Saturday, November 24, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrea Germanos discusses the problems with relying on the charity of the uber-wealthy rather than stable and sustainable public revenues to meet the needs of the people with the least. 

- Dan Fumano reports on the City of Vancouver's call for a shift toward tenant protections and non-profit housing, while Seila Rizvic offers some ideas to alleviate housing crises by focusing on residents rather than developers. And Steve Meaghar notes that Toronto's emergency shelters are already over capacity long before the worst of winter hits, while Elizabeth Fraser reports on the realities of homelessness among university students.

- PressProgress exposes the big-money, anti-worker actors trying to buy Jason Kenney's way into office in Alberta. And Stuart Trew points out how the federal Libs are catering to big business through dangerous deregulation.

- Andrew Nikiforuk notes that Alberta's revenue problems trace back through decades of PC mismanagement of resources. And Robyn Allan discusses yet another concession the Libs appear to have made to Kinder Morgan, as their public bailout of the TransMountain pipeline appears to include taking on what were supposed to be corporate promises to pay for ocean protection measures.

- Finally, Owen Jones points out that the rise of violent racism can be traced in large part to the refusal of right-wing parties to call out fascist tendencies as they've developed.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Musical interlude

Phantogram - Futuristic Casket

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- May Bulman reports on the growing gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor in the UK. And Owen Jones offers a reminder that it was the political choices of the UK Cons - regardless of their position on Brexit - that have led to austerity and misery.

- David Moscrop discusses how Doug Ford's plans for Ontario are aimed at making life worse for the people who already have the least. And the Star's editorial board comments on his choice to single out people living with disabilities for scrutiny and benefit restrictions.

- John Michael McGrath highlights the importance of Ontario's environmental commissioner just as her role is about to be eliminated.

- Oliver Milman reports on the U.S.' National Climate Assessment, which confirms the devastating impacts of climate breakdown even in a country going out of its way to block international action. And Alex Ballingall points out the latest study from Oil Change International on the massive amounts of public money still being gifted to the fossil fuel sector, rather than being used to fund clean energy alternatives.

- Finally, Emma McIntosh and David Bruser report on Alberta's dubious approval of remediation plans which amount to little more than gambling that fresh water will eventually overcome the presence of toxic waste.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Kathleen Harris reports on a federal budget update designed to have Canada borrow to shovel money into the pockets of big business. And PressProgress points out the absurdity of that plan when the corporate sector already has far too many loopholes and freebies at its disposal:
Corporate Canada will receive $14 billion in new tax giveaways over the next five years even though they are already receiving tens of billions of dollars every year through special tax loopholes.
Although Morneau opted against Trump’s no strings attached approach in favour of targeted tax incentives that allow companies to write-off the costs of investing in new machinery, clean energy equipment and newly acquired assets, the new measures are not offset by closing any of the ineffective and unfair tax loopholes that cost Canada tens of billions of dollars each year.

According to one estimate by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada is already losing $18 billion per year through special loopholes that primarily benefit Corporate Canada.

Various loopholes benefiting corporations and corporate executives relating to the taxation of capital gains, stock options, dividends as well as entertainment expenses for businesses have been widely criticized and identified as an easy way to restore billions in revenue.

Meanwhile, Canadian corporations already route billions of dollars through offshore tax havens, contributing to an estimated $10-15 billion in lost revenue each year.

Likewise, Morneau’s tax incentives to encourage clean energy investments are not offset by a move to “phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry,” something the Liberals promised in their 2015 election platform — in fact, Morneau actually introduced new subsidies in his 2017 budget.
- Meanwhile, Kevin Milligan offers his take as to what a progressive approach to revenue could include - with a focus on increasing personal income tax rates and ramping up enforcement to ensure everybody pays what they owe.

- Zi-Ann Lum reports on new research showing that hundreds of thousands of Canadians have to borrow money to fund necessary prescription drugs.

- Andre Picard writes about the appalling lack of public policy support for caregivers. And David Baxter reports on the growing number of newborns being stripped away from their families in Saskatchewan.

- Finally, Andrew Coyne criticizes Doug Ford's plan to return to systemic cash-for-access fund-raising - previously deemed unacceptable by all of Ontario's parties - now that his government has power to sell.

New column day

Here, on the yawning gap between talk and action when it comes to building up Regina's downtown with more focused residential development.

