Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Faiza Shaheen discusses the UK Cons' attempts to paper over the harmful effects of austerity. And Amir Fleischmann points out that while the human cost of cuts to public services is all too real, the supposed fiscal benefits are usually illusory:
Many social programs that fiscal conservatives advocate cutting have been shown to actually save the government money in the long run.

Let’s take providing affordable housing and adequate shelters in order to end homelessness as an example. In the rare moments such policies are even discussed, we are told that public affordable housing provision and shelters are too expensive to be feasible.

But academic research has shown that homelessness is actually very expensive, because homeless people tend to cost the government a great deal of money in healthcare and criminal justice system services. In fact, people experiencing homelessness tend to cost $3,810 per person per year greater than the average citizen in terms of justice services and $10,217 per person greater than the average citizen in terms of healthcare services. The cost of homelessness support programs range from a couple thousand dollars to just over $14,000 per person annually.

Set aside any moral obligation we might have to help the homeless — failing to meaningfully address homelessness is the more costly policy. We simply cannot afford austerity.

The same logic applies to universal early childcare. While fiscal conservatives tell us that we cannot afford quality universal early childcare, the truth is that we can’t afford not to have it.

- Charles Hugh Smith comments on the difference between free trade generally, and the capital-biased agreements which are sold using its rhetoric. But then, Jonathan Chait points out that right-wing corporatist dogma only seems to become further entrenched no matter how many times it proves to be utterly detached from reality. 

- Damon Matthews and Daniel Horen Greenford write that it's impossible to reconcile a rational climate change policy with continued fossil fuel expansion. But Paul Jay reports on the oil money and influence which has pushed Canada's public policy discussion away from that reality.

- Meanwhile, Graham Readfearn reports on new research showing high concentrations of plastic particles in bottled water.

- Finally, Adam Serwer discusses the culture of impunity surrounding the U.S.' use of torture - which he also sees as applying to a wide range of other activity by privileged people as well.

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