Saturday, September 07, 2013

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne discusses Unifor's goals in the wake of its founding convention:
The hope is that, collectively, working people can push back in new and profound ways against what has been a decades-long, anti-worker agenda perpetuated by both governments and corporations.

But just as importantly, the hope is that we can build social progress again for all Canadians. That progress has been virtually halted, stymied by the incredible growth and concentration in corporate power here at home and around the world and the subservience of governments to that power.

Corporations have been emboldened by globalization and trade deals that bestow on them staggering investor rights. They rode out the financial crisis (a crisis caused by their greed) and were not forced by governments to learn anything from it. Unfortunately, workers are still paying the price. Those same multinational corporations stockpiled cash and are continuing to rake in obscene profits while demanding that workers take less. The attack on young workers is particularly egregious.

The byproduct is unprecedented inequality.
Many of the gains we enjoy in society today were first negotiated at a collective bargaining table. Unions then fought for them for all workers. Maternity leave, same-sex benefits, vacation time and pensions are just a few in a long list of advances made by unions throughout the last number of decades.

More broadly, unions have been the key progressive force behind the building of a strong social fabric, including fighting for health care, unemployment insurance benefits, progressive health and safety laws and equality.

Today, unions spend much time defending these gains, not just for their members, but for all Canadians.
- But of course, the corporate domination of the past few decades hasn't been by accident. And it's worth noting that a publicly-funded P3 proponent is looking to make sure that our social fabric gives way entirely to a "standard" assumption that the business sector will control public services.

- Don Lenihan generously suggests that Justin Trudeau should get a pass on detailed policy based on his offering a "vision" instead. (Though I'm curious to hear what exactly that vision is - particularly since Lenihan's "engaging the public" premise doesn't exactly fit with Trudeau's few random positions so far.)

- And in contrast, Tom Mulcair highlights the economic themes most important to the NDP:
“The leader of the third party has announced he has nothing to say on the economy . . . . We have a lot to say on the economy,” Mulcair said.

That’s a reference to Trudeau’s refusal to be pinned down on economic policy at his party’s summer caucus retreat. Instead, Trudeau said detailed policy plans would be rolled out in advance of the election.

But the NDP leader said his party has detailed ideas for the economy, all part of a strategy to burnish the NDP’s economic credentials in voters’ eyes.

Those themes include household debt, mortgages, credit card fees, seniors’ poverty. Mulcair said Canada has yet to recover from the economic downturn that began in 2008: manufacturing jobs are disappeared and middle class wages are falling.

“On affordability issues, we’re the only ones who can talk seriously about it,” Mulcair said. 
- Finally, Laura Stone reports on the stunning declaration by newly-appointed Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Frechette that after a week in the position, he's done everything he possible can to chase down information which the Cons prefer to withhold. And Colin Horgan's thesis that Frechette's surrender will force some future government to create a more powerful office doesn't exactly offer a great deal of hope - especially while we're still stuck with the Cons in power.

On bad-faith negotiations

I've written before about the Cons' blatant strategy of saying just enough about regulating greenhouse gas emissions from the oil industry to confuse voters about the issue while blocking the way toward any action. And so the real news in their offer to let the U.S. write the regulations they've been promising "next year" for seven years and counting is the prospect that it might actually result in some policy coming into effect.

That is, assuming one thinks the same prime minister who's gleefully played Lucy-with-the-football with the Canadian public on this exact issue will voluntarily follow through after the Obama administration provides any go-ahead to TransCanada. And it's especially noteworthy that the only force which seems capable of motivating Harper to even feign interest in climate change is a profit opportunity for a pipeline operator - signalling that the now more than ever, the Cons are transparently placing the interests of the oil sector above those of the general public.

All of which is to say that Obama should be careful to get the exact details of any "joint action" in writing and in law before even hinting at approving KXL - because there isn't much evidence the Cons are otherwise about to deviate from their track record of breaking every promise they make on climate change.

(The Mound of Sound and BigCityLib have more.)

Friday, September 06, 2013

Musical interlude

Anevo - Vibrations

Friday Afternoon 'Rider Blogging

Once again, the Saskatchewan Roughriders faced a significant challenge from a team at the bottom of the CFL's standings in last weekend's Labour Day Classic. But once again, the 'Riders emerged on top - finishing the first half of the 2013 season with an 8-1 record. And perhaps more importantly, one of the keys against the Bombers was one of the team's weaknesses over the previous few games.

