Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Edward Greenspon's report on the Keystone XL review process is well worth a read - particularly in exposing how the Harper Cons have handled their U.S. relations (along with many other policy areas) based on the presumption that nobody will ever see fit to consider the environmental costs of maximizing oil exploitation. And on that front, Andrew Leach highlights how Ottawa and Edmonton alike have assumed they can get away with paying lip service to climate change - even as the Obama administration has rightly recognized it as a top priority.

- Stephen Hume is the latest to point out the hypocrisy of free-marketeers insisting that employers be provided with special privileges to import easily-exploited workers rather than paying market wages. And Doug Saunders recognizes that we should be encouraging long-term immigration rather than treating new arrivals as disposable labour.

- While I'd question Michael Laxer's view of a "progressive" orientation as the problem, he's absolutely right in recognizing the need for far stronger presentation of social democratic principles than we're accustomed to seeing on our political scene:
We are told, regularly, that one has to compromise to get elected. But these compromises always seem to be on "our" part and not the right's. The right is not compromising at all when it comes to economic principles.

But, more significantly, these compromises are always at the expense of those living in  poverty, those on social assistance, unions and public sector workers. Always. In other words, these "progressive" political compromises are a basic part of the attack on unions, public sector workers, those living in poverty and those on social assistance as they directly facilitate them.
The progressive agenda in North America has become so insignificant in its aims that if it got any less so it would simply cease to be. There is nowhere for it to go that is anymore insignificant than it already is.

Are minimum-wage workers and those on social assistance going to be once more sacrificed on the alter of political expediency? Is their extreme need of solidarity to be forsaken yet again?
 - And if we needed more evidence as to how distorted our current political environment is, John Manley's latest pitch on behalf of the CCCE is asking the public to allow the corporate sector to keep evading taxes - even after its own numbers showed how little businesses are contributing to the public interest. And Quebec is the latest province to be confronted with demands that it sacrifice social programs on the altar of corporatist "seriousness" - with precisely zero consideration given to raising additional revenue as another means of balancing the budget.

- Finally, Alison discusses how the true foreign-funded operatives in Canada's political systems are Nigel Wright, Linda Frum and the rest of the Cons who were propped up by the U.S.' right-wing propaganda machine.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Musical interlude

Our Lady Peace - Clumsy

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Larry Bartels highlights how class plays a particularly large role in U.S. politics, as opinions about the role of government are particularly polarized based on income. And Paul Krugman notes that as a consequence, any demand to "stop class warfare" in favour of imposing the austerity preferred by the upper class amounts to a demand that lower-income citizens forfeit their right to be heard.

- Carol Goar discusses how poverty and inequality are serious barriers to access to health care in Canada, particularly when it comes to increasingly-costly prescription drugs:
People with debilitating — in some cases life-threatening — diseases are mortgaging their homes, borrowing huge sums, holding auctions, organizing fundraisers or quietly giving up.

The Canada Health Act says all permanent residents of this country are entitled to “reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers.” But for an increasing number of low-wage workers, seniors without personal savings and families with no health insurance, cost is a barrier — an unscalable one.

The extent of this inequity was underlined last week by a new report from Statistics Canada. It showed that out-of-pocket expenditures for health-care (primarily prescription drugs, dental services and private insurance premiums) shot up by 63 per cent for the poorest fifth of the population between 1997 and 2009. Those in the middle-and upper-income quintiles experienced increases ranging from 36 per cent to 48 per cent.
Governments are pushing patients out of hospitals faster, saddling them (except those on social assistance and old age security) with the cost of their own prescriptions. What this means is that the core principle of medicare — that every Canadian should have equal access to health care regardless of wealth — is deteriorating.

As always, the poor are first and hardest hit. The majority of middle-income Canadians have private health insurance. The rich don’t need pharmacare; they can cover the cost of their own medications.

But what typically happens when a universal program erodes is that damage works its way up the income ladder. There are already isolated cases of patients whose insurers won’t pay for astronomically priced drugs. There are stories in the media about families of all socio-economic levels begging governments to help them pay for rare and costly medications.

