Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Mike Konczal notes that a single-minded focus on shareholder wealth - exemplified by today's obsession with stock buybacks - has frozen workers out of any returns from economic development. And Anne Perkins writes about the outrageous gap between the pay of the luckiest CEOs and the rest of the workforce.

- Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias discusses Elizabeth Warren's plan to reconnect businesses to the societies which enable them to make their money, both by mandating social purposes and by ensuring worker representation in decision-making.

- James Wilt examines the public returns on natural resource wealth in Alberta compared to other similar jurisdictions, and finds that Albertans are receiving a woefully insufficient price for oil sands extraction.

- Meanwhile, Crawford Kilian points out the need for massive investments to address climate change - both to do everything in our power to avoid an imminent "hothouse" scenario, and to adapt as best possible to the extent that effort fails.

- Finally, George Monbiot examines how jarring increases in obesity rates over the past few decades can be traced almost entirely to corporate manipulation of consumer habits.

New column day

Here, on the need for Canada to give effect to a right to housing in both law and policy - and the Libs' continued reticence in doing so.

For further reading...
- The open letter from the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and other groups and individuals calling for a right to housing is here (PDF), while CAEH also offers some background on the issue. And Terry Pedwell reported on the letter.
- Meanwhile, Courtney Dickson reported on the justified concerns about the Libs' contest for Indigenous housing.
- Finally, Duncan Cameron questions why anybody in Canada is lacking for housing and other basic necessities of life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Colby Smith writes about the changing role of public stock markets, which are serving primarily to allow already-wealthy investors to cash out rather than to fund the growth of expanding businesses. And the Equality Trust examines the growing gap between the CEO class and minimum-wage workers in the UK.

- Silvio Marcacci and Sara Hastings-Simon point out how Doug Ford's insistence on immediately cancelling anything which could possibly rein in climate change is leading to economic aftershocks for Ontario. And Sharon Riley comments on the connection between climate change and British Columbia's catastrophic wildfires.

- Christo Aivalis discusses how the Ford PCs are wrecking lives by scrapping Ontario's basic income pilot for the sole purpose of avoiding being proven wrong about the effect of a stable and predictable income. And Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood examines the problems with the limited window for Employment Insurance sick leave benefits which typically expire before recipients are ready to go back to work.

- David Climenhaga offers a reminder that Ontario is just the latest example of minimum wage increases improving incomes for the people who need it most without any meaningful side effects. And PressProgress responds to the Fraser Institute's typical use of laughably-torqued assumptions and numbers to attack public revenues.

- Finally, Courtney Dickson reports on the rightfully-outraged response to the Libs' Hunger Games plan for on-reserve housing.

[Edit: fixed typo.]

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Angled cats.



Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Humberto DaSilva comments on the need to recognize that it's the distortion of the political system by the wealthy that's left most people with a standard of living that's stagnating or worse. And Davide Mastracci makes the case for an inheritance tax as one step toward improved equality and social cohesion in Canada.

- Meanwhile, Daniel Tencer writes about Ontario's minimum wage boost as yet another example of wages increasing where they're most needed without any of the threatened side effects.

- CBC reports on a new study showing how the Saskatchewan Party's elimination of STC is preventing victims of domestic abuse from getting to safety. And Krystalle Ramlakhan discusses how Doug Ford's attack on drug overdose prevention will cause easily-preventable deaths.

- Matt Wittek argues that limiting the use of straws is just a small first step in reducing our reliance on environmentally-destructive single-use plastics.

- Finally, Jeffrey Ball writes about the limitations of low-level carbon pricing absent a meaningful strategy to shift to a clean energy economy. David Gray-Donald calls out far too much of Canada's media for failing to point out the glaring gap between oil industry projections and climate imperatives. Melissa Lem and Larry Barzelai point out that a summer of record temperatures and wildfires should confirm that climate change is a public health emergency. And Jonathan Watts and Elle Hunt describe the devastating effects of the extreme heat that's becoming more common.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Beth Gutelius writes that any discussion about the future of work can draw important lessons from the past, with most of the issues facing workers today echoing or arising out of ones which have surfaced before:
The set of structural forces that has converged over the last forty years has shaped the economy and produced an uneven distribution of benefits, especially along lines of race, gender, immigration status, disability, and other markers of social difference. These are the ghosts of work, forces which include:
  • Structural racism and gender discrimination that disadvantages people of color, especially African Americans, and women;
  • Immigration policy that has resulted in a secondary labor market for undocumented immigrants and immigrants with certain visas;
  • Industry reorganization that has led to an increasingly fissured economy and increasing reliance on outsourcing and worker subcontracting;
  • Decline in union density, due to explicit and well-funded attacks on workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively, which has reduced the wage-setting capacity and political influence of unions;
  • Shifts in corporate governance that have lead to increased shareholder power and CEO pay, and curtailed shared prosperity;
  • Globalization and trade policy which produced a new set of low-road competitive dynamics, including offshoring;
  • Attacks on the public sector which have resulted in policies skewed toward financial and private sector deregulation, privatization, and the overall shrinking of the role of government;
  • Tax policy reform that has favored the wealthy and corporations, and has lead to a redistribution of gains toward the top of the income spectrum; and
  • Financialization, which has bloated the role of the financial sector in the economy.
What a list! Taken as a whole, these major trends have shifted power and resources away from workers, and allowed or even incentivized employers to pursue a range of low-road approaches to profitability. These root causes may be shifting somewhat, but they are not going away.
...
  1. The future of economic justice is a just transition to what will involve more technologically-mediated labor markets and jobs. A just transition should mitigate the costs and share the benefits of new technologies.
  2. Change is certain, but its path is not, and giving in to inevitability will stifle our imagination. There are many alternatives, and it is our collective duty to create and promote them.
  3. Efforts to confront the changing nature of work should strengthen the role of the public sector in setting and enforcing workplace standards and delivering a social safety net.
  4. Those workers most affected by an issue should be involved in shaping any proposal or campaign to address it, and the process should help build workers’ voice and capacity to act.
- Meanwhile, the New York Times editorial board examines the long-haul trucking industry as a damning example of the combination of longer hours, greater demands and stagnant wages faced by so many workers in the U.S. over recent decades.

