Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Mark Kaufman puts our continually-rising greenhouse gas emissions in historical context, with atmospheric concentrations exceeding what they've been in the previous 15 million years. Jason MacLean points out the folly of responding to an imminent and extreme threat with tepid pricing alone rather than an immediate transition to clean energy. And Gillian Steward discusses Jason Kenney's desire to use public funds to fight the oil industry's war against the planet as being as politically pointless as it is environmentally destructive.

- Ben Parfitt rightly argues against the use of secret deals to exempt major British Columbia projects from environmental assessments.

- Laurie MacFarlane writes that wealth accumulation tends to result more from power and privilege than from productivity. And Jake Johnson notes that the U.S. economy is thoroughly distorted by the influence of a few dynastic families.

- Emma Paling reports on Danyaal Raza's recognition that Doug Ford's regressive labour policies will lead to avoidable strain on Ontario's health care system.

- Finally, Kristin Eberhard points out how a proportional electoral system can ensure that low-income and marginalized people are able to fully exercise the voting power they deserve - and thus see their interests reflected in government policies:
ProRep is associated with more progressive tax policies, more aid for lower-income families, more investment in institutions that decrease inequality (such as public education), and decreased inequality, according to a 2006 statistical analysis of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member states. Why? Partly because center-right governments tend to dominate in winner-take-all countries, whereas center-left governments fare better in ProRep systems. But regardless of party control, the analysis found, ProRep fosters greater equality. ProRep center-left governments are simply more ambitious in their policies to enhance equality than center-left governments in winner-take-all countries, probably because coalition dynamics in ProRep countries give more power to low-income voters. 

ProRep countries spend more on reducing poverty and public health. Public health scholars have pointed out that “poverty rates and government support in favour of health—the extent of government transfers—is higher when the popular vote is more directly translated into political representation through proportional representation.” In 2008, scholars concluded that the lack of proportional representation in Canada “is associated with higher poverty rates and less government action in support of health.”

Electoral systems that translate the will of the people to representatives, as ProRep does, pass policies that people want. When voters want a more equal society, ProRep countries deliver. Winner-take-all countries, with their distorted electoral results, also pass distorted policies that exacerbate inequality. 

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