There is still time to fix this problem. What is missing is the political will.
- Tara Carman reports on the C.D. Howe Institute's observation that the abuse of temporary foreign workers is driving up unemployment rates. Both Murray Mandryk and the Star-Phoenix editorial board discuss the obvious flaws in the Cons' push toward disposable labour (along with the eagerness of employers to abuse their privileged status). And Karl Nerenberg views the use of temporary foreign workers as just one part of the Cons' regressive immigration policy.

[Also, what thwap said.]

- Dr. Dawg writes that we shouldn't be surprised to see the Robocon investigation falter due to a lack of investigatory authority which Elections Canada has long pointed out as a problem. Alison documents the type of misdirection which has apparently been treated as legitimate (or at least incapable of being investigated). And Saskboy rounds up yesterday's news about the Elections Commissioner's decision to give up on Robocon.

- Finally, Paul Adams reminds us of the rights at stake when the Cons look to rewrite elections law to restrict access to the polls:
(T)his isn’t just about most Canadians. Most Canadians don’t live on reserves. Most Canadians don’t have parents or grandparents who were forbidden from voting by law. And most Canadians would have trouble imagining the circumstances of those who do.

As First Nations leaders have pointed out, many people living on reserves don’t have driver’s licences or even bank accounts. Interestingly, ‘status cards’ — the core identification document on reserves — have a photograph but not the address required by the proposed bill. Moreover, these cards expire and may be difficult to renew.

We know that aboriginal people rely on the vouching provisions of the current law to a far greater degree than other Canadians for precisely those reasons.

Lurking not far beneath the suggestion that most Canadians think it is reasonable for voters to have ID in their pockets on election day is the sense that only the “deserving” — the upright, respectable citizens — should be participating in our democracy.
Democracy is both more and less than the right of everyone to vote. Athens had a democracy — just not for women and slaves. For most of the last century, South Africa had one excluding blacks. Israel has one, but it excludes many of the Palestinians ruled by its laws and power.

Canada was a democracy before it gave women or aboriginal people or 18-year olds the vote because it was governed by representative institutions; because power was diffused among federal and provincial governments as well as between Parliament and the courts; and because it was built on the rule of law.

But it was a democracy for the few.

Most of us have come to believe that we should have a democracy for all.

And that is why this isn’t just a matter of election administration. It’s a matter of civil rights.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Thom Hartmann discusses how Reaganomics were designed to crush the U.S.' middle class - and have succeeded in that goal:
Progressive taxation, when done correctly, pushes wages down to working people and reduces the incentives for the very rich to pillage their companies or rip off their workers. After all, why take another billion when 91 percent of it just going to be paid in taxes?

This is the main reason why, when GM was our largest employer and our working class were also in the middle class, CEOs only took home 30 times what working people did. The top tax rate for all the time America’s middle class was created was between 74 and 91 percent. Until, of course, Reagan dropped it to 28 percent and working people moved from the middle class to becoming the working poor.
If you compare a chart showing the historical top income tax rate over the course of the twentieth century with a chart of income inequality in the United States over roughly the same time period, you’ll see that the period with the highest taxes on the rich – the period between the Roosevelt and Reagan administrations – was also the period with the lowest levels of economic inequality.

You’ll also notice that since marginal tax rates started to plummet during the Reagan years, income inequality has skyrocketed.

Even more striking, during those same 33 years since Reagan took office and started cutting taxes on the rich, income levels for the top 1 percent have ballooned while income levels for everyone else have stayed pretty much flat.
Creating a middle class is always a choice, and by embracing Reaganomics and cutting taxes on the rich, we decided back in 1980 not to have a middle class within a generation or two...

This, of course, is exactly what conservatives always push for. When wealth is spread more equally among all parts of society, people start to expect more from society and start demanding more rights.
- Meanwhile, Robert Solow reviews Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, with a particular focus on the "rich-get-richer dynamic". Lynn Stuart Parramore comments on the corporatist right's fear of Piketty's analysis. And Geoff Davies (via Yves Smith) proposes some policy options which would reduce pre-market inequality.

- Molly Ball writes that some U.S. governments are starting to learn their lesson about the dangers of privatization - but only after having forfeited vital public institutions to the private sector.

