Saturday, April 06, 2019

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Crawford Kilian writes that Canada's Changing Climate Report should be a loud wakeup call about the need to avert climate breakdown, even as far too many people try to deny there's a problem or refuse to discuss meaningful solutions. Graham Thomson calls out Jason Kenney for lacking any plan other than an outdated attempt to hype carbon capture and sequestration as a substitute for practical emission reductions and industrial transitions. David Climenhaga notes that Preston Manning's conservative vision included "green capitalism" rather than the tar-coloured version currently favoured by Canada's right. Brendan Frank reviews the wide range of options available to governments in using carbon pricing revenue. And Mark Cameron offers a reminder that the federal carbon tax system - insufficient though it is as a climate policy - will actually result in a net financial benefit for households.

- Bob Weber reports on Environmental Commissioner Julie Gelfand's findings that the federal government doesn't even properly track - let alone follow up on - damage done to waterways due to pollution or site conversion. And Trevor Harrison and David Cooper rightly note that a remediation plan for abandoned oil and gas wells should be a major issue in Alberta's provincial election.

- Meanwhile, Teresa Wright reports on Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux' reminder that his office isn't receiving enough information to assess the "tax gap" between what the federal government should collect in revenue and what is actually received.

- Sharon Batt exposes the corporate money lobbying against a universal pharmacare plan in Canada (and apparently winning the Libs' ear in the process). And Danny Hakim, Roni Caryn Rabin and William K. Rashbaum discuss the Sackler family's scheme to simultaneously profit from deadly opioids and the treatment needed to try to free patients from their addictions.

- Finally, CBC News reports on Saskatchewan's latest Fight for 15 rally this week pushing for a liveable minimum wage. And Kati Pohjanpalo discusses the psychological and social benefits found in Finland's basic income trial when people can count on at least some secure income rather than relying on social programs designed to cut them loose at the first opportunity.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Musical interlude

Poor Nameless Boy - Argue

Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Will McMartin writes that if we needed more evidence that Jason Kenney's trickle-down economics are nothing but a scam to concentrate more wealth in the hands of the rich, British Columbia's own moves in the same direction produced none of the promised economic boost in exchange for tax giveaways. And Angella MacEwen exposes how Kenney's tax assumptions are riddled with holes based on Canadian experience.

- Meanwhile, Bob Barnetson examines how Kenney is planning to drive down wages while forcing workers into longer hours. And Aidan Harper discusses how a shorter work week could help to alleviate income inequality.

- Paul Krugman points out how Donald Trump's anti-regulation zealotry is needlessly putting people's lives at risk in the name of corporate profits.

- Jordan Health-Rawlings and Raizen Robin discuss the causes of continued hunger and poverty in Canada. And Tim Aubry, Geoffrey Nelson, Kevin Page and Claudette Bradshaw lament the lack of progress in reducing homelessness.

- Finally, Martin Patriquin comments on the anti-minority attitudes behind Quebec's ban on selected religious symbols. And Andrew Mitrovica rightly calls attention to Andrew Scheer's plan to court the far right as part of his path to power under an electoral system which rewards that course of action.

On double standards

Shorter Murray Mandryk:

I'd never be so unreasonable as to suggest Saskatchewan Party cabinet ministers could be expected to listen to protests against their own government. But for Ryan Meili, I won't be satisfied by anything short of showing up to rally in support of his political opponents - not to mention climate change denial.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

New column day

Here, on how Jason Kenney, Scott Moe and other right-wing leaders make a habit of substituting futile complaints about other levels of government for action in the public interest in the jurisdiction where they pursue power.

For further reading...
- Kenney's Alberta campaign has focused heavily on whinging about pipelines and equalization - presumably to distract from the combination of tax gifts for the rich and wage and service cuts for workers which makes up his platform at the provincial level.
- And Moe is of course using the same themes with equally little plausibility behind them - as reflected in today's corporate-sponsored pollution-fest, and his party's selective interest in equalization.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- CBC reports on Canada's Changing Climate Report showing that we're facing climate change twice as severe as the rest of the world, while Phil Tank writes about the anticipated effects on Saskatoon in particular. And the Canadian Press reports on the latest report by Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand on the disturbing lack of effective climate policy.

- Wallis Snowdon discusses the effect increasingly smoky summers are having on Alberta children, while Fiona Harvey reports on new research showing that air pollution may cut years off the lives of children around the globe. And Nicola Twilley points out the dangers lurking in indoor air which haven't been the subject of any but the most preliminary of research.

- Meanwhile, George Monbiot raises the prospect that a concerted effort at rewilding might help to avert catastrophic climate breakdown.

