Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Binyamin Appelbaum highlights the strong consensus view that Donald Trump's planned tax giveaways to the rich will do nothing for overall economic development. And John Buell points out that Trump's plan for privatized infrastructure - much like Justin Trudeau's - will serve only to enrich and empower corporations while undermining democratic decision-making:
Converting public things into private goods reinforces a trend toward corporate oligarchy. It also has consequences that move beyond economic inefficiency. And economic efficiency is unlikely to be an adequate defense of a robust infrastructure. Traditional fiscal conservatives appeal to metaphors of the home to attack government deficits.  Their stated concern is bankruptcy, but their real worry is the greater equality generous public things might foster and the coalitions across borders, ethnicities, and faiths it might encourage. There are good counterarguments, but the best approach touches the aesthetic and affective dimensions of our democratic experiment. Honig puts it eloquently: “The democratic experiment involves living cheek by jowl with others, sharing classrooms, roads, and buses, paying for them together, complaining about them together, and sometimes even praising and enjoying them together, as picnickers will do on a sunny afternoon in Central Park. But the neoliberal corrective absolves us of this necessity and responsibility. That Central Park—landscape architecture’s ode to the power of democratic beauty—is just a stone’s throw away from the barricaded Trump Tower is only one of the many sad ironies of the story to be told here.”

Public things and the democratic space they foster and are fostered by encourage both collective responses to common problems and an opportunity to address the injustices (remainders) that emerge from even the most egalitarian and idealistic processes. The physical state of our infrastructure reflects more than a conventional repudiation of purported governmental excess. It is an attack on democracy and must be resisted by appealing to and enhancing democracy itself.
- Meanwhile, Brent Patterson points out that there's ample demand for far stronger social supports, including over 91% of Canadians at least somewhat supportive of a national and universal pharmacare program.

- Elizabeth McSheffrey reports on the Auditor General's findings that the Harper Cons never bothered to produce any plan to meet their promised climate change targets, while James Wilt observes that the National Energy Board lost any public trust in serving as a rubber stamp for pipelines. And Molly Scott Cato writes that climate change is one area (of many) where Trudeau has betrayed the progressive voters who wanted meaningful change, rather than continued reliance on dirty industries. 

- Finally, the Star's editorial board calls for Ontario to take a leadership role in establishing and enforcing labour standards and wage requirements to protect people involved in new forms of work.

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