- David Green discusses how the temporary foreign worker program is designed to make sure that employers can avoid the market forces which would otherwise lead prosperity to be shared with workers. And PressProgress highlights the fact that Jason Kenney was warned that he lacked accurate jobs data - but kept on spouting talking points with gross disregard for their accuracy rather than looking into how his government has attacked the evidence-gathering process.

- Finally, Linda McQuaig writes about Stephen Harper's fetishization of war even as the public moves past any desire to funnel resources into destruction.

New column day

Here, discussing what Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page found (PDF) in looking at which preferences actually shape U.S. public policy - and what needs to happen for the needs of the general public to be given some actual weight in government policy choices.

For further reading...
- Again, Larry Bartels, Kathleen Geier and Paul Krugman are among many who have also commented on the study.
- Sanders Deionne charts the connection between lobbying payouts and tax giveaways for a number of large U.S. corporations.
- On the Canadian side, I'll point again to Therea Tedesco and Jen Gerson's report on the conflict-ridden Senate, along with PressProgress' observations about how our own businesses don't pay their fair share in taxes. And Donald Gutstein highlights the Fraser Institute as an example of the type of anti-social corporate reality-laundering operation which tends to exert undue influence.

[Edit: added link.]

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Frances Russell writes about the corrosive effects of inequality. And Robert Reich points out one creative option California is considering to address inequality at the firm level: tying corporate tax levels to wage parity, under the theory that shareholders will then have an incentive to push for a fair distribution of wages.

- Peter Richardson reviews Matt Taibbi's The Divide:
 Taibbi explores why Wall Street bankers are seemingly exempt from criminal prosecution, even as New York City targets petty crime — much of it manufactured by police in minority neighborhoods — more aggressively than ever. He cites statistics to make his argument, but mostly he reports on specific cases. One involves a working-class black man who finally decided to fight a misdemeanor charge for blocking pedestrian traffic — that is, standing on the sidewalk in front of his home. Taibbi also considers the zeal with which government agencies investigate and humiliate welfare recipients and undocumented residents for trying to provide for their families during hard times — times made all the harder because of unprosecuted crimes at the top of the economic food chain.

Everyone knows the rich receive special treatment in this country, especially in court. But Taibbi concludes that the government now offers a sliding scale of civil and criminal protection to U.S. residents. At one end of the spectrum, the very rich are virtually beyond accountability, no matter how massive and destructive their crimes may be. At the other end, the nation’s most vulnerable residents face unremitting investigation and prosecution by bureaucracies determined to find them guilty of something.

Taibbi also surfaces a new set of targets: Justice Department prosecutors who seek settlements for even the most outrageous white-collar scams. Many of them are recruited from law firms whose clients include the largest Wall Street banks. Lanny Breuer, who headed the department’s criminal division when the financial meltdown occurred, is Taibbi’s poster boy for this conflict of interest. Both he and Attorney General Eric Holder were partners at Covington & Burling, which represents JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo. All too often, Taibbi argues, the prosecutors have continued to behave like defense attorneys. When Holder was a Clinton administration official, for example, he wrote a memo arguing that prosecutors should consider “collateral consequences” when determining whether to charge persons or corporations. If a criminal prosecution would unduly harm innocent shareholders and employees, the logic went, it made more sense to settle. But once bankers realized they were beyond criminal prosecution, the incentives to transgress increased dramatically.
“The Divide” marks a shift in Taibbi’s tone. More Lincoln Steffens than Hunter Thompson, Taibbi drops most of the histrionics to reveal the corruption and injustice at hand. He even goes out of his way to be reasonable. He acknowledges that prosecuting financial cases can be expensive and risky, especially when the alleged crimes are complex and the defendants have vast legal resources at their disposal. That fact motivates prosecutors to settle such cases rather than try them in criminal court. He also concedes that many disadvantaged neighborhoods may benefit from tough policing. But he maintains that when combined, the two law-enforcement strategies add up to a glaring injustice. He also notes that it’s far too easy to introduce jurisdictional complications in financial cases that would never be allowed in less consequential cases. To make that point, he recounts a horrific case in which high-profile Wall Street financiers escaped punishment after trying to destroy a company they bet against as well as harassing its executives and their family members. 
- And David Dayen also discusses the consequences of a culture of impunity for the financial sector, with a particular focus on a home-seizure complex which has neither any incentive nor any apparent means to figure out whether a given claim to enforce a mortgage has any basis in fact:
(D)espite the fact that the nation’s courtrooms remain active crime scenes, with backdated, forged and fabricated documents still sloshing around them, state and federal regulators have not filed new charges of misconduct against Bank of New York, Deutsche Bank, U.S. Bank or any other mortgage industry participant, since the round of national settlements over foreclosure fraud effectively closed the issue.

