Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Shannon Gormley points out that human rights are meaningless in the face of a government which claims the entitlement to strip people of their humanity - which is exactly what the Cons are setting out to do:
(W)hen Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced this year that, “Citizenship is not a right, it is a privilege,” most human rights advocates couldn’t take him seriously. He may as well have declared that the curvature of the earth is merely an optical illusion and the world is indeed flat, or that the second law of thermodynamics doesn’t apply to his government, which can perpetually stay in power whether or not its ministers fuel it with statements deserving serious consideration.

But while remarks such as the minister’s may not be worth taking seriously as statements of fact, they’re worth remembering as philosophical beliefs that determine policy directions. 
(T)o make simple policy changes, the government must make serious philosophical changes. It has to reverse its absurd and dangerous position that “the right to have rights” isn’t a right at all.
- Rick Salutin highlights the amount of work young Canadians already put into their efforts to break into a hostile job market. And Aaron Wherry points out that there's no reason for workers to have any confidence in a government which will proudly trumpet the funnelling of hundreds of millions of dollars to employers in the name of a jobs program without even considering whether they'll actually create any jobs in the process.

- Jen St. Denis discusses the negative effects income-splitting would have on women's earning power even in the few families who would enjoy some surface benefit. And Angella MacEwen exposes Andrew Coyne's blind spot in valuing the contributions of a stay-at-home spouse at zero (resulting in tax benefits based solely on the actual income of the other spouse).

- Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew reports on the widespread food bank use among people with full-time jobs which don't provide enough income to put food on the table. And Jordon Cooper discusses how Saskatchewan governments have come to see increasing reliance on food banks as a solution rather than a problem.

- Finally, Michael Harris writes about the Cons' exploitative relationship with Canada's veterans. And Ryan Meili comments on the connection between peace and health:
War brings injury and death by definition, but the impact of war is not limited to wartime. Long after the bullets stop flying, the destructive effects on a country continue: on its economy, its infrastructure, its psychology, its soul. War leaves behind land mines literal and metaphorical. Unexploded ordinances claim the lives and limbs of civilians. The spread of illnesses like HIV increases with the transience of wartime life. Violence and disease kill the young, the healthy backbone of the nation's families and economy. Those left behind often struggle with the emotional and psychological echoes of the trauma they survived. All of this damage leads to the perpetuation of poverty on numerous levels and, all too often, to a return to conflict and a repetition of the destructive cycle.

The road from peace to health is not a one-way street; a healthy society is less likely to find itself fighting. The same conditions that lead to higher levels of illness -- economic inequality, food insecurity, labour unrest -- can also lead to dangerous political instability. Since the early 1990s a series of global initiatives known as Peace through Health have been actively looking at the ways in which humanitarian health efforts can serve as a bridge to peaceful resolution of conflict. Well-resourced universal health systems can be a stabilizing element in both preventing and responding to violence. In this context, recent cuts to health services (including the drastic cuts to refugee health, many of whom have come to Canada to flee conflict) present a real threat to our health and security.

At this time of remembrance we are moved to think of those who sacrificed their lives in times of war so that others might live in peace. But to say "never again" to the horrors of the past means to work for peace today. A successful peace movement must recognize how injustice and inequality promote and perpetuate conflict. The world is suffering from a disease, with most gruesome symptom. As we continue to learn in health care, the most effective way to combat disease is to move upstream, to prevent sickness from starting.

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