Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- James Meek observes that decades of privatization in the UK have eliminated public control over housing and other essential services - and that privatization takes far more forms than we're accustomed to taking into consideration. And Rick Salutin offers his take on the latter point:
Economist Mariana Mazzucato's new book, The Entrepreneurial State, takes a bold step in "debunking" this fake construct. (Steve Paikin interviewed her on TVO this week.) She doesn't just argue that public spending (on defence) was crucial in basic advances like computers and the Internet. That's well-known. She also shows how U.S. public money funded product innovation way down the line, including some of the smallest details of the iPhone! She says the necessity of venture capital is highly exaggerated. Private investors are now far too focused on short-term profit to take real risks. It's governments that do it. The private sector then steps in when results are assured, to take the credit and the profits.

You could read her book as a blow on behalf of the public sector in the debate. But it works even better as a rejection of the debate's terms. There's no neat private-public division, that's just spin. There's actually society, a complex hybrid. Take the process of fixing potholes. Is that public or private? Or busing students to public schools. Even at those levels, it's all entwined. You cannot unscramble this omelet or neatly separate its ingredients back out.
- Meanwhile, Robert Benzie examines the Ontario Libs' plan to hand over the province's public resources based on marching orders from Bay Street, while Rob Ferguson reports on Andrea Horwath's anti-privatization push.

- Daniel Tencer examines expert reactions to the Cons' latest plan to suppress jobs and wages, and finds precisely nobody other than the CFIB with anything positive to say about it.

- Sharon Murphy writes that directing our attention toward poverty and other social determinants of health is both more humane then funding merely reactive systems, and more likely to result in an improved return on our public investments. And Andre Picard discusses the health consequences of insufficient access to dental care (particularly among Canadians with low incomes).

- Dene Moore reports on the obscene amount of political intervention the Cons are imposing in scientific discussions, finding that 16 separate communications operatives interfered in a single request to interview a single scientist about his work. And the Star calls for Health Canada to stop suppressing its findings about defective and dangerous prescription drugs.

- Finally, Jeremy Nuttall notes that the Cons' backroom dealings on the FIPA trade and investment agreement with China resulted in their completely caving when it came to Canadian interests, while the NDP is leading the charge to stop the sell-out. And Katie Valentine reports that while Stephen Harper can't rush through giveaways to Chinese business fast enough, he also can't be bothered to show up for the U.N.'s climate summit.

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