Many focus on how the failure to prosecute financial crimes, by Attorney General Eric Holder and colleagues, create a lack of deterrent for the perpetrators, who will surely sin again. But there’s something else that happens when these crimes go unpunished; the root problem, the legacy of fraud, never gets fixed. In this instance, the underlying ownership on potentially millions of loans has been permanently confused, and the resulting disarray will cause chaos for decades into the future, harming homeowners, investors and the broader economy. Holder’s corrupt bargain, to let Wall Street walk, comes at the cost of permanent damage to the largest market in the world, the U.S. residential housing market.

By now we know the details: During the run-up to the housing bubble, banks bought up millions of mortgages, packaged them into securities and sold them around the world. Amid the frenzy, lenders failed to follow basic property laws, which ensure legitimate transfers of mortgages from one legal owner to another. When mass foreclosures resulted from the bubble’s collapse, banks who could not demonstrate they owned the loans got caught trying to cover up the irregularities with false documents. Federal authorities made the offenders pay fines, much of which banks paid with other people’s money. But the settlements put a Band-Aid over the misconduct. Nobody went in, loan by loan, to try to equitably confirm who owns what.
There was another solution available here, if Holder’s Justice Department didn’t throw up its hands and settle. Judges could have disassembled the broken mortgage system, and appointed a special master to handle all loans in question. It may have taken years, but the preservation of the public property system makes the time and expense worth it. Unless you would rather kneel to the wishes of the financial industry to keep everything rolling, and let the wound fester.

If you or I pick the lock on a house and try to steal everything in it, we’d probably go to jail. But if I were a bank, and I wrote down on a piece of paper that I simply owned that house, I’d get away with it. That’s the sad legacy of trying to cover up massive fraud instead of dealing with it.
- Don Lenihan responds to Lawrence Martin's suggestion that key PMO staffers be elected by Parliament by pointing out that there's more to democratic accountability than intermittent elections.

- And one of the more important factors needed to hold governments to account is accurate information about what they're doing. Which means there's all the more reason for concern about the Cons' pattern of refusing to release public data and covering up their own actions. But on the bright side, the NDP's push to make government information public by default offers a much-needed contrast.

- Finally, Tim Harper suggests that the temporary foreign worker program is beyond fixing. And
the CP discusses the obvious alternative: rather than binding helpless temporary workers to a single employer for the sole purpose of suppressing their wages and working conditions, we should look to fill with immigrants who can hope to make a future in Canada.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Gifted cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Duncan Cameron writes that Canada needs a new political direction rather than just a new government - and offers some worthwhile suggestions as to what that might include:
The inter-generational bargain needs to be renewed. Today's workers pay for their past studies and future retirement. Investing in youth and providing for retirement has social benefits and requires collective support. Much can done through a serious progressive income tax, but notable additional sources of revenue for student grants and other social spending exist. A financial transaction tax for instance could raise an estimated $4 billion, and has wide support in public polling.

The biggest transfer of wealth in history is about to take place as the baby boomers pass on inherited wealth to their children. Inheritance needs to be taxed in Canada either as an ongoing wealth tax or through re-introducing succession duties.

Corporations are sitting on piles of wealth -- dead money, former Bank of Canada head Mark Carney called it. Erin Weir estimates that corporate cash on hand at the end of 2013 of $626 billion exceeds the federal debt of $611 billion. Tax idle capital and invest in public education, health, transport, culture and amateur sport.

