Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Simon Enoch challenges Scott Moe's misleading rhetoric on equalization by pointing out that Saskatchewan could easily afford child care and other programs which Moe criticizes other provinces for funding - if only the Saskatchewan Party hadn't blown the proceeds of a boom on tax slashing and vanity projects.

- Christian Weller examines the results of the U.S.' latest tests of supply-side dogma, and finds that it continues to fail miserably:
On June 7, the Federal Reserve released its latest data on corporate finances, providing the first look at what happened after the passage of the tax cuts.* The supply-side arguments do not hold up; corporations have gotten a lot more money, but that additional cash has not translated into increased domestic investments.
...
(I)nvestments took a back seat in the first quarter of 2018. Capital expenditures equaled 178.6 percent of after-tax profits in that period, meaning that companies borrowed money to invest. This was down from 191.2 percent at the end of 2007. If, in the first quarter of 2018, corporations had invested the same amount relative to after-tax profits as they did at the end of 2017, they would have had an additional $58 billion to spend on manufacturing plants, office buildings, and equipment such as computers, heavy machinery, and trucks.

Yet, rather than investing the money in this way, corporations used it to keep shareholders happy. In the first quarter of 2018, the share of after-tax profits that went to net equity issues—share repurchases above and beyond new share issuances—equaled 37.5 percent, up from 32.7 percent at the end of 2017. This acceleration indicates that corporations spent an additional $12 billion in the first quarter of 2018, for a total of $257 billion, in order to buy back their own stocks. Such a buyback raises the prices of a company’s shares and boosts the wealth of its shareholders.
...
Corporations continue to be awash in money; the 2017 tax cuts just made it a lot easier for them to get that money. Yet the cash is not benefiting the economy in the form of increased investments. It is therefore unlikely that the gains promised by supporters of supply-side economics will trickle down to workers.
- Meanwhile, Jason Joseph offers a theory that nominal economic strength is failing to boost wages in part because workers are afraid to leave their jobs for potentially higher-paying alternatives.

- Susan Lund examines the corporate debt bubble which has been inflating since the 2008 financial crisis. And John Quiggin discusses the false promises - and harmful realities - of the privatization of public services.

- Finally, Jesse Norman offers a reminder that the real Adam Smith - rather than the caricature so often presented by laissez-faire zealots - was fully aware of the need for markets to be genuinely trustworthy, rather than granted blind faith. And Aditya Chakrabortty writes about a course designed to connect the public with the basics of economic theory - and the inability of what's generally taken as a given among corporatist economists to stand up to the lived experience of citizens.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- Jay Shambaugh, Ryan Nunn, and Lauren Bauer discuss the need for U.S. law and policy to adapt to protect independent workers who have been excluded from normal employment rights:
Armed with up-to-date, accurate data, policymakers and regulators can work to keep regulations relevant and appropriate to the modern labor market. One particularly pressing policy issue is the classification of contingent workers: should participants in the “gig economy,” and alternative work arrangements more broadly be treated as employees or independent contractors? As these new data demonstrate, a sizable share of workers in the United States remain outside the traditional employment structure and consequently lack many of the protections and benefits that come with being a traditional employee. Economists Jackson, Looney, and Ramnath document many of these disadvantages, also finding that the Affordable Care Act played an important role in providing health insurance for many workers in alternative arrangements.
...
In their proposals, Harris and Krueger propose that independent workers have the right to collectively bargain as well as protection from various forms of employment discrimination. However, independent workers would not qualify for hours-based benefits like overtime or the minimum wage. Harris and Krueger argue this new classification would benefit both workers and businesses, reducing expensive litigation by clarifying the rights and obligations of each party.
...
(A)lternative work arrangements or gig-employment may conceal insufficient labor demand. These workers may be perfectly willing to take a full-time job and are only in these arrangements because they cannot find traditional employment. Only 44 percent of on-call workers and 39 percent of temporary help workers preferred their work arrangements to traditional employment. In this case, these workers may act in a similar manner to unemployed workers or those out of the labor force who would like a job. A large number of such workers might keep downward pressure on wages despite low levels of unemployment, suggesting policymakers need to consider this reserve of semi-employed when assessing the extent of slack in the labor market.
- Kenyon Wallace and Mary Ormsby report on the recommendations of a coroner's jury following the death of a homeless man in Toronto - with the need for housing and income supports figuring prominently. And Melanie Green discusses the widespread food insecurity facing Indigenous children in Canada.

- Rhys Kesselman answers critics of British Columbia's modest steps to bring its property tax system in line with other jurisdictions by noting that property-based wealth provides a fair and efficient source of revenue.

- Equiterre highlights the increasing number of pipeline safety incidents in Canada. And Norm Farrell points out the connection between poorly-documented methane emissions and a systematic failure to make sure that polluters pay for the damage they do to our planet.

- Finally, David Climenhaga exposes the shadowy financing network - featuring both well-known U.S. wealth and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation - which is behind a right-wing attack on gay-straight alliances and LGBTQ rights in Alberta.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Musical interlude

Ladytron - Tomorrow

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Harry Leslie Smith reiterates his determination to make sure that new generations don't face the poverty and deprivation that marked his childhood. And Beverly Gologorsky discusses the rise of extreme poverty in the U.S. and its lasting effects on its victims:
In the psyche, poverty begets fear, anxiety, tension, and worry, constant worry. In the soul, poverty, which feels like the loss of you know not what, is always there like a cold fist to remind you that tomorrow will be the same as today. Such effects are not outgrown like a child’s dress but linger for a lifetime in a country where the severest kinds of poverty are again on the rise (and was just scathingly denounced by the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights), where each tax bill, each favor to the 1 percent, passes a kind of life sentence on the poor. And that is the definition of hopelessness.