- Jim Stanford points out how right-wing wage forecasts in Australia have proven to be entirely illusory, while Rob Ferguson reports on the findings of Ontario's Financial Accountability Office that low-income workers are far worse off due to Doug Ford's cancellation of a minimum wage increase (despite the offer of a tax bauble instead). And Next Alberta exposes Jason Kenney's plan to strip overtime pay away from workers if he gets the chance.

- Finally, PressProgress highlights the growing concentration of wealth in Canada's corporate sector, with one per cent of companies holding over two-thirds of all corporate assets. And David Welch discusses GM's closure of its Lordstown plant even after securing nine-figure concessions from workers as a prime example of the futility of trying to indulge corporate greed.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Roland Paulsen is rightly critical of the billionaire-funded take that we should ignore the ready availability of resources to end severe crises simply because they were worse on an absolute level in the past:
To exclusively discuss social progress based on a certain set of facts removes moral values from the debate. Facts only point to that which is and has been, but when we argue about values such as freedom or justice, we are considering the less measurable, counterfactual world of what might have been or what might be. This is precisely the world that the New Optimists refuse to acknowledge.
Oxfam reported in January that a 0.5 percent tax on the wealth of the world’s richest 1% would raise more money than it would cost to educate the world’s 262 million children currently out of school and provide healthcare that would save the lives of 3.3 million people. Instead, according to the British House of Commons Library, we are on a course that will concentrate two-thirds of the world’s wealth in the richest 1% by 2030.

Facts like these do not fit into the “optimistic ” TED Talk celebration of neoliberalism—the docile, yet enthusiastically marketed, resignation to business as usual. On the contrary, they point to potentialities that remain unrealized due to the exploitative relationships on which global capitalism relies. As Yale philosopher Thomas Pogge suggests, it is more morally conscientious to compare existing poverty “not with historical benchmarks but with present possibilities: How much of this poverty is really unavoidable today? By this standard, our generation is doing worse than any in human history.”
- Damien Gayle reports that UK Labour's needed shift toward movement politics includes supporting the efforts of activists to challenge bank support for dirty energy.

- The Star-Phoenix and Leader-Post editorial boards rightly point out the public demand for transparency into Saskatchewan's alarming rate of workplace injuries and fatalities. And David Burke contrasts Sweden's success in eradicating illness from salmonella against Canada's litany of failures.

- Emma Paling discusses how Doug Ford's reckless slashing of funds has plunged children's aid societies into crisis. And CBC News reports that the PCs' agenda of cruelty also includes the closing of overdose prevention sites, exacerbating the opioid crisis which has already resulted in an unmanageable workload for the province's social support system.

- Finally, David Climenhaga examines the Jason Kenney UCP's plans to save Alberta by destroying it.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Jake Bittle writes about rural homelessness as a seldom-discussed issue which calls out for a strong policy response to ensure the right to housing is met regardless of whether one's community is urban or rural:
While the trigger events that cause homelessness are similar everywhere—foreclosure, unemployment, addiction, illness—small towns have far fewer job opportunities and mental-health resources. And although the housing shortage in rural areas is not as severe as in large cities such as New York City, Seattle, or San Francisco, rural houses are older and more dilapidated on average than urban houses, according to HUD data. As a result, even though the housing crisis left thousands of vacant homes in rural areas, service providers often have trouble finding housing that meets HUD’s standards. This leaves advocates with an uncomfortable choice: Work with the limited resources available in their area, or advise homeless individuals to relocate, which can mean leaving their families and social networks behind.
(U)nless the federal government makes an attempt to tackle rural homelessness as a distinct problem, the issue will only worsen. Roman said NAEH helped Congress sketch out a special HUD program to solve rural homelessness, but that Congress never actually gave the department money to set the initiative up. Under President Barack Obama, the department reversed a years long rise in homelessness, and homeless aid is one of the few parts of the HUD budget that the Trump administration has not slashed. Still, Roman says, without a concerted effort to tackle rural America’s “hidden homeless,” the question of shelter in the United States will only be partially answered.
- And Bernie Sanders notes that the gap between the rich and the rest of us applies to agricultural communities, as agribusiness giants are extracting massive profits from increasingly precarious farms.

- Luke Savage discusses how the real working class - as opposed to an all-white male version of the same - receives virtually no attention from the U.S.' media. Andrew Coyne comments on Quebec's blatantly discriminatory Bill 21, and wonders whether Canada's federal politicians will start talking about what can be done at the national level to restrain bigotry at the provincial level. And Salimah Kassam writes about the dangers of white supremacists and the politicians who enable them, while Chauncey DeVega highlights the connection between Donald Trump's campaign appearances and racist violence.

- Pamela Palmater points out how the Libs' budget has once again put off the urgent needs and glaring disparities facing Indigenous women and children.

- Finally, Lana Payne rightly calls out the Cons as being the most faux of feminists - though it's worth noting that their obvious lack of genuine interest in addressing inequality doesn't mean there isn't ample reason to criticize the Libs' track record.