Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Simon Ducatel writes about the unfairness of attacking people living in poverty rather than looking for ways to improve their circumstances:
(I)n the real world, it is unfortunately not unheard of for some employers to financially or otherwise exploit workers, albeit legally mind you, by offering substandard living wages or clawing back benefits despite accumulating record profits.

And I would like to think anyone who cares the slightest about his or her fellow human being would be concerned by this kind of exploitive behaviour.

Ever since slavery was abolished, child labour was ended, labour rights were created and 40-hour workweeks introduced, titans of industry shrieked furiously every single step of the way, predictably declaring all of the above would destroy the economy. Yet last I checked, multinational behemoths are doing better than ever before.
So many people seem to get all upset over the dastardly proposition to ensure anyone earning the minimum wage doesn’t live in abject poverty. Yet they have no objection to the obscene accumulations of mass, unprecedented wealth that pools up in offshore havens.

They’ll blame the poor for failing to pull up their bootstraps and work hard enough — despite the fact many people who struggle to make ends meet work multiple jobs — while making every excuse possible for the 0.01 per cent, who have not enjoyed such a bountifully flowing gravy train since the gilded age of robber barons.

There’s apparently no problem with average wages stagnating or barely growing over the past few decades while top-paid CEOs see their compensations skyrocket
- Nick Purdon offers a glimpse at the stories of a few people struggling to get by on minimum wage. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on the growing protests against Tim Hortons after its stores used a long-overdue minimum wage increase as an excuse to slash their already-meager benefits.

- Meanwhile, Kathryn May takes note of PSAC's push for paid domestic violence leave to ensure workers aren't trapped in abusive situations. And Haroon Siddique points out how unrealistic work demands clash with the needs of parents.

- Jennifer Wells discusses how the collapse of Carillion offers a reminder of the dangers of privatization and corporate outsourcing. And Heather Stewart and Anushka Asthana report on Jeremy Corbyn's plans to put public services back in public hands in the UK.

- Finally, Lana Payne sets out just a few of the reasons why people are starting to take to the streets through the World Women's March and similar action.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Thursday, January 18, 2018

On last chances

I'll offer one last reminder that tomorrow at 5 PM is the membership deadline for the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership race.

Sure, the Saskatchewan Party will soon be deciding on a new hood ornament for their continuing trip to nowhere. But only the NDP's leadership campaign offers the prospect of a much-needed change in direction - and whether one is partial to either of the candidates or still undecided, it'll be well worth the investment to participate in helping to shape it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Kenneth Rogoff writes about the dangers of presuming that economic growth (at least in stock markets if not wages) can withstand political upheaval. Marco Chown Oved reports on the strong support for Democracy Watch's petition to raise corporate taxes and close loopholes. Rajeshni Naidu-Ghelani reports on the latest consumer survey showing a large number of Canadians barely managing to keep afloat financially even in the face of what's supposed to be good economic news. And Stella Lord offers a how-to guide to fight poverty through improved wages and benefits.

- Meanwhile, Erika Shaker and Trish Hennessy list a few of the reasons why we shouldn't let anti-worker voices dictate the terms of our minimum wage debate. And Jeremy Nuttall confirms that the arguments to suppress wages lack any basis in reality. 

- Vann Newkirk argues that the arguments being used by Republicans to strip health care and other necessities from people who can't find work would be far better applied toward a jobs guarantee. 

- Marc Lee discusses the small steps being taken by the federal and B.C. governments on housing - as well as the compelling need to do much more.

- Finally, Andre Picard makes the case for clearing criminal records based on the possession of marijuana.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Comfy cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Bernie Sanders comments on the need to take back political power from the wealthiest few:
Now, more than ever, those of us who believe in democracy and progressive government must bring low-income and working people all over the world together behind an agenda that reflects their needs. Instead of hate and divisiveness, we must offer a message of hope and solidarity. We must develop an international movement that takes on the greed and ideology of the billionaire class and leads us to a world of economic, social and environmental justice. Will this be an easy struggle? Certainly not. But it is a fight that we cannot avoid. The stakes are just too high.
A new and international progressive movement must commit itself to tackling structural inequality both between and within nations. Such a movement must overcome “the cult of money” and “survival of the fittest” mentalities that the pope warned against. It must support national and international policies aimed at raising standards of living for poor and working-class people – from full employment and a living wage to universal higher education, healthcare and fair trade agreements. In addition, we must rein in corporate power and prevent the environmental destruction of our planet as a result of climate change.

