- David Olive talks to Robert Reich about his work fighting inequality:
There are certain irrefutable facts besides water always running downhill. There is no arguing, for instance, that the U.S. era Reich describes as the “Great Prosperity” — the three-decade span between the late 1940s and the late 1970s — was characterized by high rates of taxation on the wealthy; heavy government investment in the people; and the peak level of unionization in America’s private-sector workforce.- Aditya Chakrabortty discusses the meaning of austerian economics designed to inflate bubbles for the rich at the expense of the poor. Genevieve Lajoie reports that Quebeckers are strongly opposed to the provincial austerity being protested by the province's workers. And Melissa Healy highlights new research showing that inequality on both the individual and the social level is linked to less charitable giving by the wealthy.
That was the era of high and rising household income in Canada and the U.S., and of heavy state investment in public education that yielded the world’s smartest workforces. It was the era of government investment in the Interstate and Trans-Canada highway systems that boosted economic productivity. It was the era in which more than one-third of private-sector workers belonged to a union.
And it was during that era that America’s burgeoning middle class made the U.S. a superpower, and raised Canada into the ranks of the world’s most affluent countries.
Especially in Canada, with a Medicare system more comprehensive even than Obamacare, rocket science is not required to restore a fairer distribution of our collective wealth. Raise taxes on the rich. Use the money to invest in people — their health, education and essential services. And stop thwarting the efforts of those workers who seek to organize their workplaces.
“It’s just common sense,” says Reich of simply taking the steps required to bring back the Golden Prosperity years. He leans forward, a look of weariness and mild frustration crossing his face. “Isn’t it?”
- Joshua Rapp Learn points out a few of the ways in which climate change is getting very personal for Atlantic Canada. And Naomi Klein discusses what's being lost in the French government's crackdown on any public activism around the Paris climate conference:
The people facing the worst impacts of climate change have virtually no voice in western debates about whether to do anything serious to prevent catastrophic global warming. Huge climate summits like the one coming up in Paris are rare exceptions. For just two weeks every few years, the voices of the people who are getting hit first and worst get a little bit of space to be heard at the place where fateful decisions are made. That’s why Pacific islanders and Inuit hunters and low-income people of colour from places like New Orleans travel for thousands of miles to attend. The expense is enormous, in both dollars and carbon, but being at the summit is a precious chance to speak about climate change in moral terms and to put a human face to this unfolding catastrophe.- Meanwhile, Andrew Nikiforuk weighs in on the fragility of our sources of groundwater. And Mike De Souza reports on a stop-work order resulting from a toxic leak from a TransCanada pipeline.
The next thing to understand is that even in these rare moments, frontline voices do not have enough of a platform in the official climate meetings, in which the microphone is dominated by governments and large, well-funded green groups. The voices of ordinary people are primarily heard in grassroots gatherings parallel to the summit, as well as in marches and protests, which in turn attract media coverage. Now the French government has decided to take away the loudest of these megaphones...
When governments and corporations knowingly fail to act to prevent catastrophic warming, that is an act of violence. It is a violence so large, so global and inflicted against so many temporalities simultaneously (ancient cultures, present lives, future potential) that there is not yet a word capable of containing its monstrousness. And using acts of violence to silence the voices of those who are most vulnerable to climate violence is yet more violence.
In explaining why forthcoming football matches would go on as scheduled, France’s secretary of state for sport said: “Life must go on.” Indeed it must. That’s why I joined the climate justice movement. Because when governments and corporations fail to act in a way that reflects the value of all of life on Earth, they must be protested.
- Finally, Geoffrey Rafe Hall is the latest to comment on the NDP's campaign and what comes next.