Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Reevely writes about the stench of corporate corruption hanging over a privately-sponsored premiers' conference. And Paul Willcocks nicely contrasts the professed belief by politicians that campaign contributions don't unduly policy against the expectations of everybody else affected by the political system - including big donors themselves:
Most people figure that money matters. That when someone who gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to a party calls a politician, they get access and a chance to ask for favours. That they are buying special treatment.

The people taking in all that cash, unsurprisingly, disagree.
But most people think they can be bought, or at least influenced. Research has found 90 per cent of Canadians think people with money have a lot of influence over government. Last year, an Angus Reid poll found 70 per cent of British Columbians want union and corporate donations banned.
Even more significantly, the donors believe they are buying future benefits by backing the winning side.

They don't say that. They talk about supporting the democratic process, and ensuring the election of a government that will create an environment that advances the interests of their shareholders or, in the case of unions, their members.

But that's baloney.
If donors believe they are buying special access or treatment with their donations, it's hardly surprising the public shares that view.

I can't read politicians' minds. Maybe Bennett would be no quicker to return a phone call from Murray Edwards because he has given a lot of money.

But I know people and the way organizations work. If Edwards is known as a pal of the premier, someone who can deliver millions in donations over the life of a government, at least some government employees will be unable to entirely forget that connection when faced with a subjective decision affecting his interests.
- Meanwhile, Iglika Ivanova discusses the dangers of the deregulation which has been bought with so much corporate money over the past few decades. And Bob Weber reports that after previously telling First Nations that they could have their say on the environmental devastation caused by the tar sands through hearings into regional plans rather than individual project reviews, Alberta is now trying to shut them out of that process as well.

- Justin Gillis reports on the U.N.'s latest study showing that climate change continues to exceed even the most alarming projections from a few years ago, while the Washington Post editorial board laments the deterioration of any prospect of political action in the U.S. And CBC reports on an MIT study showing that a cap-and-trade system to regulate greenhouse gas emissions would result in massive reductions in health care costs - though of course it's oil money (and its human embodiment in the PMO) preventing that system from coming about in Canada.

- Michael Butler highlights the need to make health care more effective and affordable - rather than handing massive giveaways to big pharma through the CETA.

- Finally, David MacDonald points out that while the much-discussed Burger King/Tim Horton's takeover may result in plenty of tax avoidance in the U.S., it won't actually increase Canadian revenues - meaning that it instead reflects a corporation using gaps in international tax law to avoid paying its fair share to anybody.

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