Here is just one example of what we have to do. Just a few years ago, the Tax Justice Network estimated that the wealthiest people and largest corporations throughout the world have been stashing at least $21tn-$32tn in offshore tax havens in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. If we work together to eliminate offshore tax abuse, the new revenue that would be generated could put an end to global hunger, create hundreds of millions of new jobs, and substantially reduce extreme income and wealth inequality. It could be used to move us aggressively toward sustainable agriculture and to accelerate the transformation of our energy system away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources of power.

Taking on the greed of Wall Street, the power of gigantic multinational corporations and the influence of the global billionaire class is not only the moral thing to do – it is a strategic geopolitical imperative. Research by the United Nations development programme has shown that citizens’ perceptions of inequality, corruption and exclusion are among the most consistent predictors of whether communities will support rightwing extremism and violent groups. When people feel that the cards are stacked against them and see no way forward for legitimate recourse, they are more likely to turn to damaging solutions that only exacerbate the problem.
- Tom Parkin examines the woeful track record of neoliberal economic predictions, as low taxes and wages and constant austerity have done nothing but ensure stagnation for most and growing inequality. And Toby Sanger discusses the problems with the federal Libs' plan to privatize infrastructure development, while the AP reports on how Carillion's unraveling will affect the services of Canadian jurisdictions who bought the false promise of transferring risk.

- Jen Gerson looks at Sears' history of privatizing profits while dumping risks on the public (along with their longest-serving workers). And Erica Johnson exposes how telecommunications workers are pressured to pressure and cheat customers.

- Meanwhile, Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on the franchise arrangements such as the ones used at Tim Hortons which serve to concentrate corporate control while leaving workers with little prospect of following suit.

- Finally, Geneva Abdul points out that we shouldn't let the successes of the minimum wage movement paper over the continued lack of pay equity. And Alan Jones discusses how inequality in the UK is being driven by a hollowing out among male workers.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Leadership 2018 Links

The latest from Saskatchewan's NDP leadership campaign as the entry deadline has passed and the membership deadline approaches.

- While I haven't tracked endorsements all that closely, it's certainly worth keeping track of any changes since previous leadership campaigns between two candidates who have run before. And on that front, it's worth noting that 2009 and 2013 Meili endorser Dion Tchorzewski has joined 2013 campaign manager Nicole White in supporting Wotherspoon. 

- Meanwhile, Trevor Herriot offers his take on the importance of leadership which can build bridges rather than merely keeping us where we are - which Herriot himself notes is an expression of support for Meili.

- Tanner Wallace-Scribner reports on Meili's visit to Swift Current, including his take on the use of the proceeds of marijuana sales:
"I think there is some debate to be had about the best way to retail it," he said. "One thing I would say is, the money that comes in, we should make sure that every cent goes to support mental health and addictions. To support anyone who is struggling with any addictions but also to invest in that really under-resourced part of our health system."

Meili added they need to focus the money they make off of the sale of marijuana and put it towards making peoples' lives better.
- Brian Zinchuk interviews Wotherspoon about his plans for the energy sector, including the need for regular royalty reviews to ensure the public receives fair value for our resources.And Nykole King previews tonight's debate at the University of Saskatchewan.

- Finally, Meili has unveiled his arts and culture policy ahead of a series of music events.

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Axel von Schubert notes that the effect of Donald Trump's giveaway to his billionaire buddies will be to turn the U.S. into a tax haven itself. And Michelle Chen discusses how the growth in inequality has been the result of political choices at the behest of the people who already had the most:
Wherever you live in the world, here’s a newsflash: You’ve been robbed. Not by a hidden bandit, but a global kleptocracy: the super-rich who’ve managed to rob the poor blind in every corner of the globe for the past seven decades. And a research team led by pioneering economist Thomas Piketty, the World Inequality Lab, has mapped out how that theft has played out on a global scale.