- The New York Times editorial board also points out how the Trump tax giveaway served only to further enrich the wealthy. And Thomas Piketty discusses the dangers of burgeoning inequality.

- The Economist offers a useful set of principles and proposals to make tax systems more fair and effective. 

- Finally, Don Lenihan writes about Canada's telecommunications oligopoly - and the need to treat access to the world as an essential service to ensure access is available in areas which won't receive equitable services based on profit motives. And Sarah Fischer discusses the dangers of increased concentration of local television broadcasting and other media.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Somini Sengupta writes that the extreme heat experienced so far in 2018 shows how ill-prepared humanity is for the climate change it's causing. And the Economist offers a warning that the oil industry can't realistically expect past prices to continue to apply under a future transition toward other energy sources.

- Meanwhile, UC Berkeley unveils new research as to the effectiveness of regulations in reducing multiple types of industrial emissions without affecting output.

- But Ben Parfitt points out the role of British Columbia's heavily-subsidized natural gas and "gas liquids" in facilitating the further destruction wrought by the oil sands. And Andy Crosby and Jeffrey Monaghan expose how the federal government has consistently used public resources to spy against activists on behalf of the oil industry, rather than doing anything to identify and defend the public interest.

- Sarah DelVillano highlights the need for leadership from the federal government to combat poverty in Canada. And the Star's editorial board suggests that a valuable first step would be to take on the basic income pilot project so callously trashed by Doug Ford, while Glen Pearson is particularly aghast at the ideological cancellation of research into an idea capable of earning support from multiple points on the political spectrum.

- Finally, Chris Dillow argues that UK politics are failing to select for anything approaching desirable attributes in distributing power - and a few of the concerns appear to apply far more broadly.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Ainslie Cruickshank reports on Grand Chief Stewart Phillip's call to prevent catastrophic climate change rather than devoting public money toward fossil fuel subsidies. And Eric Holthaus points out that the recent "hothouse Earth" report includes the recognition that it's not yet too late to return to climate stability with a meaningful push toward clean energy.

- But Emma McIntosh's report and David Climenhaga's post on climate change denialism within Jason Kenney's UCP offer a reminder that there are far too many people in and around the halls of power who won't even acknowledge the existence of a problem, let alone work toward a desperately-needed solution. And Alex Randall notes that neoliberal ideology has created extra barriers to concerted public action to solve climate change (or any other issue where the public interest comes into conflict with entrenched corporate power).

- Meanwhile, Zach Kaldveer examines how Donald Trump has pushed the U.S.' Environmental Protection Agency to take direction from corporations seeking free rein to pollute regardless of the resulting harm to the public.

- Don Pittis discusses some of the factors standing in the way of an inheritance tax in Canada - while noting that complaints seem to be largely based on a lack of awareness that other peer countries already have one.

- Finally, Rod Hick offers an overview of in-work poverty, while noting the need for far more work to assist people in escaping poverty traps.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Musical interlude

Eli and Fur - You're So High

Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- David Moscrop makes the case for a long-overdue inheritance tax in Canada:
Over time, if left unchecked, capitalism facilitates the pooling of wealth — cash, property, business ownership, investments — among a select few. This is as true in Canada as anywhere else. That pooling implies not just the concentration of wealth but also the concentration of authority, influence, proximity to decision-makers, and all the other tactical tools it takes to get things done the way you want them done.

That concentration of power ultimately undermines democracy. When a small elite hog the wealth and the power, the rest of the people are either marginalized or shut out altogether.

The most obscene way that wealth is made is through large-scale inheritance. Passing along wealth facilitates the concentration of resources in the hands of the few, generation over generation. In Canada, inheritance is a serious problem that prevents not just equal outcome but even equal opportunity.
- Wanyee Li highlights how soaring housing prices in Vancouver have made it nearly impossible for middle- and working-class citizens to become homeowners. And Ryan Cooper points out the role social housing needs to play in building cohesive and functional cities.

- Nick Loenen discusses the value of an electoral system which encourages cooperation and genuine majoritarianism rather than artificially assigning absolute power to one leader with a minority of the total party vote.

- Meanwhile, in a prime example of how artificial majorities lead to abuses of centralized power, Mike de Souza exposes how the Libs allowed Kinder Morgan to raid the public treasury without keeping anybody informed of their plans. And David Sirota reports on Donald Trump's latest scheme to hand free money to banksters at public expense.

- Felice Frayer reports on a new study showing the connection between on-the-job injuries and opioid deaths.

- Finally, while the Saskatchewan Party tries to wish away its Global Transportation Hub scandal, Geoff Leo reminds us of just 20 of the outstanding questions about the fiasco while finding nobody willing to answer them.

[Edit: fixed typo.]

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Frank Rich writes that the lack of a meaningful response to the 2008 financial crisis has understandably undermined public confidence in the U.S.' future:
Everything in the country is broken. Not just Washington, which failed to prevent the financial catastrophe and has done little to protect us from the next, but also race relations, health care, education, institutional religion, law enforcement, the physical infrastructure, the news media, the bedrock virtues of civility and community. Nearly everything has turned to crap, it seems, except Peak TV (for those who can afford it).

That loose civic concept known as the American Dream — initially popularized during the Great Depression by the historian James Truslow Adams in his Epic of America — has been shattered. No longer is lip service paid to the credo, however sentimental, that a vast country, for all its racial and sectarian divides, might somewhere in its DNA have a shared core of values that could pull it out of any mess. Dead and buried as well is the companion assumption that over the long term a rising economic tide would lift all Americans in equal measure. When that tide pulled back in 2008 to reveal the ruins underneath, the country got an indelible picture of just how much inequality had been banked by the top one percent over decades, how many false promises to the other 99 percent had been broken, and how many central American institutions, whether governmental, financial, or corporate, had betrayed the trust the public had placed in them...
- And Julia Conley notes that older Americans are starting to bear the brunt of policies which initially seemed to favour them at the expense of younger generations - particularly as co-signors to unmanageable student loans are seeing the bills come due.

