Friday, February 22, 2019

Musical interlude

PVRIS - Smoke

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jemima Kelly highlights the massive amounts of revenue lost to tax evasion and tax avoidance in the EU - while pointing out the importance of recognizing the larger scale of the former. And PIPSC makes the case for e-commerce titans to pay their fair share in taxes while profiting from their Canadian customer base.

- Brian Merchant examines how tech giants are automating expanded fossil fuel production, exacerbating both the climate crisis and the exodus of resource-sector employment. And George Monbiot discusses how to boost the efforts of the young activists leading the way toward long-delayed action to avert a climate breakdown.

- Bob Bell warns of the most recent push toward privatizing and corporatizing health care in Canada. Sherri Brown calls out the Ford PCs' callous treatment of children with autism in Ontario. Keith Gerein points out how Jason Kenney's plans to undermine public health care in Alberta are based on obviously false assumptions. But David Climenhaga wonders whether voters will be mollified enough by a meaningless headline phrase to let Kenney wreak havoc.

- David Armstrong exposes Purdue Pharma's deceptive marketing of OxyContin.

- Finally, PressProgress takes a look at the threats and broken promises underlying the United We Roll protest. And Nora Loreto warns of the dangers of a xenophobic group which has managed to unite right-wing politicians even if it looks to have been an utter flop within the general public.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Shawn Gude comments on the choice Democratic primary voters will have between candidates seeking to regulate the economic system as it stands, and those pushing to fundamentally changing it. Ian Welsh points out the importance of supporting candidates such as Bernie Sanders with a genuine commitment to the more progressive policies on offer from many corners.

- John Horgan discusses the backlash against the extreme concentration of wealth amidst increased precarity in the U.S., while Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley report on new polling again showing strong support for higher tax rates on the extremely wealthy. And Jordan Weissmann highlights how Elizabeth Warren's child care plan would boost both the economy generally, and the cause of shared and equitable development in particular.

- Larry Elliott reports on a new study showing how austerity has devastated families in the UK. And James Sillars notes that the result is a country set to reach record levels of child poverty even before it shoots itself in the foot through an attempt to distance itself from the world.

- Mat Hope exposes the disinformation campaigns used jointly by big tobacco and the oil lobby to attack any action to promote public health where it might affect short-term profits. And the Canadian Press reports on the CRTC's findings of misleading and aggressive sales tactics by the telecoms who are already overcharging Canadian customers.

- Finally, the CP also reports on new research showing that Canadian governments need to do far more to try to reduce the harm resulting from alcohol abuse - rather than promoting that harm through deregulation and downward pressure on prices as so many right-wing governments have chosen to do in the name of populist appeal.

New column day

Here, on how the choice of Scott Moe and other right-wing leaders to ally themselves with white supremacists and nativists (as seen most recently through yellow vest and United We Roll events) is as politically flawed as it is morally objectionable.

For further reading...
- Adam Hunter reported on Moe's initial willingness to have his cabinet members connected to yellow vest events. And Stephanie Taylor reported on his involvement in later events linked to the convoy which arrived in Ottawa this week.
- Samantha Beattie has examined the ensuing convoy in general, while Evan Balgord has focused in on David Selvers in particular. And Hamdi Issawi reported on the recognition of some involved that they were tied into unacceptable bigotry.
- As for what happened as United We Roll arrived in Ottawa, Issawi reported on the weak turnout and disproportionate number of right-wing politicians eager to be associated with a tiny and extreme group.
- Meanwhile, Zi-Ann Lum reported on Conservative Senator David Tkachuk's violent rhetoric. And Tamara Khandaker questioned Andrew Scheer's willingness to be linked to Faith Goldy among other hatemongers.
- And finally, Andy Toy looked into the funding which went to an organizer rather than to participants in the convoy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Eugene Robinson writes about the need to respond to climate breakdown with ambition rather than undue hesitation. Martin Wolf rightly points out that pricing alone won't get us anywhere close to reducing carbon emissions to a sustainable level in time to avert catastrophe. And Simon Wren-Lewis argues that to the extent the cost of averting environmental catastrophe can't be funded through immediate tax revenue, it's worth dealing with through public debt.

- Daniel Aldana Cohen points out the role a massive investment in housing can play in securing both climate progress and social health. And Amy Lubik and Warren Bell make the case for a forceful move toward eliminating poverty.

- Jason Walls reports on New Zealand's plans to ensure that digital giants pay their fair share of taxes. But Elizabeth Thompson reports that the Libs instead can't be bothered even to examine their role in distorting electoral outcomes before Canadians next go to the polls.

- Nick Taylor-Vaisey highlights some of the actors complicit in SNC Lavalin's evasion of legal consequences for bribery and corruption, while Andrew Roman takes a closer look at the Libs' conflation of political decision-making and prosecutorial discretion. And Giuseppe Valiante reports on the stayed prosecution against one of the executives at the centre of its dealings in Libya.

- Finally, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions releases new poll data showing strong public support for a universal pharmacare plan.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Tucked-in cats.




Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Matt Bruenig offers up a set of proposals to help American families toward economic security. And Andrew Jackson has some suggestions to boost Canada's middle class:
(T)op-line statistics suggest that ordinary middle-class households are seeing little or no increase in their incomes even as many, especially young people, sink deeper into debt. This helps explain the rise of the populist right which has targeted (largely imaginary) tax increases as the problem, and proposes tax cuts as the solution.
...
What the Liberals have not done is improve public programs to significantly alleviate the cost burden on households through “in kind” benefits. A key example is Quebec’s child care program, which, according to a recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, costs parents of an infant in Montreal just $175 a month, compared with $1,685 a month in Toronto. Yet the federal government has only very modestly increased its support for provincial child care programs based on the Quebec model.

