Friday, February 08, 2019

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Eric Holthaus writes that the Green New Deal which looks to be at the centre of Democratic policy development offers an important opportunity for the U.S. to make amends with a world bearing the brunt of its past pollution. But Rick Salutin discusses how the coup on behalf of the resource sector in Venezuela (with the U.S. and Canada playing major roles) is all about inflating corporate profits, rather than protecting human rights or democracy.

- Fatima Syed reports on Doug Ford's plan to stop tracking carbon pollution to paper over the inevitable effects of his elimination of any climate change plan. And the Globe and Mail's editorial board calls Ford out - albeit too late - for promising that slashing services will do anything but harm the public.

- Luke Savage highlights why any plan for vital public services needs to be aimed toward universal access, rather than stopping at "affordability":
The word “affordable” appeared some thirty-one times in the 2016 Democratic Party platform, in reference to policy areas ranging from housing and college tuition to childcare and finance (for comparison, “middle class,” that hallowed floating signifier, appeared only sixteen times).

Its omnipresence in political language makes a certain intuitive sense. Life for many Americans is, after all, dominated by institutions that make things more expensive by design: health insurers offering pricey packages for even the most basic coverage; telecom and energy giants imposing inscrutable new rates and fees on customers trying to maintain their cell service, keep the lights on, or not freeze to death in the winter; schools making themselves ever more exclusive through higher tuition; landlords raising the rents at each and every opportunity.
Pushes to make vital public goods such as health care or education “affordable” — whether well-intentioned or deliberately misleading — still invariably imply a transaction taking place between a seller and a consumer: the dynamic of the market in its most elemental form. Even if the good in question does become cheaper (and therefore easier for more people to access), the basic dynamic is maintained and the good remains a commodity to be bought and sold rather than a universal right to be guaranteed and enjoyed.

This is what makes the incrementalist attitude to health care (and innumerable other policy areas) favored by some Democrats so flawed: the Left’s push for universality isn’t just a more holistic version of liberal efforts that aspire to make things more “affordable.” Its ultimate goal is to democratize social goods, removing the market altogether and extinguishing the need for anyone to worry about whether they have the requisite funds to see a doctor, acquire education, put their children in a safe and caring environment during working hours, or sleep with a roof over their heads.
- Finally, Paul Wells discusses the need for a public inquiry into Justin Trudeau's interference in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin and its executives for illegal donations largely directed toward the Libs' own coffers.

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