Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Larry Elliott writes that at least some business leaders are paying lip service to the idea that inequality needs to be reined in. But Alec Hogg points out that at least some of the privileged few are using their obscene wealth to remove themselves from the rest of humanity, rather than lifting a finger to help anybody else.

- Meanwhile, Joseph Stiglitz observes that sheer stubborn stupidity on the part of austerians is doing untold damage to the global economy. But Jon Henley notes that in advance of Syriza's election victory, a new social movement in Greece had already been showing how much good collective action can do - suggesting that citizens are rightly resisting the claim that there's nothing to be done to improve their plight.

- Scott Gilmore reminds us of Canada's shameful history of mistreating First Nations.

- Mitchell Anderson comments that contrary to its oft-repeated promise, Alberta has indeed blown another oil boom.

- Finally, Andrew Coyne laments the Libs' choice to join the Cons in refusing to do anything about climate change. And Joseph Heath points out that the environmental damage we're leaving for future generations to address far outweighs the financial deficits which are so often used as an excuse for inaction:
Oliver knows that deficits are neither here nor there from the standpoint of intergenerational equity. What he actually has is a standing preference for smaller government. So when government revenue falls, this gives him an opportunity to reduce the size of government, by cutting expenditures. The idea that “deficits are immoral” is just a convenient way of selling the public on this reduction in the size of government, without having to make the case for smaller government (which is a tough sell).

This is all pretty standard. I guess what makes it extra-cynical is that we are, as a matter of fact, confronting a serious problem of intergenerational justice right now, in the form of climate change. And not only are we failing to do what’s right for our children on this file, we are doing the exact opposite of what’s right. So it is obvious that a moral concern about the welfare of future generations carries absolutely no weight with the Harper government. If it did, we would be debating what to do with all the revenue being generated by new federal carbon taxes. This is what takes Oliver’s remark out of the realm of run-of-the-mill-cynical and into the realm of deeply-cynical.

Finally, just an exercise for fun. There are lots of arguments out there, suggesting that we should not be particularly worried about climate change — that things will somehow take care of themselves. Try to find one single argument for inaction on climate change that is not also an argument for ignoring government deficits.

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