Thursday, January 17, 2019

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Simon Ducatel discusses how wealth inequality is at the root of continued poverty and deprivation, while Charles Plante notes that anti-poverty strategies in Canada currently serve mostly to capture credit for existing policies rather than to guide the development of new ones.

- Grace Blakely points out the role that capital controls should play in ensuring that the wealthy pay their fair share toward social development and increased equality. And Duncan Cameron writes about Olivier Blanchard's recognition that public debt is entirely acceptable as long as it results from worthwhile investments.

- Cindy Blackstock highlights how the continued lack of progress on Indigenous child welfare is entirely the result of governments failing to act on policies which they know to be effective.

- Andrew Longhurst makes the case for a move away from fee-for-service payment of physicians.

- Finally, Rick Smith challenges Macleans' attempt to equate the left and right in their contributions to Canada's political scene:

On all of the major questions facing humanity today—climate change, inequality, defending and deepening pluralism in an age of globalization —the left is working to find answers. True, in some areas we are still coming up short. For all the achievements of left movements in the 20th century, from the welfare state to universal healthcare to progressive labour legislation, inequality remains a deep and abiding fact of Canadian life. Despite successfully making the environment a major issue of public concern, there is still much work to be done if we are to avert the coming climate crisis. Racism and the discriminatory treatment of racialized Canadians are still tragic realities, human rights and equity laws notwithstanding.

Challenges like these and the moral necessity of tackling them is precisely what animates today’s left in Canada and abroad. Yes, their urgency may inspire impassioned, even angry critiques of the political status quo and what can sometimes be difficult, needlessly fractious debates within our own ranks. Some believe this makes the left and right fellow travelers amid the ongoing crisis of liberal democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While prominent left-wing figures like Bernie Sanders or Jagmeet Singh indeed give expression to anger, its targets are corporations who exploit their workers or extremely wealthy people who don’t pay their fair share of taxes. The ultimate goal of this anger is to overcome visible injustices and make material gains for working people, young and old, across all sections of society. The same can be said for groups like Black Lives Matter or #MeToo, which are giving constructive expression to justified anger at discrimination and bigotry on both sides of the border.

The right is not, to put it kindly, either doing the same or searching for answers to the major challenges facing our societies today. In conservative parties across the country, climate change denialism (or its close cousin foot-dragging-ism) runs rampant—as evidenced by the recent actions of the Ford government in Ontario and the persistent hostility of the conservative movement to common-sense environmental policies such as cleaning up electricity production, or electric vehicle mandates or carbon pricing.

With the stakes being as high as they are in politics today, debates will inevitably prove divisive and difficult. But in their attempts to grapple with our anxious political moment, pundits and commentators alike should be careful not to conflate individuals and movements fighting injustice with those pursuing it as their animating principle.

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