Not surprisingly, America was near the top of the list in terms of how unequal our country is, in addition to being far richer as a whole than any other nation. Still, while inequality is universal—polarizing countries and dividing individual nations internally—some countries are, surprisingly, more unequal than others.
The wealth gap is epidemic but not inevitable. Policy choices still make a difference. In the United States, deeply ingrained antipathy for the welfare state and regulation has pushed a harsh neoliberal agenda since the late 1970s—a pattern that is now being reproduced across the Global South as poor countries attempt to capitalize on global trade but in the process are becoming more exposed to extreme market volatility and devastating poverty and social strife.
We can mitigate the worst effects of capitalist overproduction through mobilizing what’s left of our democratic institutions at the local and state levels, where social spending and education investment are often concentrated. Mobilizing grassroots campaigns to boost the minimum wage, expand union representation, institute universal health care, or guarantee retirement security obviously can’t overturn the global trend in wealth accumulation, but will at least move struggling communities toward a fairer social contract.
To ensure that future generations are better prepared to stop and reverse wealth polarization, developing a socially conscious, educated citizenry is key. On the other hand, given the number of college graduates working low-wage jobs and facing debt, Chancel emphasized, “education can’t do everything against inequality. This is where minimum wage policies, support to trade unions, work regulation policies, [and] laws to ensure that workers are represented in corporate governance institutions can play an important role” in balancing out structural inequality. 
- Meanwhile, Tracy Sherlock points out the increase in inequality in British Columbia over the past decade, with poor workers being paid less while the wealthy see their income soar.

- Ben Casselman writes that a turn toward full employment is offering a real opportunity for people who previously faced barriers to work.

- Finally, Mariana Mazzucato discusses the importance of creating wealth in multiple forms, particularly public ones. And Murray Mandryk comments on the Saskatchewan Party's reflexive refusal to allow the public to share in any new economic development, as epitomized by its choice to release a half-baked plan for corporate distribution rather than using existing retail infrastructure for marijuana sales.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Julian Cribb reports on new research as to mass exposure to chemicals and pollutants:
Almost every human being is now contaminated in a worldwide flood of industrial chemicals and pollutants – most of which have never been tested for safety – a leading scientific journal has warned.

Regulation and legal protection for today’s citizens from chemical poisons can no longer assure our health and safety, according to a hard-hitting report in the journal PLOS Biology, titled “Challenges in Environmental Health: Closing the Gap between Evidence and Regulations”.

The report describes a chemical oversight system corrupted from its outset in the 1970s when 60,000 chemicals were registered for use in the US, mostly without being safety tested. Many of these chemicals were subsequently adopted as ‘safe’ around the world.

Over the years, public health protection has stagnated – despite mounting scientific evidence that many chemicals are damaging whole classes of organisms, say report editors Liza Gross and Linda Birnbaum.
“Evidence has emerged that chemicals in widespread use can cause cancer and other chronic diseases, damage reproductive systems, and harm developing brains at low levels of exposure once believed to be harmless. Such exposures pose unique risks to children at critical windows of development - risks that existing regulations fail to consider.”

The report underlines a recent finding by The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health which concluded nine million deaths (or 16% of the total) every year worldwide are due to diseases caused by the human chemical environment – 15 times the number killed in wars.
- In another reminder of the consequences of failing to take into account the future costs of exploitative industries, Alex MacPherson reports on the nine-figure (and mounting) public costs arising out of the abandoned Gunnar uranium mine. And Joe Romm reports on NASA's latest research showing the connection between fracking and global warming.

- Charlotte Aubin discusses Africa's energy transition which figures to see long-term development oriented toward renewable sources (even in the face of continued subsidies of fossil fuels in the near term). And Agence France-Presse takes note of the price advantage clean energy already holds compared to burning fossil fuels.

- Meanwhile, Naomi Klein writes that New York City's divestment from the oil sector (and concurrent claim for climate damages) may offer a turning point in the balance of power between citizens and the oil industry. And Gary Mason writes that Canada's climate change laggards - including Brad Wall and his heirs - are kidding themselves about the shape of future development.

- Finally, Aditya Chakrabortty discusses the imminent collapse of the UK's largest P3 profiteer - which also plays a prominent role in the privatization of Canadian infrastructure and public services.