Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Sabrina Shankman discusses new research showing how the climate crisis will affect today's youth. And Bill McKibben highlights why we can't afford to delay in reining in catastrophic climate change.

- But Damian Carrington reports on fossil fuel extraction projections which far exceed what we can afford, while Justin Lavoie notes that the Canada Pension Plan is betting on the fossil fuel sector being allowed to overshoot its emission targets. And Laura Kane reports on how the Trans Mountain pipeline has received hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies beyond the purchase price paid by the federal government.

- The News & Observer confirms that the utter failure of top-end tax cuts to help anybody but the richest few applies to North Carolina like every other jurisdiction.

- The BBC reports on UK Labour's plans to ensure that workers take back control of their economic direction. And Dawn Foster discusses the all-too-rare phenomenon of a political party running on a clear plan to improve people's lives.

- Finally, The Loop interviews Danyaal Raza about the predictable connection between privatized health care and longer wait times for all but the wealthiest few. And The Local points out how people's health suffers as a result of the lower tier of care offered in the prison system.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Alert cats.

On choice giveaways

There's been plenty worth criticizing about Scott Moe's combination of laughable demands of the federal government and refusal to take responsibility for anything his government is doing at home. But let's take note of yet another example of the Saskatchewan Party's fanatical focus on freebies for resource exploiters with no regard for anybody else:
The new document also includes at least one instance of the government walking back a decision made in the deeply unpopular 2017-18 budget — the choice to reinstate a $14-million provincial sales tax exemption for mining exploration and downhole drilling.
Of course, it was in that same budget that the PST was also added to construction - a move which continues to affect the ability of anybody in Saskatchewan to build literally anything. But any development of homes or businesses is apparently well down Moe's priority list compared to giveaways for oil drilling.

It was also the 2017 budget which shuttered STC. Concidentally, that required provincial grants of just under $14 million to help people and goods move all around the province - which is also apparently far less of a concern for Moe's Sask Party than handing subsidies to oil and mining conglomerates.

And the many other sectors which have seen direct harm from the Saskatchewan Party's cuts and choices - from film to restaurants to renewable energy - are still being told there's nothing for them. But the dying fossil fuel sector continues to be showered with incentives.

In other words, Jason Kenney isn't the only premier treating economic diversification as a negative while actively trying to become even more dependent on volatile resource prices. And the fact that resource exploitation is once again being given priority over people's well-being should confirm that nothing's going to change for the better until the Saskatchewan Party is ousted from power.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board writes that Canada needs to do its part to avert as much of the impending climate breakdown as can be avoided.

- Chris Kennedy rightly points out that Canada's responsibility includes the fossil fuels we're subsidizing for export - encouraging other countries to pollute our planet while shifting the damage off our own books. And Brennan Doherty offers a reminder that the tar sands' pollution levels are increasing.

- Meanwhile, Kate Aronoff comments on the connection between climate policy and resource extraction, while noting that there are severe limits on what can be accomplished merely by substituting the resources we churn through without changing the mindset of exploitation. And Derrick O'Keefe writes about the need to fight against Bolivia's racist coup.

- Finally, Andrew Woodcock reports on research showing that UK Labour's plan to nationalize water, energy and mail would pay for itself within a mere seven years.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jeremy Rifkin sets out how Canada can implement a Green New Deal - while also reminding us of the costs of failing to do so. And Brett Dolter charts the path toward net zero emissions from Saskatchewan's perspective - even as Scott Moe's government confirms the sad reality that it's chosen to hit the snooze button for another decade.

- Brandon Doucet writes that it's long past time for Canada to provide universal dental care to its residents.

- Owen Jones writes that UK Labour's promise of free universal broadband access hearkens back to its great nation-building work of the past. And Miranda Hall comments on the broader social and economic benefits of making sure everybody can connect to the world.

- Jim Stanford points out that rather than representing a particularly new development, the gig economy is based on all-too-familiar principles including workers supplying their own equipment and taking the risk of work not materializing.

- Finally, Jim Tankersley, Peter Eavis and Ben Casselman report on the U.S.' precipitous drop in revenue from large corporations - including Fedex taking its taxes paid down to zero - which hasn't been matched with any discernible investment. And Robert Reich writes about the laughable attempt by billionaires and their paid flunkies to pretend that fair taxes on the wealthy would lead to anything but a more equitable distribution of income and wealth.

On unreliable suppliers

There's been plenty of bluster between Jason Kenney and Yves-Francois Blanchet over equalization and its relationship to the oil industry. But it's worth pointing out that to the extent Quebec (or any other province or jurisdiction) currently relies on fossil fuels from Alberta, Kenney himself has gone out of his way to make that an unacceptable risk. 

After all, Kenney's very first act in office was to declare that any supply of oil to a province which has concerns about pipelines can be cut off at any moment - taking what was already a dangerous symbol, and turning it into an immediate threat.

For the moment, there's a temporary injunction preventing Kenney from acting on it. But there's no indication he's backed off of the initial inclination to try to blackmail his province's customers into further endangering their own environment as the price of having any access to Alberta oil.

That represents an obvious reason why any Canadian province should be hesitant to make itself any more reliant on the tar sands than it can possibly avoid - particularly in deciding whether to accept the construction of long-term oil infrastructure. And even independent of the climate dangers of avoidable fossil fuel consumption, the safe course of action for any province looks to be to wean itself off the supply of an unscrupulous pusher as soon as possible.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Chris Hedges writes about the damage oligarchs are doing to humanity and the planet. And Dominic Rushe points out how whiny the people who have rigged the economy toward their own concentration of obscene wealth become when they face the slightest hint of being asked to contribute to the common good. 