Knowledgeable research shows that investing in early childhood education, reducing family poverty, improving social housing, ensuring gender equity, enhancing child-care facilities, adopting "living wage" policies, sane nutrition and agricultural practices, and promoting overall equality, reduces the cost of health care and improves the quality of life for everyone. Whether it be pioneering work by Dennis Raphael or the authoritative study by the World Health Organization, the benefits of enhanced equality for health are clear, and attainable when the social determinants of health are addressed successfully.
- Meanwhile, Naomi Klein writes that the crisis of climate change is challenging humanity's ability to act collectively at a point when that capacity is in serious doubt:
Our problem is that the climate crisis hatched in our laps at a moment in history when political and social conditions were uniquely hostile to a problem of this nature and magnitude—that moment being the tail end of the go-go ’80s, the blastoff point for the crusade to spread deregulated capitalism around the world. Climate change is a collective problem demanding collective action the likes of which humanity has never actually accomplished. Yet it entered mainstream consciousness in the midst of an ideological war being waged on the very idea of the collective sphere.

This deeply unfortunate mistiming has created all sorts of barriers to our ability to respond effectively to this crisis. It has meant that corporate power was ascendant at the very moment when we needed to exert unprecedented controls over corporate behavior in order to protect life on earth. It has meant that regulation was a dirty word just when we needed those powers most. It has meant that we are ruled by a class of politicians who know only how to dismantle and starve public institutions, just when they most need to be fortified and reimagined. And it has meant that we are saddled with an apparatus of “free trade” deals that tie the hands of policy-makers just when they need maximum flexibility to achieve a massive energy transition.

...We also have to confront how the mismatch between climate change and market domination has created barriers within our very selves, making it harder to look at this most pressing of humanitarian crises with anything more than furtive, terrified glances. Because of the way our daily lives have been altered by both market and technological triumphalism, we lack many of the observational tools necessary to convince ourselves that climate change is real—let alone the confidence to believe that a different way of living is possible.

And little wonder: just when we needed to gather, our public sphere was disintegrating; just when we needed to consume less, consumerism took over virtually every aspect of our lives; just when we needed to slow down and notice, we sped up; and just when we needed longer time horizons, we were able to see only the immediate present.
- Inga Ting discusses how Australia's two-tier health system has done nothing but make wait times longer for those who can't afford to jump a queue. And Andrew MacLeod reports on the attempt of Brian Day and other medical profiteers to force a similar system on the Canadian public - even as the Canadian Medical Association (having moved on from Day's profit-over-patient mentality) points out how poverty already serves as a serious barrier to health.

- Finally, Kathleen Geier takes her own look at the power of wealth in influencing public policy. Dave Gilson examines the preferential tax treatment for people who already have more than they need - a point which is equally applicable in Canada when one compares the CCCE's own numbers as to how small a percentage of income businesses pay in taxes to the rates applied to individuals. And Trish Hennessy warns against throwing taxes under the bus as an option to fund our social priorities.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Michael Harris writes that the Cons' primary purpose while in power has been to hand further power and wealth to those who already have more than they know what to do with:
These corporations and their political mouthpiece, the Republican Party, are Stephen Harper’s heroes. He has spent his entire political career marching Canada down the same corporate road that leads to oligarchy. He is less the prime minister of a country, than a super-salesman of corporate interests. That’s why his policies often look so wacky but aren’t. They do exactly what they are intended to do.
They are not designed for the country’s benefit, but for corporate interests. That’s what Nexen and Northern Gateway are about. That’s what Harper’s revenue-losing corporate tax cuts are all about. The [corporations] get break after break, and the public loses its mail service, veterans lose their service centres, and public servants get their pink slips.
We haven’t got far to go [to become an oligarchy]; 86 families in this country, representing .002 percent of the population, have accumulated more wealth than the poorest 11.4 million Canadians.

If it can be said that Stephen Harper has a vision at all, it is to keep it that way.
- Paul Krugman responds to the observation that the U.S.' political class mostly addresses the preferences of the wealthy by pointing out that there's a meaningful difference between the major political parties in their respective handling of equality issues. But I'd go a step further and question whether the current influence of the wealthy means electoral politics are "irrelevant" or insufficiently relevant - and that if the answer is the latter, then there's all the more reason to pursue change through the political system.

