Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Ian Welsh rightly points out how our lives are shaped by social facts far beyond individual's control:
If you are homeless in America, know that there are five times as many empty homes as there are homeless people.

If you are homeless in Europe, know that there are two times as many empty homes are there are homeless.

If you are hungry anywhere in the world, know that the world produces more than enough food to feed everyone, and that the amount of food we discard as trash is, alone, more than enough to feed everyone who is hungry today.

It is very difficult to argue that the current refugee crises are anything but social facts: War and famine are social facts, straight up.
If you don’t have a job, well, that comes down to how many jobs there are. If your job is shitty, it has less to do with you than the time and place in which you live: 40 years ago, the largest employers in the US were car companies, who paid much better than the largest employer today: Walmart.

Even most environmental facts are social facts. Climate change, the collapse of ocean stocks, the terrible pollution in China: These are all a result of human action.
We can remain victims of social facts, including our dominant technology, or we can decide that social facts are choices and make choices.

This is becoming more possible, not less, because of the rise of global culture. I’ll discuss this later. But for now, remember, while biology determines we all die, society generally determines how and when. 
- And Gordon Cleveland discusses the ethics and economics of affordable child care for everybody as one social fact that's within our control to improve.

- Paul Barber writes that both Stephen Harper and Kathleen Wynne are playing with fire by spending the federal election campaign needlessly attacking leaders at other levels of government. That said, I'm pretty sure the NDP isn't complaining to the extent those attacks are aimed at Harper and Wynne themselves, building even more public fatigue with two dubious figures while allowing Tom Mulcair to stand out as the reasonable adult in the room.

- Dan Leger notes that a campaign built on leadership is turning into a disaster for an increasingly-distrusted Harper. And Warren Bell highlights the effect of the Duffy Senate payoff on a Con base which has less and less reason to care about keeping a discredited leader in power.

- Scott Reid comments on the foolishness of deliberately lying to the public as the Harper PMO did in covering up the Duffy payoff - even as a matter of strategy if not of ethics. But Michael Harris writes that the Cons' standard practice is to replace one debunked lie with another. The Star is stunned by the surreal spin from the Cons. Aaron Wherry points out that the Senate scandal can be traced all the way back to the long-questioned entitlement of Duffy and others to be appointed from provinces where they didn't live. And finally, the Globe and Mail sees it as largely reflecting the increasing unaccountable power of the PMO which dates back past Harper's time in office.

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