Thursday, December 04, 2014

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Monica Pohlmann interviews Armine Yalnizyan about the undue influence of our corporate overlords in setting public policy:
What’s your sense of the state of our democracy?

We have a troubled relationship with our democratic institutions. We need to get over the idea that government is something and someone else. The government is us. The idea that governments are largely useless, that they’re more likely to make a mess than fix things, is exactly what corporations would like us to think. It gives them more freedom to use the enormous power of the state to their advantage.

We are becoming a corporatocracy, a state that serves the interests of corporations first and foremost. Business groups write legislation. lobby, use campaign finance to shape the public sphere – how big it is, what it does, who it serves. This is the biggest test democracy faces today.
- Meanwhile, Kelly Crowe reports that the Cons are dictating that Canadian health researchers won't receive any public support for their work unless they have private backing first - ensuring that the corporate sector gets to vet what research gets done.

- Robert Antonio examines Thomas Piketty's analysis of the seemingly inevitable concentration of capital and power (absent a major push to the contrary). But on the bright side, Joshua Holland notes that the U.S. has seen a rare debate over "tax extenders" which may signal some much-needed pushback against corporate giveaways and the erosion of the public sector.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh writes about the divisive effect of precarious work, along with the role of anti-union policymaking in suppressing wages and job security for the most vulnerable workers. Luisa D'Amato points out that some of Ontario's poorest citizens are bearing the brunt of an error-ridden computer system used to manage welfare and disability payments, reflecting an appalling choice to ensure that predictable system failures lead to the greatest possible amount of human suffering.

- Finally, Linda McQuaig writes that we should fully expect Robocon to be replicated in future elections, as the Cons have gone out of their way to ensure that future vote suppression will be more difficult to investigate:
(I)n the name of clamping down on “voter fraud,” the Conservatives have brought in election reforms that will actually make it easier for voter suppression to go undetected in the future.

That’s because the government’s controversial election reform package includes a section that prevents the Commissioner of Elections from revealing any details about investigations being conducted by Elections Canada.
The robocalls came to light only because, after receiving complaints of electoral irregularities (primarily involving Guelph), the Commissioner of Elections began to investigate and filed a court application related to that investigation. After the details of the application were picked up by the media, there was a flood of complaints from citizens across the country reporting they received similar misleading phone calls on election day.

Had the new “muzzling” rule been in place, the application filed by the Commissioner would have been sealed, preventing the public from knowing about the initial investigation — the trigger that prompted the nationwide response, allowing the public to see a larger pattern of possible voter suppression.
(T)he Conservatives don’t seem the slightest bit concerned that the party’s top-secret internal database was apparently used as part of an organized campaign of voter suppression.

Rather, as they gear up for the next election, the Harper crowd is focused on ensuring that not a single vote by an undocumented homeless person, student or senior will be allowed to contaminate our democracy.

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