Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- George Monbiot opines that curbing corporate power is the most fundamental political issue we need to address in order to make progress possible on any other front:
Does this sometimes feel like a country under enemy occupation? Do you wonder why the demands of so much of the electorate seldom translate into policy? Why parties of the left seem incapable of offering effective opposition to market fundamentalism, let alone proposing coherent alternatives? Do you wonder why those who want a kind and decent and just world, in which both human beings and other living creatures are protected, so often appear to be opposed by the entire political establishment?

If so, you have encountered corporate power – the corrupting influence that prevents parties from connecting with the public, distorts spending and tax decisions, and limits the scope of democracy. It helps explain the otherwise inexplicable: the creeping privatisation of health and education, hated by the vast majority of voters; the private finance initiative, which has left public services with unpayable debts; the replacement of the civil service with companies distinguished only by incompetence; the failure to re-regulate the banks and collect tax; the war on the natural world; the scrapping of the safeguards that protect us from exploitation; above all, the severe limitation of political choice in a nation crying out for alternatives.
This is not only about politicians, it is also about us. Corporate power has shut down our imagination, persuading us that there is no alternative to market fundamentalism, and that “market” is a reasonable description of a state-endorsed corporate oligarchy.

We have been persuaded that we have power only as consumers, that citizenship is an anachronism, that changing the world is either impossible or best effected by buying a different brand of biscuits. Corporate power now lives within us. Confronting it means shaking off the manacles it has imposed on our minds.
- Toby Sanger takes a closer look at the disastrous results of Ontario's attempt to use P3 schemes to direct public money into private hands. And Cheryl Stadnichuk discusses how the Wall government's "savings" on public-sector staffing are based on diverting tens of millions of dollars to consultants without any explanation.

- Meanwhile, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms examine the difference between "old power" based on hoarding exclusive forms of authority, and "new power" based on the coordinated application of broadly-held values. But it's worth acknowledging how far there is to go in sustaining the latter.

- Chris Hall reports that after turning the federal government's operations into little more than a cheerleading team for the tar sands, the Cons are accepting zero responsibility for the utter failure of that plan. Which would be laughable enough on its own - but looks doubly so in light of Mike De Souza's revelation that Stephen Harper's Privy Council Office had its fingerprints all over the ad campaigns which have failed miserably in their attempt to greenwash the tar sands.

- Finally, Lana Payne highlights the Cons' need for a bogeyman to deflect attention from their destructive government.

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