Monday, July 08, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Nick Falvo writes that Alberta would be far better served implementing a tax system more in line with the rest of Canada's provinces to increase revenue, rather than slashing social supports in the name of illusory budget balance. And the Globe and Mail's editorial board notes that multiple multi-million-dollar attacks on perceived political enemies make for a particularly appalling use of public money.

- Tracey Lindeman reports on new research showing that a massive chunk of Toronto's real estate market is being used for investment purposes rather than owner occupancy. And Cathy Crowe discusses the dangers of inadequate housing and other basic necessities when extreme heat strikes.

- CBC Radio talks to Sean Holman about the need for journalists to take climate change seriously. Fiona Harvey reports on the U.N.'s warning that disasters arising out of our climate breakdown are already happening at a rate of one per week.

- Meanwhile, Adam Morton rightly rebuts any attempt to paint natural gas as part of the solution to the climate crisis rather than a dangerous expansion of the problem.

- Finally, David Atkins discusses how establishment Democrats (like their counterparts in Canada and elsewhere) are misreading the risks of the status quo:
When (typically older) establishment Democrats tell (typically younger) progressives that they can’t try to make big structural changes to make government operate more efficiently—by, say, breaking the logjam of the Senate filibuster—they are told to be patient because the risk of giving that much power to Republicans is too great. But in actuality, it isn’t. On climate change alone, it’s not hyperbole to suggest that if the next Democratic administration–assuming Trump is defeated in 2020—does not pass something akin to a Green New Deal within its time, the policy failure could hurtle humanity into a dark age. Healthcare, housing, and education crises don’t have the same apocalyptic consequences, but their unsustiainable trajectories demand no less immediate solutions. The Democratic administration that comes after Trump, whether it’s run by Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, or Kamala Harris, will realistically have to deal with these problems with fewer than 60 Democratic Senators and almost no hope of Republican crossover votes. Sure, if Republicans regain unitary control of government without the backstop of a filibuster, they could do some very bad things. But none of those things would be as bad as letting another 10 years of climate inaction and ballooning healthcare, education, and housing costs go unaddressed. It’s a matter of theories of power and fundamental risk assessment.
Meanwhile, all the above-mentioned environmental and economic crises will combine to create serious instability when the next recession comes, as it inevitably will. Americans are hard-pressed right now even with all the traditional indicators roaring. What happens in the next downturn? Typically, people respond to downturns by voting for change, and they expect politicians to deliver on it. The greatest risk is, when that day comes, conservatives are the only ones promising credible systemic changes––albeit, of course, wrong and immoral ones.

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