Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Crawford Kilian reviews Tom Mulcair's Strength of Conviction and describes what we can expect out of an NDP federal government as a result:
He seems likely to be a very pro-family PM, if only because his own family clearly shaped him that way. (His account of courting and marrying Catherine Pinhas is a lovely, funny slice of social history.) So expect affordable daycare to be in his first budget; but if once-housebound mums then flood into the job market, he may find unemployment rates even higher than they are now.

Also expect some help for student debt, and fresh money for post-secondary education -- issues that make Mulcair genuinely angry. An attempt at a true reconciliation with the First Nations seems certain, and we can expect a restoration of Elections Canada and a move to some kind of proportional representation for the next election.
- Meanwhile, Priya Sarin reminds us that plenty of people will lose the chance to have their votes taken into account due to the Cons' voter suppression laws.

- Murray Dobbin writes that Canadians are already getting gouged when it comes to prescription drug costs, while noting that the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements only figure to make matters worse. And Jordan Pearson examines some of the many areas where the copyright provisions of the TPP would force Canada to rewrite its laws to serve foreign corporations rather than the public, while the Star expresses its (perhaps premature) relief that nothing is expected to be finalized before Canadians get some say at the polls.

- The Ontario Federal of Labour sets out five simple reasons to support a $15 federal minimum wage, while the Canadian Union of Postal Workers offers its backing as well. And the Workers' Action Centre confirms that the issue is one that should be dealt with federally to get the ball rolling on increases for workers under provincial jurisdiction as well.

- Finally, Paula Simons comments on the destructiveness of locking up poor people simply because they're poor. Cynthia Hess argues that we should measure our progress by how well we combat inequality and otherwise improve people's lives, not by how many new gadgets we can produce. And Jennifer Szalai discusses the roots and effects of austerity:
Austerity is often promoted as not only economically but morally necessary too — Greece, according to this argument, needs to be taught a very painful lesson, or else it’s going to continue to do silly things with other people’s money. Blyth told me that austerity policies, whatever we want to call them, turn an economic situation into ‘‘a morality tale of saints and sinners,’’ leading to punishment rather than problem-solving. Besides, he says, this morality tale gets it backward. Austerity programs have historically been enacted in reaction to a banking crisis: A government goes into debt in order to rescue the banks, and so private debt is transferred onto the public balance sheet. Public spending is slashed as a result.

Given that the poor benefit more from the kind of government spending that is cut, Blyth writes in his book, austerity ‘‘relies on the poor paying for the mistakes of the rich.’’ Greece’s people are becoming poorer: Last year, Unicef calculated that more than 40 percent of Greek children were living in poverty, a doubling from four years earlier. The conversations about Greece sound depressingly familiar, mimicking the ones we have here about the poor, the rich and who ‘‘deserves’’ what. The setting might change, but the moral stays the same: Those with less are expected to be the ones to do without.

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