- David Roberts writes that Donald Trump's impeachment proceedings represent what may be the most important clash of truth against the Republican noise machine. And Drew Anderson discusses how any talk about Alberta separation mirrors the U.S. Republican instinct to try to choose an electorate willing to endorse policies which will never be supported on a national scale.

- Duncan Cameron calls out Jason Kenney's fake populism. And Scott Schmidt writes that Kenney's posturing against Ottawa is intended as a distraction from the harm he's doing to his own province.

- Speaking of which, Ali Hogg's discussion of how "religious freedom" laws serve as a cover for bigotry is entirely applicable to the UCP's introduction of Bill 207 to deny health care based on religious dogma.

- Finally, Andy Beckett writes that Labour's forceful progressive push is redefining what's possible in the UK. And Meagan Day points out that American voters have a much-needed option to vote for more freedom from bosses both in terms of work hours and personal control.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- PressProgress highlights the latest example of the obscene concentration of wealth in Canada, as a mere 45 people own more than the GDP of over half the country's provinces and territories.

- Paul Precht dispels any myth that Alberta's anti-tax ideology has anything to do with its economic development. And the Canadian Press confirms with the former CEO of AIMCO that any move to withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan has nothing to do with pension security or efficiency.

- Gary Younge comments on the unfair advantage the UK Cons get from that country's corporate media. And Aditya Chakrabortty notes that the Cons have also used public money to lie about the damage done by their cruel austerity measures.

- Mehreen Khan reports on the Netherlands' shift away from exceptionally high speed limits due to their climate impact. And Ben Parfitt points out the large public subsidies for fossil fuels in British Columbia - largely due to the continuation of credits which were once intended to spur unproven types of development, but became seen as an entitlement by the industry.

- Finally, Jerry Dias and Andrew Bernhard write that it's long past time for foreign media corporations which make massive profits in Canada to start contributing - both by paying taxes, and by generating Canadian content.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Musical interlude

Tame Impala - Patience

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Rylan Higgins argues that it's long past time to move beyond a boom-and-bust oilpatch economy. And Ryan Meili writes that workers and residents alike stand to benefit from a shift to clean energy - including through the solar industry which was so abruptly shut down by the Moe government.

- But Wal van Lierop highlights how the fossil fuel sector is instead being subsidized - with the effect of stalling the transition to cleaner energy. And Mia Rabson reports that a promised federal inventory and review of fossil fuel subsidies is behind schedule.

- All of which means that it's no surprise that Canada is far behind our international peers in addressing greenhouse gas emissions - even as the global trends and goals fall short of what's needed to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown.

- Paul Krugman points out how the Trump administration's promotion of pollution will result in easily-preventable deaths. And the Price Of Oil project has mapped out the tens of thousands of documented oil spills in Saskatchewan as a vivid indication of the damage done by poorly-regulated polluters.

- Finally, Moira Wyton reports on the Kenney UCP's biased survey intended to grease the skids to remove protections for workers. And Mark Thompson and David Fairey make the case for British Columbia to launch an inquiry into gig work to ensure that workers aren't exploited by corporations avoiding the normal responsibilities of an employer.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thursday Evening Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Dayen highlights a rare moment of honesty from the payday loan sharks in their recognition that fair wages would reduce the consumer desperation underpinning their business model. And Brendan Greeley discusses the wealth tax - the merits of which are only proven by the theatrical outrage coming from the people exploiting the public and the planet to add to their own useless hoards of money.

- Lisa Friedman reports on the Trump administration's plan to avoid having industry-led environmental destruction derailed by accurate science.

- William Rees offers his suggestions for the elements needed in an effective Green New Deal. And Kirsten Patrick notes that Canada's twin voter priorities of improving health and ameliorating the climate crisis go hand in hand.

- Finally, Robin Sears argues that we need to plug the loophole enabling large-scale anonymous political advertising in Canada. And Gary Dale offers a reminder of the problems with an electoral system in which most votes are wasted.

New column day

Here, on how Scott Moe has been left alone and isolated by the supposed "resistance". (Though I'll admit I underestimated his willingness to declare his unthinking support for anything suggested by Jason Kenney.)

For further reading...
- Jacques Poitras reported that Blaine Higgs' sensible response to the federal election has been to stop fighting carbon pricing and get to work on developing a plan for New Brunswick.  The Canadian Press reported on Brian Pallister's rejection of Western separatism - though he deserves to be called out for misleadingly implying that provinces can't already avoid the federal carbon price by having a climate plan of their own. And Robert Benzie and Rob Ferguson noted that even Doug Ford started toning down his posturing toward the federal government since the election.
- Dave Cournoyer puts Kenney's "autonomy panel" in historical context.
- Joel Dryden discusses what a province forgoing the Canada Pension Plan would actually look like, while David Climenhaga points out that any scheme to take existing money away from the CPP is on shaky ground. And the Canadian Press confirms that Kenney's talk about endangering his province's pension security is purely a matter of spite.
- Finally, Norm Farrell discusses how Alberta has been suffering for its decision to use resource revenue to avoid making rational plans for the future.

On rejected applications

Let's see what Scott Moe is demanding from the federal government now...
On the immigration file, one goal is to “assert provincial control over the [Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program] (SINP).”
Interesting. Now, there's certainly reason to question Moe's governance in a lot of areas. But surely he wouldn't be so foolish as to push for additional power over the exact program where his government is currently embroiled in a scandal...
Zhang said her consultant told her she wouldn't even have to live in Saskatchewan or personally run the business. She said a representative of the GTEC developer, Brightenview International, promised the same thing.

