Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Greg Keenan exposes how corporations are demanding perpetually more from municipalities while refusing to contribute their fair share of taxes to fund the services needed by any community. And Sean McElwee points out how big-money donations are translating into a warped U.S. political system:
Available data reveals that donors not only have disproportionate influence over politics, but that influence is wielded largely to keep issues that would benefit the working and middle classes off of the table.

Do donors really rule the world? Recent research suggests that indeed they do. Three political scientists recently discovered that a 1 percent increase in donor support for a policy leads to a 1 percent increase in the probability the president supports the policy, if the president and donor are in the same party. On the other hand, they find no similar effect from general public opinion on presidential policies. In another study, Brian Schaffner and Jesse Rhodes find, “the roll call voting of members of Congress may be more strongly associated with the views of their donors (including outside donors) than with those of their voting constituents.”
The solution to big money is two-fold. First, we need mass voter participation. The path is simple: Eliminate unnecessary barriers to voting, shift the burden of registration off of people and onto the government and expand nonpartisan mobilization efforts. But that won’t be enough as long as donors rule democracy. So we should broaden the donor pool with a vibrant public financing system. Evidence from New York suggests that a donor-matching system could increase the diversity of the donor pool, further bolstering democracy. Demos has profiled a number of candidates that fight for working class and non-white Americans but were massively out-raised by their opponents, and showed how small donor democracy would boost their chances of winning. Candidate Eric Adams, when commenting on the New York public matching system noted that, “a large number of people who contribute to my campaign have never contributed to a campaign before.” A world in which big donors are less powerful is a world where average Americans have more of a say in politics.
- Ole Hendrickson writes about the absurdity of austerity as a philosophical foundation for public policy. And Bruce Johnstone notes that the Cons' austerian economic plan is failing by all standards - including the Cons' own arbitrary measures of fiscal management. 

- Shawn Fraser discusses Regina's first count of its homeless residents, while summarizing a few of the policies needed to ensure that they can find the housing they need. And Justin Miller offers an abominable example of how social support systems are set up to punish the poor, as a Michigan mother was cut off welfare due to her daughter's brain cancer which kept her out of school.

- Natasha Geiling reports on the continued effect of Enbridge's Kalamazoo River spill five years after the fact. And Andrew Nikiforuk comments that British Columbia (like so many other places) is seeing a dramatic increase in earthquake activity as a result of fracking.

- Frances Woolley highlights how the "sharing" economy may only serve to perpetuate prejudice and inequality.

- Finally, Alison presents the Harper Cons' new advisory system for fearmongering about terrorism.

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