Saturday, September 15, 2018

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Paul Krugman discusses how Republican obstruction undermined both the shape and size of the U.S.' efforts to recover from the 2008 economic crisis. And Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick and Ulrike Steins document how the crisis ant its aftermath exacerbated the U.S.' already-alarming level of wealth inequality.

- Katherine Paschall, Tamara Halle and Jessica Dym Bartlett point out the rising rate of poverty among American children. And Dave Prentis notes that public sector workers are increasingly being priced out of housing markets in the UK (and elsewhere).

- Annette Carla Bouzi writes about her experience on the picket line at Algonquin College. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Alex McKeen report on how the ownership stake of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan saved the jobs and union of cleaning staff in Vancouver.

- Hannah Osborne reports on new NASA research indicating that methane releases from abruptly thawing Arctic permafrost could make an already-dangerous level of climate change far worse in the near future.

- Finally, Chris Selley writes that the gratuitous invocation of the notwithstanding clause out of spite may be just the beginning of Doug Ford's abuses of political power. Stephen Maher figures Ford is likely headed toward only a single term in government, though it's still necessary to minimize the damage even if that proves true. And on that front, Bruno Dobrusin offers some lessons for fighting back against Ford from South American activists all too accustomed to dealing with iron-fist governments.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Musical interlude

Limblifter - Tinfoil

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Michael Harris laments the lack of any consistent connection between reporting on severe weather events and the climate change which is producing them in unprecedented numbers:
Mainstream news coverage does well with reporting episodes, but misses the boat on thematic coverage. CNN is good at telling us about the casualties and costs of storms in places like New Orleans or Wilmington. But it is next to hopeless at taking the vital signs of the planet. It may be the biggest missed story in history.

Here are just a few of the inconvenient facts that don’t often make the nightly news — even when storm-tossed.

The biggest one is perhaps that despite all the global conferences, despite the policies of government, despite a token tip of the hat to alternate energy sources like wind and solar, despite all the hype surrounding electric cars, greenhouse gas emissions are rising. According to the Global Carbon Project, after three relatively flat years, there was a two per cent rise in emission rates in 2017.

Worse, emissions are growing at exactly the point at which radical cuts are needed to escape a 2 C rise in temperature that would plunge the planet into chaos, or even its death throes. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that a 70 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions must be made by 2050 to break the earth’s rising fever.

It’s not happening.

Instead, the planet is experiencing unprecedented droughts, floods, hurricanes and wildfires scientists believe are linked to global warming.
- Arthur Neslen writes about the dangers of air pollution as the largest current environmental health risk in Europe. Ben Doherty reports on the UN Pacific Islands Forum's recognition that climate change is responsible for rising malnutrition rates. And the Canadian Press reports on new research showing how even slight exposure to diluted bitumen can be deadly for salmon.

- Alex Hemingway examines how soaring real estate prices have exacerbated inequality in British Columbia.

- Yvette D'Entremont notes that a national food program is entirely feasible - though I'd be careful before assuming that a Senate motion will have any bearing on long-term policy development.

- Finally, George Monbiot argues that the results of publicly-funded research should be freely accessible to the citizenry which has footed the bill.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Paul Krugman offers a reminder that the great global policy failure following the 2008 finance-driven crisis was to bail out bankers alone, while leaving people to fend for themselves in the face of subsequent austerity. And Wayne Swan highlights how the continued race to the bottom when it comes to corporate taxes and regulations represents a threat to both economic justice and democracy. 

- Patrick Butler notes that new research shows the UK's most severe cuts to social benefits have cruelly targeted toward the people who need help the most. And Libby Brooks reports on a new study showing the connection between poverty, isolation and death in Scotland.

- Aditya Chakrabortty makes the case for no-strings-attached housing through Housing First programs as the solution to the most important problems arising from homelessness.

- David Suzuki calls for us to turn "disposable" into something to be avoided, rather than a default expectation:

- Finally, Andre Picard discusses how decriminalization of drugs could help to reduce addictions and deaths resulting from opioids. But Beth Mole notes that the "morality" of the pharmaceutical industry is rather different from that of most people in treating rent-seeking as a moral obligation rather than an abuse of power.

New column day

Here, on how the needless use of the notwithstanding clause is just one more of the ways in which Scott Moe's Saskatchewan Party is dangerously similar to Doug Ford's PC government.

