Thursday, December 05, 2019

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig writes about the fallout from the ideology of constant privatization - and a precedent from Canada's past as to how public institutions can meet essential social purposes:
C. D. Howe was a towering figure during the war, and he has been credited with transforming Canada from a largely agriculture-based society to an industrial one. His legacy lives on today – somewhat ironically – through the C.D. Howe Institute, a business-funded think tank that has consistently promoted pro-market ideas. While Howe shared these ideas, it was actually his development of Canada’s wartime Crown corporations with their substantial manufacturing capabilities that laid the foundation for Canada’s evolution into a modern industrial nation. Once the war was over, Howe reverted to his conventional pro-market views, pushing for privatization rather than envisioning a future for the promising public enterprises he had built.

Many decades later, we are now faced with an urgent need to evolve beyond a modern industrial nation, powered by fossil fuels.

An enormous mobilization, on a scale similar to the one orchestrated by C.D. Howe, will be essential to fundamentally redesign our economy and society for the global green energy revolution. Indeed, given the urgency of the task if we are to avert climate disaster, it’s clear that a massive campaign of government planning, oversight and ownership – along the lines of what was achieved during the war through government planning and Crown corporations – will be needed.

Once again, the task is too big and too important to be left to the private marketplace.
- And Marie Aspiazu notes that Canada's corporate telecom oligopoly is looking to ensure that the price of access to the Internet doesn't get any more affordable. 

- Alex Hemingway points out how unduly low property taxes in Vancouver lead to inequality and speculation, while depriving the city of money to provide needed services.  

- Bob Barnetson discusses how the Kenney UCP is stripping nearly all labour and employment rights from farm workers. And Brennan Doherty reports on the expectation that rail workers will function under a state of fatigue.

- Finally, Jordan Gill talks to Theresa McClenaghan about the reasons why smaller nuclear power is merely a distraction rather than an answer to our energy and environmental needs. And Jim Green's earlier post on the subject is well worth a read.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Those who will not hear

Since the Saskatchewan Party tried to push nuclear power when first elected to office, it's heard from the public about their grave (and justified) concerns.
Overall, while there is some support for nuclear power generation, the overwhelming response to this public consultation was that nuclear power generation should not be a choice for Saskatchewan, whether it is intended to serve the needs of Saskatchewan people only, or for a combination of Saskatchewan people and other provinces or states.
It's heard from international financial markets that nuclear development is seen as a major risk factor.
Moody’s Investors Services warns in its new report — “New Nuclear Generation: Ratings Pressure Increasing” — that it may view nuclear construction plans as a negative.

Moody’s worries that investment in new nuclear is so costly that it amounts to a “bet the farm” strategy. It increases business risk and operating risk.
It's heard from other Canadian provinces about the lack of any economic basis for nuclear power. 
The Ontario Energy Board has indicated that any price higher than $3,600 per kilowatt of power capacity would be uneconomical when costed against alternatives such as natural gas and renewable energy options. Bruce Power has indicated its intention to build two 1,000 megawatt reactors in Saskatchewan at a cost of between $8 and $10 billion. Using Bruce Power’s conservative price estimate, its proposal works out to approximately $4,000 per kilowatt – a price that exceeds the Ontario Energy Board’s economical cutoff.
It's seen other countries phase out nuclear altogether, while facing a reckoning from decades of generating hazardous waste without a plan to manage it.
When it comes to the big questions plaguing the world's scientists, they don't get much larger than this.
Where do you safely bury more than 28,000 cubic meters -- roughly six Big Ben clock towers -- of deadly radioactive waste for the next million years? 
This is the "wicked problem" facing Germany as it closes all of its nuclear power plants in the coming years, according to Professor Miranda Schreurs, part of the team searching for a storage site. 
Experts are now hunting for somewhere to bury almost 2,000 containers of high-level radioactive waste. The site must be beyond rock-solid, with no groundwater or earthquakes that could cause a leakage. 
The technological challenges -- of transporting the lethal waste, finding a material to encase it, and even communicating its existence to future humans -- are huge.
And faced with all those voices confirming the folly of pushing nuclear power, Scott Moe's response has been...to barge ahead based on the belief he doesn't have to listen to anybody.

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Crawford Kilian highlights how ongoing inequality is among the many factors leading to stagnant life expectancies in Canada. Jim Stanford points out that tax cuts don't do anything to help workers facing stagnant wages due to policies designed to leave them under the thumb of employers. And Jamelle Bouie discusses the folly of the U.S. Democrats - or any party seeking to win under a progressive banner - failing to properly stand for the interests of workers.

- Brent Patterson lists the glaring failures of the Trudeau Libs' climate policy as the world again meets to try to plan to ameliorate the climate crisis. And the Canadian Press reports on new research showing that severe weather is the largest contributor to soaring food prices.