After two games in which they had nothing but trouble finishing off drives, the 'Riders were ruthlessly efficient turning field position into points against Winnipeg. Out of 7 possessions where Darian Durant scrimmaged inside the Bombers' 40, the 'Riders managed touchdowns on 6 - and the lone exception (which resulted in a field goal) came after the 'Riders were already in semi-prevent mode with a 15-point lead.

That consistency in putting touchdowns on the board helped to mask what was otherwise a closer game than one might have expected given the records of the teams on the field.

In what's become a familiar theme, the 'Riders' defence played well below its potential against a quarterback who challenged it both on the ground and through the air (with another batch of careless penalties helping the Bombers stay in the game). The offence took the better part of the first half to get going. And the special teams which have given Saskatchewan an advantage through most of the 2013 season mostly played Winnipeg to a draw - at least, until the late Spencer Moore punt block which effectively sealed the game.

We'll have to hope that the 'Riders' increased effectiveness as last week's game went on will carry over into this weekend's matchup. But while there's room for improvement in a lot of areas, they'll be able to cover a lot of holes if Durant and Kory Sheets can keep converting when it counts.

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Richard Seymour rightly calls out right-wing lobby groups in the UK for distorting the facts in order to attack social programs:
The report calls for benefits to fall in real terms, and refers to "the regrettable 5.2% blanket benefit increase put through in 2012". It doesn't mention that this was an inflation-linked rise. For a single recipient of employment support allowance, for example, the increase is a mere £2.80. The TaxPayers' Alliance can rest comfortably in the knowledge that things will get much worse for people on benefits for the next three years, as the government keeps rises below the rate of inflation.

And so on, and so on. To this extent, the report is a jumble of Tory tabloid thematics. The underlying case is that millions of people are on benefits because they are not habituated to work. For this reason, it proposes a compulsory work scheme for those who have been in receipt of benefits for a certain length of time. The aim is to force them to work for their poverty, giving them a total 30-hour working week (but not much time to seek paid employment).

Most of the report's claims are unsourced or only vaguely attributed. Taken altogether, the report is nothing that a half-competent undergraduate couldn't have put together using materials from the rightwing blogs. It is trivial, reactionary fluff.

But this has consistently been part of the Tory agenda, and that of its business backers. It will not significantly reduce their tax bill. It might offer some a pool of "free labour", just as workfare has done in the US. But its most salient effect would be to make people a lot more dependent on the market, and to increase the bargaining power of employers. Underpaid and badly treated? Too bad – try getting another job, or living on welfare.

The pseudo-populist right often tries to recruit "the working man", Joe-the-Plumber or whomever, in alliance against welfare recipients. But, whether or not they are in employment, it is workers who lose out from this.
- In a similar vein, David Doorey finds a perfect match between the textbook definition of "bullshit" and the corporate astroturf attack on unions.

- And Mary-Jane Bennett of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy provides another classic example of propaganda-tank nonsense - arguing in the wake of the Lac-Mégantic rail explosion that the Auditor General's recognition of a "serious lapse by regulators in ensuring safety compliance" is somehow an argument for further deregulation rather than evidence of the need for a stronger public role.

- Meanwhile, Tim Harper points out that the Cons' rhetoric about balancing the federal budget (which was, of course, already balanced before they started their slash-and-burn attack on tax revenues and public services alike) conspicuously omits any allowance for disaster relief.

- Finally, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that generosity rather than stinginess tends to lead to the best outcomes from an evolutionary perspective:
In generous strategies, which are essentially the opposite of extortion strategies, players tend to cooperate with their opponents, but, if they don’t, they suffer more than their opponents do over the long term. “Forgiveness” is also a feature of these strategies. A player who encounters a defector may punish the defector a bit but after a time may cooperate with the defector again.

Stewart noticed the first of these generous approaches among the zero determinant strategies that Press and Dyson had defined. After simulating how some generous strategies would fare in an evolving population, he and Plotkin crafted a mathematical proof showing that, not only can generous strategies succeed in the evolutionary version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, in fact these are the only approaches that resist defectors over the long term.

“Our paper shows that no selfish strategies will succeed in evolution,” Plotkin said. “The only strategies that are evolutionarily robust are generous ones.”