For further reading...
- CBC News reported on the Saskatchewan Party's own use of the notwithstanding clause to avoid a court decision it didn't like - and without waiting for the appeal process to play out first. And as a reminder, Brad Wall also mused about using the notwithstanding clause to suppress labour rights.
- Meanwhile, Ford's use of the notwithstanding clause has of course received far more attention - with Trish Hennessy, David Climenhaga, Steve Burgess, Paul Wells and John Lorinc among those weighing in. And Alex Ballingall offers a reminder as to how the notwithstanding clause came to be.
- Hilary Beaumont has documented the rapidly-growing list of legal challenges arising out of Ford's chaotic stay in office. And Robert Benzie reported on Ford's plan for a physical manifestation of the tired "open for business" talking point.
- Finally, Jayda Noyes reported on Moe's open adoption of Ford's anti-immigrant attack lines.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cats amid chaos.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paul Kelso reports on Public Health England's findings about the connection between poverty and more health difficulties, with residents of poorer neighbourhoods facing twice the incidence of ill health.

- Phil Whitaker points out the need to address the stressors causing childhood mental health issues. And Arif Jetha notes that fair working conditions for younger workers would work wonders in avoiding long-term scarring effects.

- Kim Kelly highlights the widespread use of prison labour in the US through the loophole left in its constitutional amendment against slavery. And an inmate at Burnside Jail explains why striking is effectively the only means for incarcerated people to call attention to their human dignity. 

- Rajeev Syal discusses a push by UK unions toward a four-day work week.

- Finally, Denis Meunier studies Canada's shameful role as a money-laundering haven due to a lack of transparency in beneficial corporate ownership.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- David Roberts highlights the trillions of dollars in global benefits to transitioning to sustainable energy over the next decade-plus - as well as the political choices keeping us from achieving them. Orville Schell and David Hochschild note that California and China are putting their combined economic clout behind global climate action. And Ryan Rumboldt reports on the hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to Canada's Prairies from extreme weather this summer.

- Patrick Condon discusses how a tax on low-density housing could both raise revenue and encourage the development of more liveable cities. But that would require a willingness to ensure that the wealthiest are required to pay their fair share, rather than being catered to by distorted tax systems - and Tom Harper reports that the UK (like Canada) regularly allows its richest residents to avoid consequences for breaching their social obligations.

- And the Council of Canadians points out that that Donald Trump isn't the only bully in the ongoing NAFTA negotiations, as any earlier hints about addressing labour and environmental issues have been thrown out the window by the Trudeau Libs in favour of corporate interests.

- Rohan Ghatage reviews Annie Lowrey's Give People Money as an effective argument for a basic income. And Caroline Hartnell discusses the importance of ensuring people living in poverty have enough power to improve their circumstances.  

- Finally, Doug Cuthand points out how coverage of protests such as the Justice for our Stolen Children camp is all too often slanted toward process issues rather than the real injustices which give rise to compelling activism.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Andrew Jackson comments on the need for a national anti-poverty strategy which can actually meet its intended purpose:
[The new Poverty Reduction Strategy] responds to progressives and anti poverty activists who have long called for a federal government led, broadly based initiative to address and reduce widespread poverty in Canada. However, it is disturbing that there is no commitment to new federal government funding to meet the stated poverty reduction goals and targets, and that the technical poverty measure proposed by Minister Duclos and the Trudeau government is, to say the least, debatable.

Many anti poverty activists, especially in Ontario, were rightly critical of the lack of additional funding for income support programs, especially in the context of already announced and pending provincial cuts to social assistance which will increase and deepen poverty. This underlines the fact that any effective national anti poverty strategy will require major investments by all levels of government, while the new strategy speaks only to the federal role.

It is strange that there is no discussion of the Canada Social Transfer, a $14 Billion per year federal program which has only one condition at present for making cash transfers to the provinces, that there be no provincial residency requirement for social assistance.

With respect to the federal role, there should have been a commitment to increase funding over time for the income support programs which have the greatest immediate impact on poverty – the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors; the Canada Child Benefit, and tax credits for the working poor – as well as broader social investments in areas like education, child care and affordable housing. The strategy does not attempt to calculate what additional resources will be needed to hit the stated targets.
- Scott Remer makes the case for personal debt forgiveness as part of a progressive economic platform. Nick Falvo examines some of the factors which affect a family's ability to move on from housing support. And Brian Rogers' story about a 71-year-old Regina woman evicted and left homeless due to unexpected Service Canada reporting requirements signals the problems with benefit systems designed to attack and punish recipients rather than ensure their well-being.

- Meanwhile, Rajeshni Naidu-Ghelani reports on Canada's extremely high number and concentration of ultra-wealthy individuals. 

- Toby Helm interviews John O'Donnell about UK Labour's plans to systematically increase the role of workers in corporate decision-making.

- Finally, Scott Sinclair highlights the predictable concessions and trade-offs being forced on Canada in a breakneck push to sign a new NAFTA on Donald Trump's terms. And Noah Smith rightly points out that in order to reduce our reliance on a capricious southern neighbour, Canada needs to plan for long-term population growth built largely on increased immigration.