Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- In the wake of a thoroughly disappointing budget day at both the provincial and federal levels, it's worth taking note of Ivan Sigal's view on the importance of building trust - rather than limiting citizens to either fake news or fake policies:
How do we begin to tackle the larger challenges, those beyond simple technological fixes or self-blame? There are no easy solutions for the economic and social inequities that create divisions, and the technological and economic incentives that underpin our current information ecosystem are deeply entrenched. Yet we need to find a way to start serious conversations about these systemic challenges, rather than tinkering with their effects or simply assigning responsibility to the newest players on the field.
Confronting our social and economic inequities is even harder. It is the challenge of our time to find the language to conduct honest and frank debate about how we construct our economies and our states, how we apportion benefits, and which values guide us. Building civic communities that are rooted in trust, both online and off, is the ongoing and vital work necessary for public conversations about our collective future.

It is no small irony that the communications systems that we built to support such debate are imperilled, both by those who would explode the social norms of civic discourse for their ideological ends, and through resultant attempts to control extreme or misleading expression. It is easy to find fault with the technologies that facilitate our collective civic life. It is much more difficult to look at our civic life as a whole and determine whether and how it may be failing.
- Meanwhile, Tom Parkin pointed out what a genuinely progressive federal budget could have included. Andrew Jackson laments the Libs' choice to go with a stand-pat budget instead. David Macdonald highlights the lack of action to rein in inequality, while Don Pittis points out that there never seems to be a point where Justin Trudeau is willing to follow through on the promise of requiring the wealthy to contribute their fair share. And Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood notes that the Libs are at best taking baby steps in addressing climate change when major strides are needed, while Citizens for Public Justice extends that analysis to poverty as well.

- As for the Saskatchewan budget, Tammy Robert rightly describes it as a bloodbath (even if I disagree with some of her specific takes, particularly as to the need for additional revenue). Murray Mandryk discusses the gross disparity between corporations who will contribute less, and citizens who will face both increased taxes and the slashing of many important services. And Sarath Peiris notes that Brad Wall is inflicting far more pain than necessary because he waited far too long to try to get Saskatchewan's finances under control.

- Alex Hemingway and Iglika Ivanova trace the B.C. Libs' history of tax giveaways to the rich. And Hemingway then points out that their latest budget does nothing but continuing the trend of putting corporations first.

- Among the glaring social issues which have been essential ignored in the latest set of budgets, Daniel Tencer notes that Canada has one of the highest rates of "severe" rental costs in the world. Greg Marchildon and Raisa Deber discuss the need for a more comprehensive system of health promotion and care. And David Jala reports on the broader social problems flowing from poverty.

- Finally, Katie Hyslop highlights how post-secondary students are affected by the spread of increasingly precarious work. And Avvy Go and Chris Buckley write about the importance of strong and effectively-enforced employment laws to reduce racial discrimination in the workplace.

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