The Fouge sez: have no fear about corporate abuses or contract manipulation in a privatized wastewater system because...public procurement process!
Hamilton Wastewater System – A sewage operation and maintenance contract in Hamilton was cancelled. In Hamilton, the contractor was hired without a public procurement process. The City of Regina will procure our contractor through the public process regardless of the procurement model selected.
Reality sez: merely using another variation of "P3" doesn't do anything to curb corporate abuses, especially when one turns a blind eye to business collusion:
Marc-André Gélinas, who worked at a firm called Tecsult, on Tuesday described the alleged bid-rigging system in Gatineau at the Charbonneau inquiry into allegations of corruption in public construction contracts. He said that, in 2003, company officials in Laval – where a similar system long existed – told him his firm and three others had agreed to split up contracts worth between $25,000 to $500,000 in Gatineau. Under the deal, the contracts would go to Cima+ (40 per cent), Genivar (27 per cent), Tecsult (22 per cent) and Dessau (11 per cent), Mr. Gélinas said.
Another witness at the Charbonneau inquiry, engineer Patrice Mathieu, testified on Wednesday that a bid-rigging system also existed in the Quebec City region after 2004. He added that the federal government’s multibillion-dollar infrastructure program was “manna” in the second half of the 2000s, when major firms were colluding to split public projects among themselves.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

On benefits at stake

Martin Regg Cohn is right to note that there's no empirical support for attacks on unions when it comes to jobs or economic development:
Why then is Hudak trying to turn the clock back? He points to the rise of Right to Work states in the U.S., where right-wing legislators have triumphed against unions in a historical battle that has its roots in the Deep South. The movement has recently spread to nearby Michigan and Indiana, so Ontario must now graft this foreign ideology onto its economy to remain competitive, Hudak argues.
The benefits? Lower unionization rates and lower wage rates.
You can pick your study to suit your point of view, but it’s hard to disagree with the OFL’s bottom line: the arguments against unions are entirely ideological, not empirical. And while ideologues get bogged down by unprovable arguments about how destroying unions creates jobs, they ignore the undeniable benefits to workplace health and safety from unionization (which ultimately lowers hospitalization costs for employers and taxpayers).
But Cohn falls short of drawing all of the connections worth associating with a labour movement capable of standing up for workers' interests - including reducing inequality and boosting voter turnout.

So when your local Chamber of Commerce starts bleating about fighting against a "union agenda", that's what it's really seeking to squelch at all costs: an engaged public looking to shape its own destiny and ensure both decent wages for workers, and a fair distribution of public resources. And we'll find out soon whether Regina voters value those factors more than easy profits for the wealthy.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Justin Ling reports on the federal government's covert surveillance of Idle No More:
Sitting in her teepee on Ottawa’s Victoria Island in December 2012, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence was officially starting her hunger strike, breathing fire into the Idle No More movement and setting off a chain reaction that would eventually force Ottawa into talks on the nature of Canada’s relationship with First Nations. Meanwhile, five blocks away as the crow flies, the federal government’s security and emergency nervous system was ramping up its efforts to keep tabs on the movement. Just how extensive, and often ham-handed, the surveillance was is only now coming to light with the release of thousands of new documents.
At one point, a group of developers created an Idle No More app that allowed activists to share information and plan protests, flash mobs and round dances. Deputy Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Michael Wernick contacted his communications director to see if the office could surreptitiously piggyback on the app to get its own message across. “Is it in any way feasible to get our backgrounders into the flow of this app without the appearance of [government] ringers calling into an open-line show?” he asks in one document.
Media lines from the department stress that the federal government does not operate as Big Brother to First Nations: “[Aboriginal Affairs] does not perform any type of ‘surveillance’ of any individuals, groups, or communities,” says one communiqué. Palmater scoffs at that, citing the case of Cindy Blackstock, a First Nations child rights advocate who was under surveillance by the government’s own admission. With Idle No More, it’s snooping, not spying; still, “I don’t think they should be treating us like domestic terrorists,” says Palmater.
- But of course, the Cons see transparency as a one-way street - as evidenced by the fact that they've stopped the flow of decades-old documents which would normally be declassified.

- And the Council of Canadians offers another example of secrecy trumping basic rights of public participation, as the Northwest Territories are allowing fracking operations to proceed without even disclosing the nature of the toxic chemicals they're pumping into the ground.

- In an interview with Olivier Pascal-Moussellard,Thomas Piketty suggests that modest capital taxes on high net worth households might offer the solution to growing inequality.