However, an arrangement like that is against the rules. The entrepreneurial category of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) requires applicants to actively run their own business and live in the province.
In an email to CBC, Saskatoon lawyer Clara Bitzer, who has worked on several GTEC-related immigration files including Zhang's, said the project was "wholeheartedly endorsed by the government of Saskatchewan which went out of its way to encourage these applications."

(S)ince GTEC was launched, SINP has written letters of support for one hundred applicants. Sixty of those have been approved by Ottawa to start their business at GTEC. He said that so far the province has nominated one of those applicants for permanent residency.

MacFadden said he doesn't know the status of the forty that have not been approved by Ottawa. Brightenview acknowledges that some of them, like Zhang, have received denial letters from the federal government.
In other words, Scott Moe is loudly standing up for Saskatchewan scams, demanding that the federal government step aside from its jurisdiction over immigration to make sure nobody discovers his government's incompetence or the fraud it enables.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- PressProgress examines the damage Doug Ford wants to inflict on children in Ontario's education system. Fareed Khan calls out the right-wing politicians acting like spoiled children rather than responsible decision-makers. And Rick Smith discusses how to develop public policy to withstand the vandalism of today's conservatives:
(A) tangible connection to people’s daily lives is key.  Amongst their frenzy of repeal aimed at environmental policy and regulation, Doug Ford and his cronies have decided that the Greenbelt is untouchable.  One reason for this is doubtless that the Greenbelt is a physical place on the map, demarcated by numerous signs on the highway.  Ontarians have become accustomed to its presence and value it highly.  Similarly, in Alberta, Jason Kenney doesn’t dare attempt a full-blown repeal of the minimum wage, even if he hopes to chip away at it.

A second and related lesson is that policies that entrench rights in a universal manner are more enduring and far harder to undo. The Ford government doesn’t dare meddle with full-day kindergarten in the same way that it’s eliminating many other kinds of programmes. Why?  Because full-day kindergarten has become an integral part of our publicly-funded school system, available to all, and is now regarded by Ontario families as an essential service.

These lessons are every bit as applicable in a federal context.

Given the ease with which Ford eliminated Ontario’s partial, means-tested experiment with Pharmacare, the Trudeau Liberals would be doing Canadians a huge disservice to repeat this experience at the federal level.  The example of Medicare demonstrates better than anything the resilience of universal programs over small-scale reforms that are easily reversed after a single change of government.  We need universal Pharmacare now, not some piecemeal and underfunded half-measure.  In a recent Abacus poll for the Broadbent Institute, 78% of Canadians (and, interestingly, two-thirds of Conservative voters) support the federal government moving forward with universal, not partial, Pharmacare as a top priority.

With respect to climate change:  Carbon taxation, even when fully implemented, will be bickered over and — like all taxes, increased and decreased — by different governments over the next few decades.  Yes, we need to price carbon, but a massive green jobs creation program and rapid scale-up of permanent electric vehicle infrastructure would be impossible for even the most ardent climate-denier to demolish.
- Thera Kumar likewise calls for the Libs to follow through on a national pharmacare program - though it's worth noting they've been more slippery in any "promise" than Kumar implies. Aaron Carroll notes that even relatively small co-pay requirements can cause severe harm by preventing people from accessing needed medication. And Nicola Davis reports on the increase in childhood pneumonia under the UK Cons as a painful example of the price of social neglect.

- Grant Cameron reports on the CCPA's research showing that P3s only add to the price tag for infrastructure. And Ian Mulgrew reports on the progress of British Columbia's money laundering inquiry as a vivid example of a laissez-faire attitude run amok.

- Finally, Vaughn Palmer writes about the unexplained exploitation of B.C. consumers when it comes to gasoline prices. And David Leonhardt comments on the $5,000 annual cost to consumers arising from corporate consolidation in the U.S.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cuddly cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses how decades of laissez-faire economics and deference to the rich have undermined any effective democratic decision-making. Bruce Boghosian observes that structural change is needed to avoid a tendency toward the concentration of wealth and concurrent rise of inequality. And Owen Jones comments on the need to break up the billionaires' club rather than catering to it.

- Dale Marshall writes that contrary to the constant spin emanating from the same sources as historic climate change denial, Canada's oil industry is doing more environmental damage than ever. And Alex Lubben points out that the harm done by the recent Keystone spill will be virtually impossible to remediate.

- Geoff Leo reports on the shady immigration scheme associated linking the Saskatchewan Party government, the Global Transportation Hub and Brightenview - then follows up by reporting that it's only the latest public exposure that's forced Scott Moe to stop rubber-stamping questionable "investor" nominees.

- Meanwhile, the Brandon Sun highlights why Manitoba has every reason to question Brad Wall's judgment as he's been handed a political appointment to attack public power distribution.

- Finally, Nathaniel Dove reports on the deaths being caused by overcrowding in Saskatchewan's overburdened emergency rooms. And Murray Mandryk contrasts the Sask Party's obsession with megaprojects against the NDP's recognition that people need to come first.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Daniel Tencer reports on Ray Dalio's recognition that the economic system which made him a multi-billionaire is broken. And Harvey Cashore, Chelsea Gomez and Gillian Findlay report on the Liberal-connected tycoons who lobbied against any steps to stop the offshoring of wealth.

