Saturday, January 04, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Michael Mann writes about Australia's deadly lesson in the dangers of a climate breakdown. Ian Gill offers a reminder that we may soon be next - and that we have every reason for rage at the oil barons and politicians responsible. And Duane Bratt highlights the meritless partisanship behind the Canadian right's attacks on carbon pricing.

- Meanwhile, George Monbiot offers some optimism that the new year can help us to recharge the planet and ourselves.

- Margaret McCartney criticizes the efforts of cynical corporate operators to monetize wellness. And Marcy Cuttler points out how infants and toddlers are taking in far too much sugar due to the food industry's choices.

- Finally, Katie Nopolous laments the transformation of the Internet from a state of decentralization to one of monopolization.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Thursday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Nathan Robinson writes that there's every reason for younger people - in the U.S. and elsewhere - to support the principle of socialism based on a desire to achieve gains for everybody rather than only a privileged few:
A better definition, at least as far as the economic dimension of socialism, is the concept of “worker control.” What socialists have disliked is the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a small number of people. What they have demanded is that ordinary working people get their fair share of the wealth. Some socialists have believed strongly in the power of government, others have believed that worker cooperatives or syndicates could give workers their share. Matt Bruenig of the socialist People’s Policy Project has proposed a large “social wealth fund” that would distribute returns on public assets to the people as a whole, while Bernie Sanders (now running for president again) has put forth a plan to give employees seats on company boards and give ordinary workers guaranteed shares of stock.

The specifics vary, but what all socialists have in common is a dislike for the class system, where some people work incredibly hard all their lives and end up with nothing, while other people get to make money in their sleep just by owning things. Socialists think that if you work for a company, you ought to reap rewards when it succeeds, and you ought to have a say in how it’s run.

But there’s more to it than that. In my book, ”Why You Should Be A Socialist,” I argue that what socialists have in common is a sense of “solidarity” with people at the bottom, no matter who they are. As the famous socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs said 100 years ago, “while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

That commitment may seem radical: who wants to be of the criminal element? But socialists think in terms of universals: we think everyone deserves healthcare and housing, not just the people who prove themselves morally worthy. Sanders was criticized when he said that inmates should be able to vote. But that was an admirably socialist thing to say: some rights should not have exceptions.

A lot of socialists’ day-to-day focus, then, is not on restructuring who owns the “means of production,” but on looking at the lives of people at the bottom and figuring out how to make them better. And we have this commitment because of solidarity: you want the same things for everyone else that you have for yourself.
- Meanwhile, the CCPA examines how Canada's wealthiest CEOs continue to increase the gap between their own pay and that of the workers who contribute to their riches. And Paul Willcocks writes that the gig economy serves primarily to transfer risks and responsibilities from corporations to workers.

- Paul Krugman discusses the immense damage done to the people who could least afford it by the U.S.' gratuitous austerity. And PressProgress points out the harm Jason Kenney has done by slashing taxes and services in less than a year governing Alberta, while Chris Turner comments on the $30 million bonfire that is the UCP's fossil fuel war room.

- Finally, Robert Reich writes about the sham of corporate social responsibility. And Ganesh Shitaraman declares neoliberalism to be dead, while surveying the wreckage it's left behind. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your year.

- Armine Yalnizyan writes about the ongoing struggle for workers' rights a century after the Winnipeg General Strike:
Most workers have no channels for acting, or even talking, collectively. That may be changing. Here in Canada, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers launched a campaign in May to organize Foodora’s bicycle and car couriers in Toronto, in hopes of providing access to basic workers’ rights. In June, 300 Uber drivers in the Greater Toronto Area formed a union with the United Food and Commercial Workers to push back against unfair labour practices. 

Workers are starting to rediscover the role of collective action and unions because there seems to be no bottom to how some employers will exploit them. 
...
One hundred years ago, people rose up against the status quo. Today, people are rising up against attempts to dismantle the status quo, turning back the clock on hard-won rights and freedoms.
- The Economic Policy Institute charts what should be some of the U.S.' top economic priorities for the year to come.

- Don Pittis offers some suggestions as to how to turn the tide to fight the climate crisis in 2020. Doug Cuthand muses as to how we'll remember the coming decade. And Rick Salutin writes that we're out of time to merely hope for the best rather than engaging in immediate action.

- The Victoria Times-Colonist's editorial board recognizes the problems in leaving long-term senior care in the hands of the private sector. And R E Klaber and S Bailey study the importance of including kindness as a governing principle in health care, rather than focusing solely on immediate dollars and cents.

- Finally, Jane Philpott makes the case for the decriminalization of drug possession as the solution to the opioid crisis.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Damian Carrington reports on the large amount of microplastics raining down on residents of the world's cities. Geoffrey Morgan notes that Alberta's farmers are starting to realize that they're going to be left with the mess left behind - including orphaned wells - as the oil industry disappears. And John Meiners discusses the complete lack of corporate accountability in the wake of hundreds of oil spills arising out of Hurricane Katrina.

- Meanwhile, Aaron Wherry and the Globe and Mail's editorial board each express cautious optimism about Canada's role in combating the climate crisis - though both seem far too willing to ascribe ambition for far stronger action to the likes of the Trudeau Libs who have demonstrated nothing of the sort.

- Laura Funk writes about the problems with social support systems which are designed to avoid paying benefits to people who have trouble navigating them, rather than to ensure people can get the help they need.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board points out how young Canadians are getting left out of the federal government's new plans and programs.

- Finally, Paul Krugman writes about the grossly outsized influenced of the wealthiest few in U.S. politics. And David Dayen discusses how the corporate judge pipeline set up by and for the Republican party is putting people at risk by attacking necessary regulations.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Paul Thacker discusses the importance of addressing the climate crisis as a health issue. CBC takes a look at a few of the ways a deteriorating climate is affecting Canada. And Taylor Noakes points out the central role a national public transit strategy can play in both reducing carbon pollution and adapting to a changed climate, while the Guardian's editorial board points out the desperate need to shift away from car culture as it stands. 

- Tim Richter highlights how Edmonton's Housing First policy is reducing both immediate and long-term homelessness. And Nicole Braun discusses the importance of treating housing as a human right and basic necessity rather than primarily a source of wealth.

- Jerzy Eisenberg‐Guyot, Stephen J. Mooney, Amy Hagopian, Wendy E. Barrington and Anjum Hajat study the connection between labour organization and inequality, finding that stronger unions save lives when it comes to overdose and suicide mortality in particular.

- Meanwhile, Robert Reich discusses how Donald Trump has made his working-class voters far worse off while enriching the plutocrats who exploit them. And Tom Metcalf and Jack Witzig report on yet another year of massive increases in wealth for the most privileged few.

- Finally, Sam Gindin points out that any argument for socialist policies needs to include a vision as to the resulting society. And Meagan Day interviews Nathan Robinson about the ethical underpinning of socialism.