Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda Tirado writes that whatever the language used as an excuse for turning public benefits into private profits, we should know better than to consider it credible:
Given how much I had heard my whole life about British dignity, and the fact that there is a thing here called the House of Lords, I had assumed I would find something like comity and refinement among the people charged with running the place. Instead, I found Boris Johnson.

I began to feel at home immediately. Then I heard the term “skivers and strivers”. It felt familiar – in America we say “makers and takers”. If you listen, you can’t help but hear US-style campaigning creeping into the British political system. It’s not only the rhyming phrases meant to boil an incredibly nuanced issue down to a simple cops v robbers scenario. It’s the exact same arguments.
There is only so much variation you can put on one school of political thought, and both men are fairly mainstream-to-right with occasional forays into ideological counterproductivity. Both want to pare government spending to the bone, ostensibly to cut the debt and/or deficit depending on which we are very concerned with this week. In the end, you’ll wind up with some pretty sizeable tax cuts to the wealthy either way.

But can two countries with very different approaches to shared sacrifice and benefit have the same economic strategies? Given that a British citizen thinks it their right to see a doctor, and an American citizen may or may not think that the very idea is the reddest of Soviet plots, can privatising healthcare really solve the woes of both nations’ systems? It seems unlikely, given that the US still has an incredible number of people who are uninsured and the system is largely still run by private companies, that the solution will resemble what’s needed in the NHS.
- Jeremy Nuttall weighs in on the growth of food bank use in Canada. Miles Corak takes a look at income inequality, pointing out that a Working Income Tax Benefit which didn't wither away to nothing for the vast majority of workers would represent a good start in developing a more fair economic system. And Lars Osberg points out that there's plenty of room to increase how much high-end income goes to fund needed social benefits, while Carol Goar offers a few more suggestions as to how to pay for the Libs' campaign promises.

- CBC reports on the Canadian Institute for Health Information's latest study on the persistence - and in some case expansion - of health inequalities in Canada. And Canadian Doctors for Medicare calls for the federal government to step in and ensure that access to health care doesn't become a privilege reserved for the rich.

- Yves Engler writes that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is all about corporate control rather than free trade. And Michael Geist points out how the TPP is particularly flawed in its restrictions on digital policy.

- Barrie McKenna reports that the Libs are dropping at least one of the Cons' most gratuitous corporate giveaways by eliminating a mandatory P3 screen for infrastructure funding.

- Finally, the New York Times rightly argues that mass surveillance is neither necessary nor particularly helpful in trying to keep the public safe.

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