- Tom Conway discusses how employers are spying on their workers in order to increase their level of control while shutting down any attempts to unionize. Matthew Van Dongen notes that Hamilton's bus drivers face the need to strike just to secure real bathroom breaks. And Alex McKeen reports on Ravinder Singh's courageous steps to expose the exploitation of temporary foreign workers - and the need for our immigration system to ensure workers aren't punished for doing so.

- Mitchell Anderson examines Alberta's history of throwing away its natural resources. And Linda McQuaig offers a reminder that Canada has previously benefited from publicly-owned drug research and manufacturing.

- The Canadian Press reports on the food insecurity facing nearly half of the families living on First Nations in Canada.

- Finally, Murray Mandryk discusses how the Saskatchewan Party's callous response to reports about lead in the water in Saskatchewan cities reflects a government which is itself in dire need of replacement.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Arwa Mahdawi writes that the outsized influence wielded by billionaires makes them something beyond merely wealthy people. Tom Whyman challenges the worship of the excessively wealthy as a particularly destructive religion. Robert Reich points out that the means of accumulating a billion dollars bear no relationship to the public good. The New York Times' editorial board rightly notes that the concentration of wealth is an impediment to overall growth (to say nothing of shared prosperity).  And Rashaan Ayesh points out how that concentration continues apace, with the U.S.' wealthiest 1% now approaching the total riches of the country's entire middle and upper-middle classes.

- Meanwhile, Grace Blakeley writes that any effective plan to combat the climate crisis need to include systemic challenges to the current power of capital and its exploitation of everybody and everything around it.  And Michael Jacobs comments that the crisis of capitalism can't be solved with the same thinking that created our current imbalanced system.

- The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives offers some proposals which would do far more to make life affordable than tax cuts. Heather Scoffield discusses how the Cons limit their ability to respond to the needs of the public by refusing to acknowledge any value to tax revenues and the services they fund, while PressProgress notes that five companies alone are claiming billions of dollars in free tax giveaways from Jason Kenney's UCP while Alberta's people face grinding austerity.

- Pamela Palmater argues that the Trudeau Libs should take up a radical agenda to fight climate change and pursue reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, while Julia Rodgers suggests that a minority government should be expected to be more accountable. But Matthew Hayers offers a reminder how a distorted electoral system has created exactly the wrong incentives for any of those purposes.

- Finally, Tiffany Gooch makes the case for Canada to start living up to its commitments (and international standards) in funding foreign aid.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Saturday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- David Jones writes about the important benefits enjoyed by workers as the result of the efforts of the labour movement. And Arindrajit Dube studies the international effects of minimum wage increases, finding that they consistently improve lower-end wages while having little effect on job numbers.

- Meanwhile, Graeme Orr points out how Australia's government is misusing state power to silence the public in criticizing or boycotting exploitative corporations. And the Canadian Press reports on a new study making the seemingly obvious point that miners should be required to ensure they can pay to clean up their messes before being allowed to put the environment at risk.

- Catherine Carstairs hopes that a minority Parliament will be the impetus for Canada to finally move toward universal pharmacare.

- James Glave highlights how new building regulations are producing important reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. And the Star's editorial board calls for an end to heel-dragging in eliminating lead from Canada's drinking water.

- Finally, Mitch Potter writes that any Western separation movement lacks any basis in reality. PressProgress takes a look at what the people behind "Wexit" also stand for publicly - including explicit racial and gender discrimination. And David Parkinson offers a much-needed reminder that the rest of Canada has been asked to sacrifice to goose oil industry profits in the past - only to have the recipients of that sacrifice now making ill-informed complaints about somehow being singled out for economic punishment.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Musical interlude

Big Wreck - Too Far Gone

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Luke Savage responds to the attempt by neoliberals to escape growing discontent with corporate control and individual atomization by denying they actually represent a distinct position capable of being opposed:
The ubiquity of a particular phenomenon does not make discrete analysis of it useless; if anything, such omnipresence makes identifying it a more urgent and critical task. A phenomenon so diffuse that it seems manifest throughout politics, economics, and culture is hardly a chimera, and the apparent reticence of many commentators to recognize or even acknowledge its valence as a term can only be viewed as a symptom of neoliberalism’s continued stranglehold on our political, cultural, and intellectual life.

The longer something is a part of your reality, the more it tends to fade from your field of focus. Put another way: the more pervasive a particular object or phenomenon, the easier it can be to take its presence for granted. After its initially disruptive incursion in the 1980s, neoliberalism fast became a feature of our collective existence, so indelible many now seem unable to recall a time before it existed, let alone conceive a future that goes beyond it. An ideology secures hegemony at precisely the point it ceases to be considered an ideology: its claims transform into axioms; its theories harden into dogma; its abstruse vernacular becomes the lingua franca; its assumptions are subsumed under “common sense.”

That neoliberalism remains so poorly understood in the very political mainstream whose frontiers it now circumscribes is a testament to both the breathtaking scope of its counterrevolution, and the daunting task facing those of us who desire its overthrow. It is everywhere and therefore nowhere: at once so diaphanous it seems invisible; so internalized it appears inescapable.
- Cameron Fenton hopes that a minority Parliament will give rise to a Canadian Green New Deal. And Judy Rebick discusses what the NDP accomplished during the election campaign despite a disappointing outcome in terms of votes and seats.

- Desmond Brown reports on Toronto's continued lack of sufficient shelter spaces to ensure that homeless residents have safe places to sleep through the winter. And Robert Tibbo calls out Justin Trudeau for choosing to separate refugee families.