- Meanwhile, Ben Batros discusses the importance of an international fight against tax avoidance and tax havens to meaningfully reduce inequality rooted in gross wealth disparities.

- Pat Thane points out that there has been little change in the prevalence and causes of poverty in the UK over the past century-plus. And Gary Bloch implores the Ford PCs to work on building supportive social programs, rather than making it their primary aim punish the poor (and in the process increasing the costs of the health and justice systems for everybody).

- Finally, Jenny Schuetz notes that both renters and homeowners would benefit from a housing policy designed to ensure everybody has a safe and affordable home.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Flattened cats.




Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jessica Corbett writes that Earth's atmospheric carbon concentration has reached levels not seen in 80,000 years, while Jonathan Watts reports on a new study showing that climate change may be pushing our planet toward a "hothouse" state which might threaten human life. The Daily Mail reports that the California city of Imperial recently saw the hottest rain recorded on record. And Simon Lewis writes that while it's not too late to avert the worst possible climate catastrophe, we need large-scale and immediate political change to do so.

- Meanwhile, Norm Farrell compares the virtually-nonexistent punishment for the corporate sector's deliberate environmental destruction to the lock-'em-up attitude being displayed toward environmental activists.

- The Economist's Bartleby writes about the constant stress facing American workers.

- Tuomas Maraja highlights the psychological benefits of receiving a basic income rather than heavily conditional welfare payments. Jessie Golem discusses the disappointment of having the prospect of financial security stripped away by Doug Ford's PCs out of nothing but contempt for people facing poverty and precarity. And Stephen Tweedale wonders whether the better path toward a basic income involves incremental benefits for everybody, rather than small-scale pilot programs which exclude most citizens.

- Finally, in the wake of John Tory's promise to use new strongman powers to impose austerity on Toronto, Heather Mallick offers a reminder that tax revenue is vital for a population to thrive.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Brian Nolan examines the relationship between inequality and median incomes in developed countries, and concludes that there's little basis to view inequality as an inevitable outcome of international forces:
Globalisation and technological change are often portrayed as exogenous forces sweeping across the rich countries, inexorably driving up inequality and forcing workers to accept wage stagnation (and often less security) if they are to hold on to their jobs. Instead, the variation in country experiences shows how much institutions and policy responses matter to how these forces – themselves subject to human agency rather than God-given – play out in the job market and affect household disposable incomes. Wage-setting institutions clearly have a critical influence. The Belgian combination of wages indexed to inflation, collective agreements covering most workers, and a high minimum wage underpinned significant wage growth across the distribution. In Australia, the extension of collectively negotiated employment terms and conditions over much of the work force, together with a very high minimum wage, play a key role. By contrast, the remarkably poor earnings performance of the UK over the last decade is in a context where wage bargaining has become individualised.

Broader welfare state institutions also play a critical role in levels and patterns of employment. Countries with reasonably strong income growth over recent decades have generally combined some increase in real wages with a rise in the overall employment rate and especially female employment. Recent UK and much longer US experience shows, however, that rising female employment when combined with very weak real wages still equates to stagnating living standards. The welfare state is also key to whether the costs associated with increasing women’s employment are borne by the families themselves or socially, with implications for their welfare generally missed by current metrics. Furthermore, countries have made very different choices with respect to the regulation of employment contracts and conditions, offsetting or accelerating the effects of forces making work more precarious.

Country contexts really matter, and policy responses must be framed in light of the institutional point of departure and distinctive challenges each country faces. Promoting economic growth and ensuring that its benefits are transmitted to middle and lower income households need equal attention; redistribution can be strengthened, while wages generated in the market remain fundamental. The current political salience of inequality and stagnation provides a window of opportunity for a fundamental reassessment of how growth and prosperity are being pursued; the US experience should not however dominate in the search for explanations and effective responses. 
- And Salvatore Morelli studies (PDF) the shape of income concentration around financial crises, concluding that market shocks don't have any lasting effect in equalizing income unless paired with meaningful public policy changes.

- John Vandermeer and Ivette Perfecto point out how privatization and financialization set Puerto Rico up for the humanitarian disaster resulting from Hurricane Maria.

- Alexi White warns that the Doug Ford PCs are likely just getting started in slashing programs needed to support the most vulnerable people in Ontario. And Alissa Tedesco, Jon Herriot and Katie Boone discuss how Ford's attacks against basic social benefits will endanger the health of the public at large, while Farrah Merali notes that the PCs' threats to safe injection sites similarly stand to end lives to accomplish nothing more than political posturing. 

- Finally, Zack Beauchamp reports on new research which examines terminations arising out of public commentary at U.S. universities, and finds both that any concern about speech is overblown, and that it's left-wing speech that's actually more likely to result in reprisals.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Lana Payne writes that there's no reason to turn Donald Trump's giveaway to the rich into an excuse for similarly destructive policies in Canada:
If tax policy levers need adjusting, there is a more effective and sophisticated approach that can be taken, rather than a swinging a machete through the corporate tax rate. Walmart doesn’t need a tax break.

For example, targeting tax incentives to those who need the support in order to invest in machinery, productivity and wages makes for smarter policy. It’s ironic how those who argue against universal social programs have no problem supporting universal tax cuts for corporations. No matter the problem, it’s their panacea.

Why give tax cuts to corporations stockpiling cash on their balance sheets? Why give them to corporations socking away billions in global tax havens rather than investing the capital in Canadian jobs and wages? Why give them to companies who are going to make certain investments anyway?

It is bad policy and it depletes much needed revenues to invest in priorities like child care, more affordable or free post-secondary education, better health care and green transit.

And it is leading to a place where researchers predict in the next 10 to 20 years, corporate taxes will be a thing of the past unless massive collective action is taken. That’s how effective corporations have been at convincing governments to do their bidding.
- David Climenhaga argues that progressive governments need to begin acting at least as decisively as conservative counterparts, rather than allowing policy to drift in the wrong direction. And Ian Bailey reports on some of the worker-friendly developments in British Columbia under John Horgan's NDP government.

