Saturday, April 02, 2016

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- GOOD Magazine neatly sums up what the world would look like on the scale of 100 people - and how patently unfair wealth inequality looks in that context:

- Lawrence Mishel and David Cooper point out that a $15 minimum wage is entirely in keeping with actual economic growth over the past few decades - and only reflects a substantial change because we've allowed wage levels to deterioriate. And Lana Payne writes that a more fair distribution of wealth also figures to encourage economic growth.

- Steven Chase breaks the news that the Libs plan to "sanitize" a report on Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses to try to save face while pushing through a gigantic arms sale. But Tony Burman rightly makes the case to reconsider the deal instead, rather than facilitating repressive regimes.

- Meanwhile, Mike Blanchfield reports on Joseph Stiglitz' advice that Canada reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership instead of handing yet more power over to corporations rather than governments.

- Finally, Jennifer Graham highlights how Saskatchewan doctors are pushing for mental health progress as part of the provincial election campaign. And of course there's only one major party which intends to do anything to help.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Musical interlude

Tame Impala - Let It Happen

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Ryan Meili writes that the spread of for-profit corporate medicine - including through the Saskatchewan Party's privatization of care - demonstrates the need for enforcement of the Canada Health Act. And the Star makes the case for mandatory disclosure of drug companies' payments to doctors to promote their products.

- Marc Stiles observes that Seattle's push to build more rental housing has resulted in tenants being able to find affordable units. And Kerry Gold points out how soaring prices are driving workers out of Vancouver's real estate market.

- Ian Austen discusses how the over-budget and semi-functional Boundary Dam carbon capture and storage project has turned into a cautionary tale for anybody else considering "clean coal".

- Tamara Draut notes that widespread offshoring of work is now reaching well into the professional and knowledge-based classes. 

- Finally, Steve Barnes examines (PDF) the connection between electoral reform, political trust and health, and concludes that a more proportional system could have significant benefits in building a healthier society.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

New column day

Here, on some of the important ways in which the Saskatchewan Party and Brad Wall have changed since they took power - and why voters should be concerned about the change for the worse.

For further reading...
- Brad Wall's previous position on health care queue-jumping is found here (via PressReader), and expanded on by the NDP here.
- The quotes referenced in the column as to giving credit to the previous government and governing with humility are found in John Gray's article here.
- And for more of my take on the election, see again my appearance on The View Up Here.

[Edit: Updated column link.]

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Nick Bunker points out that there's much more to an economic recovery than nominal GDP - with labour's share of growth serving as a particularly important indicator as to whether anybody is benefitting beyond the wealthy few. And Jordan Weismann argues that there's ample room for the U.S. in particular to raise tax rates on high-income individuals.

- Elaine Power discusses how a basic income could provide desperately needed food security for the people who need it most. And Jonathan Charlton reports on new research showing the connection between inequality and poor health outcomes in Saskatchewan.

- Hans Rollmann questions Dwight Ball's plans for health-sector privatization in Newfoundland and Labrador. Adrian Morrow discusses the connection between the Ontario Libs' pay-to-play fund-raising plan and the privatization of Hydro One. And Hamilton Nolan observes that plans to outsource pension management tend to do nothing but funnel unearned money to the financial sector at the expense of workers.

- Finally, Fairfax Media and the Huffington Post report on the widespread culture of bribery and corruption in the global oil industry. And Tantoo Cardinal and Sarah Harmer point to the murder of Berta Caceres in Honduras as the type of of human rights atrocity we should be calling out and ending - rather than encouraging in the name of resource-sector profits.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Radio activity

For those not yet aware, I'll be appearing on Canadian Glen's The View Up Here tonight (7 PM Saskatchewan time) to talk about Saskatchewan's ongoing provincial election. Stop by and have a listen!

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Duncan Cameron discusses how deficit hysteria has overshadowed the far more important issues raised by the Trudeau Libs' inaugural budget:
Ottawa deficit spending is not big enough to stimulate an economy lagging since the oil price collapse. The Canadian economy has suffered a major external shock, with Alberta taking a big hit.

The rise of precarious work indicates serious disguised unemployment.

A slack economy with many people wanting full-time work calls out for additional spending. Governments need to boost their own contribution to general well-being.
The Trudeau Liberals have postponed infrastructure spending and reneged on promised social spending. The NDP have identified 10 ways in which the 2016 Liberal budget falls short in meeting election promises, including not delivering on promised home care.

Importantly, the Trudeau budget does not say how the Liberal government plans to address the elimination by Stephen Harper of annual six per cent increases in health-care transfers to the provinces.