Americans who barely made it through the recent recession now find themselves in conditions (in supposed good times) that seem to be worsening. In poor neighborhoods and rural areas, even when people listen to the pundits of cable TV chatter on about economic inequality, the words bleed together, because without the means to make real change, the present is forever. At best, such discussions feel like a teardrop in an ocean of words. Among professionals, pundits, and academics barely hidden contempt for those defined as lower or working class often tinges such discussions.
...
During the past few decades, however, with huge sums being poured into this country’s never-ending wars, unions weakening or collapsing, wages being pushed down, and workers losing jobs, then homes, so much of that safety net is gone. If Donald Trump and his crew of millionaires and billionaires continue with their evisceration of the rest of the safety net, then food stamps, welfare aid directed at children’s health, and women’s reproductive rights, among other things, will disappear as well. Add to that the utter disregard the Trump administration has shown for people of color and its special mean-spiritedness toward immigrants, whether Mexican or Muslim—and for growing numbers of non-millionaires and non-billionaires the future is already starting to look like the worst, not the best, of times. 
- Janet McFarland writes that executive pay has been skyrocketing even as the public's concern about inequality has grown in recent years. And Prem Sikka discusses how just a decade after the most recent financial meltdown, regulators have resumed catering to corporate interests rather than protecting the public from them.

- Mike De Souza looks at the details of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain environmental violations, featuring internal calculation errors, faulty equipment and a failure to report to regulators. And Bill McKibben notes that the fossil fuel industry is being recognized as a particularly irresponsible actor even in the corporate world.

- Finally, Doug Saunders offers a reminder that contrary to the fearmongering by right-wing demagogues, there's no rational basis to treat the presence of immigrants of any type or background as a problem.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Andray Domise discusses both the U.S.' choice to be an intentionally safe destination for refugees, and Canada's complicity in validating that choice and other policies of dehumanization rather than speaking out against even such obvious abuses as the imprisonment of children. And the Canadian Labour Congress calls for Canada to live up to its responsibility to refugees by stopping the classification of the U.S. as a "safe third country".

- Alan Broadbent and Kevin Page write about the need to recognize and give effect to the right to housing as a step toward eliminating homelessness in Canada. And Geoff Dembicki reports on Gary McKenna's research showing the influence of developers in Vancouver as a prime example as to how the greed of the wealthy few has taken precedence over the needs of the many.

- Meanwhile, Catherine McIntyre exposes the continued presence of discriminatory ads for housing and other services on social media platforms.

- John Arlidge reviews Richard Brooks' Bean Counters as to the role of major accounting firms in consolidating corporate power.

- Finally, Andrew Jackson discusses the inevitable reality that Doug Ford's anti-social populism will only make matters worse for many of the voters who elected him.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Braced cats.





Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- David Ball offers a reminder that Canada's immigration system includes the needless detention of children - and that we should be working on ensuring families can stay together, rather than claiming any virtue in merely falling short of the scale being implemented by the Trump administration.

- Neil MacDonald writes that ruthlessness and dehumanization are exactly what Trump's voters wanted - and that they're sadly not at all out of line with the U.S. history. And Andre Picard discusses the long term health ramifications of the U.S.' policies of family separation and child incarceration. 

- Meanwhile, Sally Weale reports on a new survey showing the large number of children in the UK going without basic hygiene due to poverty.

- David Leonhardt charts the perpetually-increasing size and power of big business in the U.S. And Gordon Laxer argues that Canada shouldn't hesitate to say goodbye to NAFTA due to its similar effects at home.

- Finally, Mark Winfield points out that a typical right-wing prescription of less regulation and free money for the corporate sector will only exacerbate Ontario's problems:
Getting rid of cap-and-trade and reducing the provincial gas tax will not make the increasingly evident impacts of climate change go away.

If Ford attempts to make cuts to hydro rates without first addressing the underlying drivers of increasing electricity costs, Ontarians might see even higher costs in the future. Key among the underlying drivers of those cost increases are the life-extensions and refurbishments for the province’s aging nuclear power plants they Wynne government committed to.
...
A simple economic strategy focused on tax cuts and deregulation will be hopelessly inadequate to deal with the regional impacts of the transition from manufacturing to service and knowledge-based economic activities, to say nothing of the challenges presented by the Trump administration’s US actions in agriculture, steel and auto manufacturing.
...
(R)esponding to these various dynamics will require a more sophisticated economic strategy than tax cuts and further deregulation, that in a province that had already declared itself “open for business” under the Liberal government. Indeed, the approach outlined in the PC platform runs a very real risk of undermining the basis of the province’s economic success.

The losses in provincial revenues from tax cuts will undermine the quality of services and infrastructure the province is able to offer. Deregulation around the environment carries risks that would undermine the quality of life the province offers its residents, to say nothing of threats it would pose to their health and safety.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Matt Bruening comments on the National Low Income Housing Coalition's research showing that minimum-wage workers are unable to afford basic housing across the U.S.

- Sarah Butler reports on the UK's latest parliamentary study of precarious work. Jordan Press reports on the state of child poverty in Canada - with Bill Morneau's riding including one of the highest concentrations of children living in poverty in the country. And Larry Elliott discusses how the new default expectation of insecurity has fed into the rise of demagogues willing to offer someone to blame in lieu of any solutions.

- PressProgress exposes the big money and Liberal connections behind an astroturf group trying to undermine electoral reform in British Columbia.

- Finally, Tom Parkin points out that supposed fiscal conservatives are happily burning billions of public dollars in order to ensure that polluters don't pay for their contribution to climate change. And Mia Rabson reminds us that Canada is already subsidizing the fossil fuel industry to the tune of billions more poorly-tracked dollars every year.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Claire Connelly calls out the perennial right-wing spin that there's always money available for corporations or the security state, but that anything which would actually help people is invariably unaffordable. And Jim Pugh discusses how Republicans are looking to punish and impoverish the working class by putting up unreasonable barriers to social benefits:
While setting more unemployed Americans on a path to employment and economic self-sufficiency is a positive goal, the threat of withholding food is a highly ineffective way to encourage workforce participation. Some of the most common barriers to employment are insufficient education or skills, mental health issues, hiring biases and a lack of job opportunities. Fear of not having enough to eat does nothing to overcome those obstacles.

When people are hungry, they're frequently unable to focus, which makes it harder for them to get a job, not easier. Instead of boosting employment, this proposal would act as a barrier rather than an incentive.

The actual impact of this policy change would be to punish hungry Americans. In many regions of the country, people are struggling to find full-time work, but can't. While the overall unemployment rate sits at a low 3.8 percent, the rate of involuntary underemployment is more than twice that, and exceeds 10 percent in many states and counties. This proposal would leave those who are unable to find a job with neither income nor food assistance.