- J.W. Mason's review of Quinn Slobodian's Globalists discusses the history of neoliberalism as a philosophy favouring the use of state power to reinforce existing inequalities in income and wealth.  And Drew Brown notes that if anything has changed in the relationship of the uber-rich to the rest of us, it's their explicit intention to disengage from humanity as a whole.

- Jason Furman discusses how work requirements and other access barriers to basic social programs serve solely to hurt poor families without accomplishing anything positive.

- Craig Scott writes that Doug Ford's trampling of municipal democracy in Toronto might well violate fundamental constitutional principles.

- Finally, Andre Picard comments on Canada's Epipen shortage, while noting that it fits into a larger pattern of essential medical products having fragile supply chains which leave public health at risk.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Michael Laxer writes that Doug Ford's attack on people who stood to be helped by a basic income demonstrates the cruelty of austerian politics. But we shouldn't take the callousness of right-wing parties as reflecting the preferences of most voters, as the Angus Reid Institute's poll on poverty in Canada examines attitudes toward the people facing it and the options available to address it - including the widespread recognition that poverty is primarily a matter of circumstances beyond an individual's control:
  • Two-thirds of Canadians (65%) say the federal government is doing too little to address poverty, and approximately the same number (64%) feel this way about their provincial government
  • More than seven-in-ten (72%) say poor people are poor because of circumstances beyond their control, rather than a lack of effort on their part
  • A similar number (65%) say wealthy people are wealthy because they had more advantages in life, rather than because they worked harder than other people
- And Eric Levitz points out new data confirming that in the U.S., policies such as increased public enterprise are far more popular than the Republicans' template of tax giveaways to the rich and austerity for everybody else - even though they're hardly ever discussed by the political class.

- The Economist discusses how the world is losing the war against climate change. And Christopher Pollin interviews Naomi Klein about the need for divestment from fossil fuels as part of the public response to negligence by political leaders.

- Lisa Johnson reports on the threat to sockeye salmon posed by a warming Fraser River. And Emma Lui notes that Nestle has pumped over a billion litres of water out of the Aberfoyle well since its permit expired - and that it's showing no willingness to stop in the absence of public action.

- Finally, Andre Picard discusses how the Netherlands have taken harm reduction several steps further than Canada by allowing for drug-checking to protect against contamination.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Musical interlude

Tame Impala - Why Won't They Talk To Me?

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board rightly recognizes that attempts to challenge federal carbon pricing on constitutional grounds represent nothing but a politically-motivated waste of money. Ross Belot laments the Trudeau Libs' decision to respond by watering down already-insufficient plans while making it difficult for anybody to plan around a coherent federal policy. And Fatima Syed reports on allegations that Ontario's provincial election was tainted by prohibited donations from the oil sector.

- Meanwhile, Damian Carrington talks to Michael Mann about the role climate change has already played in the proliferation of extreme weather events.

- The Lindsay Advocate and the Toronto Star both offer first-hand accounts from the people who stand to lose out on desperately-needed economic security due to the callous cancellation of Ontario's basic income pilot program. Jane Gerster fact-checks the PCs' laughable claim that stable income disincentivizes work. And John Stapleton and Yvonne Yuan point out the erosion of existing social programs as highlighting the need for a more generous welfare system - rather than the cruelty of Ford's government.

- Finally, Matt Wade writes that Australia's economy - like so many others - is seeing workers take home an unprecedentedly small share of total output.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

New column day

Here, examining David Macdonald's latest report on wealth concentration in Canada - and the availability of more ambitious solutions than what's been on offer in most recent political debates.

For further reading...
- The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis studies (PDF) how unearned income and wealth are similarly becoming more concentrated in the U.S.
- Christo Aivalis has pointed out how a more progressive tax system which focuses on wealth in particular can be one of the NDP's key promises to Canadian voters.
- Finally, among the voices who have proposed more widespread wealth taxes, Paul Buchheit has advocated for a focus on financial wealth, while Thomas Piketty has made the case for taking wealth generally.

[Edit: added link.]

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Annie Lowrey points out the massive amounts of money being directed toward stock buybacks in the U.S., with the predictable effect of further enriching the people who already have the most. And Andrew Jackson's review of Mariana Mazzucato's The Value of Everything discusses the need for policy aimed toward development rather than extraction:
It is nonsense to argue that the wealth and income of hedge fund billionaires reflects their individual productive contribution, as opposed to their ability to extract profits from socially created value. Many progressive economists such as Nobel prize winner Joe Stiglitz argue that much of the modern economy consists of sectors in which rents or excess profits are extracted by dominant businesses due to limited competition and control of intellectual property rights among other factors. For example, big pharma and the tech giants like Google and Facebook earn profits well above normal rates of return due to their power to shape markets.

Mazzucato closely documents the value extraction role of the finance sector, whose share of total profits has grown rapidly since deregulation in the 1970s. While banks and other financial institutions do play a productive role in part by directing financial capital to productive uses, most real business investment is in fact financed by retained corporate earnings. Meanwhile, finance has directed resources to almost purely speculative and economically destabilizing activities such as hedge funds and creation of exotic financial instruments such as derivatives which merely transfer dollars between winners and losers, as in a casino where the dealer always wins.

As well, finance has had damaging impacts upon real economy highly productive businesses by inisting on maximizing shareholder value and demanding short term profits paid out through dividends and share re purchases as opposed to providing ‘patient’ capital for long term investment in equipment and innovation which boost real value added and productivity. Despite years of so-called financial innovation, it is hard for truly innovative new companies to attract capital since even venture capital funds are oriented to a quick turnover of capital and have very high “hurdle” rates of return In this context, very early start up capital often comes from governments which are prepared to take bigger risks for bigger long-term payoffs.
...
As in her previous book, Mazzucato is very much an advocate of an expanded entrepreneurial role for government in supporting, not just research and high levels of public investment, but also in setting ambitious goals and missions, such as decarbonizing the economy. She argues that governments should take an ownership stake in the productive economy to collect a social return on public investment for citizens which could be used to fund social programs and public services as well as to create greater social equity. In the Canadian context, she would likely favour taking large equity stakes in innovative enterprises to provide long term capital for growth, while also seeking greater control of the economy and a fairer distribution of income and wealth.

