Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jon Talton discusses how the increased automation of our economy stands to disempower workers and exacerbate inequality if it's not combined with some serious countervailing public policy moves. Peter Gosselin and Jennifer Oldham comment on the broken link between productivity and wages. And Conor Dougherty and Quentin Hardy expose how employers are cheating employment laws by using game-style rewards for employees who overwork themselves.

- Meanwhile, Amien Essif points to Germany's paid internship model as one way of ensuring people aren't squeezed at their most vulnerable point while entering the workforce.

- Lucy Hooker reports on the continued connection between excess wealth and antisocial behaviour. And Dennis Howlett suggests that we not go out of our way to reward undue selfishness by gutting the CRA's ability to prosecute major tax evasion.

- H.G. Watson interviews Chris Hedges about the place of C-51 as a particularly extreme example of a disturbing trend toward monitoring and stifling free speech:
In terms of this particular bill, do you think that this fits into a wider trend of similar legislation in the western world?

Of course it fits into a wider trend -- not only into the western world but in Canada. Canadians are monitored as closely as U.S. citizens are as closely as British citizens or any other. This is a global phenomenon and the corporate state -- and Harper is representative of the corporate power and the corporate state -- seeks this kind of control because they know what is coming with climate change and the inevitable financial collapse that is looming now that global speculators are back on a spree as they were before 2008. With a flick of a switch essentially we have both the legal and physical mechanisms through the creation of massive security forces -- militarized police forces -- to in essence declare a militarized state both in Canada and the United States. Or should we have another catastrophic act of domestic terrorism anything like that, all the mechanisms are there... we have to fight it now.
What would you propose as a way of them making sure people don't feel like they are alienated or isolated?

Don't take away their rights. Don't take away their right to privacy; don't take away their right to dissent.

Don't take away -- you know, a functioning democracy is a mechanism by which reform: incremental and peaceful reform can be carried out. When you [shut down] that mechanism you inevitably radicalize, especially your disenfranchised.
- But then, David Pugliese notes that the Cons are making no secret of their desire to silence anybody whose speech doesn't mirror tar sands talking points.

- Finally, Zunera Ishaq presents a compelling argument against the Cons' attempt to pretend their anti-Muslim bigotry is somehow intended to serve the people targeted:
My desire to live on my own terms is also why I have chosen to challenge the government’s decision to deny me citizenship unless I take off my niqab at my oath ceremony. I have taken my niqab off for security and identity reasons in every case where that’s been required of me, such as when I have taken a driver’s license photo or gone through airport security. I will take my niqab off again before the oath ceremony without protest so I can be properly identified. I will not take my niqab off at that same ceremony for the sole reason that someone else doesn’t like it, even if that person happens to be Stephen Harper.

I am not looking for Mr. Harper to approve my life choices or dress. I am certainly not looking for him to speak on my behalf and “save” me from oppression, without even ever having bothered to reach out to me and speak with me.

And by the way, if he had bothered to ask me why I wear a niqab instead of making assumptions, I would have told him that it was a decision I took very seriously after I had looked into the matter thoroughly. I would tell him that aside from the religious aspect, I like how it makes me feel: like people have to look beyond what I look like to get to know me. That I don’t have to worry about my physical appearance and can concentrate on my inner self. That it empowers me in this regard.

While I recognize that it’s not for everyone, it is for me. To me, the most important Canadian value is the freedom to be the person of my own choosing. To me, that’s more indicative of what it means to be Canadian than what I wear.

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