Saturday, February 09, 2019

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Robyn Allan reports that the Trudeau Libs' set of Trans Mountain giveaways to the oil sector now includes billions to oil companies. And Sharmini Peries talks to Dimitri Lascaris about the Libs' willingness to enable SNC Lavalin's corruption, while Martin Patriquin notes the similarities between the latest corporate corruption and the Libs' sponsorship scandal. 

- The Center for Public Integrity examines the connection between the Republicans' tax giveaways to the rich, and payment for services rendered by major donors. And David Dayen points out how Donald Trump is continuing to attack the poor by making it easier for payday lenders to prey on the financially vulnerable.

- The CCPA's report card highlights how the Saskatchewan Party is failing families in need of accessible child care. And in case there was any doubt what we're losing as a result, Jenny Peng and Tessa Vikander examine the benefits for families from British Columbia's new provincial child care plan.

- Finally, Jay Pitter interviews Mirlo Liendo about the lasting effects of childhood poverty and precarity. And David Olive discusses how a basic income produces economic as well as social benefits.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Musical interlude

Omnia feat. Danyka Nadeau - For You

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.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

New column day

Here (via PressReader), on the U.S.' long-overdue conversation about progressive taxes on extreme incomes and wealth - and the need for Canada to follow suit.

For further reading...
- Matthew Yglesias has offered useful background on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' high-end income tax proposal, Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax proposal, Bernie Sanders' estate tax plan, and the strong public support for the ideas. And Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman respond (PDF) to critics of wealth taxes generally, while Noah Smith compares the options.
- Lawrence Martin discusses the U.S.' newfound interest in ensuring the rich pay their fair share. Farhad Manjoo questions whether the level of wealth and inequality inherent in billionaire status can ever be justified.
- Paul Krugman comments on Howard Schultz' laughable attempt to manufacture a populist presidential campaign out of explicit class war on behalf of the uber-rich.
- Finally, Sam Friedman and Daniel Laurison offer a reminder of how wealth and privilege tend to be self-perpetuating. And Meagan Day points out how massive inheritances are particularly unjustifiable when far too many people face severely limited opportunities.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Iglika Ivanova discusses how British Columbia can move toward eliminating poverty in its next budget.

- Patrick Maze points out the need for Saskatchewan's education system to be able to rely on stable and sufficient funding. But Alex MacPherson notes that Scott Moe has refused to benefit people even when there's federal money available to provide such basic necessities as public transportation.

- Kelvin Gawley reports on the massive public benefits from the NDP's comprehensive and universal pharmacare plan (in contrast to the Libs' watered-down attempt at corporate appeasement). 

- The Star's editorial board calls out Doug Ford's bait-and-switch which will result in funding being pulled away from the children with autism who most need it.

- Finally, Christo Aivalis reminds us of Tommy Douglas' genuine socialism - and the continued importance of holding and conveying strong social values even when they're not seen as politicall convenient:

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Crashing cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jonathan Watts interviews David Wallace-Wells about the existential threat posed by climate breakdown - and our gross failure to act in the face of a disaster of our own making:
The sense of speed comes across very strongly. It is as if people have got used to seeing the climate crisis as an old horror film with slow-lurching zombies but, in your version, the zombies are the much faster, scarier ones you see in modern horror films. You address the risks of heat death, hunger, drowning, wildfire, dying oceans, economic collapse and conflict, and suggest the climate problem driving them has super-accelerated beyond what many people think.

That is the thing that first opened my eyes to the change. When I learned the astonishing fact that more than half of the carbon we have emitted into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels was emitted in the past 25 years, that really shocked me. This means we have burned more fossil fuels since the UN established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) than in all of the centuries before – so we have done more damage knowingly than we ever managed in ignorance. That is a horrifying fact. It also means we are engineering our own devastation practically in real time. How much will depend on how we act, how we behave, how we respond.
- And Marc Lee calls for British Columbia to take the lead in ensuring that climate action matches the severity of the crisis.

- Simon Dyer, Christopher Ragan and Blake Shaffer point out how last week's Supreme Court of Canada decision on priorities in bankruptcy does little to address the broader issue of unfunded environmental liabilities. And Andrew Nikiforuk highlights the crisis in oil and gas liabilities resulting from Alberta's past willingness to let corporations avoid paying to clean up the messes they've made.

- PressProgress offers a warning about the regressive anti-worker policies we should expect if Jason Kenney ever gets a chance to govern Alberta.

- And finally, Martin Patriquin writes that we can't expect right-wing politicians who rely on fake news to be part of the solution in trying to combat it.

Monday, February 04, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- David Leonhardt points out how the upward redistribution of income has radically reshaped the U.S. for the worse. 

- Josh Bivens writes about the importance of accurately measuring - and ultimately enhancing - the labour share of income. And Noah Smith notes that what workers are paid current bears extremely little resemblance to what they contribute, particularly on the far ends of the income spectrum.

- Michael Mann discusses how cynical petro-politicians are trying to use extreme weather as a basis to deny our ongoing climate breakdown. And Crawford Killian comments on a new Lancet study examining the connections between the related global epidemics of climate change, malnutrition and obesity.

- Meanwhile, James Whittingham points out how the Saskatchewan Party's excuses for trying to freeze electric vehicles out of the province are utter nonsense - though the one relevant economic factor worth adding to his column is that the governing party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the oil industry.

- Finally, Reverend William Barber and Rashad Robinson highlight how corporations are complicit in racist voter suppression. And Nick Cohen offers his take on why the wealthy need to pay their fair share in taxes in the public interest, rather than choosing whether and how to make private donations as a substitute.