- Finally, Peter Hamby's paper (PDF) on media coverage of the U.S.' 2012 presidential campaign is well worth a read - particularly in the lessons to be drawn by media outlets in deciding whether their resources are better directed toward bodies on a bus, or deeper analysis of the campaign as a whole.

New column day

Here, on how "we must increase stock prices!" - or worse yet, "we must increase company X's stock prices!" - makes for a thoroughly regressive public policy goal.

For further reading...
- The examples referenced in the column include Carol Goar's column threatening a revolt over telecom share prices, and Andrew Leach's piece about oil sands production costs (which at least acknowledges royalties as another concern beyond the hope that some profits might find their way into pension funds).
- The wealth distribution data mentioned in the column is found in Armine Yalnizyan's The Rise of the Richest 1% and sources cited therein, as well as Marc Lee's Wealth and income in the top 1%.
- And finally, both Dave Coles and Thomas Walkom make the case for expanded public providers to improve both competition and public returns in the telecom sector.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Frances Russell laments the state of Canada's Potemkin Parliament (and the resulting harm the Cons are inflicting on our political system and our country alike):
Poll after poll show a majority of Canadians regularly confuse their parliamentary system with the American presidential-congressional system.

This inaccurate but endemic assumption has allowed successive governments to gradually toss out the foundations of Canada's British parliamentary heritage, one by one. By stealth and incrementalism, they have turned upside down the British traditions of parliamentary democracy where the government of the day answers to Parliament and is effectively hired and fired by Parliament.

Now, in Canada, it's the other way around. Now, it's the government of the day who hires and fires Parliament, routinely proroguing it or summoning it or dissolving it to serve its own political timing and interests.

This abuse of democracy has reached its apogee under Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives. In 2008, Harper staged an effective coup d'état. He managed to convince Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean to ignore the fact a clear majority of MPs had signed an agreement to govern as a coalition and instead prorogue parliament so he could continue in office even though he had lost the confidence of the majority of the elected representatives of the people.
Parliamentary committees meet in secret. MPs cannot speak openly about what they discuss behind closed doors in case they embarrass or contradict the government. The government routinely bundles its entire annual legislative agenda into massive omnibus bills hundreds of pages in length with little or no information and then invokes closure complete with all-night "legislation by exhaustion" routines. It abolishes vital commissions, agencies, scientific research bodies and programs with no reference to or debate in parliament. To satisfy the oil and gas lobby, it ravages Canada's parks and wilderness areas with impunity, fires world-renowned scientists and experts, simply throws away parts of Canada's historical heritage, attacks its civil servants and pushes aside the opinions and views of a growing majority of Canadians.
- And Benjamin Shingler catches Jason Kenney looking for ways to chase torture victims and other refugees away from Canada.

- Meanwhile, Richard Brennan reports on the latest abuses out of Ontario - where Tim Hudak's PCs look to have based their vote on an anti-union bill on a quid pro quo for corporate funding. But perhaps the most striking part of the story is the PCs' apparent belief that they can make backroom deals go away simply by whining they thought the story would stay in the back room:
Ian Robertson, Hudak’s chief of staff, said in an email internal caucus deliberations were not for public consumption.
“You know I am not going to comment on what may or may not have been discussed in caucus,” wrote Robertson.
- Trish Hennessy challenges the Fraser Institute's latest anti-labour propaganda campaign. And Andrew Jackson responds to Andrew Coyne's attempt to declare burgeoning inequality a dead issue.

- Erica Alini discusses why the Cons' decision to de-fund the Experimental Lakes Area never made sense as a matter of resource management.

- Finally, Pat Atkinson sheds some light on the Wall government's moves to privatize Saskatchewan health care one piece at a time for the sole purpose of enriching the corporate sector at public expense:
It now appears certain that Premier Brad Wall and his Saskatchewan Party government have decided to stop being so timid about the privatization of our province's health system.

Sources say the Wall government is now in serious discussions with business and health regions about contracting out or privatizing all services in our publicly funded health system that do not provide direct patient care. It looks as though many of our fellow citizens who work in maintenance, housekeeping, food services, laboratories, diagnostic imaging and health records in health facilities across our province are going to have their jobs taken over by private sector companies and their employees.