For further reading...
- The Underutilized Land Study referenced in the column is here (PDF), and was the subject of a recent report by Emily Pasiuk.
- Pasiuk also reported here on Andrew Stevens' push for answers about the underdevelopment of Broad Street.
- The City's overall community plan is available here, while links to neighbourhood plans are here.
- Finally, the latest from the "revitalization" project is here - again with no apparent news since the demolition of the old Taylor Field stadium in October 2017.

Update: The good news is that there's at least been some funding announced for the "revitalization" project.  The bad news is that its website linked to above has been disappeared, suggesting there isn't much appetite to have people pay attention to its status.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports that the Ford government's move to strip sick days away from workers was made without any attempt to consider the consequences for public health. And Emma Paling reports on how public protests at least delayed the final passage of the bill designed to attack employment standards and reduce the planned minimum wage, while Michal Rozworski debunks the Montreal Economic Institute's propaganda piece intended to criticize any minimum wage increases. 

- Rachel Aiello reports on the Auditor General's findings that the Canada Revenue Agency grants more leniency to large corporations and wealthy people with offshore dealings than to the general public. And D.C. Fraser notes that the Saskatchewan Party is refusing to provide any information about the money being gifted to Nutrien in "head office" giveaways even as its executive functions move out of the province.

- Jim Harding offers a reminder that time isn't on our side in trying to combat climate breakdown - and that every day of delay only makes the fight more difficult. And Mike Crawley points out that the apparently climate change policy model for the Ontario PCs (and other right-wing governments) is an Australian scheme which has led to greenhouse gas emission increases.
- Robert Fife, Steven Chase and Xioa Xu report on the Cons' use of related non-profit corporations to avoid federal spending limits.

- Finally, Mattha Busby discusses how safe injection sites are saving lives across Europe, even as the UK and other regressive jurisdictions insist on maximizing the harm done to drug users.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Enclosed cats.

Tuesday Evening Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Katrina Miller writes that Canada's economic future lies in developing equitable and sustainable growth, not following the U.S. in its race to the bottom:
There is a growing body of evidence that rising inequality is threatening every aspect of our collective well-being - social, economic, environmental and health-related. In Canada, like in many other countries, wages have stagnated in most earning brackets while precarious unstable jobs have ballooned. This toxic combination has become the biggest contributor to economic inequality in Canada. The U.S. corporate tax cuts that were supposed to bring working people prosperity have largely resulted in windfalls for shareholders. Very little has trickled down to the average worker4.  Clearly, the U.S. hasn’t set much of an example to follow if we wish to shrink the gap between the rich and everyone else.

We should also be asking whether we are building a world for future generations, but that isn’t where our economy is headed right now. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently announced that we have twelve years to contain global warming to a 1.5C rise, or face world-wide and devastating consequences. Whether we do so now by choice or in a decade by default we have to change the way we live, and find a far less carbon intensive path forward. Countries that are early adopters of a low carbon economy will have an easier time, and may even find great success exporting technology and expertise to the rest...
Closing Canada’s worst tax loopholes and cracking down on tax avoidance would create the revenue needed to implement universal pharmacare and bolster other social and educational programs that make Canada a great place to live and work, for everyone. A healthy, educated and equitable society has long been one of Canada’s strong suits when it comes to economic competitiveness, it’s worth investing in.
- Campaign 2000 offers (PDF) a National Child Day reminder that far too many Canadian children are facing poverty and malnutrition, while Laurie Monsebraaten focuses on the importance of child care as a means to end child poverty.

- Chris Selley discusses the cruelty of Doug Ford's cuts to Ontario's advocate for children and youth. Katie Hyslop reports on a British Columbia child welfare system stacked against low-income parents. And Kristy Kirkup reports on Romeo Saganash's push to investigate the involuntary sterilization of Indigenous women.

- Barb Pacholik writes about the need for far more legal protections for people trying to escape domestic violence.

- Lucas Powers reports on the Caregivers Action Centre's call to treat foreign caregivers as people rather than disposable labour. And Warren McCall discusses how unduly low minimum wages end up imposing costs on everybody.

- Finally, the Canadian Press reports on Climate Transparency's study showing Canada having the worst per-capita greenhouse emissions levels in the G20.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Monday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Chris Hughes discusses how progressive politics, including expanded social programs and more progressive taxes, are proving to be a winner for U.S. Democrats in both primaries and general elections. Jacob Bacharach writes about the myth of the U.S. as a particularly wealthy country in the face of the deprivation it's imposed on so many of its citizens. And Nesrine Malik notes that it's pointless to shoot the messenger in light of reports such as the one by the UN's special rapporteur on poverty and human rights documenting the blight of poverty in the UK.