-Rob Ferguson reports on Doug Ford's plan to gift polluters with a low, one-time fee to dump hazardous substances wherever they want for as long as they want. And Matt Elliott notes that Ford's refrain about finding "government waste" has consistently been followed by a failure to find anything of the sort.

- Finally, Clifford Krauss discusses the flood of oil which looms as a potentially decisive threat to any hope of preserving a habitable climate.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Annie Lowrey highlights how low-income households are bearing the brunt of unequal inflation, as prices are increasing more quickly for their needs than for the luxuries bought by wealthier households.

- Paul Krugman comments on the delicate sensibilities of billionaires who refuse to accept even the slightest public discussion as to whether their obscene wealth is a desirable policy outcome. And Norm Farrell examines the role of corporate money across Canada's political scene.

- Gordon Laxer argues that the path toward national unity involves ensuring that all of Canada moves together toward a post-fossil fuel future. But Sharon Riley reports on the "deep state" lobbying which represents an increasingly large part of the efforts by oil companies to prevent any progress on that front.

- Meanwhile, Chris Turner discusses Canada's unique interaction between a strong environmental movement and an entrenched oil and gas sector. (And it may be worth noting how much time is being wasted on war rooms and secessionist rhetoric intended to try to deny or avoid the existence of the former.)

-  Kyle Bakx reports on the shutdown of Houston Oil & Gas - and the resulting liability for 1,300 orphan wells which will be left with the public.

- Finally, Nick Barlow discusses how an archaic first-past-the-post electoral system has contributed to the dysfunction in British politics.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Michael Spence discusses how a wealth tax can work, while noting that the worst possible response to growing inequality is to refuse to do anything. And the Centre for Labour and Social Studies summarizes the current class disparity in the UK, as well as some of the options to combat it.

- Hannah Hoag and Jack Marley survey some expert advice on what we need to do to respond to the climate crisis.

- Bob Ascah rightly points out that it's foolish to bet the economies of Alberta and Saskatchewan on the bare hope that handing money to big business will somehow produce an oil boom, rather than transitioning toward the industries of the future. And Nick Falvo lists a few key facts about Jason Kenney's devastating austerity budget.

- Doug Cuthand highlights the utter lack of plausibility to any western separatist threats. And Zach Laing notes that the forces trying to promote the issue beyond any reasonable level of attention include Russian disinformation and disruption campaigns alongside Jason Kenney and Scott Moe.

- Finally, Martha Mendoza examines Canada's widespread problem with unsafe drinking water. And Jennifer Ackerman and Katelyn Wilson focus on the high levels of lead in the water in parts of Saskatchewan's major cities.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Edgardo Sepulveda writes about Chile's popular revolt against austerity and inequality - while at the same time pointing out how Canada is foregoing the revenue needed to provide for people's basic needs.

- Nicole Aschoff discusses a few trends highlighted by actors in the housing market, while noting how they fit (or clash) with the overarching need to treat housing as a human right rather than a profit centre. And Michael Savage reports on UK Labour's plan to ensure warm homes for all (while at the same time drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions).

- Cory Doctorow details Google's alarming plans to claim absolute power over neighbourhoods, replacing both democratic governance and individual self-determination with total corporate control. And Kaushik Basu offers some suggestions to rein in the monopoly power of tech giants to ensure the Internet serves as a public good rather than a source of increased inequality.

- Patty Coates points out that Doug Ford's attempt to sound conciliatory following the federal election hasn't extended to any action to alleviate his government's threats to workers' safety and livelihood. And Duncan Cameron discusses how the federal Conservatives - like many of their provincial counterparts - have utterly abandoned any sense of socially responsible red Toryism in favour of exclusionary Republican fanaticism. 

- Finally, Robert Gebelhoff writes about the multiple manifestations of the climate crisis, including the destruction of entire ecosystems.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Musical interlude

Royksopp - Running To The Sea

Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Stephen Mihm writes that among other positive outcomes, wealth taxes and other progressive tax options reliably produce a boost in life satisfaction for a large number of people (while having little impact on the positional interests of the ultra-rich against each other). And Derek Thompson is the latest to point out that the Republicans' giveaway to the wealthy - like other trickle-down plans - failed even at its core goal of getting people with concentrated wealth to invest it.

- Meanwhile, David Macdonald examines the distributional impact of the tax cut the Libs are treating as their top priority. And PressProgress notes that the choice to burn fiscal capacity on top-heavy tax baubles rather than social priorities is a pattern for the Libs.

- The AP reports on a large Keystone pipeline leak in North Dakota. And Nives Dolsak and Aseem Prakash warn that the promise of long-term employment from dirty fossil fuels is as illusory as the claim that they don't put the environment at unacceptable risk.

- Richard Zussman reports that rather than kicking the can down the road in setting emission reduction targets as the Libs and Cons have done so many times, British Columbia's NDP government is setting near-term targets to reach its 2030 goal.

- Finally, Dominic O'Sullivan offers some lessons on proportional representation based on New Zealand's experience - including as to how governance can be more stable when parties don't have an incentive to gamble on snap elections. Bob Rae has some ideas as to how a minority Parliament can produce positive results - though it doesn't seem that Justin Trudeau seems remotely interested in taking the hints. And Colin Walmsley and Peter Adamski point out that Canada's distorted electoral system only encourages regional grievances and divides, including the trumped-up warnings about western separatism.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

New column day

Here, on the problems with the Saskatchewan Party's mismanagement which deserve far more attention than Scott Moe's attempts to pick fights with the federal government for show - including the need to plan for a future in which fossil fuel extraction won't be the basis for a viable economy.

