Friday, September 01, 2017

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Alex Himelfarb writes about the need to expand our idea of what's possible through collective action:
Is Trump the product of over forty years of attacks on the very idea of government, of decades in which government seemed to back away from our lives, when the best it could offer was the promise to get out of the way, making itself smaller through endless tax cuts and less able to protect us through deregulation and privatization, when it increasingly tied its hands through so-called trade deals which did more to protect investors than promote trade, when the benefits of (slower) growth fell primarily to the already very wealthy? Is this why one might elect someone so clearly incapable of governing – because it doesn’t matter? Because too many believe government can’t do much for them anyways? Is this why so many will opt for someone who distracts and entertains or expresses their anger or allows them to vent their hate and scapegoat others? Part circus. Part tribalism.

If there’s truth in all of this, then pointing out the lies and incompetence and general unfitness, however important, is indeed not enough. What’s needed is also to expand the political imagination, to restore a belief that important, in fact essential, things can only be achieved together – but in fact can be achieved. What’s needed is not just an alternative to Trump but an alternative to the status quo, to the view that people are pretty much on their own and government is largely overhead. This means a restoration of a sense of the collective, the common good, an agenda to tackle together what people could never achieve on their own: reversing growing inequality, precarity, climate change and our deteriorating environment, building inclusive community and renewing democracy in the political process and in the workplace.

It’s not good enough to defend government or the path we’re on. It’s time to promise to transform government, to restore the sense that it can be an instrument for progress towards the common good.
- Meanwhile, Russell Cobb discusses Oklahoma's example of the failure of a state which is falling below basic thresholds of civilization through austerity and fossil fuel reliance.

- Brad Reed notes that the chemical manufacturer whose Texas facilities are exploding managed to avoid safety standards by lobbying the Trump administration. And Jacob Remes weighs in on the unequal effects of disasters.

- Toby Sanger highlights the fact that Ontario's corporate employers can easily afford to pay fair wages - making their complaints about doing so all the more galling. Jared Bernstein offers a reminder that wages still aren't catching up in what's supposed to be a relatively strong U.S. job market. Sarah Marsh examines some of the difficulties facing workers in precarious jobs in the UK - including the threat of punishment for trying to seek care for a sick child. And Noah Smith points out that perpetually larger and more dominant companies tend to harm workers, consumers and economic growth all at once by focusing solely on their own wealth and clout.

- The Pembina Institute examines the importance of retrofitting existing buildings as part of our effort to fight climate change.

- Finally, Linda McQuaig laments Justin Trudeau's choice to silence Canada's longstanding voice for nuclear deescalation.

[Edit: fixed typo.]

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