Instead of adding poorly-designed restrictions to SNAP, we should be pursuing evidence-based policy changes to increase the effectiveness of our social programs. As someone who works on universal basic income policy, I've spent years studying the effects of unconditional benefits, i.e. what happens when you offer people support without any requirements on their behavior. Every analysis has arrived at the same conclusion: When you give people benefits without strings attached, they use them for productive purposes. The vast majority of people want to do well in life, and they’ll make the most of any support they receive.
- Michael Rozworski's letter to the editor neatly summarizes the folly of reversing long-overdue increases to Ontario's minimum wage. And Kate Davidson comments on the importance of paying a fair minimum wage to service workers, rather than pointing to the illusory promise of tips as an excuse to grind people into poverty.

- Arian Taher discusses the radical difference between Adam Smith's humane ideal of capitalism, and the corporatist version which artificially concentrates wealth and power.

- Finally, James Wilt highlights how Doug Ford's false majority offers a compelling example in favour of British Columbia's electoral reform vote.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The OECD examines the generational implications of inequality and poverty - with the descendants of poor children in some countries requiring up to nine generations to project to reach an average income.

- Dean Baker writes that the Trump administration is only seeking to further entrench class disparities by locking in exclusionary rights through international trade agreements. And Michael Geist discusses how a few corporate actors have taken over Canada's copyright consultations.

- Meanwhile, Howard Davies notes that a new IMF database shows global debt at at all-time high even after the supposed attempt to rein in unsustainable borrowing after the 2008 economic crisis.

- David Ball reports on Kinder Morgan's disregard for environmental rules in building its Trans Mountain terminal. Needless to say, nobody is expected to face any consequences as a result of that lawlessness - in contrast to David Dodge's willingness to see activists killed in the name of pipeline expansion.

- Finally, D.C. Fraser reports on the Saskatchewan Party's decision to tear down the Justice for Our Stolen Children in the name of expunging any recognition of the abuse of Indigenous peoples from Regina's Canada Day events.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Musical interlude

The Watchmen - Do It

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Ed Finn reminds us that ending child poverty makes good economic sense in addition to being a moral necessity:
The same huge financial benefit would be reaped in Canada from an equivalent investment in curbing poverty here. Based on the variance in populations and socioeconomic issues, it’s clear that, if it would save more than a trillion dollars in the U.S., it would save as much as $100 billion annually in Canadian dollars.

Unfortunately, given the deeply entrenched neoliberalism rampant in both the United States and Canada, it’s highly unlikely that Rank’s strong anti-poverty case will fare any better with politicians on either side of the border than did similar previous studies.

The prospect of saving billions in the future by spending more to alleviate child poverty today doesn’t appeal to conservative corporate CEOs or their political minions. They are fixated on maximizing profits in the next quarter, not in 10 or 20 years from now.

The same avarice-fueled capitalist myopia that keeps them plundering non-renewable resources, polluting the environment, and propagating inequality also compels them to keep on keeping children poor. The less spent on helping the poor, the higher their profits. It’s that blatant.

Blinded by greed, committed to turning their millions to billions, their billions to trillions, these modern-day robber barons remain indifferent to the poverty, misery, deprivation and distress they inflict on billions of other people.

Tragically, their most traumatized victims are the young, the helpless, and the innocent – those most in need of adult love and care.
- Robert Frank notes that even billionaires are recognizing the grossly distorted distribution of income and wealth - and the social harms which result. And Jennifer Ditchburn discusses the need for genuine policy to deal with the future of work, rather than distractions from the reality that financial security is out of reach for far too many people. 

- Ben Zipperer points out how the U.S.' minimum wage has eroded to the point where it serves as a guarantee of poverty.

- The Independent reports on polling showing a strong majority of Britons looking to bring railways back under public ownership.

- Finally, Seth Klein and Vyas Saran counter any attempts to muddy the waters in British Columbia's electoral reform referendum by pointing out how simple and fair a proportional system can be.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jonathan Amos and Victoria Gill report on Antarctica's alarming rate of melting - with three trillion tons of ice lost in the past 25 years. Peter Erickson reminds us that the avoidable greenhouse gas emissions from subsidized oil sands development will only make matters worse for the world as a whole. And Crawford Kilian previews what we can expect when the carbon bubble bursts:
Some models assume we will work hard to keep global warming to a two-degree rise or less by moving to renewable energy and cutting back on fossil fuels; others assume we won’t, and will keep burning oil and gas despite rising temperatures.
All the models end up with a “sellout” by 2035 or earlier, in which oil-producing nations put on history’s greatest bargain sale, dropping oil prices as low as possible just to get it out of the ground before demand falls to zero. After all, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau observed not long ago, “No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave them there.” Least of all when all those barrels would soon be “stranded” in the ground and $1 trillion to $4 trillion vanishes from the global economy.

Once the sellout was truly under way, what would happen?
...
(O)ur domestic woes will be like those of many other rich countries, only worse. Migrants and refugees will still find Canada a better option than staying home. Wars, revolutions and climate-driven disasters will make demands on us we won’t feel able to respond to. Poverty at home will trigger new problems in public health, just as it has in Venezuela.

Mercure’s forecast is unlikely to be the first; governments and fossil fuel corporations alike have probably commissioned reports with similar conclusions. With such politically ugly implications, it’s understandable that such reports have not been publicized, let alone acted upon.

But a wise government would break the news to its people, commission still more studies, and commit to acting on them: cutting losses in fossil fuels, subsidizing renewable energy companies, and promoting research in the field that might give Canada a chance to catch up with other transitioning countries.

And if we ignore Mercure’s warning, we will learn our lesson anyway, with a tuition fee of up to $4 trillion.
- Keith Reynolds studies the billions of dollars British Columbia is paying to the corporate sector due to its use of P3s rather than public ownership.

- The Guardian rightly argues that rather than limiting itself to empty words, the UK should be responding to the Grenfell Tower disaster by ensuring safe housing for everybody. And Laura Paddison examines the glaring lack of affordable housing for U.S. renters.

- Finally, Karl Nerenberg writes about Doug Ford's first-past-the-post-dependent election win. And Martin Lukacs discusses the urgent need for a strong grassroots movement to counter Ford's top-down destruction.