- Meanwhile, Les Whittington reports that grassroots action is having a real effect on the Cons' attempts to place the oil industry ahead of all other interests. But Dean Beeby notes that the Cons' reaction has been to stop gathering the evidence which shows that the public has no interest in their spin - this time by refusing to test public reaction to publicly-funded political advertising (even as they continue to pour tens of millions of dollars into the ads themselves).

- Matthew Yglesias makes the case for taxes on extreme incomes for the purpose of addressing inequality - and notes that there's reason to pursue that end even if the result isn't an increase in revenue:
(T)he tax code structures even the "pre tax" incomes of very high earning people. Very high taxation of inheritances would mean fewer big inheritances, not more tax revenue. Very high taxation of labor income would mean fewer huge compensation packages, not more revenue. Precisely as Laffer pointed out decades ago, imposing a 90 percent tax rate on something is not really a way to tax it at all — it's a way to make sure it doesn't happen.

If you believe systematically lower CEO compensation packages would mean a mass withdrawal of talent from the business world and a collapse of American industry, then those smaller pay packages could be an economic disaster. But the more plausible theory is that systematically lower CEO compensation packages would mean systematically higher compensation spending elsewhere in the corporate structure. Either more frontline workers or better-paid ones. The new tax code would redistribute value inside the corporate structure without anyone actually paying the new sky-high taxes.
- Finally, Ian Welsh suggests that we may need some significant regulation of online rent-seekers in order to ensure that the ability to exchange information in an instant actually leads to real opportunities for content creators.

[Update: added link.]

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Charles Demers points out the impact Svend Robinson has had on Canadian politics - and suggests that he should be the model for fellow progressives:
Not only did Svend embody something different from the usual electioneering pabulum [sic] — a genuine belief in the righteousness and effectiveness of indigenous, environmentalist, and social movement direct action, for starters — but, as Truelove’s wonderful and readable and extremely well-researched book shows, he also showed how gadflies could still exercise real power and affect people’s lives. The episode in which Svend leads the successful campaign to keep “the right to enjoy property” from being enshrined in the Charter (Robinson worried that if it were, things like minimum wage laws and environmental legislation could be imperiled) is indicative; a recurring theme throughout the book is how a third party MP, sometimes even a backbencher, could make real and lasting legislative change. In the end, that might be what was scariest to conventional NDPers about Svend: not only that his radical politics and irreverence endangered the party’s ability to win enough votes to become official opposition or even government, but the fact that his own example showed that if they were smart enough, worked hard enough, and were willing to participate in and draw on social movements, they didn’t necessarily have to, if all they wanted to do was effect change (as opposed to winning). In a world of horse-race politics, where everyone’s killing themselves trying to get to the inside lane, Svend was off in the stables unionizing the jockeys and pointing out that the track was built on stolen land.
[Update: Though of course it's also worth pointing out that the dichotomy between presenting progressive positions and earning electoral success may be a false one to begin with.]

- Peter Frase discusses the need to move beyond complaints about the status quo and propose an alternate model as to how things can be improved. And Dean Baker points out that Thomas Piketty's description of near-inevitable capital concentration may miss some obvious opportunities to turn technological developments into widespread gains - even if we're far from applying them to the extent possible.

- But it is worth documenting how capital is managing to perpetuate itself at the expense of mere people. And David Harvey's commentary on the spread of luxury services and the new "prosumer" model is worth a read on that front.

- Meanwhile, any assertion of the public interest over private profit-seeking looks rather remote at the moment. On that front, Theresa Tedesco and Jen Gerson report on the massive private interests being served by Canadian Senators - even as the same patronage appointees try to excuse their split loyalties by complaining about the insufficiency of six-figure public salaries. And David Pugliese notes that the Cons are willing to let the private sector decide which Arctic search and rescue capabilities are sufficiently profitable to be maintained as public safety is privatized.

- Finally, Alan Bowker asks the Cons to follow the post-war Robert Borden model of voluntarily working on a better democratic system - rather than the wartime philosophy of rigging the system in their favour on the assumption that democracy is dangerous. And Susan Delacourt proposes that a voter identity card could go a long way toward meeting the Cons' excuses for cracking down on voting while minimizing the damage to voting rights.