Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- George Monbiot comments on the far more important values we're endangering in the name of constant financial and material growth:
To try to stabilise this system, governments behave like soldiers billeted in an ancient manor, burning the furniture, the paintings and the stairs to keep themselves warm for a night. They are breaking up the postwar settlement, our public health services and social safety nets, above all the living world, to produce ephemeral spurts of growth. Magnificent habitats, the benign and fragile climate in which we have prospered, species that have lived on earth for millions of years – all are being stacked on to the fire, their protection characterised as an impediment to growth.

Cameron boasted on Monday that he will revive the economy by “scrapping red tape”. This “red tape” consists in many cases of the safeguards defending both people and places from predatory corporations. The small business, enterprise and employment bill is now passing through the House of Commons – spinelessly supported, as ever, by Labour. The bill seeks to pull down our protective rules to “reduce costs for business”, even if that means increasing costs for everyone else, while threatening our health and happiness. But why? As the government boasted last week, the UK already has “the least restrictive product market regulation and the most supportive regulatory and institutional environment for business across the G20.” And it still doesn’t work. So let’s burn what remains.
Why are we wrecking the natural world and public services to generate growth, when that growth is not delivering contentment, security or even, for most of us, greater prosperity? Why have we enthroned growth, regardless of its utility, above all other outcomes? Why, despite failures so great and so frequent, have we not changed the model? When the next crash comes, these questions will be inescapable.
- Meanwhile, Michelle Butterfield writes about increased income inequality in Canada - particularly in resource-rich provinces where nominal growth is being efficiently funneled only into the pockets of those who already have the most. And Nick Hanauer points out that the loss of historical overtime pay has made a huge difference in the lives of American workers (who are now working the same extended hours without being compensated accordingly).

- Katrina vanden Heuvel discusses how citizens end up paying the price for corporate tax giveaways. But Andrew Prokop documents how ALEC is putting a well-funded thumb on the scale to make sure that public policy serves only select private interests. And Lindsay Abrams highlights one example of government power being used to undermine public interests, as Republicans have passed a bill to prohibit any scientists other than industry shills from informing environmental decision-making.

- Andy Blatchford reports that the Cons are just like their Republican cousins in abandoning any pretense of doing anything more than rubber-stamping the policy preferences of corporate lobby groups - this time pushing a tax credit based on nothing more than the CFIB's spin. And PressProgress notes that the Cons' definition of an "extremist" - which is of course their threshold for the wholesale elimination of any civil rights - includes people who advocate for renewable energy.

- Jeremy Warren reports on Saskatoon's homeless population and (unsurprisingly) finds that while Jerry Peequaquat may have received more public notice than most, his death was far from an isolated case.

- Joshua Shaw proposes that we recognize collective health as an enforceable right.

- And finally, Rick Mercer offers the definitive response to Stephen Harper's crisis management:

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