New column day

Here, on how NAFTA has proven wholly ineffective in deterring a destructive U.S. president from starting a gratuitous trade war - and how Canada should respond in charting a new economic course.

For further reading...
- Andrew Jackson has previously discussed the effects of NAFTA to date, as well as Canada's prospects in its absence. And the Council of Canadians' factsheet on how NAFTA has affected workers is worth a look.
- The Office of the United States Trade Representative offers up some numbers as to how much more tightly we're tied to the U.S. under NAFTA.
- Among the latest developments in the burgeoning Trump trade war, Mike Blanchfield and Andy Blatchford reported on the fallout from last weekend's G7 meeting, while Katie Simpson reported on Canada's anticipated response to another round of U.S. tariffs.
- Duncan Cameron points out the importance of building multilateral economic structures rather than relying unduly on the U.S.
- Finally, George Monbiot argues that Donald Trump is right about one aspect of trade agreements: rather than seeking to bind future governments, we should recognize the value of sunset clauses which allow for the public to once again have a say in our economic development.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Shaun Richman reviews David Graeber's Bullshit Jobs - including the inevitable inference that there needs to be some means for people to be supported without having to seek out useless work:
Much of the “bullshitization” of white-collar work is purely accidental, but Graeber argues that capitalists couldn’t have designed a more effective pecking order of oppression if they’d tried. At the bottom, you have millions of workers striving to work longer hours and fighting for a couple more dollars an hour that might lift them out of literal poverty. In between the desperate lumpen and the de facto rulers of the world is a massive segment of the workforce who secretly suspect that maintaining a decent standard of living doesn’t correlate with useful or productive work (or, indeed, any work at all!). But challenging the system could imperil their relative comfort.

They are more likely to resent people whose jobs are easily explainable to their family and neighbors—but who nevertheless demand better wages and working conditions—than to make common cause with them.

Graeber points to autoworkers and teachers as workers who achieve a tangible degree of satisfaction from their work and who are frequent targets of the public’s ire for expecting that and decent wages. I think more of all those amateur chefs on Chopped, hoping to win a $10,000 purse in order to buy a food truck. How many thousands of people are living an essentially monastic lifestyle because they want to make a living feeding people? In a world filled with well-paying but meaningless work, or poorly-paid drudgery that a robot could (and may soon) do, is it any wonder that so many people yearn for a meaningful life spent cooking for people and watching them enjoy the literal fruits of their labor?

What I particularly love about Graeber’s book is how it cutes to the revival of the kind of labor lit that flourished in the 1970s. The last 40 years of globalization, automation, and the gutting of our labor laws has narrowed the focus of too many labor writers to questions of how workers can get enough hours at a high-enough minimum wage and with decent enough benefits to reverse an inexorable slide into poverty.
...
Being an anarchist, Graeber is loath to suggest specific policy solutions. Still, he can’t help but talk about the policy that is most frequently advocated by the nerds who talk about the post-scarcity society: the universal basic income. Obviously, he sees value in decoupling the deservedness of food, shelter, and clothing from how one spends the majority of her waking hours. There simply isn’t enough useful work to go around for each of us to trade an hour for a loaf of bread.
The alternative progressive policy proposal—a federal commitment to full employment—is touted as more pragmatic and winnable. It’s a reasonable appeal to the god, mom, and apple-pie Calvinist work ethic. And, after all, there are a lot of roads and bridges that need to be rebuilt, a lot of child and elder care that should be compensated as the very real work it is, and well, who wouldn’t love to see a lot of WPA-style public artwork going up around the world? But, Bullshit Jobs should serve as a warning that a continued fidelity to the notion that one must work for one’s supper would likely condemn many of us to box-checking and duct-taping, as the machines take over and make most of us redundant.  
- Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin make the case for a combination of a basic income to ensure people's security, and a focus on environmental repair rather than consumerism to ensure a sustainable society. And Nathaniel Lewis points out that social welfare benefits do far more to reduce poverty than raw job numbers.

- Ed Broadbent argues that if Justin Trudeau wants to claim to be a progressive leader, he needs to start working on helping out the poor. And the BBC reports on a new survey showing growing public recognition that poor health is the result of an unjust society.

- Branko Marcetic comments on the massive amounts of wage theft by U.S. employers. And Dave Jamieson discusses the success of the Culinary Workers Union in achieving improved wages and working conditions in the face of state laws intended to undermine organized labour.

- Finally, Bob Hennelly suggests that student debt forgiveness would actually offer the economic boost which was supposed to represent the rationale for corporate tax cuts. And Albert Van Santvoort points out that contrary to the bloviations of business mouthpieces looking for any excuse to hand more money to corporations, the U.S.' tax slashing hasn't produced any discernible effect on corporate investment in Canada.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Boxed-in cats.



Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Andrew O'Hehir talks to Yanis Varoufakis about the impossibility of building shared prosperity on a foundation of consumer debt and financialization. And the Institute for Public Policy Research offers a discussion paper on the important equalizing role of organized labour - and the need for government to ensure that unions can serve the public interest.

- Meanwhile, Patrick Butler reports on the woeful state of adult social care in the wake of brutal cuts and an ideological insistence on the survival of only the fittest and luckiest.

- Elisabetta Bianchini reports on some of the Ontario voters lamenting the first-past-the-post system which has allowed Doug Ford to take an effectively unaccountable majority government over the objection of most of the province. And Mitch Potter muses that the result might open the door to electoral reform elsewhere.

- The Star discusses the need for Canada to start learning from - and reversing - its failures in respecting Indigenous people. And Emma Paling reports that some of the chiefs regularly used as props in support of the Trans Mountain expansion were coerced into signing on, rather than having any meaningful choice in the matter.

- Finally, Marc Lee points out that British Columbians paying more than ever for gas should trace the problem to oil-sector profit-taking, not modest steps to rein in greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Julian Baggini discusses the importance of talking about taxes as a force for the common good - particularly as a response to (and inoculation against) inane "tax freedom" rhetoric:
(W)e need to counter the subtle ways in which we are complicit in the taxophobics’ game. Think about how every newspaper and news outlet reports the budget. The bottom line is always presented in terms of whether tax changes leave specific types of people better or worse off, usually by mere pennies per week. The most important test of a budget should not be how taxes hit individuals’ pockets, but whether overall government is sustainably improving the state of the nation. Taxing less than we need to is as bad as taxing more than is necessary.

