Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Anna Leventhal warns against the danger that even the best-intentioned of charity drives might be seen as replacing the need for social supports:
Now campaigns are ubiquitous, and range from book tours to pet surgeries to basic subsistence for marginalized people in crisis. But with crowdfunding increasingly called on to plug the holes left by funding cuts (consider that in 2014 Canadians pledged over $27 million to Kickstarter alone, and that from 2013 to 2014 the amount crowdfunded globally jumped from US$6.1 billion to US$16.2 billion), the stakes are getting higher and the trouble with putting this support to the free market is becoming clear.

Do we back campaigns based on the perceived worthiness or importance of the project? The neediness of the asker? How well we know the asker and how bad we're likely to feel if their project can't be realized? Is it OK that we're being given the right, and the responsibility, to make these kinds of calls? Should the artist with the most Facebook friends win? Should the person to get support for a disability be the one with the best Twitter game? Letting the invisible hand guide these decisions seems not only flawed but dangerous.
Frustrated citizens who care about the community's well-being can skip the arduous process of engaging with the federal government and trying to convince it that First Nations communities are worth caring about, and just give directly to the cause. Such a move seems part resourceful community-mindedness and part Band-Aid-over-metastasized-cancer. As Chief Edwin Resky is quoted as saying on the campaign's page, “While we appreciate your intentions, at the same time we wonder what kind of country Canada is when safe access to essential services, when our right to clean drinking water, when access to basic economic opportunity, must depend on the kindness of strangers?”
- Meanwhile, Ryan Meili reminds us of the dangers posed by a growing income gap. PressProgress exposes a few of the most appalling right-wing excuses for the continued underpayment of women in the workplace, while Tom Boggioni tells the story of how Laura Browder's attempt to find work as a single mother (in the absence of reasonable social supports and child care options) led to her arrest.

- Steve Barnes discusses the Wellesley Institute's latest study on the connection between insufficient incomes and a lack of access to prescription drugs. 

- Mychalo Prystupa reports that First Nations are rightly concerned that Nexen's recent oil spill is just a small part of a larger pattern of environmental degradation. And Gemma Karstens-Smith notes that long after the English Bay oil spill was proclaimed to have been fully contained, evidence is surfacing of contamination in areas up to 12 kilometres from the site of the spill.

- Finally, Bruce Johnstone asks what comes next now that Canada is facing a recession. And Konrad Yakabuski writes that the response to the latest downturn represents a rare point of contrast between Stephen Harper and Tony Abbott - as even the Cons' Australian cousins aren't so blinkered as to push through more cuts as the economy falters.

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