Thursday, October 02, 2014

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig discusses who stands to lose out from a CETA designed to limit its benefits to the corporate elite. And PressProgress points out that Canada's pay gap between CEOs and workers is higher than that of any other OECD country other than the U.S.

- Meanwhile, all indications are that the Canadian public is more than ready for a change in direction, as EKOS finds a significant shift toward more progressive positions in the past few years even on many of the issues where the Cons have focused the most political capital.

- And likewise, Karl Nerenberg writes that while the Cons may have succeeded in ensuring that Ottawa stays broken as long as they're in power, they only figure to make the case for change in doing so.

- George Monbiot observes that the drive for perpetually more consumption is having devastating effects on our natural environment while doing little for human well-being:
In the rich nations, which commission much of this destruction through imports, most of our consumption has nothing to do with meeting human needs.

This is what hits me harder than anything: the disproportion between what we lose and what we gain. Economic growth in a country whose primary and secondary needs have already been met means developing ever more useless stuff to meet ever fainter desires.

For example, a vague desire to amuse friends and colleagues (especially through the Secret Santa nonsense) commissions the consumption of thousands of tonnes of metal and plastic, often confected into complex electronic novelties: toys for adults. They might provoke a snigger or two, then they are dumped in a cupboard. After a few weeks, scarcely used, they find their way into landfill.

In a society bombarded by advertising and driven by the growth imperative, pleasure is reduced to hedonism and hedonism is reduced to consumption. We use consumption as a cure for boredom, to fill the void that an affectless, grasping, atomised culture creates, to brighten the grey world we have created.

We care ever less for the possessions we buy, and dispose of them ever more quickly. Yet the extraction of the raw materials required to produce them, the pollution commissioned in their manufacturing, the infrastructure and noise and burning of fuel needed to transport them are trashing a natural world infinitely more fascinating and intricate than the stuff we produce. 
Working hours rise, wages stagnate or fall, tasks become duller, more stressful and harder to fulfill, emails and texts and endless demands clatter inside our heads, shutting down the ability to think, corners are cut, services deteriorate, housing becomes almost impossible to afford, there’s ever less money for essential public services. What and whom is this growth for?

It’s for the people who run or own the banks, the hedge funds, the mining companies, the advertising firms, the lobbying companies, the weapons manufacturers, the buy-to-let portfolios, the office blocks, the country estates, the offshore accounts. The rest of us are induced to regard it as necessary and desirable through a system of marketing and framing so intensive and all-pervasive that it amounts to brainwashing.
- Finally, Roger Peters makes the case for the federal government to take the lead in transitioning Canada toward a green energy economy. And Mike De Souza offers a noteworthy contrast as to how a focus on developing the tar sands to serve the private sector is being seen in the court of public opinion.

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