These changes in how we think and talk might strike you as modest and uncontroversial. Proof that they are anything but is that a campaign to start celebrating social solidarity day would today be laughed off as some kind of politically correct joke. Unless and until we make it normal to see taxation primarily as a valuable contribution to our own and the common good, the narrative that government is the enemy and tax is theft will continue to prevail.
- And Thomas Torslov, Ludvig Weir and Gabriel Zucman study the massive amounts of tax revenue being siphoned into tax havens to enrich shareholders at the expense of any contribution to the public interest.

- Toby Helm writes about the latest research demonstrating a connection between rising inequality and decreasing union membership. And Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett comment on how inequality leads to stress and anxiety. 

- Finally, Tom Parkin writes about Ontario's rejection of one form of cynical politics - though it's worth noting that both the Wynne Libs and Ford PCs managed to achieve their end-of-campaign goals which put political interests ahead of the public.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- J.W. Mason reviews Quinn Slobodian's Globalists with a reminder that the decades-long push to subjugate popular democracy to corporate interests is nothing new - and that we know well the consequences:
In the early twentieth century, there were many people who saw popular sovereignty as a problem to be solved. In a world where dynastic rule had been swept offstage, formal democracy might be unavoidable; and elections served an important role in channeling the demands that might otherwise be expressed through “the right to the street.” But the idea that the people, acting through their political representatives, were the highest authority and entitled to rewrite law, property rights, and contracts in the public interest—this was unacceptable. One way or another, government by the people had to be reined in.

Mises’ writings from a century ago often sound as if they belong in speeches by modern European conservatives such as German Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble. The welfare state is unaffordable, Mises says; workers’ excessive wage demands have rendered them unemployable, governments’ uncontrolled spending will be punished by financial markets, and “English and German workers may have to descend to the lowly standard of life of the Hindus and the coolies to compete with them.”

Quinn Slobodian argues that the similarities between Mises then and Schäuble today are not a coincidence. They are products of a coherent body of thought: neoliberalism, or the Geneva school. His book, Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism, is a history of the “genealogy of thought that linked the neoliberal world economic imaginary from the 1920s to the 1990s.”

The book puts to rest the idea that “neoliberal” lacks a clear referent. As Slobodian meticulously documents, the term has been used since the 1920s by a distinct group of thinkers and policymakers who are unified both by a shared political vision and a web of personal and professional links.
...
Property and its privileges are only safe in a world where the rule of money is accepted as objective, inevitable, and outside the scope of collective decision-making. The problem is that the concrete demands of statecraft often require governments to control economic outcomes, depriving them their aura of objective fact. When enemy forces are massed on the border or unemployed workers are rioting in the streets, no government that wants to remain in power can accept economic outcomes as facts beyond their control, like the weather.
But once the Pandora’s box of conscious management of the economy is opened, governments can use the power they now know they possess for all kinds of other ends. In a democratic state, a planning apparatus developed to mobilize in war or cope with economic crises may easily be redirected to serve a broader agenda.
- Doug Henwood writes that low wages and personal insecurity are a reality for U.S. workers even where more jobs than assumed are actually expected to last for a substantial period of time. And Brian Prowse-Gany and Joyzel Acevedo talk to Nick Hanauer about the false and manipulative claim that improved wages do anything to harm the availability of work.

- Charles Pierce highlights Scott Pruitt's selloff of public health in the U.S.

- Atif Shatique connects the recent critique of the "marshmallow test" with the destructive spread of conditional social benefits.

- Emma Teitel writes that our willingness to show concern about mental health in the weak of a celebrity suicide means little if we're not prepared to deal with both environmental causes and individual illnesses before tragedy strikes. And CBC reports on the latest report of the Provincial Auditor documenting the severe lack of mental health care in northern Saskatchewan.

- Finaly, Lana Payne discusses Doug Ford's election as the product of base emotion and an distorted electoral system.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Trish Hennessy examines the aftermath of Ontario's provincial election, while Andrew Mitrovica traces the spread of Trumpian antisocial populism. And Doug Nesbitt offers some lessons for workers based on the province's previous PC government.

- David Roberts takes a look at our economic assumptions behind climate change policy, and notes that they're thoroughly distorted toward a lack of action.

- Linda McQuaig criticizes the Trudeau Libs for prioritizing the oil industry's profits ahead of the national interest. And Mitchell Anderson notes that the Canadian public is now one of the few actors foolish enough to spending large amounts of money trying to continue inflating a clearly-bursting oil bubble.

- Pam Palmater reminds us that Indigenous rights aren't subject to popular whims - even if public opinion still includes far too much baked-in racism. And Murray Mandryk comments on the Justice for our Stolen Children camp which is being evicted by the Saskatchewan Party in the name of  Canada Day festivities.

- Finally, Gary Mason is duly incredulous at the whining of multimillionaire Vancouver homeowners at the prospect of paying something closer to their fair share of the cost of a functioning community.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Musical interlude

The Veronicas - Cruel

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Frances Ryan highlights the disgrace of social programs designed to strip away basic supports when they're needed most:
Poverty has long been put down to mythical causes, be it a quirk of society – as if inequality is built into the earth – or an individual’s failings (why don’t they breed less? Work harder? Buy fewer cigarettes?). The JRF study is unflinching at skewering this. The reasons for destitution are complex, but the researchers point firmly to the role of “welfare” cuts that have dominated the political landscape since the global financial crash. Social security policies can, in many cases, directly lead to destitution “by design”, the report says, leaving people “without support when they most need it”. Two in five destitute people reported problems with the benefit system, with a quarter of all interviewees citing losing their disability benefits as a key trigger of their destitution.
...
The report documents people’s desperate solutions – piecemeal kindness and exploitation to fill in the gaps of a less secure safety net: chip shops giving free fish and chips; a local vicar helping to pay for groceries; taking a risk on a loan shark.

Some people, most achingly, had been without food off and on for so long they were almost resigned to it. This level of deprivation isn’t only about going without a meal or electricity. It’s a psychological assault: depression, severe stress and anxiety were commonly reported, with a few interviewees saying that they had even felt suicidal.

