Monday, July 06, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Robert Reich discusses how Donald Trump's insistence on pushing reopening without a plan to alleviate an ongoing pandemic has led to disaster both for the U.S.' economy and its public health. And the Economist highlights the need to make basic health precautions into social norms - even as Trump and his party, like Doug Ford and other right-wing politicians bent on pushing infectious masculinity, go out of their way to flout them.

- Yunghi Kim writes about a growing epidemic of hunger in a country more than capable of providing the necessities of life to everybody.

- Bharat Ramamurti and Lindsay Owens make the case for a fair wages guarantee to ensure workers aren't pushed into structural disadvantages as a result of COVID-19. And they particularly contrast that approach against a one-time bonus aimed at strongarming people into permanent low-wage jobs - which, needless to say, is also the Cons' plan.

- Meanwhile, Janyce McGregor digs into what should be the most fundamental criticism of the Libs' attempt to push students into sub-minimum-wage labour by classifying work as "volunteering".

- Susan Wright compares Jason Kenney's sad excuse for a rebuilding plan to the prospect of an energy transition which he refuses to consider. And Max Fawcett points out how Alberta's people are being sacrificed on the altar of supply-side zealotry.

- Finally, Sam Camping reports on the work activists are doing to raise awareness of the suicide crisis which the Saskatchewan Party has blithely chosen to ignore. And Morgan Modjeski reports that in addition to stockpiling prohibited weapons for no remotely plausible reason, Scott Moe's Highway Patrol has also been putting tactical training for its officers in the hands of an anti-LGBTQ trainer.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Linda McQuaig writes about the Libs' choice to use infrastructure programs primarily to generate massive returns for private investors, rather than ensuring that public money gives rise to good value and needed results.

- Meanwhile, the BBC reports on the UK Consumer and Markets Authority's (however obvious) conclusion that Google and Facebook exercise excessive control over the flow of information online - with breaking them up raised as one of the possible responses.

- Kim Siever offers a reminder that corporate tax giveaways merely lead to greater concentration of wealth rather than creating jobs. And in contrast, the Canadian Labour Congress notes that employers would benefit substantially from a national pharmacare program.

- John Loeppky discusses how Scott Moe's government is taking advantage of the CERB to strip away benefits from the people who need them most. And David Shield reports on the summer camps which are still waiting for word from the provincial government as to whether and how they'll be allowed to operate.

- Finally, Rebecca Huntley writes about the need to talk about our climate breakdown in emotional terms rather than purely statistical ones. And Darrin Qualman and Glenn Wright call out Moe and others who are using the promise of small nuclear reactors as just their latest delay tactic against any real climate progress.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Josh Eidelson writes about the fleecing of American labour in general over the past five decades, while E. Tammy Kim discusses the systematic exploitation of workers in the U.S.' nursing homes in particular. And Robyn Urback writes that the Ford government is only repeating its failed response to long-term care homes in addressing the recent spread of COVID-19 among farm workers.

- Carolyn Kormann writes about the unprecedented ecological disasters surfacing throughout the Arctic region. And Sandra Laville and Niamh McIntyre report on the regular sewage dumps by the UK's privatized water operators.

- Robert Pollin makes the case for a Green New Deal which would see the fossil fuel sector nationalized to make way for a transition to renewable energy. And Adam Radwanski notes that a focus on vehicle electrification would at least help Canada catch up to Europe's progress while providing needed direction to our coronavirus recovery efforts. But William F. Lamb, Giulio Mattioli, Sebastian Levi and J. Timmons Roberts study the discourses of delay which have been used for decades to prevent us from pursuing cleaner options.

- Graham Thomson writes about the lack of any meaningful direction in Jason Kenney's excuse for a COVID-19 recovery plan. Mitchell Anderson highlights how Kenney - like Donald Trump - is operating from a place of cultivated antagonism that bears no resemblance to the economic realities facing any responsible government. And George Monbiot writes that while Trump and Boris Johnson aren't exactly repeating the playbook of 1930s fascists, there's no less reason to fear where they plan to take their countries.

- Finally, Seth Borenstein reports on new research showing how kindness (rather than competition) is the basis for the function of human society.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Musical interlude

Shay Lia - Good Together

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Crawford Kilian discusses Rutger Bregman's work in noting that we can build a better society in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Asun Lera St Clair interviews Jason Hickel about the prospect of redefining our economy based on human-centric measures of development.

- Luke Savage points out how the U.S.' coronavirus response actually reduced poverty by providing much-needed income benefits to people otherwise excluded from any social safety net. But Dan Darrah argues that we need to ensure the public provision of basic services such as housing, rather than relying on income supports alone.

- Jose Antonio Ocampo and Tommaso Faccio write about the importance of making sure wealthy individuals and multinational corporations pay their fair share to sustain liveable societies. And Martin Sandbu examines the case for a wealth tax in the UK.

- Nicholas Kristof argues that refusing to wear a mask in the midst of a pandemic is as destructive and antisocial as insisting on driving drunk. And Wency Leung reports on a push among Canadian doctors and scientists to require mandatory mask wearing in public.

- Finally, Justin Ling argues that care providers rather than police should be our first responders in dealing with mental health reports. And CBC News reports on an outbreak of overdoses resulting from a Saskatchewan government determined to deal with drug policy as a matter of moralistic scolding rather than harm reduction and respect for human life.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Thursday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz highlights how investing in the green economy provides a viable economic and ecological path forward in recovering from the coronavirus crisis.

