Monday, February 02, 2015

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Paul Mason discusses the effect a guaranteed annual income could have on individuals' choices about labour and employment:
A true, subsistence level basic income would close to double [existing social spending in the UK]. But it is imaginable, in the short to medium term, if you factor in the benefits.

The first would be to eradicate low-paid menial work. Why slave 10 hours a day with mop and bucket for £12k when you get £6k for free? Corporations would rebalance their business models towards a high pay, stable consumption, low-ish profit world, and the tax take would rise as a result. All tax relief for the poor would end.

The second benefit, though less tangible, would come to the spiralling healthcare budgets of western societies. Drugs are dear, collaborative networks of peer educators and self-help groups come for free, at least in theory, once everyone is being paid simply to exist, and has the time and freedom to contribute. This is the view taken by the prophets of peer-to-peer economics, who envisage a new, collaborative production sector...

The rest of the fiscal gap would be closed through raising tax – so this is not a cheap or easy solution. It would be a pathway to a different kind of economy. But for both left and right it would challenge the last vestiges of what Gorz called “the utopia based on work” which has sustained us for two centuries, but may no longer.
- Ben Cohen and John Bonifaz discuss the Sunlight Foundation's research showing that each $1 worth of corporate money in U.S. politics produces a return of $760. (Which is particularly jarring considering the billions of dollars now being spent each election cycles.) And Jacques Peretti highlights how extreme concentration of wealth affects the people who accumulate it.

- Lindsay Abrams interviews Ed Struzik about the damage the Harper Cons are doing to Canada's Arctic region:
I’m interested in your perspective on this as a Canadian citizen. The Harper administration’s treatment of the Arctic has been highly criticized — and I personally have never been able to speak with a Canadian government scientist.

It’s almost surreal what’s happened since the Harper government has come into power. Like you said, it’s extremely difficult to get a government Canadian scientist to talk to you. I live in Edmonton, Canada where two of the government’s polar bear scientists live, and I know them. But they cannot talk to me on the record about anything about polar bears. I’ve been in the field with them in the past and participated in the capture of polar bears, and yet in the last six or seven years, I have not been able to get an interview with any of them.

And I think this reflects the attitude of this government. With the decision by President Obama this week to expand the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and to put vast areas of the Arctic Ocean off limits to oil and gas development — in Canada, what we’re seeing is an attempt to accelerate oil and gas development, to do nothing about polar bears or beluga whales, to essentially ignore all that we’ve learned in the past 10 and 20 years in the Arctic. It’s bizarre. Twelve years ago, the Canadian government literally bribed a foreign company to ship coal through the Northwest passage to prove that this is a viable shortcut. As our environment commissioner has pointed out, the Northwest passage hasn’t even been charted properly. The navigational aids there are antiquated and we don’t have the ice-breaking capabilities to really prove that ships can go through there safely, so what the hell are they doing? I mean, it’s crazy and it’s inexplicable.
- And while the Cons march onward in the wrong direction, Brendan Haley explains why we can't expect the provinces and territories to correct our course on climate change or energy policy without federal leadership. And Bob Weber reports that the Cons have been well aware for years that there's no reliable data on the environmental effects of bitumen spills (even as they've resisted any effort to protect the environment while that information is lacking).

- Finally, Justin Ling looks in depth at the Cons' intrusive terror bill, while the Globe and Mail calls for it to be voted down. And Michael Harris points out that Stephen Harper's fearmongering arises primarily out of his own weakness.

No comments:

Post a Comment