Saturday, November 17, 2018

Saturday Evening Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Nick Charity reports on the observations of the UN's envoy on poverty and human rights that callous and cruel austerian political choices have caused harm to millions of UK residents.

- Tess Kalinowski reports on the reality that Doug Ford's move to remove rent controls won't do anything to make housing available to the people who need it most. And Rick McGinnis writes that even leaving aside the importance of dealing with poverty and homelessness generally, suburban residents can't pretend they're somehow contained in core urban areas only.

- Meanwhile, Mike Crawley points out that a first set of cuts to important services won't even put a dent in Ontario's provincial debt - especially since it's being used to fund giveaways to polluters and the wealthy. And Robert Benzie notes that those handouts to the rich and their businesses are being paired with a loophole to allow corporations to funnel political donations through employees.

- Bill McKibben discusses how climate breakdown is shrinking the habitable space on our planet. Climate Transparency's Brown to Green study (PDF) highlights how Canada has both the highest emissions per capita of any G20 country, and the fourth-highest proportion of public financing for the fossil fuel sector as a proportion of GDP. And Charlie Smith interviews Donald Gutstein about the Libs' "grand bargain" (at the request of the oil industry) to keep allowing unsustainable emissions as long as they're attached to modest prices. 

- Finally, Malone Mullin reports on the Husky oil spill off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador which can't even be examined (let alone cleaned up).

Friday, November 16, 2018

Musical interlude

Eels - Mistakes of My Youth

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jonathan Watts reports on a new study showing how the world's largest economies (including Canada) are falling far short of the Paris climate goals due mostly to the influence of the fossil fuel industry, while also noting that Canada ranks with China and Russia among the world's absolute world climate offenders. And George Monbiot points out the need for radical action to get us on track to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown.

- Meagan Day writes that we can and should view affordable public housing as an opportunity to build vibrant and beautiful communities. But Mike Crawley reports that Doug Ford's first order of business is to make Ontario's housing situation even more grim by eliminating rent controls for tenants. 

- Noah Smith makes the case for the U.S. to finally raise its federal minimum wage in order to improve the circumstances of lower-income workers.

- Christo Aivalis offers his take on why Canada deserves a proportional electoral system.

- Finally, Andre Picard marks the Remembrance Day week by noting that the first pieces of Canada's health care system were among hte products of World War 1.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Thursday Evening Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Richard Waters and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson report that five large tech companies alone turned the Trump corporate tax cuts into tens of billions of dollars in share buybacks benefiting nobody other than those who already had the most. And Caroline Haskins writes about the inequality in firefighting services which has left only a few wealthy California residents with any hope against wildfires.

- Jorge Barrera reports that the Libs have added an Indigenous rights framework to the list of campaign promises now being pushed past the next federal election. And Jenelle Davies discusses how many young adults are disillusioned with politics as they stand, but have reason to hope for better with a proportional electoral system.

- On the bright side, Chris Arsenault reports on a new foreign aid experiment to benefit poor people with direct cash transfers - though it would make sense to try the same strategy to combat poverty at home as well.

- Robert Booth relays the stories of exclusion and deprivation told by young Britons to the UN's rapporteur on extreme poverty.

- Finally, Josha McNab points out the health benefits of acting to fight climate change. And Fernando Arce discusses how Doug Ford's attacks on worker protections stand to make all of Ontario ill:
When asked about the rationale for eliminating paid sick days, the Ministry of Labour offered in an email response to NOW that “these eight days... would be in line with Alberta and British Columbia, and could be taken without fear of termination.”

But as studies have shown, paid sick days can make a crucial, sometimes even fatal difference, when workers choose to stay home or work through their sickness.

“A lot of specialists don’t have availability in the evening, so having sick days allows patients to get to those appointments during the day,” says Raza. Employees without paid sick days also tend to get fewer flu shots, mammograms, pap smears and blood pressure checks.

The changes proposed by the Ford government mean that Ontarians will be at greater risk of contracting diseases when workplaces become inundated with sick workers unable to afford a day off to see their physician or get well. Raza says schools could soon follow when sick children are forced to attend because their parents or guardians can’t stay home with them.

Two years ago this scenario came to pass, with tragic consequences, when two-year-old Jude – described by his mother Jill Promoli as an otherwise “perfectly healthy child” – succumbed to influenza B, which had begun with a fever the day before. His sister had first caught the bug in her kindergarten class. Said Promoli at last week’s press conference: "One sick child came to school, and basically, it became an entire classroom full of sick children."

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Trish Garner comments on the need to acknowledge the humanity of people living in poverty - which leads to the inescapable need to use readily-available resources to ensure a reasonable standard of living. And Arindrajit Dube studies the effect of an increased minimum wage in helping to pull people out of poverty.

- Meanwhile, Robert Benzie reports that Doug Ford's choice to attack workers is leading to a substantial drop in public support.

- Jim Tankersley and Matt Phillips report that the Trump Republicans' giveaway to the wealthy has produced negative results on multiple fronts - including a net reduction in the workforce of the large employers targeted for extra freebies. And Derek Thompson discusses why it's long past time to put a stop corporate relocation incentives. 

- Helen-Maria Vasiliadis points out the important returns - in both fiscal and human terms - from investing in universally-accessible mental health care.