Indeed, the 2016 budget raises problems for both municipalities and provinces. Federal-provincial financial arrangements need to be updated after years of neglect by Ottawa of co-operation with other levels of government.
- Andy Blatchford points out another broken promise in the budget, as funding to encourage the hiring of young workers is nowhere to be found. Tim Harper writes about the Libs' turnaround on providing personal information to the IRS. And Thomas Walkom notes that the Libs are secretly encouraging employers to import temporary foreign workers despite the growing number of Canadians in need of work.

- Sujata Day discusses the Libs' glaring rejection of meaningful public consultation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And even Michael Den Tandt pauses briefly from cheerleading for corporate control to point out their failure to make any case for the TPP.

- Josh Eidelson highlights the move toward increased minimum wages as a key example of the labour movement reasserting its strength in the U.S.

- Finally, Andre Picard argues that our current lack of social supports for seniors is unacceptable. And Ryan Meili examines the party platforms on offer in Saskatchewan's election from the standpoint of healthy politics.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Playtime cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Martin Regg Cohn exposes the Ontario Libs' pay-to-play governing strategy, as cabinet ministers have been instructed to use their roles and access to meet fund-raising targets of up to half a million dollars per year. And Gary Mason reports that privileged access to Christy Clark is likewise a cash cow for the B.C. Liberals.

- Meanwhile, Sean McElwee points out the income divide among young voters both in being pursued by political parties, and in participating in the U.S. political system.

- Corporate Knights takes a look at the massive amounts of corporate money currently stashed offshore. And David Climenhaga offers the modest suggestion that we should at least stop shovelling public subsidies toward tycoons like Murray Edwards who are going far out of their way to avoid contributing to the public good.

- Mark Penny writes that Australia's experience with corporate tax slashing is much the same as Canada's, with massive amounts of foregone revenue producing none of the promised economic benefits.

- Nadja Sayej highlights the latest exercise in lowering expectations and standards of living for precarious workers, in the form of pod-like home-offices. But Sara Mojtehezadeh reports on the Urban Worker Project which is looking to give precarious workers a voice that's currently lacking.

- Finally, Karen Turner examines new research showing that mass surveillance serves to stifle minority opinions.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Tom Parkin points out that the Trudeau Liberals are falling far short of their promises to fund infrastructure even while tripling their planned deficit.

- Jared Bernstein highlights how top-down block grants coupled with a denial of any responsibility for outcomes can lead to the deterioration of social programs. And Konrad Yakabuski notes that exactly that model seems likely to continue pushing health care costs onto Canada's provinces.

- Alexsandra Sagan reports on the spread of precarious work models into white-collar professions and public services. And Rachel Aiello notes that the Cons suppressed a report ordered by their own minister in order to attack labour rights while hiding the anticipated consequences.

- Jim Bronskill is tracking down the effects of C-51 to the extent a secret policing law allows for any public disclosure, with the latest revelations including the sharing of information among multiple (and in one case unknown) agencies and the instructions given to CSIS in disrupting Canadian civil rights. 

- Finally, Tammy Robert nicely summarizes the Saskatchewan Party's Global Transportation Hub scandal.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Michael Bader argues that a cynical view of politics represents the most important barrier to progressive victories:
Cynicism is a corrosive force in our politics and culture, but one that is invisible to us because it seems so normal. My patients feel the same way. They keep repeating patters that are familiar and experience deviations from these scripts as anxiety provoking. It’s my job to help them see, through education and by creating new corrective experiences in which they are encouraged to freely choose a healthier way to be, that their emotional reality and distress are not something hardwired and inevitable. My underlying message is that transformational change is possible.

Progressives need to convey this same message in the broader political arena. The problem we face is that political cynicism of the sort that suffocates us today masquerades as realism, a realism that warns us that transformational change is a pipe dream and that aspiring to what we really want is a recipe for disappointment. When a patient conveys this belief, I see it as a symptom of an emotional injury rather than objective reality and I seek to change it, not surrender to its inevitability.

That's what a progressive movement should be doing on a social level; challenging cynicism and drawing people to our cause because our cause is big and grand and mirrors their own buried wish to be part of something that big and grand. We need leaders who can present such a vision and fight the realists who want us to be afraid of our own deepest longings.
- And on the subject of visionary policies which are too often dismissed based solely on questionable assertions as to feasibility, Jeff Krimmel points out how a basic income offers important benefits across the income spectrum.

- Craig Scott sees this week's federal budget as an all-too-familiar example of the gap between the Libs' campaign rhetoric and their actions while in power, while Kate McInturff writes that the Libs' budget falls far short of expectations for women in particular.  And Alan Freeman discusses how the CFIB was one of the groups which saw campaign commitments abandoned in the budget - though he rightly notes that the group's past willingness to be used by the Harper Cons may represent part of the explanation.

- Elena Holodny writes about the increasing number and cost of extreme weather events as the most readily visible symptom of climate change.

- Finally, Rose Hackman examines the effects of pervasive and groundless surveillance on a minority population.