Saturday, August 18, 2018

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Paul Taylor argues that it's long past time for our leaders to take poverty and food insecurity seriously:
While nonprofits do incredible work, I can’t think of many that can truly claim to be reducing poverty. Why? Because, while non-profit organizations, such as FoodShare Toronto and others, do everything we can to support people access good food, we do not have the power to set welfare and disability rates or minimum wage. We need politicians willing to commit to working with us to dismantle systemic inequities in our society, including racism, white supremacy, the policing of people of colour, violence against women, and of course income inequality.

Governments have at their disposal the tools to develop meaningful legislation that honours food as a right. Poverty and food insecurity are not inevitable. It’s time for us to put them where they belong — in our history books.
- But in a sad example of how far the Saskatchewan Party is from the mark, Lynn Giesbrecht reports on Carmichael Outreach's call for tents to try to provide some temporary relief against the a lack of affordable housing which Scott Moe has chosen to make worse. And this even as U.S. health insurers are beginning to provide housing directly because it costs less than dealing with only the health expenses arising out of homelessness.

- Naomi Lakritz rightly challenges the anti-worker spin that price increases are caused to any substantial extent by improved minimum wages - and notes that to the contrary, government policy is needed for workers to keep up with prices which tend to press upward in any event.

- Paul Willcocks writes about the need for a public response to Skip the Dishes and other business built on skirting employment laws.

- Finally, Anya Zoledziowski reports on the reality that the recent reports of blatant racism in Cardston, AB only reflect new attention to a longstanding reality.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Musical interlude

Beach House - Lemon Glow

Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- A new IMF working paper confirms the connection between employment deregulation and workers' share of income. And Jennefer Laidley points out the all-too-imminent danger that the Ontario PCs are about to undo what little belated progress had been made in making social assistance more effective, while Teviah Moro notes that social housing is bearing the brunt of cuts linked to Doug Ford's denial-based climate change policy. 

- Dean Beeby reports on a new survey showing that Canada Revenue Agency employees are as concerned as the general public about a tax system that favours the rich over everybody else. And Alex Hemingway offers this year's customary rebuttal of the Fraser Institute's oft-debunked spin on taxes.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board recognizes that Doug Ford's attack on harm reduction in the name of nonexistent controversy about its impact on health outcomes will lead only to preventable deaths. And the Stoney Creek News explores the public health harms which can be expected to result from artificial reductions in alcohol prices.

- Lucius Couloute examines the close link between past incarceration and present-day homelessness in the U.S.

- Finally, Charlie Angus calls out John Baird for using his former role in government as an excuse to make money for his Saudi-connected employer. But it's worth being surprised that any former member of Stephen Harper's cabinet is managing to be an even more unprincipled shill after leaving that role.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Mike Konczal notes that a single-minded focus on shareholder wealth - exemplified by today's obsession with stock buybacks - has frozen workers out of any returns from economic development. And Anne Perkins writes about the outrageous gap between the pay of the luckiest CEOs and the rest of the workforce.

- Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias discusses Elizabeth Warren's plan to reconnect businesses to the societies which enable them to make their money, both by mandating social purposes and by ensuring worker representation in decision-making.

- James Wilt examines the public returns on natural resource wealth in Alberta compared to other similar jurisdictions, and finds that Albertans are receiving a woefully insufficient price for oil sands extraction.

- Meanwhile, Crawford Kilian points out the need for massive investments to address climate change - both to do everything in our power to avoid an imminent "hothouse" scenario, and to adapt as best possible to the extent that effort fails.

- Finally, George Monbiot examines how jarring increases in obesity rates over the past few decades can be traced almost entirely to corporate manipulation of consumer habits.

New column day

Here, on the need for Canada to give effect to a right to housing in both law and policy - and the Libs' continued reticence in doing so.

For further reading...
- The open letter from the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and other groups and individuals calling for a right to housing is here (PDF), while CAEH also offers some background on the issue. And Terry Pedwell reported on the letter.
- Meanwhile, Courtney Dickson reported on the justified concerns about the Libs' contest for Indigenous housing.
- Finally, Duncan Cameron questions why anybody in Canada is lacking for housing and other basic necessities of life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Colby Smith writes about the changing role of public stock markets, which are serving primarily to allow already-wealthy investors to cash out rather than to fund the growth of expanding businesses. And the Equality Trust examines the growing gap between the CEO class and minimum-wage workers in the UK.

- Silvio Marcacci and Sara Hastings-Simon point out how Doug Ford's insistence on immediately cancelling anything which could possibly rein in climate change is leading to economic aftershocks for Ontario. And Sharon Riley comments on the connection between climate change and British Columbia's catastrophic wildfires.

- Christo Aivalis discusses how the Ford PCs are wrecking lives by scrapping Ontario's basic income pilot for the sole purpose of avoiding being proven wrong about the effect of a stable and predictable income. And Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood examines the problems with the limited window for Employment Insurance sick leave benefits which typically expire before recipients are ready to go back to work.

- David Climenhaga offers a reminder that Ontario is just the latest example of minimum wage increases improving incomes for the people who need it most without any meaningful side effects. And PressProgress responds to the Fraser Institute's typical use of laughably-torqued assumptions and numbers to attack public revenues.

- Finally, Courtney Dickson reports on the rightfully-outraged response to the Libs' Hunger Games plan for on-reserve housing.