The Value of Everything is a stimulating and informative overview of value creation and destruction in today’s economy. It is very much part of a wider project to develop a new progressive and social democratic economics oriented towards the creation of real value and social equity, as opposed to maximizing GDP.
- CBC reports on the Libs' decision to water down the thresholds for their already-insufficient industrial carbon price. And it's particularly worth noting the thresholds involved: while Canada has agreed to cut its emissions by 30%, the Libs' scheme will allow emitters to pollute freely as long as they are 20% or 10% below industry standards depending on the industry involved.

- The Globe and Mail rightly slams Doug Ford's decision to abruptly end Ontario's basic income pilot program for the apparent purpose of avoiding any recognition as to how it helps recipients. John Stapleton writes that the sudden reversal will only further trap people in poverty after they had reasonably expected at least some reprieve. And Hugh Segal notes that people with low incomes are apparently excluded from Ford's perceived set of constituents.

- Tavia Grant examines how the right-wing attempt to stoke fears about "illegal" refugees is based on deliberate lies as to both the number of people seeking asylum in Canada, and the international law governing their claims.

- Finally, Sarah Buhler discusses the need to expand Legal Aid services at a time when the Saskatchewan Party has nothing on offer but cuts.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Peter Gowan discusses UK Labour's push for greater social control over economic development. And Rainer Kattel, Mariana Mazzucato, Josh Ryan-Collins and Simon Sharpe set out a useful framework to evaluate policies which are intended to shape markets rather than merely attempting to fix them.

- Anis Heydari reports on the choice far too many Albertans face between food and housing when neither is affordable. And Glen Pearson comments on how poverty can trap people in a cycle of deprivation and pessimism:
What do kids in low-income situations do, for instance, when school is out? For many, camps are beyond reach because of the expense, vacations to other regions virtually impossible, and for some, hunger pangs will increase with the loss of school breakfast and feeding programs. It’s a sad irony of our times that agricultural growing seasons flourish at the same time as kids go more hungry than usual.

For working parents pressed down with precarious or vulnerable work, inquiring as to what their plans are for the summer can prove to be a moment of insensitivity. They possess no cottage, boat, travel agenda or, for some, even a car. They can enjoy the sun like everyone else, but not in those more exotic locations most citizens can get to.

This is what modern-day poverty looks like — not just a lack of resources but also a loss of hope.
It is this psychological state that presents democracy and politicians with one of their greatest challenges because there seem to be no solutions if the economic status quo prevails. And those losing faith in their future are frequently working adults, trapped in vulnerable employment, unable to escape their situation.
...
The longer we put off pressing for change, the closer the tentacles of poverty come to us. We all know people in our neighbourhoods and among our friends and families who have become increasingly vulnerable to low-income pressures, despite their best efforts to retrain, finish their education and work unbearable hours. There is more of this to come.
- But on the bright side, Matt Robinson reports on Vancouver's action to expropriate slum hotels to ensure they can be properly maintained and made available for people who need the housing. And Cami Kepke reports on a push by several Regina city councillors to stop further commercial development in Wascana Park. 

- Finally, Michael Harris weighs in on Doug Ford's choice to impose chaos on Toronto's municipal governance.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Crashed cats.




Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- David MacDonald studies the increasing concentration of wealth in Canada, while noting the need for wealth-based taxes (and particularly an inheritance tax) to start building a more fair society. And Alan Rappeport and Jim Tankersley report on the Trump administration's latest move in the wrong direction, as they plan to bypass normal legislative processes to lavish hundreds of billions of dollars on people who already own large amounts of capital.

- Allison Chandler points out research into the role the melting of the Arctic may be playing in causing heat waves around the globe. But Margaret McGregor, Stirling Bryan, Penny Brasher and Courtney Howard note that Canada is far behind the curve in assessing how climate change and other environmental factors affect public health.

- And not surprisingly, that conspicuous lack of curiosity tends to lead to avoidable environmental risks. On that front, Bob Weber reports on the potential acidification of a massive area around the oil sands, while Ainslie Cruickshank discusses the devastating effects a Trans Mountain dilbit spill could have on already-threatened salmon stocks in British Columbia.

- Jake Johnson highlights Bernie Sanders' observation that even Koch-funded antisocial propaganda accidentally confirms that publicly funded and provided health care is both better and more affordable. Alex Lawson and Stephanie Taylor make the case for at least a public option for prescription drug coverage. And CBC News reports on the risk that a manufacturer-based shortage of Epipens may threaten Canadian lives in the very near future.

- Finally, Andre Picard argues that instead of criminalizing drug users, we should be managing and reducing the harm resulting from all types of drugs.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Robert Reich examines how a concerted attack on organized labour has pushed the vast majority of American workers into living paycheque-to-paycheque (or worse) while income and wealth have become increasingly concentrated at the top end of the spectrum:
Almost 80% of Americans say they live from paycheck to paycheck, many not knowing how big their next one will be.

Blanketing all of this are stagnant wages and vanishing job benefits. The typical American worker now earns around $44,500 a year, not much more than what the typical worker earned in 40 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Although the US economy continues to grow, most of the gains have been going to a relatively few top executives of large companies, financiers, and inventors and owners of digital devices.
...
(T)he share of total income going to the richest 10 percent of Americans over the last century is almost exactly inversely related to the share of the nation’s workers who are unionized. (See chart below). When it comes to dividing up the pie, most American workers today have little or no say. The pie is growing but they’re getting only the crumbs.

Over the same period time, antitrust enforcement has gone into remission. The US government has essentially given a green light to companies seeking to gain monopoly power over digital platforms and networks (Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook); wanting to merge into giant oligopolies (pharmaceuticals, health insurers, airlines, seed producers, food processors, military contractors, Wall Street banks, internet service providers); or intent on creating local monopolies (food distributors, waste disposal companies, hospitals).

