Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Kevin Carson discusses David Graeber's insight into how privatization and deregulation in their present form represent the ultimate use of state power to serve special interests at the expense of the public:
What mainstream American political discourse calls “deregulation” is nothing of the sort. There is no major constituency for deregulation in the American political system — just competing (and in fact considerably overlapping) agendas on what regulatory mix to put in place. There is not, and could not, be such a thing as an “unregulated” bank, Graeber argues, because banks “are institutions to which the government has granted the power to create money.” By the nature of that power, they are creatures of the state, and any power they exercise is thus defined by a web of state regulations. So “deregulation” really just means “changing the regulatory structure in a way that I like.” A “deregulatory” regime, in reality, is the choice of a regulatory regime that produces results to one’s liking.
So-called “privatization,” for example, ranges from mere outsourcing of government functions (which continue to be taxpayer-funded) to private contractors, to the sale of government services to private corporations (after which they continue to exist in a dense web of government monopolies, protections and subsidies).

And where it takes place, such “deregulation” and “privatization,” far from involving a reduction of government power, typically involves the unlimited exercise of government power over a population which has been rendered prostrate by war or bankruptcy (Naomi Klein’s “disaster capitalism,” or — in Rahm Emanuel’s words — never letting a good crisis go to waste). 
- And Paul Hanley writes that Saskatchewan's pursuit of fossil fuels rather than renewable energy likewise represents a deliberate choice to favour only a few privileged industries at the expense of our economy and environment alike.

- Christopher Wanjek reports on new research showing a connection between family income and children's brain development. But while poverty and inequality may create both physical and metaphorical barriers to education, we shouldn't pretend that school alone will solve broader social problems - as Matthew Yglesias notes that people living with poverty today do so with far more education than a few decades ago.

- Stephen Hume writes that Stephen Harper's exclusionism has given bigots a free pass to start attacking minorities without any risk of consequences. And Charlie Smith points out Gwynne Dyer's observation that a policy and practice of declaring war against large groups of people is exactly what actual extremists want to see.

- Finally, Craig Forcese and Kent Roach's site on C-51 now includes an annotated version of the Cons' terror bill with witness comments. Peter O'Neil reports on Hasan Cavusoglu's research showing that even minor errors in an expanded and unaccountable surveillance apparatus could pose a serious threat to innocent Canadians. Tonda MacCharles reminds us that CSIS - which stands to be granted massive and practically unreviewable power - has been highly unreliable in answering for its past activities, while Alex Boutilier exposes the range of peaceful protests which are already facing surveillance and disruption. And Tim Naumetz reports that the Cons themselves have decided that C-51 is not intended to provide any oversight whatsoever (for the purpose of ruling any amendments which might help matters out of order).

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