[Edit: fixed typo.]

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Angled cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Humberto DaSilva comments on the need to recognize that it's the distortion of the political system by the wealthy that's left most people with a standard of living that's stagnating or worse. And Davide Mastracci makes the case for an inheritance tax as one step toward improved equality and social cohesion in Canada.

- Meanwhile, Daniel Tencer writes about Ontario's minimum wage boost as yet another example of wages increasing where they're most needed without any of the threatened side effects.

- CBC reports on a new study showing how the Saskatchewan Party's elimination of STC is preventing victims of domestic abuse from getting to safety. And Krystalle Ramlakhan discusses how Doug Ford's attack on drug overdose prevention will cause easily-preventable deaths.

- Matt Wittek argues that limiting the use of straws is just a small first step in reducing our reliance on environmentally-destructive single-use plastics.

- Finally, Jeffrey Ball writes about the limitations of low-level carbon pricing absent a meaningful strategy to shift to a clean energy economy. David Gray-Donald calls out far too much of Canada's media for failing to point out the glaring gap between oil industry projections and climate imperatives. Melissa Lem and Larry Barzelai point out that a summer of record temperatures and wildfires should confirm that climate change is a public health emergency. And Jonathan Watts and Elle Hunt describe the devastating effects of the extreme heat that's becoming more common.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Beth Gutelius writes that any discussion about the future of work can draw important lessons from the past, with most of the issues facing workers today echoing or arising out of ones which have surfaced before:
The set of structural forces that has converged over the last forty years has shaped the economy and produced an uneven distribution of benefits, especially along lines of race, gender, immigration status, disability, and other markers of social difference. These are the ghosts of work, forces which include:
  • Structural racism and gender discrimination that disadvantages people of color, especially African Americans, and women;
  • Immigration policy that has resulted in a secondary labor market for undocumented immigrants and immigrants with certain visas;
  • Industry reorganization that has led to an increasingly fissured economy and increasing reliance on outsourcing and worker subcontracting;
  • Decline in union density, due to explicit and well-funded attacks on workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively, which has reduced the wage-setting capacity and political influence of unions;
  • Shifts in corporate governance that have lead to increased shareholder power and CEO pay, and curtailed shared prosperity;
  • Globalization and trade policy which produced a new set of low-road competitive dynamics, including offshoring;
  • Attacks on the public sector which have resulted in policies skewed toward financial and private sector deregulation, privatization, and the overall shrinking of the role of government;
  • Tax policy reform that has favored the wealthy and corporations, and has lead to a redistribution of gains toward the top of the income spectrum; and
  • Financialization, which has bloated the role of the financial sector in the economy.
What a list! Taken as a whole, these major trends have shifted power and resources away from workers, and allowed or even incentivized employers to pursue a range of low-road approaches to profitability. These root causes may be shifting somewhat, but they are not going away.
  1. The future of economic justice is a just transition to what will involve more technologically-mediated labor markets and jobs. A just transition should mitigate the costs and share the benefits of new technologies.
  2. Change is certain, but its path is not, and giving in to inevitability will stifle our imagination. There are many alternatives, and it is our collective duty to create and promote them.
  3. Efforts to confront the changing nature of work should strengthen the role of the public sector in setting and enforcing workplace standards and delivering a social safety net.
  4. Those workers most affected by an issue should be involved in shaping any proposal or campaign to address it, and the process should help build workers’ voice and capacity to act.
- Meanwhile, the New York Times editorial board examines the long-haul trucking industry as a damning example of the combination of longer hours, greater demands and stagnant wages faced by so many workers in the U.S. over recent decades.

- The New York Times editorial board also points out how the Trump tax giveaway served only to further enrich the wealthy. And Thomas Piketty discusses the dangers of burgeoning inequality.

- The Economist offers a useful set of principles and proposals to make tax systems more fair and effective. 

- Finally, Don Lenihan writes about Canada's telecommunications oligopoly - and the need to treat access to the world as an essential service to ensure access is available in areas which won't receive equitable services based on profit motives. And Sarah Fischer discusses the dangers of increased concentration of local television broadcasting and other media.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Somini Sengupta writes that the extreme heat experienced so far in 2018 shows how ill-prepared humanity is for the climate change it's causing. And the Economist offers a warning that the oil industry can't realistically expect past prices to continue to apply under a future transition toward other energy sources.

- Meanwhile, UC Berkeley unveils new research as to the effectiveness of regulations in reducing multiple types of industrial emissions without affecting output.

- But Ben Parfitt points out the role of British Columbia's heavily-subsidized natural gas and "gas liquids" in facilitating the further destruction wrought by the oil sands. And Andy Crosby and Jeffrey Monaghan expose how the federal government has consistently used public resources to spy against activists on behalf of the oil industry, rather than doing anything to identify and defend the public interest.

- Sarah DelVillano highlights the need for leadership from the federal government to combat poverty in Canada. And the Star's editorial board suggests that a valuable first step would be to take on the basic income pilot project so callously trashed by Doug Ford, while Glen Pearson is particularly aghast at the ideological cancellation of research into an idea capable of earning support from multiple points on the political spectrum.

- Finally, Chris Dillow argues that UK politics are failing to select for anything approaching desirable attributes in distributing power - and a few of the concerns appear to apply far more broadly.