Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Christo Aivalis discusses the lessons the Canadian progressive movement should take from the emergence of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders in shaping the U.S.' political discourse:
What is so crucial to Ocasio-Cortez’s potential—as well as the sheer hatred she inspires among the right—is the simple fact that she acknowledges the class conflict inherent within a capitalist society. She wants to build a broad coalition, to be sure, but she knows that it will never include the very wealthiest, and so—unlike many Democrats—she isn’t bothering with the political charade. This is why—over the tut-tutting of much of the pundit class—she has proposed a 70% top marginal tax rate on the wealthiest Americans, a plan which, however unpopular with the 1%, is supported by the broad electorate. Likewise, her Green New Deal is a bold attempt to wed an impending climate crisis to a capitalist system with undemocratic and chaotic forms of production and distribution. In her view, the masses of regular people must assert their democratic priorities over the rich and their unearned wealth. If this is class conflict, than Ocasio-Cortez seems perfectly willing to embrace the branding and run with it.
The lesson in my view is clear. The elites will never back a concerted push to build a just, equal, and democratic economy, and no amount of niceties and respectability will get them to: they must be defeated through a determined political effort that unites the many against the few.
It must be put clearly that class conflict is a reality in this country, too; that the economic elite have never supported the CCF-NDP, and they never will; and that we’ll be branded as class-warriors and socialists no matter what our policies, however ambitious or modest. We need to embrace the image we have, and not be ashamed of it. We need to take the progressive policies already on our books, and put them front-and-centre. We need to stand with allies like Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders, and Jeremy Corbyn in Britain, who are fighting similar fights, and we need to show Canadians that when push comes to shove, we have a vision for this country which is different than what they’ll get from the Conservatives, Liberals, and Greens. Certainly, when it comes to recent attacks on the right to strike and bargain collectively, the NDP has been workers’ only consistent ally, but we need to not only play defence, but go on the attack for the society we want to build. And if the cats get grumpy, and cry class warfare? Let them. After all, what’s wrong with battling every day to make the lives of the working-class better against those fighting tooth and nail to stop us?
- And Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman highlight the role a progressive high-end income tax could play in limiting extreme inequality.

- Meanwhile, Hugh Son and Brian Schwartz point out the inevitable counterattack from the wealthiest few against any meaningful move toward equality. And Anand Giridharadas warns that tech-sector magnates in particular are trying to give the impression of addressing social needs while locking in their wealth and power.

- Trish Garner discusses the progress British Columbia has made in addressing poverty, along with the long road left to travel before the scourge of social deprivation is eliminated. And Laurie Monsbraaten reports on some of the shattered expectations and individual precarity resulting from Doug Ford's cancellation of even a tiny basic income pilot project in Ontario.

- Finally, Alastair Spriggs reports on the World Economic Forum's recognition that even the economic fallout from climate change demands a concerted transition strategy. And David Suzuki writes that Canadian public perceptions have been thoroughly manipulated by a combination of corporate and public fossil fuel propaganda.

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