There’s a risk that, with news of surging food bank use and children going without beds or clothes, this type of extreme poverty is becoming normalised. That it is somehow a natural part of any country or that, even if it isn’t, the problem is now so big, so overwhelming, that we can’t do anything to stop it. Of course, this isn’t true. For proof, look at the fact that the researchers found destitution has actually decreased in the past two years – an improvement put down in large part to the less stringent use of benefit sanctions (as well as improvement to the job market and reductions in migration). Further commonsense changes would go a long way towards pulling more people out of hardship, from embedding local welfare funds for families to seek out in times of financial emergency, and addressing debt recovery processes, to adapting universal credit so that the benefit system is no longer characterised by delays, sanctions and freezes.

Above all, there needs to be a culture change that says everyone in this country deserves, at the very least, food in their stomach and a roof over their head – whether that’s a disabled person, a banker, an immigrant or a politician. Destitution should have gone out with the slums and workhouses.
- The Economist takes note of an increasing gap in childhood obesity as one more indication of growing inequality in the UK. And Michael Wolfson comments on the need to define a standard measure of poverty in order to better measure Canada's efforts to combat it.

- Crawford Kilian reviews Jeffrey Pfeffer's Dying for a Paycheck, but notes that any effective response to the toxic effects of work needs to involve collective action by workers. And Ed Finn's review of Joyce Nelson's Bypassing Dystopia hints at a wide range of steps needed to take back power from the corporate sector.

- Finally, Murray Mandryk rightly questions the Saskatchewan Party's decision to put the future of Wascana Park at the mercy of businesses who want to capture one of Regina's most important public spaces.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

New column day

Here, on the parallels between the presidency of Donald Trump and the danger of a Doug Ford-led government in Ontario.

For further reading...
- Hugh Mackenzie has done the math on the PCs' non-platform, finding a fiscal hole of $13.75 billion every year.
- Graeme Gordon reports on Ontario Proud's voter spam and other intervention in Ontario's election.
- Christopher Guly comments on the rise of Andrea Horwath, and I've previously discussed the parallels between this campaign and other NDP successes. But Marieke Walsh notes the risk that the NDP might win the popular vote but fall short in the seat count.
- Martin Regg Cohn questions Ford's treatment of his own family - raising obvious questions about how cavalier he'd be with a provincial treasury at his disposal.
- Finally, for some of the better commentary on what to expect, see Bryan Breguet and tcnorris. And Ryan McGreal has assembled Breguet's data into a riding-by-riding guide.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Kenan Malik reminds us of the ongoing importance of unions in fighting for fairness and equality. Frank Witsil reports on a push to rebuild labour strength in the service sector in the U.S, while Cole Stangler points out that U.S. youth have a significantly more favourable view of unions than of corporations. But Molly Gott and Derek Seidman document the attempt by the Republicans and their backers to undermine the strength of any public-sector education system and the teachers who work within it.

- Sam Pizzigati suggests using public purchasing power to encourage fairness within corporations as a way to rein in income inequality. And Philip Mattera studies (PDF) the systematic theft of wages by U.S. employers.

- Scott Santens discusses the potential for a basic income to spur creativity and innovation by reducing the downside of personal risk-taking.

- Anne Casselman comments that environmental disaster is becoming increasingly common due to a lack of climate change action and preparedness.

- Finally, Tera Hunter examines the U.S.' long history of child-snatching - which again remains an ongoing problem in Canada as well.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Enzo Dimatteo offers a reminder of Toronto's disastrous experience with the Ford governance model, while Edward Keenan worries that Doug Ford is eager to run roughshod over the city if he gets the chance. PressProgress tallies up the large number of Ontario PC candidates campaigning while facing investigations and lawsuits. Cecilia Keating examines the Ontario NDP's plan for change for the better. And Christo Aivilis writes about the role young voters will play in charting Ontario's future - or allowing Ford to do so instead.

- Nav Persaud compares the Ontario provincial parties' respective positions on prescription drugs. Samir Sinha argues that the primary solution to hallway medicine lies in ensuring that people can get the care they need without needing to occupy a hospital bed.

- Sheila Block highlights the problems with pretending that corporate tax slashing has anything to do with economic development.

- Alex Hemingway discusses how unduly low land taxes can fuel a housing crisis, while Joshua Gottlieb and David Green point out that a property surtax is both efficient and fair compared to other revenue sources (not to mention highly popular).

- Finally, Fiona Harvey writes about the carbon bubble which is set to pop as clean energy becomes far cheaper than continued reliance on fossil fuels. And Stephen Leahy discusses the billions of dollars Canada continues to spend subsidizing the oil industry every year (beyond the price of the Trans Mountain bailout).

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Sweet cats.





Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Ed Broadbent examines how Doug Ford's platform (such as it is) would only further enrich the wealthy, while causing catastrophic results for everybody else:
Just imagine waking up on Friday morning and having to hear the phrase “Premier Doug Ford” for the next four years.  His record as an enabler of the irresponsible and chaotic mayoralty of his brother in Toronto, and the clear ethical failings of the Progressive Conservative Party under his leadership, point to dark days for this province should he win the June 7th election.

Mr. Ford has campaigned on a promise to slash $6-billion from the provincial budget but has refused to specify how or where.  The mathematical inevitably of this scale of cuts could involve closing 36 hospitals, firing 28,000 nurses, closing 780 schools, and firing 20,000 teachers.

In addition, Mr. Ford’s commitment to “leave no stone unturned” when it comes to privatization, means all of our health care, schools and other vital public services are at risk.

The result of these cuts and privatization will be a much more expensive life for Ontario families.  Other damaging aspects of his plan include ignoring climate change, giving big corporations a $5 billion tax cut, and providing a huge tax benefit to the richest individuals in the province.

Mr. Ford’s extraordinary support from the most extreme of social conservatives and white supremacists should make us all concerned about any administration he would lead.  I have no doubt that electing Ford as Premier would bring divisive and destructive Trump-style politics to Canada.
- Toby Sanger takes a look at the tens of thousands of jobs which stand to be lost if Ford gets his way. And Tom Parkin writes that the NDP represents the responsible progressive alternative to know-nothing right-wing populism. 

- Daneil Summers discusses how predatory pricing is making an HIV prevention medication developed largely through public research funding inaccessible to the people who need it. And Julia Lurie exposes the lurid manipulations used to push opioids.