The Liberals seem set to reject a “big bang” national pharmacare plan which would widen access to needed drugs for the uninsured, remove the need for private insurance, and lower the cost of current employer plans for employers and workers. Instead, they seems to favour a drug benefit narrowly targeted to the working poor.

When it comes to the acute shortage of affordable housing in our big cities, the best single option is to invest in high-quality, mixed income, social and co-operative housing which increases non-market supply. Yet the real estate industry lobbying to allow new buyers to go even deeper into debt seems to be gathering steam as the answer to “affordability.” The new national housing policy is not very ambitious and is just getting off the ground.

The stagnation of middle-class living standards seems set to frame the pre-election political debate over issues of affordability. Progressives should be arguing that bold public programs to meet basic needs outside of the market are needed to targeted income supplements, and certainly far preferable to tax cuts, which would inevitably mean cuts to the services we already have.
- Meanwhile, Andrew Mitrovica discusses how Justin Trudeau has fallen prey to hubris even more quickly and blatantly than his Lib predecessors. But Paul Adams warns that it will be especially difficult for a limited media presence to meaningfully challenge leaders' spin in the course of Canada's impending election campaign.

- Dennis Gruending has some questions about the "convoy" propagandizing for unfettered oil development and against minorities.

- Finally, Bob Weber reports on the combination of inconsistent analysis and convenient omissions accepted in lieu of any meaningful environmental assessment of tar sands developments.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Dion Rabouin examines the U.S.' unprecedented level of inequality and wealth concentration. And Orsetta Causa, Anna Vindics and James Browne highlight how worsening inequality around the globe has been the result of avoidable policy choices.

- But David Dayen writes that Amazon's failed attempt to extract billions of dollars as the price of setting up a headquarters in New York represents needed pushback against corporate handouts. And Jamie Merchant is optimistic that communities elsewhere will follow the precedent:
The absurdities of the Amazon deal, which enraged New Yorkers and motivated them to fight back, are globalized absurdities present in every factory, every office, every farm, and every export-processing-zone across the planet in which people are treated like cattle, offered by their governments to Amazon and other world-striding corporations as a cheap resource to be exploited. This outward looking, supranational view is already implicit in New York’s anti-Amazon movement, which, much to the company’s displeasure, broadened its perspective to encompass Amazon’s general attitude toward unionization, corporate welfare, and immigration policy. In other words, the movement’s was a holistic critique: rejecting Amazon’s values for a wholly different idea of the kind of world we want. 

Labor rights, tax justice, and the free movement of people are issues that go far beyond not just Queens, but also beyond U.S. national borders, potentially linking together communities who are struggling for the same goals in similar conditions across the world. By tying the local fight against Amazon to bigger structural problems, the Queens activists opened a window onto a transnational, anti-corporate politics in which laborers everywhere recognize their shared stake in a common fight against the corporate domination and crushing inequality of the present order.
- Susan weighs in on Jason Kenney's attack on people of "modest human capital" and the standard of living they can apparently expect - while noting the irony that Kenney himself is lacking in what his party claims should justify a higher minimum wage.

- Finally, Megan Mayhew Bergman questions why so much money is being spent purchasing and developing property which will be underwater if climate change continues on its present course. Will Bunch comments on the folly of pouring public resources into fracking which destabilizes land while polluting our planet. Christof Ruhl writes that the reduced use of plastic only adds to the foreseeable economic trends which are making oil development generally into a sucker's bet. And John Funk notes that even conservative voters in the U.S. strongly support investing in renewable energy rather than fossil fuels.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Marshall Shepherd writes that the U.S. is facing a true national emergency in the form of climate breakdown. And Michelle Goldberg theorizes that the unlikely election and presidency of Donald Trump may open the door to a transformative response, including the possibility of the Green New Deal.

- Ed Finn argues that pharmacare should be a key issue in this year's federal election - though even before Justin Trudeau's decision to give in to big pharma, Finn would have been right to note the dangers of relying on a Lib promise to help people at the expense of corporate profits.

- Duncan McCue offers a reminder that Canada has long been a laggard in fighting corporate corruption.

- The CP reports on the Saskatchewan NDP's call to fight child hunger and poverty. Scott Moe of course couldn't be less interested when there are oil barons to be shilled for.

- Finally, Tabatha Southey comments on the Ford PCs' callous disregard for families with children with autism - both in their policy choices designed to leave children without the treatment they need, and their threats and attacks on anybody who dares point out that reality.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Suresh Naidu, Dani Rodrik and Gabrien Zucman write about the developing movement toward an economic discipline which recognizes the importance of human well-being, rather than being bound by neoliberal ideology and an assumption that GDP is the only end to be pursued.

- PressProgress examines the stranglehold on public policy enjoyed and exploited by a few major Canadian corporations. And Lana Payne discusses the problem with the concentration of wealth and power.

- Alex Paterson laments the Trudeau Libs' decision to add one more piece to a patchwork of prescription drug coverage rather than developing a national pharmacare program.

- Meanwhile, Theresa Boyle reports on the latest study showing that billions of dollars are wasted on unnecessary lab tests. And Bob Bell points out how Doug Ford appears set to hand increased profits to home care operators with no regard for the well-being of residents. 

- Finally, George Monbiot offers due credit to the young people now leading the way in building a mass movement toward action on climate change. But Jonathan Freedland argues that our reaction to the activism being led by high school students should be one of shame rather than admiration alone.