Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jason Hickel observes that what progress has been made in human health and quality of life is the result of progressive policies, not leaving plutocrats to do what they will:
(S)ocial services require resources. And it’s important to recognise that growth can help toward that end. But the interventions that matter when it comes to life expectancy do not require high levels of GDP per capita. The European Union has a higher life expectancy than the United States, with 40% less income. Costa Rica and Cuba beat the US with only a fraction of the income, and both achieved their greatest gains in life expectancy during periods when GDP wasn’t growing at all. How? By rolling out universal healthcare and education.

“The historical record is clear that economic growth itself has no direct, necessary positive implications for population health,” Szreter writes. “The most that can be said is that it creates the longer-term potential for population health improvements.”

Whether or not that potential is realised depends on the political forces that determine how income is distributed. So let’s give credit where credit is due: progress in life expectancy has been driven by progressive political movements that have harnessed economic resources to deliver robust public goods. History shows that in the absence of these progressive forces, growth has quite often worked against social progress, not for it.
- Stephen Prince writes that a U.S. tax system skewed to further enrich the wealthy ultimately produces worse outcomes for everybody. And Jim Hightower discusses how Donald Trump's "opportunity zone" scheme - trumpeted as a means to encourage development in poor communities - has instead been exploited to eliminate taxes on luxury housing developments.

- While the CN strike has been resolved through successful collective bargaining, David Climenhaga pointed out how most reporting on it failed to acknowledge the safety risks representing the primary concerns of the union. And Will Evans exposes how Amazon's endangerment of worker health and safety has been enabled by governments desperate to win its approval.

- Jorge Barrera reports on the Trans Mountain Corporation's surveillance of environmental activists and Indigenous land defenders. And Sam Levin and Will Parrish report on the U.S.' labeling of protest against Keystone XL as "terrorism" to be squelched by any means necessary.

- Finally, Angus Reid finds a substantial jump in Canadian voters' support for proportional representation following this fall's election. But Karl Nerenberg notes that Justin Trudeau's elimination of the ministry of democratic reform signals his unwillingness to even consider a more fair and representative electoral system.

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