Saturday, May 04, 2019

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Ethan Cox reports on the massive public support in Canada for a wealth tax. David Hetherington writes that the wealthy few go out of their way to avoid any personal interaction with the realities of economic inequality - making it absurd to accept their attempts to rig the political system to exacerbate it.  And Jim Stanford discusses the pattern of wage stagnation in Australia (which is of course all too familiar here as well).

- David Baxter reports on the latest report of Saskatchewan's advocate for children and youth highlighting the importance of mental health as an issue which is far too often ignored and underresourced. And Tyee Bridge points out that the recognition that older generations are willfully destroying the planet is causing particularly acute eco-anxiety.

- Meanwhile, Eoin Higgins notes that the short-term calculations of petro-politicians are helping to ensure their parties are toxic to younger voters. And Abacus Data's look at the priorities of young Canadians confirms they can see how they've been sold out by corporations and politicians.

- Finally, Bill McKibben discusses the opportunity for a moment of real political change. Varshini Prakash warns against accepting half measures in the face of an existential crisis. And Mitchell Anderson points out how tar sands operators have underreported their own greenhouse gas missions, making an already-privileged position in Canada's national climate change planning all the less justified.

Musical interlude

The Black Lotus - Eon

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Rick Smith and Ken Neumann write about the importance of developing a Green New Deal that includes participation from (and protection for) the workers affected by an economic transition.

- Meanwhile, Aditya Chakrabortty notes that the oil-backed right's personal attacks on Greta Thunberg and other politically engaged youth only serve to confirm their utter lack of anything constructive to offer in any political discussion. (See also Andrew Scheer's continued demurral in offering even a hint of a climate plan.)

- Peter Cary and Allan Holmes examine the paltry return workers received on billions in corporate tax cuts from the Trump administration. And James Moore reports on the "poverty premium" being extracted from the people who can least afford to pay it in the UK.

- On the bright side, the CCPA studies the living wage in Vancouver and finds that the Horgan government's child care policy alone has managed to reduce the effective cost of living by $1.41 per hour.

- Finally, Daniel Tencer reports on the Canadian resource companies using international trade deals to bully other countries into abandoning environmental protections. And Sarah Rieger reports on the 4,700 wells dumped into the public's lap for remediation by the failure of a single Alberta gas company.

New column day

Here, pointing out how Drawdown's list of emission reductions which are possible based on peer-reviewed research into current technology (which received recent attention thanks to a CNN quiz and Vox update) only makes all the more clear the political divide on climate change.

For further reading...
- Bill McKibben highlights the need for urgent climate action. And Merritt Turetsky discusses the chain reaction of further carbon releases set off by melting permafrost. 
- Akshat Rathi discusses how Extinction Rebellion succeeded in attracting attention and forcing action - including the UK's parliamentary declaration of a climate emergency.
- Aaron Wherry writes that Canada's political debate on climate change is stuck for the moment.
- And for those interested in participating in Regina's School Strike for Climate tomorrow, the event page is here.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Emilie Prattico comments on the need to move past an economy that generates billionaires and widespread precarity in order to ensure that collective problems can be meaningfully addressed:
While the public has never been as outspoken in its support of urgent and ambitious climate action, money talks, too—and that sound you’re hearing is the crushing din of an economy designed to further the interests of a capital-owning ruling class.
...(T)he kind of transformation we need to tackle climate change will require the overhaul of the entire economic system, not the incremental adjustments made by individual companies or countries. Shifting toward a net-zero carbon economy requires innovation in products and processes, the development of new business models, and new forms of cooperation across industries. It will unleash large amounts of investments into new, low-carbon plants and infrastructures. It will call for radically new legal, fiscal, and policy frameworks. It is highly unlikely to sustain the kinds of inequalities we witness today, nor support the existence of philanthropic billionaires.
The climate is the rare problem billionaires can’t throw their money at. We don’t need donations. We need a fundamentally different kind of economy, and radical action to profoundly transform the capitalist system that allows for billionaires to exist in the first place.
- David Suzuki writes that we can't afford to fiddle while our planet burns. And Dennis Wamstead notes that even in the U.S., renewable electricity generation is now exceeding that from coal.

- Alicia Elliott questions why safe water supplies continue to be lacking for far too many Indigenous communities. And Emily Mathieu reports on Leilani Farha's work to point out the absurdity of a homelessness epidemic being allowed to fester in cities as wealthy as Toronto.

- John Michael McGrath points out that the Ford PCs have chosen to maximize how much damage they do to the province in the name of satisfying base impulses, rather than paying any attention to the importance of programs and funding they're slashing. And Glen Pearson discusses the distinction between conservatism based on the preservation of institutions and values, and the current version built around lashing out in anger.

- Finally, Hassan Yussuff rightly argues that nobody should die for their job - even as over 1,000 Canadians do just that every year.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Pinky cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- James Murray highlights what climate protests have accomplished so far, while emphasizing the need to turn activism into policy change over the objections of the Very Serious People determined to dismiss climate action as impractical. And Kate Aronoff, Alyssa Battistoni, Daniel Aldana Cohen and Thea Riofrancos discuss how a Green New Deal can lead toward an updated set of fundamental freedoms. 

- Meanwhile, Marc Lee points out that instead of believe Andrew Scheer and Jason Kenney's bluster for a second, British Columbians should be aware that their increased gas prices are mostly the result of corporate profiteering - offering all the more incentive to avoid being at the mercy of a greedy fossil fuel sector.