- Thomas Gunton highlights the irrationality of the Trudeau Libs' decision to waste public money on a Trans Mountain expansion.

- Finally, Chris Terry takes a look at British Columbia's electoral reform referendum - and its place in the pattern of making electoral results fairer and more proportional.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Andrew Anthony interviews Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett about their new book on the connection between inequality and mental illness. And Danny Dorling discusses the external (and preventable) causes of many mental health issues:
People working in separate disciplines are coming to the same conclusion: that our social worlds impact on us, they can give us health or cause us harm. As the UN puts it, “mental health policies and services are in crisis—not a crisis of chemical imbalances, but of power imbalances. We need bold political commitments, urgent policy responses and immediate remedial action.” This recent report calls for a shift from biomedical models of mental distress to a more radical, human rights-based approach, acknowledging the impacts of social inequality.

Another recent report published by the British Psychological Society, “The Power Threat Meaning Framework,” looks at the contextual factors which may make us sick. PTM acknowledges power inequalities and the impact of oppression. Being on the wrong side of power can lead to feelings of entrapment, shame and humiliation, as well as a sense of lacking control.

The framework highlights links between “poverty, discrimination and inequality, along with traumas such as abuse and violence, and the resulting emotional distress or troubled behaviour.Adverse childhood experiences have a negative impact on health and wellbeing, for example.

Both The Inner Level and PTM reframe the narrative around why people get sick—refocusing the question from “What’s wrong with this individual?” to “What’s going wrong in this society?”
- Darren Bernhardt talks to Anna Cooper about the futility of trying to deal with homelessness by criminalizing and displacing homeless people, rather than dealing with the underlying causes. And Nick Saul points out that a fair minimum wage goes a long way toward ensuring that people can workers can afford a reasonable standard of living.

- Alex Press writes that the success of teachers' strikes in the U.S. offers an important reminder of the effectiveness of collective action. Mike Konczal comments on the role unions have played in reducing both economic and racial inequality, while Eric Levitz highlights how the labour movement as a whole is the antithesis of a "special interest group" but instead a positive force for the general public. And Gerard Di Trolio previews what workers in Ontario could expect from an NDP government.

- Meanwhile, David Moscrop discusses the no-brainer choice between Doug Ford's circus and the responsible social democracy of Andrea Horwath. And David Bush comments on what's at stake in Ontario's election.

- Finally, Thomas Homer-Dixon and Yonatan Strauch write about the folly of betting Canada's economic future on the hope that humanity will fail to address the existential threat of climate change.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

On history repeating

I haven't yet commented much on Ontario's provincial election campaign - and readers interested in the race will find plenty of noteworthy observers on the blogroll.

That said, it's worth noting the parallels between this campaign and a couple of the NDP's other recent breakthroughs.

To start with, Ontario's 2018 election seems to be offering an answer to one of the more interesting hypotheticals about the 2011 federal election.

In that campaign, the NDP started out well behind the Cons and Libs - but with an experienced and trusted leader who was able to contrast his own image against that of two self-perceived frontrunners who spent most of the campaign attacking each other (or three in Quebec).

By the end of the race, Jack Layton had emerged as by far the most popular of the federal leaders, including by winning over a strong plurality of Quebec voters and expanding the NDP's potential voter pool from coast to coast to coast.

But he reached that position only well into the campaign. As a result, the Libs maintained some residual support from voters accustomed to their being the default alternative to the Cons - particularly in Ontario where strategic voting campaigns based on past electoral results actually helped the Cons win three-way races. And the result was Stephen Harper's one and only majority government - albeit challenged by a strong NDP opposition.

The great what-if for the NDP was thus what would have happened if the 2011 campaign had lasted just a couple more weeks. And we may be getting our answer. 

This year, Andrea Horwath's campaign is following in Layton's footsteps. She too was largely ignored at the start of the campaign as two highly-flawed parties and leaders tried to run only against each other; she too has expanded the NDP's potential voter pool far beyond what most outside observers anticipated; she too has managed to see an already-positive reputation improve in comparison to her opponents.

But after making her move in the polls somewhat earlier in the campaign, Horwath has had enough time for voters to get comfortable with the concept of an NDP victory. And yesterday's effective concession by Kathleen Wynne means that late-deciding voters will have no doubt as to which party is actually running to provide an alternative to a Doug Ford government.

For another historical precedent, that suggests David Climenhaga might be right on the money in his long-standing comparison to Alberta's 2015 election - right down to the divided and unpopular right-wing party whose only apparent late-campaign move is to hope that voters will defer to corporate insiders in casting their ballots.

Of course, there are still some important obstacles in Horwath's way - particularly the uncertainty as to the efficiency of her party's support. But it looks entirely plausible that Horwath's wave may have crested at the right time where Layton's fell just short.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Mariana Mazzucato discusses the dangers of confusing market prices with intrinsic values:
Value has gone from being a category at the core of economic theory, tied to the dynamics of production (the division of labour, changing costs of production), to a subjective category tied to the ‘preferences’ of economic agents. Many ills, such as stagnant real wages, are interpreted in terms of the ‘choices’ that particular agents in the system make, for example unemployment is seen as related to the choice that workers make between working and leisure. And entrepreneurship – the praised motor of capitalism – is seen as a result of such individualized choices rather than of the productive system surrounding entrepreneurs – or, to put it another way, the fruit of a collective effort. At the same time, price has become the indicator of value: as long as a good is bought and sold in the market, it must have value. So rather than a theory of value determining price, it is the theory of price that determines value.
Along with this fundamental shift in the idea of value, a different narrative has taken hold. Focused on wealth creators, risk taking and entrepreneurship, this narrative has seeped into political and public discourse. It is now so rampant that even ‘progressives’ critiquing the system sometimes unintentionally espouse it.
...
Such assumptions about the generation of wealth have become entrenched, and have gone unchallenged. As a result, those who claim to be wealth creators have monopolised the attention of governments with the now well-worn mantra of: give us less tax, less regulation, less state and more market. By losing our ability to recognize the difference between value creation and value extraction, we have made it easier for some to call themselves value creators and in the process extract value. Understanding how the stories about value creation are around us everywhere – even though the category itself is not – is essential for the future viability of capitalism.

