Sunday, February 07, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Bill Blaikie discusses how our growing inequality and precarity is the direct result of harmful policy choices:

By 1985 we were five years into the neo-liberal era brought on by the election of Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the U.S.  They advocated policies like cutting taxes for the rich, cutting social assistance for the poor and the working poor, reducing the role of government in providing for the common good, reducing the power of unions to advocate for adequate wages, and basically letting the "market" decide.

Over the next forty years the " market" decided that the rich would get richer, the middle class would struggle, and the poor would get poorer. The current rate of economic inequality makes the seventies look like an egalitarian dream. CEOs that only made $500,000 back then might make 5 million or a lot more today.

Cutting taxes for the rich did not lead to economic investment that would cause economic benefits to " trickle-down". The only thing that trickled down was you know what, while power and income trickled up, and up, and the adequacy of wages shrunk, and shrunk.
Hence the fact that many who need and use food banks, and even some of the homeless are. people with jobs.


All this by way of explaining, in an obviously limited way, to younger people who surely must wonder why there are encampments of the homeless in their city, and in bus shelters, that it didn't have to be so, and it doesn't have to be so in the future. The current situation is a choice.  Our common responsibility, young or older, is to make our politicians make the right choices, and to support those who already advocate such choices.

- Thomas Walkom highlights how compulsory licensing would ensure that Canadians have access to COVID-19 vaccines (and other desperately-needed medical products), while Karl Nerenberg highlights how the NDP is looking to prioritize people over profits in both pharmaceutical production and long-term care. And John Miller notes in the wake of Bell's mental health whitewashing that the telecommunication sector represents another area where public needs and resources have been turned into a source of private profiteering.

- Ben Parfitt examines how British Columbia offer dirty industry the chance to use massive amounts of water at cut-rate prices. 

- Pam Palmater writes about Jason Kenney's litany of failures since taking power in Alberta. And Sara Birrell discusses the embarrassment that was Regina City Council's exercise in oil-worshipping self-flagellation.

- Finally, Brian Platt examines what an effective response to COVID-19 would look like - in stark contrast to the murderous insistence on doing as little as possible (particularly among right-wing premiers). And Kirby Bourne reports that independent restauranteurs are among the people begging for a COVID-zero strategy to replace the expectation that businesses will stay open regardless of the cost to public health.

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