Monday, May 30, 2016

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Nick Dearden discusses how the latest wave of corporate power agreements - including the CETA - stands to undermine democracy in participating countries:
Like the US deal, Ceta contains a new legal system, open only to foreign corporations and investors. Should the British government make a decision, say, to outlaw dangerous chemicals, improve food safety or put cigarettes in plain packaging, a Canadian company can sue the British government for “unfairness”. And by unfairness this simply means they can’t make as much profit as they expected. The “trial” would be held as a special tribunal, overseen by corporate lawyers.
The whole purpose of Ceta is to reduce regulation on business, the idea being that it will make it easier to export. But it will do far more than that. Through the pleasant-sounding “regulatory cooperation”, standards would be reduced across the board on the basis that they are “obstacles to trade”. That could include food safety, workers’ rights and environmental regulation.

Just consider financial regulation. The ability of governments to control banks and financial markets would be further impaired. Limiting the growth of banks that have become “too big to fail” could land a government in a secret tribunal.
Finally, through something called a “ratchet clause”, current levels of privatisation would be “locked in” on any services not specifically exempted. If Canadian or EU governments want to bring certain services back into public ownership, they could be breaking the terms of the agreement.
If you needed proof that modern trade agreements are actually nothing more than an excuse to hand big business power at our expense, you need look no further than Ceta. No wonder the public outcry is growing, and opposition to TTIP is spilling over to the Canadian deal.
- Meanwhile, James Wilt takes a look at how past trade agreements have painted Canadian governments into a corner, while also pointing out the ongoing lobbying effort by one oil industry claimant to grab a massive payout.

- Robson Fletcher reports on a new Policy Horizons Canada study discussing the reality that fossil fuels may be obsolete in a matter of decades, while the Economist (in a slightly dated report) discusses how many developing countries are skipping directly to renewables rather than building new, dirty infrastructure. And Gary Fuller reports on the climate damage caused by fracking.

- Finally, Sean McElwee highlights the connection between voter mobilization and progressive stances from nominally left-of-centre politicians:
Democratic politicians use the information of their vote margin to adjust their votes: a loss in vote share leads Democrats to vote in a more conservative way than they would have otherwise. They find, “a 2.5% Democratic loss results in an average 12.8 switches per incumbent.” A study by political scientists Thad Kousser, Jeffrey B. Lewis and Seth Masket finds that after a 2003 recall election in California recalled the Democratic governor, Democratic assembly members shifted their votes to the left. Previous research by political scientists Daniel Butler and David Nickerson suggests that when legislators are given accurate information about their constituents preferences, they are more likely to vote in line with those preferences.

It’s important to note that it’s difficult to disentangle the information effect from the turnout effect. It could be that representatives are gaining information about their constituents or it could be that higher turnout and thus larger vote share leads representatives to feel that they can move left.  Either way, the core finding – that a loss in vote share causes Democratic politicians to be more conservative – has important implications.
As I’ve argued repeatedly, higher turnout could shift change the American political landscape by shifting the constraints under which politicians make policy. A study of ten OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries by Jonas Pontusson and David Rueda find that, “Left parties will respond to an increase in inequality only when low-income voters are politically mobilized.” As Matt Grossmann tells me, “Democrats nearly always fear the electoral consequences of moving too far left, whereas Republicans tend not to view ideological conservatism and electability as a trade-off.” Thus, higher turnout would signal to Democratic politicians that they have space to move to the left.


  1. .. Dear Mound .. FYI ..

    The only people I am aware of..
    who keep using the term 'tidewater'
    are fine with extirpation of keychain species ..
    like, say.. ah herring or wild salmon n thusly Orca
    i guess its supposed they get raised during the Rapture
    under some freaky sellout 'equivalency agreement'..
    a save the whales notion but f the rest o th ocean vermin..
    that's about as succinct n polite as I can be re the Stevie/Ray era
    There's ZERO diff in how they view the inland waters or aquifers
    its all disposable for Budget Surplus needs.. as are any surviving Vets..
    and Pensioners beware.. you're next ..
    'Friend.. send money' said it all about these creeps
    They want to 'remain whole' & lack a shred of remorse
    honesty, or values..

    Pots n pans time in th streets
    and get in the forests as well to defend them
    gather on th shorelines too

    We Canada eh ..
    come n take your lick'n creeps
    we're very polite.. at times
    but you don't stand a chance
    This country will eat you alive

  2. No idea how that comment to a completely different post
    from another excellent Indy blogger
    punched to your excellent article..
    Just delete it .. Wow .. never see that phenomena .. !