For the past six years, citizens have been lulled into a false sense of security, thinking their premier was not going to take a decidedly private sector approach to our publicly funded and publicly administered health care system. We were wrong, and the evidence is mounting.
No doubt some will argue that Wall's latest foray into health care privatization will save citizens' money and that it is a good way to get rid of highly paid unionized employees. There is little doubt people who will work in these jobs, should Wall get his way, will be paid less and likely won't end up with a pension should they make a career of it. But to argue that this will save the taxpayers' money is a mug's game, as any margins that are realized in reduced labour costs will be taken up in profits for company shareholders.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Connected cats.

On family ties

Laura Ryckewaert's report on the Cons' Senate strategy has already received plenty of attention. But I'm more interested in a senior Conservative's excuses for Stephen Harper's actual appointees than what looks like another delay strategy in substance:
The senior Conservative source said members of the Conservative Party are less uneasy than might be expected because Sen. Wallin, Sen. Duffy and Sen. Brazeau “are not longtime Conservatives.”

“These are folks who were appointed to the Senate for a number of different reasons. So in that sense, it’s not as if they’re seen as one of the family that’s suddenly done bad things,” said the source.
Of course, it's worth wondering whether the "not one of the family" dodge - questionable enough as applied to, say, the individual chosen to serve as the face of Conservative budget infomercials and party fund-raisers alike - can possibly be withheld from the range of people already caught up in the Clusterduff net. But Nigel Wright, Carolyn Stewart Olsen, David Tkachuk and others may want to watch carefully for declarations that they've been officially expelled from the Cons' cult.

That said, the more important lesson may arise for anybody asked to step into Duffy and Wallin's shoes as a celebrity endorser for Harper and his apparently-exclusive clique: anybody falling short of the title "longtime Conservative" will be readily used up and thrown out. Which might offer all the more reason not to put one's own reputation on the line to serve the Cons.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Mariana Mazzucato points out that important inventions tend to come from public financing aimed at the greater good - while noting that we should also look to ensure greater public returns on our collective investments:
Images of tech entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs are continually thrown at us by politicians, economists, and the media. The message is that innovation is best left in the hands of these individuals and the wider private sector, and that the state—bureaucratic and sluggish—should keep out. A telling 2012 article in the Economist claimed that, to be innovative, governments must "stick to the basics" such as spending on infrastructure, education, and skills, leaving the rest to the revolutionary garage tinkerers.

Yet it is ideology, not evidence, that fuels this image. A quick look at the pioneering technologies of the past century points to the state, not the private sector, as the most decisive player in the game.
Whether an innovation will be a success is uncertain, and it can take longer than traditional banks or venture capitalists are willing to wait. In countries such as the United States, China, Singapore, and Denmark, the state has provided the kind of patient and long-term finance new technologies need to get off the ground. Investments of this kind have often been driven by big missions, from putting a human on the moon to solving climate change. This has required not only funding basic research—the typical "public good" that most economists admit needs state help—but applied research and seed funding too. ...
It is time for the state to get something back for its investments. How? First, this requires an admission that the state does more than just fix market failures—the usual way economists justify state spending. The state has shaped and created markets and, in doing so, taken on great risks. Second, we must ask where the reward is for such risk-taking and admit that it is no longer coming from the tax systems. Third, we must think creatively about how that reward can come back.
Recognizing the state as a lead risk-taker, and enabling it to reap a reward, will not only make the innovation system stronger, it will also spread the profits of growth more fairly. This will ensure that education, health, and transportation can benefit from state investments in innovation, instead of just the small number of people who see themselves as wealth creators, while relying increasingly on the courageous, entrepreneurial state.
- Gary Engler discusses the need for workers and unions to think bigger than the next battle. But Matt McClure reports on how the Cons are forcing wages (and ambitions) down by encouraging Alberta employers to import cheap, disposable labour.

- Jordan Press reports on the curious lack of a paper trail surrounding Mike Duffy's expense claim repayments to the Receiver General, while Greg Weston rightly expresses his disbelief that the Prime Minister's Office doesn't have so much as a phone message dealing with the scandal. Meanwhile, Thomas Mulcair highlights some of the scandals which are obvious on the surface - such as Stephen Harper's appointment of failed Con candidates who broke elections law to lifetime patronage positions.

- Finally, Dr. Dawg comments on the need to come to terms with Canada's past genocidal policies toward First Nations - including by calling them what they were rather than sanitizing the past.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Monday Morning Links

This and that for your Labour Day reading.