For further reading...
- Again, Sarath Pereis and Murray Mandryk have both commented on Moe's childish posturing against the federal government.
- CBC has reported on the high personal debt faced by Saskatchewan's residents. And Stephen Gordon's chart of mortgages in arrears shows that more people are underwater than at any time since the end and aftermath of the Devine years.
- Umair Irfan reports on the combination of planned blackouts and wildfires devastating California as one of the most obvious immediate consequences of the climate crisis.
- Finally, Jillian Ambrose reports on the emerging plans to fully power the world with offshore wind turbines, while Nicola Davis reports on developing technology which could allow electric vehicles to charge in minutes. Reuters takes note that Volkswagen is rapidly transitioning its production from combustion engines to electric based on the recognition that the former won't remain viable for long. And Noah Smith comments on the end of the oil age.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Justin Fox writes that there are plenty of options available to push for the wealthiest few to pay their fair share toward a functional and compassionate society. And Christine Berry discusses the need for a progressive plan of attack to fundamentally restructure our economy to serve the interests of people rather than plutocrats.

- Meanwhile, Thomas Walkom suggests that Doug Ford's backpedaling should include revisiting his attacks on Ontario workers. Both David Climenhaga and Graham Thomson point out some of the glaring flaws in Jason Kenney's attempt to maximize the pain inflicted on public sector workers in Alberta. And Steven Greenhouse theorizes that the success of a widespread GM strike may encourage more collective action by workers.

- Michael Harris writes that it's obvious why Andrew Scheer should be done as the Cons' leader - but far less clear whether the Cons will actually be interested in avoiding the same problems in choosing a replacement. And Peter Loewen and Michael Bernstein note that the Con's refusal to offer any viable climate policy may have been a major factor in their election loss.

- Finally, Scott Gilmore rightly questions whether it makes sense for Canada to be deepening its dependence on the U.S. when its administration has proven to be both capricious and incompetent around the globe.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Christopher Ingraham reports on the reality that extremely wealthy Americans are now paying lower systemic tax rates than workers. And Andrea Germanos writes that Michael Sayman is among the plutocrats calling for his own class to pay its fair share.

- Heather Mallick comments that the UCP is setting Alberta up for failure, while Max Fawcett discusses how Jason Kenney's budget is based on little more than a stubborn refusal to acknowledge a future which includes a transition away from fossil fuels. And Noah Smith notes that the oil age is coming to a rapidly-approaching end around the globe, while Jillian Ambrose reports on the ability of offshore wind turbines to fully power the world.

- Meanwhile, Rachel Level and Zach Goldstein point out how lower-income people are paying the price for the Trump administration's choice to side with the coal industry against climate science.

- Judith Sayers takes a look at what it will mean for British Columbia to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And the Yellowhead Institute examines (PDF) the reality of land dispossession in Canada, along with some of the options to remedy it.

- Finally, Laurie Monsebraaten reports on Ontario 360's call to treat people receiving social assistance with respect, rather than confronting them with the language and strategies of the prison system. But then, Jodi Viljoen and Gina Vincent write that an effective criminal justice strategy would also include less incarceration and more work on risk mitigation.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Contained cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Vrishti Beniwal writes about Abhijit Banerjee's call to put concentrated wealth to better social use by taxing it.

- Yutaka Dirks interviews Linda McQuaig about the corporate takeover of far more public wealth than is normally recognized. And Matt Coughlin discusses how Australia's wealthiest employers are fighting to exacerbate inequality by extracting thousands of dollars each year from every worker through an even more unbalanced bargaining system.

- Crawford Kilian highlights the true meaning of Jason Kenney's budget buzzwords and euphemisms. PressProgress sets out the massive cuts to health, education and all kinds of other public goods in order to partially fund Kenney's gigantic corporate tax giveaway. And Alicia Bridges reports on the efforts of community groups to point out the harm the Saskatchewan Party has done to housing supports before winter arrives.

- Finally, Tanya Talaga writes about British Columbia's progress in becoming the first Canadian jurisdiction to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee discuss the utter failure of corporate-driven "market" incentives to produce fair outcomes:
If it is not financial incentives, what else might people care about? The answer is something we know in our guts: status, dignity, social connections. Chief executives and top athletes are driven by the desire to win and be the best. The poor will walk away from social benefits if they come with being treated like a criminal. And among the middle class, the fear of losing their sense of who they are and their status in the local community can be an extraordinarily paralyzing force.

The trouble is that so much of America’s social policy has been shaped by three principles that ignore these facts; to fix it we need to start from there.
(W)e should not be unduly scared of raising taxes to pay for these projects. There is no evidence that it would disrupt the economy. This is, of course, a touchy subject politically: The idea of raising taxes on anyone but the very rich is not popular. So we should start with raising the rates on top income and adding a wealth tax, as many have proposed. The key then would be to link the added revenue to efforts like the ones we describe above, which would serve to slowly restore the legitimacy of the government’s efforts to help those in need. This will take time, but we have to start somewhere — and soon.
- Pearl Eliadis reviews Nathan Andrews and J. Andrew Grant's Corporate Social Responsibility and Canada’s Role in Africa’s Extractive Sectors, while noting that corporations and governments alike have been painfully eager to permit gross human rights abuses and environmental destruction in the name of profits abroad. And Rupert Neate reports on the increased demand for private jets as an indication as to how the ultra-rich are completely detached from the limitations facing most people.

- Markham Hislop looks at Husky's recent layoffs and automation - in the wake of massive tax giveaways - as a signal that there's no future in which the oil sector provides many good jobs. Which is to say that if green growth may not be an option in the short term, nor is there much reason to think pouring more money into dirty energy will actually produce results for workers either.