- Val Avery writes about the dangers to Canada's public health care system posed by Brian Day's attempt to enshrine privatized medicine as a Charter right. And Bob Bell, Danyaal Raza and Stefan Superina offer a warning as to how a two-tiered system led to the degradation of public services in Australia.

- Neil Macdonald calls out the continued gap between the Libs' words about reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and their actions bent on preserving discrimination and avoiding compensation as long as they possibly can. And Doug Cuthand writes that it's long past time to provide compensation for breaking up First Nations families.

- Finally, Duncan Cameron writes about the authoritarian government being imposed on Alberta by Jason Kenney.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Dormant cats.




Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Rupert Neate writes about the twelve-figure tax avoidance by the U.S.' largest tech firms, while noting that Amazon stands out as the worst offender. And Meagan Day interviews Ramesh Srninivasan about the need to democratize the administration of the Internet.

- Meanwhile, Grace Blakeley makes the case to socialize the financial sector to ensure it serves the public rather than facilitating the concentration of wealth. And Anoosh Chakelian hopes that a devastating report on child poverty will offer a much-needed reality check in the course of the UK's general election.

- Animal Justice notes that Jason Kenney and Doug Ford are following in the Republicans' footsteps by planning to punish people for attempting to expose animal abuse.

- Chris Turner writes about Kenney's pursuit of modern-day McCarthyism. And Graham Thomson notes that rather than representing a necessary result of otherwise justifiable choices, the framing of large number of people as enemies is central to Kenney's political strategy. 

- Finally, Omar Washington writes that the re-election of Justin Trudeau in the wake of his blackface exploits represents a sad failure on the part of Canada's electorate. And Jordan Bober argues that Trudeau should at least recognize the need to put electoral reform back on the table after an election which has produced some of the most distorted first-past-the-post results yet.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Will Hutton discusses how the U.S.' monopolistic economic system threatens anybody who becomes subject to its whims. And Eric Levitz points out how a wealth tax which ensures that everybody is required to contribute to the price of a functional civilization should appeal to "law and order" voters - particularly when the alternative is to be told that the wealthiest people are too rich to be subject to the rules.

- Katy Jones writes about the reality of the working homeless who can't find any housing despite holding down regular employment. And Christine Rankin reports on Feed Ontario's findings about increased food bank use and continued poverty. 

- Markham Hislop examines Efficiency Canada's provincial policy scorecards, showing Saskatchewan second from the bottom. And Bryan Eneas reports on the dozens of people out of work due to Scott Moe's destruction of the solar sector, while CBC News reports on Moe's insistence on instead pouring more public funding into nuclear power with no regard for the cost or environmental dangers.

- Meanwhile, Alex MacPherson reports that the Saskatchewan Party is also including foreign junkets on its list of spending priorities even as Saskatchewan's residents are stuck with deteriorating services.

- Finally, Mark Maslin writes about the five corrupt pillars of climate change denial.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Laurie Macfarlane writes that contrary to the dogma of budget scolds, the truly reckless course of action is to fail to invest public money in state capacity:
After four decades of neoliberalism, the state’s capacity has been drastically hollowed out. Key public functions have been outsourced to management consultants and private service providers, while the application of private sector management techniques to the public sphere has placed civil servants in an administrative straightjacket. Tasked with delivering such a large increase in public investment tomorrow, it’s likely that what’s left of the public sector would struggle to invest on the scale and pace required. 
 
But this is not an excuse for inaction. As the above chart shows, the public sector has delivered much higher levels of investment in the past, and many countries around the world continue to do so today. Many of humanity’s boldest advances – from the internet and microchips to biotechnology and nanotechnology – were only made possible by strategic public investments that were made by dynamic, mission-oriented public institutions. In many of these areas the private sector only entered much later, piggybacking on the advances made possible by long-term, high-risk public investment.

If the next government is to transform its economy on the scale that is required to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, it’s clear that it must urgently rebuild public sector institutions, and increase their capacity to think and act big.
- Bob Baldwin points out the dangers of setting up comparatively small and inefficient provincial pension plans based on shaky assumptions about future demographics. And Robert Fraser argues that the provinces trying to operate in denial as to the waning future of the fossil fuel sector should take a lesson from Ontario's loss of manufacturing jobs in the wake of NAFTA.

- Meanwhile, Seth Klein and Gil McGown offer a constructive suggestion to fund a just transition away from industries which pose unacceptable threats to our climate. And Kevin Smith discusses both the desperate need to improve the capacity of our public health care system, and the importance of federal involvement in that work (including by returning to its historical commitment to 50-50 funding).

- Finally, PressProgress reports on the devastating effects of a ransomware attack on Nunavut's public infrastructure.