This means workers are spending more on such goods and services than they would were these markets more competitive. It’s exactly as if their paychecks were cut. Concentrated economic power has also given corporations more ability to hold down wages, because workers have less choice of whom to work for. And it has let companies impose on workers provisions that further weaken their bargaining power, such as anti-poaching and mandatory arbitration agreements.
...
The combination of high corporate profits and growing corporate political power has created a vicious cycle: higher profits have generated more political influence, which has altered the rules of the game through legislative, congressional, and judicial action – enabling corporations to extract even more profit. The biggest losers, from whom most profits have been extracted, have been average workers. 
- William Davies points out how the trumped-up complaints about campus free speech peddled by the right serve primarily to distract from the takeover of most other spaces by the corporate sector. And Nora Loreto comments on the deliberate choice by right-wing pundits to stoke fear and hatred in the wake of the Toronto Danforth shooting.

- Robert Booth exposes how a UK right-wing "think tank" has been actively selling both research outcomes, and access to the Con government. 

- Alan Freeman points out the fiscal price of mindless populism. And Tom Parkin highlights the need for a plan for citizens to organize against the authoritarian tendencies of the likes of Doug Ford.

- Finally, Edward Keenan calls out Ford's choice to gratuitously undermine municipal democracy for the sole purpose of wreaking vengeance against perceived political opponents.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Vanmala Subramaniam reports on the move by real estate developers to push tenants out of desperately-needed housing in Canada's largest cities to chase after short-term profits.

- David Wallace Wells asks how the rapidly-materializing worst-case climate change scenarios are being met with shrugs rather than recognition of the urgent need for action. And Denise Balkissoon comments on the connection between a heating planet and the increased threat of wildfires, while Yanis Varoufakis points out that both climate change and austerity have severely exacerbated Greece's outbreak of fires in particular.

- Meanwhile, Emma Davie reports on the risks to a Nova Scotia tidal power project after its private-sector participant pulled out - with no government apparently willing to invest in the development of stable renewable energy even as the federal government pumps billions into subsidizing oil infrastructure.

- Tom Parkin argues that Canada can be far safer if it minimizes the presence of handguns which are available to be put to malicious purposes.

- Finally, Jerry Dias makes the case for long-overdue anti-scab legislation to ensure that workers and unions are able to effectively exercise their right to strike for improved workplace fairness.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Saturday Evening Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Joel Achenbach and Angela Fritz discuss how climate change is amplifying all kinds of extreme weather (with severe heat as only the most obvious example). And Umair Irfan examines some of the dangerous economic and social side effects of unprecedented heat waves.

- Matthieu Vincente highlights how the classification of workers can serve as a barrier to the exercise of collective bargaining rights and employment protections. And Tom Ayers reports on the large-scale use of foreign workers in Kameron Coal's Donkin mine at wages far beyond those offered to domestic workers - with few consequences for the operators who have breached the law to make that happen, even as the employer complains that even having its egregious violations reported publicly is too much.

- The CP and Leader-Post report on Rachel Notley's recognition that a responsible government can't simply leave rural residents stranded without transportation options - which is unfortunately in stark contrast to the Saskatchewan Party's apparent view.

- Brennan MacDonald and Vassy Kapelos point out that Justin Trudeau's decision to plow billions of public dollars into the Trans Mountain pipeline has served to give Donald Trump additional leverage in trade negotiations (among other worrisome consequences).

- Finally, Real Lavergne and Gisela Ruckert offer some vital background information for British Columbia voters about their electoral reform referendum.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Musical interlude

The War On Drugs - In Chains

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- The Economist discusses how income and wealth inequality lead to disproportionate influence on the part of the rich:
The relation between concentrated wealth and the political power of the rich is scarcely limited to political spending, or to America. The rich have many means to shape public opinion: financing nominally apolitical think-tanks, for instance, or buying media outlets. Although their power may sometimes be used to influence the result of a particular vote, it is often deployed more subtly, to shape public narratives about which problems deserve attention. Mr Epp and Mr Borghetto analysed bills brought before the parliaments of nine European countries between 1941 and 2014. Rising inequality, they found, is associated with political agendas more focused on matters related to “social order”, such as crime and immigration. Issues such as economic justice are crowded out. They attribute this to the “negative agenda power” of the rich. As their wealth increases, they have a greater ability to press politicians to emphasise some topics rather than others.

The evidence that concentrated wealth contributes to concentrated power is troubling. It suggests that reducing inequality becomes less likely even as it becomes more urgent. It implies that a vicious cycle of rising inequality may be developing, with a loss of democratic accountability as a nasty side-effect.
- Meanwhile, Jeff Stein reports on the global decline in business tax rates which has resulted from the corporate sector largely dictating the terms of political debate. Duncan Cameron writes that any tax system will influence the composition of our public discourse - and that for too long Canada's system (among others) has privileged the wealthy while silencing voices for progressive change. And PressProgress exposes one of the B.C. Libs' secret big-money fund-raising events. 

- Katherine Boothe debunks some myths about a national pharmacare program - and in particular the claim that there's any public benefit in handing the pharmaceutical industry exorbitant prices for an already-limited set of drugs under the status quo. And Steve Morgan discusses how Doug Ford's move to limit Ontario's public plan to make prescription drugs available to youth is a step in the wrong direction.

- Kevin Carmichael points out how parents would benefit far more from a universally accessible child care system than from child benefits alone. 

- Finally, Eleanor Ainge Roy reports on the introduction of paid domestic violence leave in New Zealand in order to ensure people facing personal threats aren't trapped by work obligations, while CBC News discusses its imminent implementation in New Brunswick as well.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

New column day

Here, on how Saskatchewan may be in the eye of a global heat storm, but shouldn't use that as an excuse to keep contributing to increasingly-dangerous climate change.

