Saturday, February 03, 2018

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Thomas Kochan takes a look at what workers would want done with the cost of corporate tax cuts if they weren't being silenced by the U.S.' corporatist political system. And Steven Greenhouse points out a new set of protests and strikes intended to make sure that advocates for low-income people are heard.

- Marjory Givens, David Kindig, Paula Tran Inzeo and Victoria Faust write about the role of power imbalances in influencing health outcomes - as well as how we can use the power we have to improve matters:
What this history also demonstrates is how a sustained imbalance in power that consistently benefits some over others can become reinforced in the systems and structures that affect decision making and resource allocation. The resulting dynamic creates persistent and avoidable inequities through the decisions produced but also through the reinforced opportunity to accrue resources, such as money, knowledge, or influence, that benefit those in positions of power. In other words, those who lack power experience inequities in opportunity and health. As stated by Anthony Iton in the documentary series Unnatural Causes, “Powerlessness is making us sick.”

Advancing equity, therefore, requires attention to power (as a determinant) and empowerment, or building power (as a process). We have seen efforts to build and exercise power to advance equity in grassroots social movements that address sustained imbalances, including the campaign for women’s suffrage, resulting in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, and the Civil Rights Movement. And although important health-promoting policies such as the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and Earned Income Tax Credits have been achieved through the skillful use of power by leaders across many sectors, we also have a glimpse of how tenuous these policies may be when the systems and structures for decision making and resource allocation themselves are not changed.
We can take direct action on root causes of health inequities by translating evidence to practice and policy. We can show up in support of social justice movements. We can grow meaningful relationships with community organizers and policy makers that increase appreciation of community science and restore credibility and trust in research. We can shift the narrative around the things we know shape health, making the most of the strategic levers and influence that scientists can have. These are all ways we can use the power we have to advance health equity.
- Meanwhile, Amanda Michelle Gomez discusses how the U.S.' cuts to disease control pose a global public health risk.

- The Mound of Sound rightly calls out Justin Trudeau's appalling declaration that his government won't lift a finger to combat climate change unless new pipelines are built to make the problem worse. And Jessica Vomiero reports on Suncor's plans to mechanize ore-hauling among other Alberta operations - confirming that any push for pipelines or other tar sands-friendly policy has nothing at all to do with benefiting workers as opposed to wealthy investors and donors.

- Finally, Lana Payne discusses how adding women changes politics for the better.


  1. Sub-Boreal2:26 p.m.

    The doubling-down of Notley and Trudeau on tar sands pipelines points out the unfortunate lack of scientific training in our political class.

    There are too many lawyers, poli sci grads, social workers, and business-people in politics - and not enough scientists. It's as though atmospheric CO2 was some kind of aggrieved ethnic minority which could be pacified by some symbolic actions. The idea that there are immovable physical and chemical realities which don't respond to our magical thinking seems inconceivable to our leaders.

  2. I'd like to think people in other professions can recognize the universal implications of climate change. But the issue seems to be less one of professional backgrounds than one of wrongly-assumed political necessity - and I don't think we can afford to let that assumption go unchallenged.

  3. Excellent blog article. Time for government and political leaders to wake up and take decisive action on tobacco taxes.

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