Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Nina Shapiro comments on the price of privatizing public goods. And George Monbiot weighs in on how the Grenfell Tower fire confirms that what corporatist politicians deride as "red tape" is in fact vital protection for people:
For years successive governments have built what they call a bonfire of regulations. They have argued that “red tape” impedes our freedom and damages productivity. Britain, they have assured us, would be a better place with fewer forms to fill in, fewer inspections and less enforcement.

But what they call red tape often consists of essential public protections that defend our lives, our futures and the rest of the living world. The freedom they celebrate is highly selective: in many cases it means the freedom of the rich to exploit the poor, of corporations to exploit their workers, landlords to exploit their tenants and industry of all kinds to use the planet as its dustbin. As RH Tawney remarked, “Freedom for the pike is death for the minnows.”
Crucial public protections have long been derided in the billionaire press as “elf ’n’ safety gone mad”. It’s not hard to see how ruthless businesses can cut costs by cutting corners, and how this gives them an advantage over their more scrupulous competitors.

The “pollution paradox” (those corporations whose practices are most offensive to voters have to spend the most money on politics, with the result that their demands come to dominate political life) ensures that our protections are progressively dismantled by governments courting big donors.

Conservative MPs see Brexit as an excellent opportunity to strip back regulations. The speed with which the “great repeal bill” will have to pass through parliament (assuming that any of Theresa May’s programme can now be implemented) provides unprecedented scope to destroy the protections guaranteed by European regulations. The bill will rely heavily on statutory instruments, which permit far less parliamentary scrutiny than primary legislation. Unnoticed and undebated, crucial elements of public health and safety, workers’ rights and environmental protection could be made to disappear.

Too many times we have seen what the bonfire of regulations, which might sound like common sense when issuing from the mouths of ministers, looks like in the real world. The public protections that governments describe as red tape are what make the difference between a good society and barbarism. It is time to bring the disastrous deregulatory agenda to an end, and put public safety and other basic decencies ahead of corner-cutting and greed.
- Jane Philpott rightly points out how double-billing is contrary to the spirit of the Canada Health Act and the goal of an effective universal health care system - though it's worrisome that her response to the growth of the practice is merely to express concern, rather than taking real steps as the minister with authority to actually implement a policy response. And The Sunday Edition discusses how overtreatment and overdiagnosis create both dangers for patients, and added costs for our health care system.

- Gary Younge writes that Jeremy Corbyn has fundamentally changed the rules of UK politics by mobilizing voters who had previously been ignored. Naomi Klein discusses the importance of offering the public a substantial vision worth voting for. Rick Salutin looks at the parallels between Corbyn and Bernie Sanders in winning over younger voters with unabashed left-wing policy, while Matt Taibbi hopes that corporate-focused centrists will no longer be taken seriously when they claim they're the best progressive voters can hope for. And Sam Kriss takes Corbyn's success as an opportunity to recognize that socialist policies are in fact broadly popular.

- Finally, Brett Murphy explores how the trucking industry is set up to exploit drivers. And Graeme Wood reports on a push to ensure that contracting-out arrangements don't serve as a means to evade paying fair wages at Vancouver's airport.

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