- Mariana Mazzucato discusses the importance of socializing successes to make sure that new industries don't exacerbate inequalities in wealth and power. And Matt Bruenig notes that the majority of the U.S.' wealth gap by race comes from the obscene concentration of riches among the wealthiest white households.

- Meanwhile, Paul Keil reports on yet another drop in the IRS' auditing of wealthy Americans as a service starved of funding to combat the tax-evading rich has limited itself to going after easier targets.

- The International Centre for Non-Profit Law is tracking the anti-protest laws being imposed in the U.S. Musa Al-Gharbi discusses how police departments punish whistleblowers to ensure their abuses can continue without accountability. And Royson James writes that the meager consequences for the deliberate assault on Dafonte Miller shows how the law isn't intended to protect far too many people. 

- Deb Perelman points out how a stubborn refusal to address the ongoing lack of child care is forcing parents (and predominantly women) to choose between work and parenting.

- Finally, Alissa Quart, Astra Taylor and Brittany Powell suggest that an appropriate act of recognition and gratitude for the workers on the front lines of COVID-19 would be to forgive outstanding student debt. But Bobby Hristova reports that the response of Maple Leaf Foods (among other corporate giants) has instead been to end "hero pay" in the midst of an ongoing pandemic - leaving workers angry about how symbolic support has given way to callous management. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Sarah Hansen reports on new research showing that the U.S. could save 5% of its GDP merely by imposing a mask mandate during the coronavirus pandemic. (And it's particularly worth noting how that economic impact from a single, simple step to improve public health exceeds even the most inflated estimates of possible gains from decades of regulatory rollbacks in Canada.)

- Gaby Hinsliff discusses how the coronavirus (and subsequent policy response) has turned back the clock decades on women's rights. And Rachel Golden Kroner writes about the environmental destruction being smuggled in under cover of COVID-19 - with Jason Kenney joining the dubious likes of Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro in getting singled out for international attention.

- Meanwhile, Sara Hastings-Simon points out that the largest operators in the tar sands have figured out that they can't build a viable future on fossil fuels.

- Kerry Benjoe offers a needed reminder of Canada's ugly history of institutional racism against Indigenous people. And Michael Bramadat-Willcock reports on Lori Carr's nonexistent response to the threat COVID-19 poses to Indigenous communities (among other crucial issues) as current examples.

- Finally, Paul Krugman comments on the reasons why the ultra-wealthy few exercise a chokehold on the U.S.' political system.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Twisted cats.

On backward thinking

I've previously discussed the telling social budget which saw Scott Moe prioritize golf and pedicures over human well-being. But even if we look only at the Saskatchewan Party's pre-election fiscal budget, that too speaks volumes about a painfully warped set of priorities - even before Moe goes into slash-and-burn mode if he gets the chance after an election.

At the outset, it's worth noting that governments have had a choice where to put their dollars in responding to COVID-19. And the Saskatchewan Party chose to be exceptionally stingy among Canadian provinces in keeping people and local businesses afloat - while offering up an unusually high money for infrastructure spending in areas where the effect of COVID-19 was relatively light.

Even if a government was bent on infrastructure spending, though, few infrastructure expenses could possibly be less forward-thinking than a bevy of passing lanes which increase carbon pollution by encouraging more highway traffic travelling at higher speeds. But that's the centrepiece of Moe's capital plan. (And any argument about safety rings hollow given that Moe is simultaneously taking steps to eliminate regulations and licensing requirements.)

Likewise, one could hardly imagine a big-ticket capital expense with less social value than a $120 million remand centre - especially when the Saskatchewan Party has been forced to somewhat acknowledge the pointlessness of avoidable incarceration. Yet Scott Moe has chosen to spend more on that than on capital expenses for the province's entire education system.

And I've already highlighted the folly of betting on nuclear power as an industry of choice, in the face of both strong public disapproval and a glaring lack of any plausible path to success.

While there's certainly reason for concern in the Saskatchewan Party's determination to destroy much of Saskatchewan's commonwealth, there's no more reason for confidence in the few areas they've chosen to prioritize in spending public money. And we'll pay the price for a long time to come if we don't put somebody more forward-thinking in charge to chart the course toward recovery.

Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jason Markusoff discusses Jason Kenney's race to the bottom as he uses a pandemic as an excuse to sacrifice yet more public money and workers' rights to corporate freeloaders.

- Richard Cannings points out how inequality is a drag on our economy (as well as a source of social ills). And John Loxley studies (PDF) the social impact bonds - including one in Saskatchewan - which have added a pointless, profit-driven frame to any attempt to improve social conditions.

- Evan Dyer highlights how rapid and reliable public support for people has been an essential element of any successful response to the coronavirus. The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour is seeking input into how to take into account the needs of workers as we plan the shape of our future economy and society. And Glen Pearson takes note of the importance of social capital - though I'd question his reluctance to include common ownership of resources as part of the effort of building a society that benefits everybody.

- Finally, Ed Pilkington writes about the COVID-19 calamity in the U.S. And James Fallows discusses how people around the globe have suffered due to the Trump administration's destruction of the public institutions counted on to support humanity in meeting a common threat.