Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Ryan Meili reminds us of the harmful health impacts of inequality. And Susan Perry discusses the effect of inequality on health in the workplace in particular:
The rise in income inequality over the past three decades or so is taking a major toll on the general health of American workers — and not just because stagnant or falling wages have made it increasingly difficult for many workers to afford high-quality health care.

For, as a commentary published recently in the American Journal of Public Health points out, income inequality has also been accompanied by changes in the workplace that increase workers’ stress in ways that negatively affect their health.

Those changes include a less stable job market, work weeks that repeatedly exceed 40 hours (for individuals working full time as well as for those working two or more part-time jobs), work schedules with unpredictable or irregular hours, greater “job intensification” (employers requiring workers to take on more tasks and responsibilities with less pay), lack of paid sick leave and higher out-of-pocket health costs (which erode discretionary income).
- Meanwhile, Andrew Dobson and Rupert Read write that it's time to stop pretending that growth for its own sake in a developed economy serves any useful purpose - especially when a top-heavy approach exacerbates inequality. But then, Chuk Plante points out that inequality acts as a barrier to development in any event. And Naomi Klein reviews Steve Fraser's The Age of Acquiescence as nicely describing the need for concerted public action to overcome the concentration of wealth and power.

- Matthew Ingram rightly argues that we shouldn't be willing to accept unfettered Internet surveillance as the new normal, while Christopher Parsons reminds us that we're already subject to monitoring and disruption without a law authorizing anything of the sort.

- Haroon Siddiqui makes the case that we should be far more scared of the Cons than of the phantoms they're trying to invent for political purpose. And Joseph Heath discusses Stephen Harper's warmongering under circumstances where it makes no sense at all to obsess over military buildup:
Canada does not need a fighting military. Americans often accuse other Western nations, particularly some European states, of free-riding on U.S. military power. And while this may not be true of some nations, it is certainly true of Canada. Part of what’s nice about having the world’s largest undefended border with the U.S. is that they would never tolerate the invasion of Canada by a hostile power. As a result, we have to be prepared for minor border skirmishes, but we don’t really need to have a full-scale military, sufficient to defend the country from attack.

The fact that the Canadian military is essentially otiose provides one way of understanding our past enthusiasm for peacekeeping – at least it provided some rationale for maintaining something like an able fighting force. Take away the peacekeeping, and what becomes the new raison d’ĂȘtre for the Canadian military? The Conservative government has yet to provide one — indeed, it seems not to be even aware of the need to. The boyish enthusiasm for the military that you find in the current government is essentially a matter of personal temperament and political ideology, but it lacks any underlying national or geopolitical rationale.
- Finally, Michael Harris weighs in on the reemergence of Reform's most irresponsible elements. Susan Delacourt wonders whether early-career Stephen Harper would recognize what he's since become. And Jeremy Nuttall reports on Harry Smith's work to ensure that the Harper Cons don't stay in power any longer than we can avoid.

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