Saturday, March 02, 2019

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Crawford Kilian reviews Richard Johnston's Canadian Party System: An Analytic History, and in the process points out how a sensible federal political system would include the NDP as one of the primary options to form government. And Jamie Maxwell discusses how Jagmeet Singh's by-election victory in Burnaby South may offer a preview of a progressive populist message which has a strong prospect of resonating nationally.

- Alanna Smith reports on Jason Kenney's determination to shovel free money toward his corporate masters through wholly gratuitous tax cuts. And AUPE examines what Kenney's combination of stagnant funding and determination to privatize services would do to the health of Albertans.

- Meanwhile, Kirsten Bernas comments on the federal money being left on the table by Manitoba's PCs who can't be bothered to negotiate an agreement to combat poverty and homelessness.

- Bryan Bicknell reports on the lives saved by the opening of a supervised consumption site in London, ON. And Chelsea Laskowski reports on AIDS Saskatoon's leadership in opening the province's first safe injection site, while Heather Polischuk notes that Regina is once again far behind the curve.

- Finally, Jennifer Scarlott discusses the importance of building an environmental movement which amplifies historical victims of environmental discrimination.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Kate Aronoff highlights the lack of realism on the part of "adult" politicians demanding that the existential threat of climate breakdown be met with a grossly insufficient response. And Anders Fremstad and Mark Paul write about the dangers of an ideology of climate inaction:
Climate wonks regularly warn that “business as usual” cannot avert climate change. But, while that is true, the phrase itself betrays a neoliberal obsession with making “business” fit for purpose – a tweak here, a nudge there – as if citizens were merely passive subjects of larger economic forces. We all have an active role to play in shaping the economy. But to do so requires that we first shake off the constraints that neoliberal thinking has placed on the public imagination.
The policies that have resulted from this mindset – defunding or otherwise curtailing public investment, deregulating the economy, and decentralizing democracy – have prevented the US from weaning itself off fossil fuels. Policymakers from both parties have refused to advocate, or even countenance, public investments in carbon-free alternative energy sources and infrastructure.

The belief that government can only ever impede economic dynamism represents a sharp departure from the Keynesian worldview that dominated policymaking from the 1940s to the 1960s. Policies based on the belief that government spending on public goods complements the private sector, rather than crowding it out, helped the US achieve unprecedented growth in the postwar era.

In a Keynesian economic regime, government interventions are regarded as necessary to solve coordination problems, which is precisely what climate change is. Sadly, a brief revival of Keynesian thinking after the 2008 financial crisis was quickly stifled by the politics of austerity across the West, foreclosing efforts to reduce GHG emissions through large public investments in transportation, green public housing, and research and development.
- Ben Parfitt rightly questions how subsidies for increased fossil fuel extraction can possibly be reconciled with a viable climate policy. Sarah Lawriniuk discusses the impact suburban sprawl is having in exacerbating carbon pollution. And Nicole Mortillaro reports on the progress some countries have made in actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

- Paul Adams laments the current single-issue hive mind in Canada's political media, particularly in contrast to the wide coverage once expected from any newspaper.

- But lest anybody think that this week's common focus hasn't given rise to some worthwhile commentary, Murray Mandryk argues that we should seek more political leaders willing to tell difficult truths. And Hayden King theorizes that Jody Wilson-Raybould's revelation of the rot in Canadian colonial politics could help lay the groundwork for something better.

- Finally, Luke Savage makes the case to abolish the extreme concentration of wealth in order to ensure that everybody is able to meaningfully participate in political decision-making.

Musical interlude

Foals - Exits

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Chantal Hebert, Andrew Coyne and Paul Wells all weigh in on yesterday's revelations by Jody Wilson-Raybould about the Trudeau PMO's protection racket on behalf of SNC-Lavalin. And Andrew Nikiforuk examines the track record of corruption both from SNC-Lavalin in particular, and within the P3 sector generally.

- Nikiforuk also calls out the continued flaws in the National Energy Board's "reconsideration" of Trans Mountain (required due to another example of the law being broken in the name of corporate interests). And Norm Farrell examines British Columbia's resource selloff which is seeing the resource sector extract more while contributing less in royalties.

- Meanwhile, PressProgress exposes the latest in astroturfing, being a lobby group trying to advocate for credit card fees and bank fees.

- Mike Crawley reports on Doug Ford's move to shutter an agency intended to give citizens a fighting chance in challenging developers on zoning decisions.

- And finally, Fred Imbert reports on Warren Buffett's continued call for a tax system which ensures that he and his billionaire ilk pay a fair share.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- David Roberts sets out the big picture surrounding the Green New Deal, as essentially nobody other than the activists supporting it has made any effort to deal with the reality of impending climate breakdown:
(T)hat’s the context here: a world tipping over into catastrophe, a political system under siege by reactionary plutocrats, a rare wave of well-organized grassroots enthusiasm, and a guiding document that does nothing but articulate goals that any climate-informed progressive ought to share.

Given all that, for those who acknowledge the importance of decarbonizing the economy and recognize how cosmically difficult it is going to be, maybe nitpicking and scolding isn’t the way to go. Maybe the moment calls for a constructive and additive spirit.

The GND remains a statement of aspirations. All the concrete work of policymaking lies ahead. There will be room for carbon prices and R&D spending and performance standards and housing density and all the rest of the vast menu of options for reducing emissions. None of those policy debates have been preempted or silenced. 

And yes, there are any number of ways it could go off the rails, politically or substantively. Everyone is free, nay, encouraged to use their critical judgment. 

But the circumstances we find ourselves in are extraordinary and desperate. Above all, they call upon all of us to put aside our egos and our personal brands and strive for solidarity, to build the biggest and most powerful social force possible behind the only kind of rapid transition that can hope to inspire other countries and forestall the worst of climate change.
- Meanwhile, Ban Ki-moon highlights why the UK needs to stop subsidizing the extraction and burning of fossil fuels in developing countries.

- Adam Johnson calls out the lack of any scrutiny of an obvious scheme by the same people who have pushed wars and humanitarian atrocities on the U.S.' behalf for three decades to continue that pattern in Venezuela. And Kevin Tillman argues against yet another illegal U.S. invasion.

- Steve May comments on the willingness of Andrew Scheer and the Cons to join forces with avowed racists. labour

- Finally, Derek Thompson writes about the obsession with "workism" that pushes workers to accept perpetually deteriorating job conditions and lives based on the social expectation they'll see work as its own reward.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Jay Shambaugh, Ryan Nunn and Stacy Anderson write about the lasting effects of racial and regional inequality.

- Samuel Stein discusses the lessons activists can take from New York's successful pushback against Amazon's demands for billions in public giveaways. And Joseph Stiglitz writes about the available means to ensure that multinational corporations pay their fair share.

- Von Mattias Punz points out Portugal's success after rejecting austerity in favour of social development. And Ian Hussey takes note of Alberta's increase in service-sector employment after it boosted its minimum wage (contrary to the spin of the corporate lobby).

- Finally, Christo Aivalis discusses the continued importance of unions, including their role in building democracy both in workplaces and in general: