Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Glen Pearson makes the case for transcending cynicism in our politics, including the choice to stay involved once an election is done. And Ian Welsh reminds us that our definition of property is socially established - meaning that many of the assumptions as to what we can and can't do are subject to change:
The larger we expand the sphere of property, as with intellectual property and the right to patent genetic codes, the more we say “only person X can make decisions about what to do with these resources”.  We had better be damn certain that that one person, or corporation or whoever owns this resource is making at least good decisions, and ideally better decisions than would be made if that resource stayed in the commons, available to be used by many people.

And when we give a very few individuals and corporations the right to control a plurality or majority of our resources, locking out virtually everyone else from real decision-making beyond the anemic level of “consumer” and the neutered level of “voter”, we had best, again, be sure that those few people are making better decisions, for everyone, than would be made if a larger number of people had control over those resources and were making the decisions.
Freedom is the ability to choose what you do from meaningful choices.  The choice to work for Oligarch A or Oligarch B is not a meaningful choice.

Maximal property definitions and maximal acceptance of property concentration, deprive most of the population of their freedom. It is that simple.
A sane property definition allows people to own what they need to do their work and take care of themselves and any dependents. Larger concentrations of property, meant for big projects, are necessary, but they must not be allowed to balloon in oligarchical control of politics and economy.

And I will suggest to you that this is both a much nicer world to live in and a more vibrant one.  A world in which we are not slaves, but have freedom, will burst with creativity and projects.  A world where ideas can be used by anyone will be a world in flower.

If you want freedom, look hard at property.  The larger the sphere of property and the more it is concentrated, the narrower most people’s world will be.
- But of course, some people are going out of their way to enlarge the power of entrenched capital at the expense of public freedom. On that front, Brent Patterson notes that the Trudeau Libs are going full speed ahead in giving corporations the right to challenge Canadian governments under CETA. And Eric Lipton reports on a U.S. giveaway to Monsanto ensuring that it will never be liable for the public health damage done by its chemicals.

- Emily Badger discusses how precarious housing is both an effect and a cause of poverty. And Michele Biss is the latest to weigh in on the need to address poverty with a rights-based model.

- Finally, Chris Selley writes that electoral reform might prod the Cons to remember the concept of independent thought, rather than looking for somebody to give orders like Stephen Harper did throughout his tenure.

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