Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Barrie McKenna looks to Norway as an example of how an oil-rich country can both ensure long-term benefits from its non-renewable resources, and be far more environmentally responsible than Canada has been to date.

- Michal Rozworski discusses how the devaluing of work is a largely political phenomenon. And Paul Mason wonders what it will take for workers who now see themselves as disenfranchised to fight back again a system that's rigged against them. 

- Speaking of which, Brendan James discusses a new study suggesting that the U.S. is past the point of being a democracy in any meaningful sense of the word. Paul Buchhelt comments on the disappearance of middle-class wealth. And John Stapleton studies (PDF) how lower-income citizens are both excluded and exploited by our financial system, while Arturo Garcia highlights Matt Taibbi's continued observation that absolutely nobody has been held responsible for financial-sector criminality even when it's crashed the economy.

- Jim Bronskill reports on Suzanne Legault's efforts to save access to information from Con cutbacks. The Star slams Tony Clement's Orwellian definition of "open government", while Sean Holman writes that even in opposition the Libs' plans don't seem to be much of an improvement. And Dan Leger writes about the spread of deliberately-cultivated ignorance among citizens across the developed world:
Here are some facts to illuminate your day: violent crime is getting worse, the country is overrun with immigrants, there’s an epidemic of teenage pregnancies and we’ve become a nation of geriatrics.

And that’s not all: 20 percent of Canadians are Muslim while the Christian population shrinks. Unemployment stalks the land.

No wonder people think we need to crack down on crime, choke off border access, enforce morality on teenagers and encourage Christian family values.

The problem is, the statements aren’t facts. They are widely held but entirely incorrect perceptions and they are common across the western world.
(G)overning from the gut by capitalizing on fear of crime, economic disruption or terrorism is a Conservative stock in trade under Stephen Harper. He’s been in power since 2006, so it works pretty well.

Of course the alternative to perception-driven politics is reliable public information; the kind you would get, say, from the mandatory long-form census. The Conservatives cancelled that in 2010.

Perhaps Canada would have better environmental policies if people were fully informed about pollution and climate change? The current government forbids scientists from telling the public about their work.
- Finally, Michael Harris notes that even as the Cons publicly claimed to have backed off their longstanding public push to buy F-35s which are ill-suited to Canada's purposes, they're in fact barging ahead with a plan to take delivery in the next couple of years.

[Edit: added link.]

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