Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Aditya Chakrabortty describes the Grenfell Tower fire as nothing less than social murder of the UK's poor:
Austerity is at the heart of the Grenfell story. Think of the firefighters, who have seen stations closed and colleagues laid off by May, when she was home secretary. Consider the nurses treating the dying and the maimed, who will be on lower pay now than they were in 2009.

Most of all, remember this: the cuts made since 2010 were the poor picking up the tab for the venality of rich bankers. The two are jammed up next to each other in Kensington and Chelsea, one of the richest and most unequal patches of land in the world. Just minutes away from Grenfell, you can find a house for sale at £30m (albeit “in need of full modernisation”). The residents of the investment-starved Tower died last week did so partly because of the greed of their neighbours.

To judge by the nods and winks since the election, May’s government is preparing for the beginning of the end of austerity. I’ll believe it when I see teaching assistants getting a pay rise or benefits for the working-age poor going up. In any case, it will be too late to undo the damage already done. In their book, The Violence of Austerity, the academics Vickie Cooper and David Whyte collect the evidence. Together with their co-authors, they record how the disability assessment process in England is “associated” with an extra 590 suicides. How cuts to local government funding mean that Liverpool council no longer has a single dedicated health and safety officer. How austerity has meant more people dying sooner.

Spending cuts, deregulation, outsourcing: between them they have turned a state supposedly there to protect and support citizens into a machine to make money for the rich while punishing the poor. It’s never described like that, of course. Class warfare is passed off as book-keeping. Accountability is tossed aside for “commercial confidentiality”, while profiteering is dressed up as economic dynamism. One courtesy we should pay the victims of Grenfell is to drop the glossy-brochure euphemisms. Let’s get clear what happened to them: an act of social murder, straight out of Victorian times.
- Larry Elliott reports on the Resolution Foundation's research showing that higher property values are severely exacerbating inequality in the UK. And Kate Wilson examines the realities facing Vancouver's renter class - with even full-time professionals facing the threat of imminent homelessness as housing becomes less and less affordable.

- Which goes a long way toward explaining why large numbers of B.C. voters are now eager to see Christy Clark accept her expected defeat.

- Meanwhile, Alex Hemingway offers advance warning of the anti-social hysteria which is sure to accompany a new NDP government. And Simon Wren-Lewis discusses how austerity can't be justified in honest terms.

- Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood studies the fossil fuel dependency of Canada compared to its international peers, noting in particular that there's plenty of room for developed countries to reduce their dependency while maintaining a high standard of living.

- Finally, Duncan Cameron discusses how the Trudeau Libs' foreign policy is virtually indistinguishable from the Harper Cons'.


  1. "Finally, Duncan Cameron discusses how the Trudeau Libs' foreign policy is virtually indistinguishable from the Harper Cons'. "

    Hmmm are any of Trudeau's policies different from Harpers?

    1. Some, yes. (See e.g. Bill C-4 which reversed a few of the Cons' worst attacks on labour rights.)

      But nowhere near enough.