- Finally, Shifrah Gadamsetti discusses how Jason Kenney is slashing Alberta's future with massive cuts to education, while David Climenhaga points out the lack of any plausible need for the UCP's attacks on public services. Jason Warick reports on the new of undrinkable water in a brand-new North Battleford hospital as just another example of what comes from P3 projects. And Bartley Kives notes that trumped-up separatism is serving as a convenient distraction for Kenney, Scott Moe and other conservatives trying to avoid being called on their antisocial choices in government.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Jim Coyle lists a few of the lies voters tell themselves around election time. And the Angus Reid Institute counts the large number of voters who cast a ballot for a party they don't actually support - with the Trudeau Libs as the main beneficiary of begrudged ballots. 

- Luke Savage discusses how the NDP can build off a campaign in which substantial progress on policy discussions and leadership approval led to disappointing vote and seat totals. And Ed Broadbent offers his suggestions as to how the NDP can exert influence in a minority Parliament, while Stefan Avlijas writes that an essential element of the balance of power is strengthening left-wing parties so they're in a position to fight another election campaign at any time.

- Meanwhile, Roberto Rocha points out how a financing system requiring parties to fund-raise through a large number of relatively small donors has affected Canadian politics.

- Emma Gilchrist discusses what we can expect on environmental issues from the new Parliament. And Chris Hall writes about the regional fault lines within Canada's new group of MPs.

- Finally, Greta Moran discusses the value of public ownership of utilities such as power grids. And an even more widespread planned blackout which will leave millions of Californians without power only confirms how poorly people are served when profit motives conflict with essential needs.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- George Monbiot makes the case for popular sovereignty mechanisms to supplement systems of representative government which fail to reflect the will of the people. And Ian Bremmer reports on Chile's mass protest seeking a public voice to end economic unfairness.  

- Katrina Miller notes that Canadian voters looking to solve affordability concerns prefer progressive solutions. Ilya Banares reports on new polling showing that a strong majority of voters who would rather see cooperation between the Libs and NDP than watch Justin Trudeau implement Conservative policies, while Rick Salutin points out the agreement on broad principles among two-third of voters. And Andrew Nikiforuk writes about the need for more cooperative politics if we're to have any hope of transitioning toward a sustainable society.

- Zane Schwartz reports on one interesting bit of discussion about worthwhile public investments, as the Canada Infrastructure Bank (flawed though it is) has been examining the possibility of a national public utility for telecommunications.

- Lisa Johnson examines the utter implausibility of the UCP's claim that its giveaways to big corporations will result in anything but the further accumulation of wealth by people who already have more than they need. And Hannah Kost reports on Naheed Nenshi's reply to an Alberta budget positively calculated to maximize the pain caused to people and public institutions alike.

- Finally, Taylor Kubota points out new research confirming the problems with carbon capture as anything but an excuse to avoid transitioning away from fossil fuels. Fatima Syed reports on Saskatchewan's indoctrination of students with oil industry propaganda while ostensibly teaching about climate change. And Dennis Gruending highlights how Scott Moe and Jason Kenney are speaking only for the oil sector - rather than for their constituents or the public good - in their climate denialism and gaslighting.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Musical interlude

Pale Waves - There's A Honey

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Frank reports on the latest galling threshold in wealth inequality, as millionaires consisting of less than 1% of the population now control effectively half of the wealth on Earth. And Steven Greenhouse asks why actual workers aren't being included in talks about the future of work and the economy.

- Neil Macdonald warns Justin Trudeau that he can't keep substituting evasion for meaningful answers and conversations about his poor decisions. And Andrew Jackson is rightfully aghast at the Libs' choice to prioritize tax cuts over anything which might actually help Canadians:
The major reason to not support this tax cut is that it is costly since a small cut is spread across so many people. Annual federal government revenues will fall by about $6 Billion per year, a significant chunk of change which will increase each year as and when the economy grows. Moreover, the federal government’s fiscal base is likely to be ratcheted down in perpetuity since it is unlikely that any party will propose a future across the board increase in personal income taxes.

Most progressives would prefer the Liberals to abandon their tax cut, and use it to fund other priorities such as investment in affordable housing, clean and renewable energy, public transit, public health care, child care, or post secondary education. $6 Billion added to seriously inadequate Liberal promises to fund a national pharmacare program would be sufficient to make the promise a reality.

The opposition parties in Parliament, the Conservatives aside, would likely agree. But the Prime Minister seems to have already made up his mind.

Call me a cynic, but this looks like yet another case of the Liberals campaigning from the left, and governing from the right. After just two days!
- Linda McQuaig notes that Jason Kenney is trying to crush the climate concerns of two thirds of Canada (not to mention the well-being of our living environment) in the name of a fabricated threat to unity. And Aaron Wherry notes that it's the Cons who have an obvious reason to revisit their functional denialism in light of this week's election.

- Andrew Coyne offers a reminder how first-past-the-post turns elections into high-stakes bets for unaccountable power, rather than meaningful opportunities to discuss policy choices. And David Kilgour writes that this week's results in particular demonstrate how Canadians would be better represented under a proportional system.