- Jared Bernstein writes about the fight for fair wages in the U.S. fast food and retail industries. And Karen McVeigh notes that political decision-makers are starting to try to get in front of the parade of workers seeking a reasonable standard of living:
Organisers said the strikes, scheduled a day after the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and a few days before Labor Day, were being held in 60 cities and had spread to the south – including Tampa and Raleigh – and the west, with workers in Los Angeles and San Francisco taking part.

In New York, the Democratic mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn took part in a march with several hundred workers and protesters before entering a McDonald's near the Empire State Building on Thursday morning.
The US labour secretary, Thomas Perez, said the strikes showed the need to raise the minimum wage. Perez told the Associated Press that for too many people, "the rungs on the ladder of opportunity are feeling further and further apart."
- But there's always room for the labour movement itself to work on being more responsive to the needs of rank-and-file members and marginalized workers - as both Glenn Wheeler and Kev point out.

- Meanwhile, pogge notes that there's still a stark gap in Ontario between perpetually-expanding profits for the banksters, and austerity being imposed on the poor. Joseph Stiglitz observes the risk that Australia may abandon a highly successful stimulus program to follow the same path of austerity that's led to so much misery elsewhere around the globe. And Mark Taliano reminds us that the Trans-Pacific Partnership represents just another effort by the Cons to shift decision-making power away from citizens and toward the corporate sector.

- Justin McCurry reports that the Fukushima nuclear power plant is emitting 18 times as much radiation as previously claimed - and that nobody seems to be able to figure out why. And Mike de Souza highlights a similar lack of risk management and regulation in dealing with the ongoing Cold Lake oil spill.

- Finally, Erin Weir draws a needed distinction between social insurance which protects everybody's interests and self-insurance which protects only those who can afford it - and finds former Con cabinet minister Monte Solberg trying to push us toward the latter model.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Emily Badger discusses how poverty affects people who are forced to use their physical and mental resources on bare survival:
Human mental bandwidth is finite. You’ve probably experienced this before (though maybe not in those terms): When you’re lost in concentration trying to solve a problem like a broken computer, you’re more likely to neglect other tasks, things like remembering to take the dog for a walk, or picking your kid up from school. This is why people who use cell phones behind the wheel actually perform worse as drivers. It’s why air traffic controllers focused on averting a mid-air collision are less likely to pay attention to other planes in the sky.

We only have so much cognitive capacity to spread around. It's a scarce resource.

This understanding of the brain’s bandwidth could fundamentally change the way we think about poverty. Researchers publishing some groundbreaking findings today in the journal Science have concluded that poverty imposes such a massive cognitive load on the poor that they have little bandwidth left over to do many of the things that might lift them out of poverty – like go to night school, or search for a new job, or even remember to pay bills on time.
Solutions that make financial life easier for poor people don’t simply change their financial prospects. When a poor person receives a regular direct-deposited paycheck every Friday, that does more than simply relieve the worry over when money will come in next.

 “When we do that, we liberate some bandwidth,” Shafir says. Policymakers tend to evaluate the success of financial programs aimed at the poor by measuring how they do financially. “The interesting thing about this perspective is that it says if I make your financial life easier, if I give you more bandwidth, what I really ought to look at is how you’re doing in your life. You might be doing better parenting. You might be adhering to your medication better.”

The limited bandwidth created by poverty directly impacts the cognitive control and fluid intelligence that we need for all kinds of everyday tasks.
- And Patricia O'Campo examines some tragic real-life applications of the principle - noting that while poverty is linked to a number of health problems in new mothers, it's especially closely correlated with the simultaneous development of multiple health problems.

- But then, a place at the top of the income spectrum doesn't insulate a person from other sets of problems - as Joshua Holland discusses new research linking upper-class status to unethical behaviour, narcissism and a sense of entitlement. And in an entirely unrelated commentary, Livia Gershon contrasts the real world against the one in which Thomas Friedman and others think that high-skilled jobs are available for everybody.

- Finally, Matthew Yglesias and the Guardian highlight the need to recognize the limitations of outside intervention, while pogge is rightly skeptical of the case for military action without any apparent plan or end goal. Rick Salutin comments on the double standard applied to foreign regimes whenever foreign policy insiders decide it's time for another war. And mistermix suggests it's possible to do much more good helping refugees of the Syrian civil war instead of dropping bombs.