- Tom Perry discusses how a proportional electoral system can lead governments to reflect and listen to a wide range of voices, rather than being motivated solely to stick to a single party line. 

- Finally, Don Braid weighs in on the demonization of minority groups - and particularly LGBTQ people through John Carpay's consistent attacks - in Jason Kenney's United Conservative Party.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cats with company.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Tom Kibasi writes that the UK's best option in light of its impending Brexit is to develop a more active and entrepreneurial state:
So in a sense, Brexit changes everything and changes nothing: it exacerbates the UK longstanding problem with an investment rate that was already far below our international competitors at the time of the referendum. It makes it harder to achieve escape velocity from an economic model that isn’t working to one that does.
We know that rather than crowding out investment – as free marketers claim – greater public investment in fact crowds it in. Brexit will therefore make it even more important to get public investment up, not less. And with interest rates close to zero, a programme of quantitative easing that has not been wound down, fiscal policy will be the only option left to lift Britain out of any future recession. It is therefore illogical to say that Brexit must mean more austerity. It must mean the reverse. Paradoxically, the right response to Brexit is to become a more European economy, with a more active and entrepreneurial state. 
- Meanwhile, Brett Christophers examines the large-scale privatization of land in the UK - with roughly half of its remaining commonwealth in land by area, and more than that by value, having been sold off since 1979.

- Callum Burroughs discusses how the oil industry is failing to put its money where its mouth is in developing renewable energy even as it pours tens of millions of dollars into squelching any public policy improvements. And Chantal Hebert points out that the mindless oil industry jingoism being parroted by right-wing parties across much of Canada looks to be political poison for the federal Cons in Quebec.

- Troy Henderson notes that public-sector wage caps and general job precarity serve to drive down wages and working conditions for everybody.

- Taylor Scollon suggests that the disproportionate political influence of big money could be counterbalanced by ensuring that campaigns are financed through public dollars distributed based on voter choice.

- Finally, Brent Patterson is hopeful that Canada will see a wave of progressive millennial activists emerge comparable to the ones which are already reshaping politics in the U.S. and the UK.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Wayne Swan writes that it won't be possible to take necessary steps to combat climate breakdown without ensuring that corporations pay their fair share. And the Guardian argues that exorbitant executive pay needs to be restrained.

- Sam Pizzigati discusses how the uber-wealthy can disproportionately influence the U.S.' public discourse under the cover of dark money. And Mariya Hake and Christian Belabed examine the relationship between income inequality and distrust in public institutions.

- Crawford Kilian offers a reminder of the devastating effects of other diseases which can be eradicated through vaccinations - but which are threatening to return due to both policy and personal choices.

- Maryse Zeidler reports on the tens of billions of dollars worth of food wasted in Canada every year. And Matt Humphrey reports that Raise the Rates has had to cancel its Vancouver welfare challenge because there's simply no hope for participants to find food for even a week a based on what social benefit recipients receive.

- Finally, Ken Boon makes the case for British Columbia to try a more fair and proportional electoral system, rather than resigning itself to a system which has produced far too much inequality and corruption.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Wade Davis comments on the ecological amnesia which has resulted in repeated cycles of extinctions:
In three generations, a mere moment in the history of our species, we have throughout the world contaminated the water, air and soil, driven countless species to extinction, dammed the rivers, poisoned the rain and torn down the ancient forests. As Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson reminds us, this era will not be remembered for its wars or technological advances but as the time when men and women stood by and either passively endorsed or actively supported the massive destruction of biological diversity on the planet.

Given the dire consequences, how might we explain this peculiar and ultimately self-destructive capacity to shed memory and shift our expectations as we adapt to an increasingly impoverished world? Were this to be a fundamental adaptive trait of our species, we would surely find evidence scattered throughout the ethnographic record. But most assuredly we do not.
...Just as 18th-century slavers concocted racial fantasies to mask the evil of their trade, perhaps we have learned to shed memory to avoid confronting the actual consequences of our egregious violations of the natural world. Our shifting expectations and dimming memory are less an adaptive trait than a reflexive impulse. If we are responsible for the numbing of our own senses, we can surely awaken to new possibilities as stewards of life, inspired by Indigenous peoples who have walked this path before us, guided by a conscience informed by memory.
- Jared Keller writes that the destruction from Hurricane Michael offers one reminder as to the security risks associated with climate breakdown. And Art Cullen discusses the threat a hotter, drier planet poses to agriculture in the U.S. and elsewhere - even as the problem is ignored by the Trump administration.

- Meanwhile, Simon Flowers sets out a readily-achievable scenario in which a determined transition to clean energy would exceed the Paris emissions reduction targets. And Lorraine Chow writes about New Zealand's decision to end new offshore oil and gas exploration out of its recognition that fossil fuel expansion and environmental responsibility are utterly incompatible.

- Finally, the Economist reports that rising inequality isn't limited to wages and income, as benefits are also diverging between the U.S.' higher- and lower-income workers. Bethany Hastie replies to a review of British Columbia's Labour Code by pointing out the need for far more protection for people facing precarious work. And Simran Dhunna discusses how the Libs are leaving immigrant caregivers at the mercy of employers with little hope of achieving permanent residency in Canada.