- Finally, Michal Rozworski comments on both the missed opportunities to move our political discussion further toward social and climate justice before election day, and the prospect of building the needed movement now that our political leaders face a minority Parliament.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Klaus Schwab comments on the importance of making decisions with far more of a long-term focus, rather paying attention only to short-term dollar calculations:
(W)e should develop scorecards to track our performance on these long-term priorities. To that end, I have three suggestions. First, we need to rethink GDP as our “key performance indicator” in economic policymaking. Second, we should embrace independent tracking tools for assessing progress under the Paris agreement and the SDGs. Third, we must implement “stakeholder capitalism” by introducing an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scorecard for businesses.
Adopting these three scorecards – new global growth metrics, a climate tracker, and a measure of ESG – would go a long way toward addressing the world’s greatest long-term challenges. It would also help us alleviate today’s economic crises and avoid future ones, by demonstrating to a disgruntled public that political and business leaders really are working for everyone’s interests, and not just their own. I invite every stakeholder in the global economy to join in these efforts to end the era of short-termism.
- Karl Nerenberg suggests that the Libs should be willing to work with the NDP and the Greens in a collaborative government. And Paul Wells argues that it's time to prove that it's possible for our politics to be better than we're currently being forced to accept.

- Elizabeth Renzetti writes that this week's federal election result only increases the desperate need for a proportional electoral system. And David Beers discusses the continued fallout from Justin Trudeau's broken promise to implement one.

- Finally, Sarath Peiris rightly criticizes Scott Moe for stoking separatism and ignorance. And
Murray Mandryk writes that Moe's temper tantrum about the federal election results is the last thing Saskatchewan needs.

On legacies

For all the campaign talk about how this year's election campaign could have proven a parallel of the 1972 result, we've instead ended up seeing Justin Trudeau repudiate his father's response to another contentious result.

When he won a majority government in 1980 which lacked representation from the western provinces, Pierre Trudeau - to his credit - made an effort to seek cooperation from MPs in the region on a specific means to remedy the problem.

Faced with a regional wipeout along with the potential instability of a minority Parliament, Justin is instead responding by rejecting any form of structural cooperation whatsoever.

Instead, he's insisting that the same platform which underpinned his party's prairie losses is somehow a response to their cause - while planning to try to govern through perpetual games of chicken in Parliament like his most recent Liberal prime ministerial predecessor. And any outreach to the areas lacking representation is being limited to closed-door political maneuvering which figures to be as ineffective as it is cynical.

That sets up a thoroughly unflattering comparison between Justin and his father. And it certainly won't do anything to make the Trudeau name any less toxic for many.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your election day reading.

- Jagmeet Singh makes his case for Canadians to vote for what we believe in. Don Martin discusses how Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer have hurt their own causes as well as each others' by focusing on negative messages. And Nora Loreto discusses the need for traditional political parties to reinvent themselves to speak to and for people rather than merely reciting focus-tested talking points at them.

- Herman Rosenfeld discusses how free public transit is an essential element of any effective Green New Deal. And Angela Carter, Truzaar Dordi and Yonatan Strauch write that the federal election represents a crossroads for Canada's energy future (save for the incumbent trying to go in all directions at once).

- Katherine Scott examines what the federal parties have on offer to fight against poverty. Karl Nerenberg assesses their respective plans to address inequality. And the Tyee offers election readers on issues including pharmacare and dental care and electoral reform,

- Finally, Nav Persaud and Danielle Martin write about the cruel experiment being performed on Canadians who can't afford necessary medications - and the need for a universal pharmacare system to make sure nobody faces that predicament.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Canada 2019 - Election Notes

With Canadians going to the polls tomorrow, I'll offer a few thoughts on what to watch for on election day and beyond in a campaign whose early stability seems to have given way to some late shifts. 

First, a minority Parliament seems likely. But of all the predictions and expectations which can go awry based on unexpected late-campaign movement, few are more precarious than the balancing act required to create a minority situation. And 2015 offers a recent precedent where a seemingly close race turned into an unexpected majority.

By the same token, the seat projections which have shown effective ties for first and third place based on median expectations shouldn't be seen to make those into particularly likely outcomes in any event. The end of the campaign matters in ways which won't have been caught by earlier polling, and the default expectation should be that they'll be off somewhat (even if we can only make the most educated guesses possible as to how, with Frank Graves for one already reporting that a Lib majority might be in sight).

Second, if a minority does result from the vote, the next crucial question will be which party or parties hold the balance of power - or which might instead be dismissed as unworthy of any say due to being just short of the mark. (See Paul Martin, 2004.)

There, the most important swing factor is one which has received relatively little attention in mainstream coverage, even if it seems to be the subject of plenty of individual-level interest.

The Bloc has undoubtedly regained strength in Quebec compared to the previous two election cycles, with some models hinting at prospects of winning half the province's seats or more. But the NDP has pushed its way upward in the polls at the end of the campaign as it challenges the Bloc directly for the support of progressive voters.

That matters in two key ways: a relatively small shift may be decisive in Quebec seats with multi-party splits (as can be seen from the sharp turns at the end of both the 2011 and 2015 campaigns), while also determining who emerges with the larger caucus and the balance of power in Parliament as a whole. And for voters who want to see the Libs forced to act on the national progressive promises they're again trumpeting on the campaign trail after neglecting them in office, it's crucial for the NDP to be in a position to set the terms of any governing arrangement.

Plenty of other battleground regions could also substantially change the balance of power with relatively subtle swings. And most importantly, a strategic vote against another neoliberal majority now looks to involve ensuring that other, more progressive parties get the upper hand on the Libs wherever possible.

But particularly given the lack of much organization on that front, it doesn't appear likely that any attempt to be strategic will overcome the two main forces in the campaign, being the NDP's surge and the Cons' collapse relative to the Libs. And so the main questions for tomorrow seems to be which of those factors will have a greater impact in electing MPs.