For further reading...
- Scientific American's temperature circle highlights how every country in the world is seeing higher temperatures than normal. And Brandon Miller surveys the recent heat wave around the globe. 
- CBC has reported on the recent extreme temperatures in Quebec and Ontario, British Columbia, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
- And again, the Prairie Climate Centre has examined the likely results of climate change for Saskatchewan - which even on their own would justify far more than the sad excuse for a plan offered up by the Saskatchewan Party.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- The Equality Trust makes its submission to a UK study of social mobility by pointing out the need for increased equality as the first step:
To genuinely improve social mobility in the UK, the over-arching policy priority has to be for a massive and sustained reduction in economic inequality (so both income and wealth). This will require bold policies and, crucially, for such policies to be carried forward as an integrated Inequality Reduction Strategy, embedded across all government departments. Our new national Manifesto for a Fairer Society outlines the sort of policy changes required.

While we support the dissemination of best practice that promotes high educational attainment we are sceptical that it will have much impact. Interventions that try to correct for the impact of inequality on social mobility (early years education intervention, parenting interventions and so on) have (a) a very weak evidence base and (b) fail to address the "causes of the causes" (thus the interventions will be needed for ever and ever) and are (c) very expensive and, therefore, subject to changes in governments and political priorities (and in relation to political priorities, we would like to state that there is no evidence that expanding grammar schools will improve our education system or our chronic social immobility, in fact, quite the reverse).

In any event, such interventions cannot be expected to correct the enormous dead-weight of problems created by inequality for families - debt, long working hours and chronic stress leading to more mental and physical illness.
- Allie Conti discusses a new research paper on the detachment of the ultra-rich from the rest of society. And Jay Willis notes that the Trump administration's giveaways to the wealthy are only making matters worse.

- Meanwhile,  Bruce Japsen points out how Trump's barriers to social benefits will drastically increase administration costs and limit access without serving any useful purpose.

- Raffy Boudjikanian reports on TransAlta's laundering of its coal lobbying effort through the University of Alberta.

- Finally, Palko Karasz writes about the wave of ocean-dumped garbage now hitting the Dominican Republic and other coastlines. Julia Short points out how climate change has made our oceans more acidic than they've been in millions of years. Umair Irfan discusses what has made rising temperatures particularly dangerous for residents of areas not build to account for them. Ryan Cooper offers a reminder that reining in climate change offers substantial economic opportunities, while ignoring it will only cause economic harm in the long run. And Jonathan Watts highlights how our consumption of natural resources has continued to grow to increasingly unsustainable levels.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading...

- Thomas Torslov, Ludvig Wier and Gabriel Zucman examine the shifting of corporate profits to tax havens - and the false promise that corporate tax cuts will serve any purpose other than to undermine the collection of needed revenue by countries with real economies. And Liz Alderman notes that Portugal's rejection of austerity has led to better economic and social results than the alternative of cuts and suffering.

- Tom Saler writes about new archaeological research tracing inequality dating back thousands of years - and finding it to be a matter of choice rather than inevitability. And Meagan Day points out that inequality (particularly at the very top) continues to get worse by the year.

- Alex Finnis reports on the UK's largest jump in poverty since Margaret Thatcher was in power. Thiemo Fezter studies (PDF) the role the UK Cons' austerity played in fomenting support for the far-right UKIP as well as the disastrous Brexit vote. And Polly Toynbee writes about the added demands being placed on the UK's citizenry to plan for their government's irresponsibility out of already-limited resources:
Eight years of austerity has only cut debt by shifting a financial deficit on to a social deficit everywhere else. Philip Hammond, the chancellor and austerian-in-chief, has said taxes must rise to pay for the NHS, but he will return to his autumn budget besieged by needs in every threadbare service. Austerity was not accompanied by telling the public to expect less of everything for ever.
...
 or now, the Brexit crisis distracts from all its other failures. When the former attorney general Dominic Grieve tells Sky News that no deal will cast us into “a state of emergency – basic services we take for granted might not be available”, Cassandra-like, he is ignored as Project Fear mark two. But when Doug Gurr, the head of Amazon UK – no political player – warns of “civil unrest” within two weeks of a no-deal guillotine, we should all sit up and pay attention. He said that to Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, at a meeting with business chiefs last Friday: Amazon is making contingency plans.

Everyone will take fright at the government’s own warnings to businesses and households. John Manzoni, the head of the civil service, told MPs last week that a no-deal break would be “almost unimaginable”, and have “horrendous consequences”. Already the government warns that the M26 in Kent will be a “holding area” for 1,400 trucks to ease gridlock as 10,000 lorries a day are potentially delayed by new EU customs checks. Mazoni warns of the need to stockpile food and medicines: “We have to put contingencies in place.” Stockpiling food – that’s an order to panic! And why not – half our food is imported, of which 80% comes from Europe via Dover.
...
Conspiracy theorists claim a “deep state” really controls this country, a civil service and a dark establishment that prevent any radical change. That theory is now being tested to destruction. This has been the worst session of parliament in recent memory: the next may be worse. There is no deep state – nothing out there to save us from self-inflicted disaster. Only we can save us from ourselves.
- Samira Shackle discusses the value of viewing crime primarily as a condition to be treated, rather than an excuse to inflict punishment.

- Finally, Duncan Cameron makes the case for a national public bus service to more than fill the void left by Greyhound's disappearance.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cats at rest.





Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Matt Bruenig points out that public ownership of businesses produces a number of beneficial incidental effects, including by ensuring that knowledge and investment stay in place over time rather than being subject to the whims of the capital class.

- Sarah Smarsh discusses how a failure by politicians to take on the corporate class has opened the door for people to vote for self-destructive populism. And Mike Colledge and Chris Martyn comment on the need to foster shared values and interests - including our common humanity and empathy for people in need - as an antidote.

- Steven Singer notes that any attempt to draw correlations between private schools and educational outcomes can be traced readily to differences in income.

- Alicia Bridges reports on the aftermath of Husky's salt water leak near Turtleford. And Global News reports on the belated investigation into the release of toxic gas affecting Unity - resulting in precisely zero consequences to the business responsible other than an order to comply with the law it was violating in the first place.

- Finally, Alex Ballingall and Alex Boutilier rightly challenge the rhetoric portraying the presence of refugees in Canada as a crisis. And Liam Casey tells the stories of a few of the refugees awaiting the hearing of their refugee claims in Toronto.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Giri Sivaraman and Jim Stanford challenge the right-wing dogma that unions - and unions alone among private actors - should be expected to provide benefits independent of any contributions. Fiona Onasanya discusses the need for collective action to push back against exploitation by corporate behemoths like Amazon. And Doug Nesbitt highlights the role organized labour plays in combating workplace racism.