To offer real change we must go beyond fixing isolated problems, and develop a framework that allows us to shape a new type of economy: one that will work for the common good. The change has to be profound. It is not enough to redefine GDP to encompass quality-of-life indicators, including measures of happiness, the imputed value of unpaid ‘caring’ labour and free information, education and communication via the Internet. It is also not enough to tax wealth. While such measures are important in themselves, they do not address the greatest challenge: defining and measuring the collective contribution to wealth creation, so that value extraction is less able to pass for value creation.
- Ben Parfitt notes that British Columbia is being severely shortchanged when it comes to deriving public revenue from natural resources. And Simon Enoch and Emily Eaton examine how an oil boom tends to offer little benefit to public coffers and services even in the areas which are supposed to be prospering.

- Meanwhile, Bruce Livesey wonders whether the Libs' Trans Mountain bailout is based on a perception that Canada has signed away any ability to limit the prospect of an oil pipeline to serve Chinese investors. Michael Harris weighs on on the foolishness of paying far above market price for a project which creates massive public risks, while David Climenhaga wonders whether Trudeau plans to be bound by Kinder Morgan's side deal with the anti-worker CLAC. And Mike De Souza reports that two Kinder Morgan executives are being rewarded with $1.5 million bonuses for extracting the deal the company was able to wring out of the federal government.

- Finally, Denise Balkissoon rightly argues that Canada needs to take responsibility for the continued pattern of children being removed from their families - particularly in Indigenous and minority communities.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- CBC talks to Robert Frank about the role of luck and privilege in generating concentrated wealth. And Kate Bahn highlights the reality that collective action is needed to help level a playing field currently tilted to benefit those who already have the most.

- Samantha Eyler-Driscoll interviews Gabriel Zucman about the dangers of inequality (and the financial secrecy which enables it). And Richard Brooks offers a warning that big accounting firms are too close to the corporations they're supposed to be monitoring, while Matthew Yglesias writes that the Republicans are setting up another financial crisis by letting the financial sector run amok.

- Peter Goodman discusses Stockton, California's plans for a basic income experiment. And Johann Hari notes that a secure income can have massive mental health benefits - while financial precarity can instead feed into depression and other illnesses:
For several decades now, we have been taught to see our deepest forms of pain—our depression, our anxiety—as primarily problems with our internal brain chemistry: some missing serotonin here, some missing dopamine there. This is how I was told to think about my depression by my doctor. But the UN’s leading medical figures have warned that this view is “biased and selective use of research outcomes” that “cause more harm than good” and “must be abandoned.” There is, they claim, a different way of looking at this problem—one that offers meaningful solutions.
...
...If depression is primarily—as we have been led to believe by pharmaceutical company marketing campaigns—a problem with our brain chemistry, this makes no sense. The brains of the people of Dauphin did not suddenly evolve in those three years. But the World Health Organization, the leading medical body in the world, has explained: “Mental health is produced socially. The presence or absence of mental health is above all a social indicator and requires social as well as individual solutions.” In reality, depression and anxiety are produced by a broad range of factors. Some are biological—but many are social and psychological.

This requires us to think differently about how we respond to depression and anxiety. Dr Forget told me, after she interviewed many of the people who had been on the guaranteed income program, that it “works as an antidepressant.” Severe financial anxiety is one of several factors which has been proven to cause depression. Reducing that cause reduces the amount of depression. All over the world, I hunted for alternative antidepressants that should be offered alongside chemical antidepressants—and I kept seeing this key insight that had been discovered in Canada in the 1970s: the most effective strategies for dealing with depression are the ones that deal with the reasons why we are in such pain in the first place.
- But Stephanie Nebehay reports on a UN human rights investigation showing how the Trump administration is going out of its way to further impoverish the U.S.' lower classes, while Ed Pilkington notes that core Trump supporters in rural areas are likely suffering some of the worst effects.

- Finally, Jessica McCrory Calarco notes that the "marshmallow test" referred to regularly in behavioural economics likely has more to do with socioeconomic status than any inherent self-discipline.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Musical interlude

Tom Cochrane - I Wish You Well

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Cherise Seucharan interviews Andrew MacLeod about his new book on the health benefits of investing in income, housing and education. And Kyle Edwards discusses the unconscionable number of Indigenous children being put in foster care.

- Ben Smee reports on the UK's parliamentary inquiry into franchising - including evidence that franchisees have been advised to use wage theft and exploitation of vulnerable workers as regular business strategies. And Jeffry Bartash examines new U.S. data showing that an unusually high number of employees are seeing no raises despite a supposedly tight job market.

- Meanwhile, Jude Kirton-Darling and Agnes Jongerius report on a new EU law - fought tooth and nail by the UK's Cons - intended to ensure that the free movement of workers doesn't serve to undercut wages and employment standards.

- Robert Benzie reports on the Ontario NDP's plan for a rent registry for transparency in housing pricing (and as a safeguard against "renovictions").

- Finally, Kevin Taft comments that the Trans Mountain buyoff and expansion look to be symptoms of a continued addiction to fossil fuels. And James Wilt interviews Peter Erickson about the long-term ramifications of those choices today.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

New column day

Here, on how the Libs' willingness to throw tens of billions of public dollars at the Trans Mountain pipeline (and its corporate partners) confirms the broken promise that infrastructure money would serve the public interest.

For further reading...
- Campbell Clark wrote about the slow pace of the infrastructure spending which was put forward as evidence of the Libs' supposed vision for the public good. And Mia Rabson reports on the Canada Infrastructure Bank which will divert public infrastructure funding toward the generation of corporate profits. 
- David Ljunggren, Liz Hampton and Gary McWilliams document how Kinder Morgan schemed its way into a no-lose situation while making laughable pleas of hardship. And Robyn Allan has previously written about Kinder Morgan's refusal to contribute its fair share to the government which has now decided to pay it off. 
- Paul Willcocks takes a look at the combined cost of buying Trans Mountain and planning to fund its expansion, while Perrin Grauer examines a few of the other ways the Libs could be spending the same money to meet far more urgent and important social priorities. And both Matt McClure and Vanmala Subramaniam find that experts see the purchase as indefensible.
- Finally, Pam Palmater points out a few of the additional promises the Libs are breaking by buying Trans Mountain.