Sunday, February 08, 2015

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Scott Santens links the themes of health and equality by suggesting that we treat a basic income as a needed vaccine against poverty and all its ill effects.

- Erika Eichelberger and Dave Gilson highlight how U.S. corporations are siphoning money offshore to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. And Kate Aronoff warns us that the mindless extraction of profits is producing environmental and financial crises alike:
Between debt and our slowly roasting planet, we’ll be lucky to walk away from the next 25 years with just one crisis. There is a common denominator behind our debt and what else is ailing us: capitalism. The point here isn’t to fear monger about the next financial crisis or speculate on how bad it’s going to be. The zombies are here, and it’s clear that they’re not doing the vast majority of people much good. Great zombie movies don’t focus on the lead-up to the apocalypse. They’re also not about analyzing the diverse array of structural and political factors that put them there. The question everyone wants to know is, “How do you beat the zombies?”
While some economists might have you believe that their choices are based on cold hard calculations, the choices of where to allocate money — especially in the wake of a financial crisis — are ideological. It’s not an ideology of evil bloodsuckers, but of a heartfelt, pragmatic belief that more resources should be controlled by fewer people. Similarly, zombies are driven by their physical need for brains. Are zombies evil? Certainly not, but their primary interest in the acquisition of brains is directly opposed to our own as people with brains.

Left unchecked, the zombies will inherit the earth; in some ways they already have. Confronting the zombie takeover of earth isn’t about convincing them they’re wrong: it’s about strategy and numbers. In the wake of the Great Depression, virtual armies of the newly unemployed cropped up around the country to demand jobs, food and basic human dignity. Mounting enough pressure, they forced FDR’s administration into enacting massive public works and relief programs with the New Deal, in the process laying the groundwork for the modern labor movement. Occupy Wall Street tapped into the public outrage at banks and corporations, creating one of the biggest movements of the last 30 years. With one of any number of crises just around the corner, it’s time to choose between the night of the living dead and a livable planet and economy.
- Meanwhile, Matt Stoller notes that a return to even the antitrust principles which applied until the 1980s would work wonders to ensure the business sector engages in at least some beneficial research and innovation, rather than acting solely to take the value of others' work.

- Joseph Stiglitz writes that Europe's response to Greece's vote against destructive austerity may tell us whether our corporate overlords are prepared to accept democracy in any form. But then, Michele Swenson and Dave Johnson both note that decades of free trade agreements - and particularly the newest versions - already offer a compelling indication that the public interest has been entirely eliminated from far too many policy options.

- Finally, Nelson Wiseman writes about the lesson Canada's opposition parties should take from the 2008 coalition - though I'll again observe that there's no reason they should hesitate to confirm in advance that it's worth cooperating to ensure a better government:
If the 2015 election produces another Conservative minority, the first lesson that should be drawn from the case of 2008 is that the opposition parties will be hard-pressed to bring down a minority government at a time and on an issue of their choosing.

If they pass the speech from the throne when the next Parliament convenes, they will give the government unconditional authority until it introduces a major spending measure. If the measure meets the opposition’s opprobrium, the prime minister knows he can repair to Rideau Hall once again to postpone and possibly avoid his government’s defeat as he did in 2008. He will ask for a prorogation or for Parliament’s dissolution and fresh elections. Given the history of his office and the record of his predecessor, the enfeebled Governor General will consent.

The corollary of this lesson is that in another Conservative minority situation, the opposition parties will have to act expeditiously and with greater resolve than they did in 2008. Expect negotiations on an alternative government to a Conservative minority to begin on election night and no later than the next day. A publicly acknowledged negotiation process by the Liberals and the NDP, if not the contents of the negotiations, will prepare the public for what may be coming.

The opposition parties did not do this in 2008 and they paid for it.

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