- Alex Hemingway approves of the Horgan government's replacement of a regressive health premium with a payroll tax aimed at large employers, but points out it would have been far better not to cut overall revenue in the process.

- Luke Savage points out how Doug Ford has exposed the contempt of Canada's right for basic norms such as not gratuitously overriding Charter rights. Edward Keenan comments on his politics of spite. And the Globe and Mail's editorial board criticizes Ford for using his majority power to permit cash-for-access now that he has power to sell.

- The Canadian Press reports on the Canadian Medical Association's pushback against Ford's plan to tie up the health care system with doctor's notes for employers. And Carolyn Ferns compares British Columbia's progress on child care to Ford's regression.

- Finally, David Pugliese exposes the "capability gap" used as an explanation for the purchase of fighter jets as a political talking point with no basis in operational records - and that in fact the Libs were informed there was no need for any purchase before 2032 before giving the thumbs-up to immediate orders.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Alex Morris writes about the barriers between the U.S.' working class and any hope of financial stability and security:
In 1960, the annual average health care costs in America were just $146 per person; in 2016, that figure had risen to $10,348. Over the past few decades, the cost of attending a four-year public college has risen more than 200 percent, which helps explain why Americans now have $1.4 trillion of student-loan debt. The median home value also rose dramatically, from around $3,000 in 1940 (or around $30,000 in inflation-adjusted terms) to more than $200,000 today. And for those who can’t afford to own, renting is problematic as well: A 2017 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition determined that there is now literally nowhere in America where a minimum-wage worker can afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment.

Meanwhile, as costs have risen, the relative amount of money that many American workers earn has gone down. From the early Seventies until 2017, productivity (the amount of goods and services created in an hour of work) has grown by almost 77 percent, but the inflation-adjusted amount workers are paid for that productivity has only grown by about 12 percent (by way of comparison, from the late 1940s to the early 1970s, compensation rose by about 90 percent). Increased productivity expands the economy, driving certain prices up, which means that the cost of living has been rising faster than incomes for more than 40 years. “That’s kind of all you need to know,” says Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “It’s not so much that people are worse off as much as that they haven’t kept up.”

Though certainly, they’ve tried. Much of the (paltry) growth in household income over the past 40 years has occurred because — often out of necessity — people are simply working more. What Bernstein has seen is that “families have had to work harder, work longer hours, spend more time in the job market, send more people to work in order to keep from falling behind.”
(T)he shift from a manufacturing to a service economy has had an effect, since service work — scrubbing toilets, flipping burgers, running day cares rather than doing something that produces a tangible product — is somehow viewed as “lesser” and therefore commands a lower rate. But all of these explanations would make more sense if the economy overall were suffering. It isn’t. Only its workers are.

And that’s happened, not because of economic forces beyond our control, but rather because government and corporate choices have been made that prioritize the wealth of a few people over the welfare of the many. The perverse incentives of tying executive pay to the price of stock have transformed the American worker from a stakeholder into merely an expenditure, from someone whose cultivation and training benefit the company into a mere line item for the next quarter. “Something like 80 percent of officers admit that they would forgo an investment in their company that has long-term benefits if it meant missing that quarter’s earnings,” says Rick Wartzman, author of The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America. “It’s disturbing stuff. And the effects are just profound.”
- Sarah Jaffe points out the dangers of allowing a single corporation to exercise the type of overwhelming influence on political decision-makers that Amazon has been able to assemble. Allie Conti muses about the superior results if public money were used to reduce student debt rather than to enrich corporate giants. And Laura Bliss discusses how big box stores are using the overbuilding encouraged through municipal tax breaks to argue they should never have to pay their fair share in property taxes.

- Andrew Jackson reviews Adam Tooze's Crashed as a useful look at the causes and effects of the 2008 economic meltdown. And Maureen Dowd comments on the lasting fallout of the U.S.' choice to avoid any consequences for the architects of inequality and financial meltdowns.

- Mariana Mazzucato discusses the importance of building an economy to generate lasting collective value, not merely to allow for financial profits to be extracted in the short term.

- Finally, Jacob Bastian and Maggie Jones examine (PDF) the net cost of the U.S.' earned income tax credit, finding that it nearly pays for itself even based on immediate returns to the public purse alone before accounting for other improvements in health and well-being. And Lindsay Tedds identifies some of the problems with Doug Ford's plan to replace scheduled wage increases for all lower-income workers with a gimmicky tax scheme.