develop an illness, it is more difficult to get better if you are homeless or live in a substandard home.

Finally, we know the cost of housing deeply affects our health. When it takes up a large percentage of our income, it can cause profound stress and crowd out things that are important for health like recreational activities, nutritious food and prescription medication.
We have international and Canadian research demonstrating the way forward. And if further help is needed, we are here along with many others, ready and able to work to implement solutions. The ingredients are all there. Now it’s time to demonstrate the vision and political leadership to make sure every single one of us has a decent place to call home. 
- Mariana Mazzucato challenges the theory that inequality correlates in any way to technological progress as a matter of economic theory rather than political choice. And David Pilling questions the use of GDP as a measure of economic development - with particular emphasis on the short-sighted picture it tends to produce.

- Meanwhile, Simon Tremblay-Pepin documents some of the direct effects of Quebec's gratuitous austerity. And Matt O'Brien highlights how austerity is turning what could have been a temporary crash into a permanent drag on development.

- And Paul Krugman traces that wilful economic destruction back to a theory insisting that interest rates should be set so as to "kept permanently depressed in order to curb the irrational exuberance of investors" - raising obvious questions as to why we would then set our economic policy based on the belief that the mood of those same investors is the primary goal to be pursued.

- Finally, we shouldn't be surprised to learn that the tar sands are poisoning Alberta wildlife and the First Nations who rely on it. But based on how petropoliticians have handled the health of tar sands victims in the past, we should be even less surprised if the only action that comes from the revelation is an end to Health Canada funding for exactly that type of research.

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