- Meanwhile, Noah Smith points out that Donald Trump's giveaways to the wealthy have predictably resulted in wage cuts for workers. And Josh Hoxie tallies up the U.S.' lost public revenue just from tax cuts implemented since 2000 at $10 trillion.

- Katherine Martinko warns against putting too much stock in corporate branding campaigns rather than laws and policies which meaningfully improve environmental outcomes.

- David Suzuki reminds us that we can't hide from the consequences of climate change. And Karen Bartko reports on the latest spills in Alberta's oil patch.

- Finally, Jacob Serebrin reports on new research showing how Quebec's public child care system has enabled a far larger number of women to participate in the workforce.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

On public interests

Plenty of others have pointed out the most direct lie in Jason Kenney's attempt to blame Alberta's NDP for the decisions of an Ontario court dealing with Carillion's Canadian bankruptcy. But it's worth taking a look at the much more fundamental lie at the core of Kenney's complaint.

As mentioned in the very article linked to by Kenney, the privatization of Alberta's highway maintenance operations took place under his Conservative predecessors.

It was the PCs who put a high-risk foreign operator in charge of maintaining a wide swath of the province's highways in the first place (PDF) due to their distaste for public services. And they further put the public at Carillion's mercy (PDF) just in time for the corporate house of cards to come toppling down. 

In response, Alberta's NDP has been criticizing (PDF) the PC's determination to push public-sector austerity as an excuse for privatization, and calling for decisions about infrastructure to be made by and in the interests of citizens.

Needless to say, that fault line remains between the two parties. The NDP continues to want public services to function under public control for the benefit of citizens and local businesses alike. And Kenney continues to be determined to undermine public services by selling them off or exposing them to corporate competition or control at every turn.

Of course, neither Kenney nor his corporate backers are about to let the facts get in the way of an attack on Rachel Notley. But voters in Alberta (and elsewhere) should note that there's only way to avoid having the public interest turned into an afterthought in business proceedings - and that's to make sure Kenney and his ilk don't get to lock governments into privatization scams.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Katie Dangerfield reports on new research showing that carbon pricing can be an economic benefit, while unrestrained climate change would be disastrous. Bill Curry and Shawn McCarthy report that Scott Moe has eagerly lumped himself in with Doug Ford as Canada's most ignorant premiers, as the rest of the country's provincial leaders are still working toward meaningful climate policy. And David Climenhaga notes that the climate-denier coalition is relying purely on political bluster rather than any plausible constitutional argument.

- Noah Smith examines the impact of academic research funding, and finds that directing money toward universities which already have plenty of wealth and prestige makes for a poor use of research dollars.

- Edward Keenan exposes the utter failure of John Tory's privatization of fire inspections which left fire safety in Toronto in the hands of a fraud.

- Douglas Todd discusses how the polarization of first-past-the-post politics does far more to boost extremism than a more proportional system which tends to require that multiple viewpoints be addressed in a governing coalition. 

- Finally, CBC reports on the rightful outrage in response to the Saskatchewan Party's attempt to remove the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp through the courts.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Hugh MacKenzie comments on the continued need for an adult conversation about public revenue, including the importance of bringing in enough in taxes to fund the services which serve everybody's best interests:
The disconnect between public services and the taxes we pay to provide them that has dominated the Canadian political narrative for the past quarter-century isn’t just quirk of politics that we can just file under the heading “lies our politicians keep telling us.” That disconnect matters. It invites us to vote for a property tax freeze, a sales tax cut, an income-tax cut — even if it doesn’t benefit us much. It invites us to disregard the reality that governments have a responsibility to ensure the ability to pay for the public services that we depend on.
...
None of the tax cutters ever has the guts to be honest with people about the impact of reduced revenue on public services. But the pattern has been repeated over and over again across Canada.
In 1992, the five-year average of total government expenditures as a share of GDP was 48.6 per cent. In 2016, the five-year average was 40.1 per cent — in the context of today’s $2 trillion economy, that’s worth $170 billion in lost spending on public services.

We see clear crisis indicators of decline everywhere we look:
  • Crumbling public infrastructure. 
  • An elementary and secondary education system whose funding cannot meet the needs of today’s students. 
  • Post-secondary tuition that is now more than triple what it was 25 years ago. 
  • The lack [of] affordable housing and the rise in homelessness. 
  • A public health insurance system that excludes the fastest growing component of health care costs (pharmaceutical drugs) and that is straining to meet the needs of an aging population.
And now, in Ontario, here we go again, with a clear denial of the link between taxes and public services “no dollar is better spent — than the dollar that is left in the pockets of the taxpayer” elevated from meaningless political rhetoric to a line in the official Throne Speech of the new provincial government.

Nine years on, the report card on the adult conversation we need to have about taxes and public services can be summed up in two phrases: missing in action; and still badly needed.
- Meagan Day discusses the gap between CEOs and the rest of us as highlighted by Bernie Sanders' town hall on work and inequality. Debbie Weingarten notes that the vacations taken for granted by many aren't available to people scraping by in precarious work situations. And Maham Abedi writes about the personal stress caused by poverty.

- M.H. Miller writes about the crushing effect of personal debt on U.S. workers. And Hailie Salvian reports on Saskatchewan's number of mortgages in arrears which is disturbingly high both in historical context, and in comparison to every other Canadian province.

- Finally, Nicholas Keung reports on an audit showing how Canada's treatment of immigrants is already biased toward arbitrary long-term detention, while Nora Loreto fully expects matters to get worse with Bill Blair having been put in charge of a new anti-immigrant portfolio due to his lock-'em-up track record. Lana Payne calls out the Cons for stoking xenophobia as a matter of cynical political calculation. And Dan Zakreski reports on the attack on Abu Sheikh as yet another example of the violence being perpetrated in the name of bigotry.

[Edit: added link.]