Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Roy Romanow writes about the dangers of focusing unduly on raw economic growth, rather than measuring our choices by how they actually affect people's well-being:
At the national level, the picture that emerges over the past 21 years is a GDP rebounding post-recession but Canadians literally continuing to pay the price. From 1994 to 2008, the living standards domain rose 23 per cent. Then it plummeted almost 11 per cent and has yet to recover. Gains made on reducing long-term unemployment and improving the employment rate were lost. Income inequality is rising. And, despite increases in median family incomes, millions of Canadians struggle with food and housing costs. When living standards drop, community, cultural and democratic participation follow suit. Surely, this is not our vision of equality and fairness in Canada.

(Canadians) were hardest hit in the leisure and culture domain, which declined by 9 per cent overall. We’re taking less time enjoying arts, culture, sports — even vacations — the very activities that help define us as individuals. On the eve of Canada’s sesquicentennial, household spending on culture and recreation is at its lowest point in 21 years.

To begin to narrow the gap, we can build on strengths, such as the education domain. Since domains are highly interrelated, we know that when more people graduate from high school and university, there is a positive effect on health and on almost all aspects of social, economic, and community participation. Strength in community vitality shows Canadians feel they belong and readily help one another. Collectively, we sense that action is required. There is growing support for forward-thinking programs, such as basic income and upstream health care approaches that tackle well-being issues at their roots.
- Neil MacDonald highlights some of the obvious problems with the Libs' plan to go even further down that road with an infrastructure bank. And Dru Oja Jay argues that instead of pushing to put all major infrastructure development under the control of the existing financial sector, the Libs should be working on building a banking system that works for people.

- Carl Zimmer discusses the devastating effect global warming is already having on the Arctic region. And CBC reports on the massive health benefits of eliminating the use of coal power.

- Finally, Chelsea Nash reports on Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand's observation that there are necessarily tradeoffs between facilitating voting and centralizing information in the hands of political parties - and it should come as no surprise that the Cons are trying to prevent the former by claiming their entitlement to the latter. And Althia Raj reports that Thomas Mulcair is leading the charge to restore public funding in order to reduce the influence of big money in politics.

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