- Richard Florida weighs in on the economic benefits of improved minimum wages, including positive wage spillover effects. And as a reminder of the health implications of a more fair economic system, a new NBER paper shows that higher minimum wages also correlate to reductions in suicides.

- But Robert Reich writes that the U.S.' political system has instead been used to enrich (and bail out) the wealthy few using the limited resources of the many.

- Finally, Geoff Dembicki calls out Scheer, Maxime Bernier and the other right-wing politicians who are try to tap into veins of hate in the name of self-aggrandizement.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Cory Booker rightly questions why corporations are hoarding the wealth created by the work of their employees. And Richard Reeves wonders why so many workers are left unable to find jobs with even remotely decent wages, particularly without signing over their lives in the process:
(I)he Great Recession also shone a light on trends long predating the downturn, not least in terms of stagnant wage growth for so many workers. By comparison with the postwar years, economic growth has been slow for the last few decades. At the same time, the transmission mechanism linking economic growth to the wages of workers appears to have broken. The share of income going to workers has dropped sharply, from 65% in 1974 to 57% in 2017.

In the last few years, as the zombie gradually wakes up, household incomes and wages have begun to nudge upwards – but families are still having to work more hours to get the income they need. Women are working more, and earning more (though the pay gap remains). But as men work less, and earn less, many families are simply standing still in economic terms. Since 1979, the median male wage in the US has dropped by 1.4% for white men – and by 9% and 8% for black and Hispanic men, respectively. Workers at the top of the earnings and education distribution have seen their paychecks continue to fatten: not so on the middle and bottom rungs of the labor market. Wage growth remains torpid in the middle of the distribution.

At the same time, the volatility of incomes at the bottom of the distribution has grown, in part because of shifts towards the so-called “gig economy”, intrinsically episodic, and in part because of the rise of unpredictable schedules. Most American workers are still paid by the hour, and half of them have no formal control over their schedules. Two in five hourly-paid workers aged between 26 and 32 know their schedules less than a week in advance. Hard to arrange childcare on that notice. Many American workers are fighting, like the trade unions of old, on two fronts: for money, and for time.

Why? Why, for so many for middle-class and working-class Americans has “economic growth become a spectator sport”, as the liberal economist Jared Bernstein memorably put it.
Whatever material gains workers managed to achieve came at the price of a profound loss of sovereignty. In her book Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It), philosopher Elizabeth Anderson argues that CEOs are the new totalitarians, who “think of themselves as libertarian individualists”, while acting in practice as “dictators of little communist governments”. We imagine ourselves free but effectively barter our freedom away in exchange for pay, effectively handing over our passports as we punch in.

What most people want is a job that pays a decent wage and offers both some satisfaction and security. The harsher critics of the system, like Anderson, believe that these goals are incompatible at a deep level with capitalist dynamics. But at least for some, especially for white men, market capitalism delivered pretty well for at least a generation. This is why it was so important to fight to crowbar the doors open for women and people of color. The progressive goal was not to curtail the market, but to open it.
- Liv Grant writes that her work on David Attenborough's climate change documentary has left her with an inescapable sense of climate anxiety. And Bob McDonald points out the increasing costs and risks of climate breakdown as feedback loops reinforce each other.

- Irina Ivanova discusses the new reality that wind and solar power are the U.S.' most affordable energy sources - at least when the fossil fuel lobby isn't actively obstructing their use. And CBC News reports on the Libs' latest plan to match any environmental protection with an equal and opposite step toward destruction, as they've opened up oil and gas drilling in a marine refuge off the east coast of Newfoundland while banning it in protected areas on the west coast.

- Finally, David Mowat responds to the short-sightedness of the Ford PCs by writing about the importance of investing in public health in order to prevent costly and avoidable harms. And Kate Haynes highlights the significance of the social determinants of health which are being ignored by Ford.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Derrick O'Keefe, Robert Hackett and Shane Gunster highlight how the TransMountain pipeline bailout and SNC-Lavalin scandal have cemented Justin Trudeau's status as a Potemkin progressive just in time for voters to hold him to account. And PressProgress offers a reminder that the amount of wealth being stashed offshore by corporate Canada continues to grow as the Libs dither on even basic steps to track and reverse the flow.

- Bill McKibben argues that we're at the point of lacking any choice but to taken urgent action to stop climate change, while Owen Jones muses that nationalizing the oil industry may be a necessary step along the road to decarbonizing our economy. David Rider reports that Toronto is among the jurisdictions looking at litigation to recover the costs of climate change from the people who have used it as a source of profit. Rachel Aiello reports that a shift from subsidizing fossil fuels to funding a transition to green energy is one of the NDP's top policy priorities. Rebecca Long-Bailey writes about UK Labour's push to declare a national climate emergency while leading an international movement toward a sustainable climate. And Kate Aronoff notes that a Green New Deal is part of Podemos' re-election campaign in Spain.

- Mattha Busby reports that UK employers are taking advance of Conservative loopholes by paying a record number of workers less than the minimum wage. And Hassan Yussuff offers a reminder of the need to ensure workers are safe on the job in the face of right-wing pushes to let employers endanger their employees.

- Finally, Adam Burns reports on the foreseeable social harms Ontario can anticipate from Doug Ford's determination to facilitate increased alcohol consumption.