Saturday, June 01, 2019

On crisis acting

Shorter Brad Wall, Distinguished Statesman:

Never mind the facts about my trumped-up grievances, I demand that we break up the country in order to burn down the world!

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The NDP has released its Power to Change climate plan, including steps to create green jobs and give effect to Indigenous rights while meeting emission reduction targets needed to contribute to the international fight against climate breakdown. And Christo Aivilis offers his first impressions, while Jolson Lim focuses on the plan for fare-free, zero-emission public transit which would combine substantial environmental benefits with improvements in affordability for the people who need it most. 

- Meanwhile, Sean Holman implores the media to start treating the climate crisis as an emergency. And David Roberts points out how California has managed to make substantially more progress on energy efficiency than the rest of the U.S., while also examining the lack of a reasonable basis to push natural gas expansion as a "bridge" to a clean energy economy. 

- Kim Samuel notes that a higher nominal GDP isn't actually leading to improved well-being for the people being told that everything's fine. Anne Gaviola highlights how an undue obsession with homeownership results in both poor policy choices, and financial stresses on younger workers feeling social pressure to pursue it. And Zi-Ann Lum reports that Canadian life expectancies are stagnating due to an opioid crisis created by predatory capitalists. 

- Brian Merchant argues that we shouldn't blame faceless technology for job losses when it's the choice of executives to push workers out the door. Terri Gerstein reports on Colorado's steps to crack down on wage theft rather than taking it as a given that unscrupulous employers will get away with denying pay to their workers. And PressProgress points out that Jason Kenney is doing the bidding of his corporate masters by slashing wages and overtime pay and placing obstacles in the way of unionization.

- Finally, Quentin Fottrell writes about the connection between social class, overconfidence and undue advantages in employment.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Musical interlude

Now, Now - Set It Free

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Joseph Stiglitz points out the need to move beyond neoliberalism and offers a useful policy framework to do so - though framing an alternative as "progressive capitalism" cedes far more ground than necessary in continuing to prioritize capital over social well-being.

- The Economist examines how increasing numbers of Americans are acknowledging the climate crisis in the face of extreme weather events. But Heide Pearson reports that right-wing governments are still sticking with denial, as the UCP for one isn't particularly concerned with the people losing their homes and communities to climate disasters. Mitchell Anderson reminds us that Jason Kenney's top priority is only to accelerate the harm done by a substantially-unregulated fossil fuel sector. And George Monbiot highlights how the Trump administration's propaganda campaign is a planetary version of exactly the language used to persuade people to harm their own lungs by smoking.

- Harvey Cashore reports on another secret settlement in which wealthy KPMG clients avoid not only prosecution, but even public awareness of their deceptive tax evasion schemes. PressProgress points out the connections between the Aquilini family, the gross abuse of workers, and the funneling of money to the B.C. Liberals. And Robert Fife and Steven Chase expose an arrangement in which the federal government ensures that Irving Shipbuilding gets notified of any attempt by journalists to investigate its public contracts.

- Finally, Jean Swanson suggests that if Vancouver is willing to proclaim basic freedoms for animals, it should certainly be prepared to do the same (and couple it with action) to ensure a reasonable standard of living for all people.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

New column day

Here, on how Justin Trudeau has gone from counterweight to lapdog in dealing with the Trump administration.

For further reading...
- Teresa Wright reported on the crackdown on refugees in the Libs' omnibus budget bill. And Karl Nerenberg called out Trudeau's pandering to anti-refugee prejudice.
- Kelly Crowe reports on Canada's role among the countries trying to suppress accurate information about pharmaceutical profits.
- Janice McGregor examines the fine print of the much-ballyhooed - but little-scrutinized - deal to temporarily remove tariffs on steel and aluminum.
- Peter Zimonjic and Katie Simpson report on the Libs' fast-tracking of Trump's version of a revised NAFTA.
- Finally, the Council of Canadians expresses its own concern about Trudeau's willingness to do Trump's bidding.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jeff Stein reports on Bernie Sanders' plans to transfer power from capital to people. And PressProgress highlights the Saskatchewan Party's continued reliance on corporate funding from outside the province.

- Ron Walter recognizes that Scott Moe's carbon tax posturing is purely a matter of politics rather than any rational policy. Luke O'Neil reports on the Trump administration's push to take carbon cultism to new depths. And Kim Phillips-Fein points out how discussion of the Green New Deal in the U.S. has been met with reactionary Republican rhetoric at its worst.

- Meanwhile, both S. Clay Steell and Emma Jackson and Paige Gorsak make the case for a Green New Deal as a necessary alternative to continued petro-politics in Alberta.

- Brendan Frank writes that any talk about "innovation" in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is utterly meaningless in the absence of meaningful targets to pursue. And Richard Perez and Karl Rabago suggest that the path toward a full transition to renewable energy involves overbuilding renewable generation rather than relying more than necessary on storage.

- Finally, Gloria Galloway reports on the obstruction by Conservative senators against the effective implementation of Indigenous rights in Canada - which of course says far more about the Cons' real attitude toward minority groups than Andrew Scheer's empty words.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Close cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Peter Eavis points out how U.S. CEOs are only seeing their exorbitant pay soar even further due to Donald Trump's tax giveaways. Kara Swisher interviews Anand Giridharadas about how "philanthropists" are bribing the public with small parts of the obscene concentrations money they've extracted from society at large.

- James Kurz highlights how the Trudeau Libs and a number of provincial governments are basing their climate policy on the perverse hope that Canada will fall far short of doing its share to avert the global climate crisis. Barry Saxifrage points out the distinction between the balance of Canada which is somewhere close to meeting its Copenhagen targets, and Alberta and Saskatchewan which are entirely undoing any progress - though it's worth noting that the federal government has chosen to emphasize continued oil development rather than administering a system capable of reaching our national targets. And the Associated Press reports on the deforestation of the Amazon which is only making matters worse.

- Meanwhile, Mia Rabson reports on the Greens' odd position that they're eager to see new fossil fuel infrastructure built as long as any development is done on a sufficiently nationalistic basis. Michael Laxer calls out the Cons for a literal scorched-earth policy on climate change. And Andrew Coyne offers a reminder that the only argument against carbon pricing is bare climate denial.

- Finally, Christo Aivalis offers an apparently-necessary reminder of the legitimacy of coalition governments:

Monday, May 27, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- CBC examines the obscene corporate subsidies doled out by Canadian governments - with Alberta ranking as the worst offender even as it also takes in less revenue than other provinces. And Jeff Gray reports on the growing gap between Doug Ford's budget promises and the revenue available to keep them - even as he hastily backtracks on a few of his most antisocial cuts.

- Meanwhile, Michael Ungar points out how resilience depends on social supports, rather than being a matter of individual choice or merit as it's so often portrayed.

- Murray Mandryk discusses the Saskatchewan Party's telling refusal to evaluate the effect of its much-criticized "lean" program imposed on the province's health care system - as well as the research confirm that it was an utter waste.

- Stuart Trew highlights how spin about "Good Regulatory Practices" in the new NAFTA serves only to limit the ability of governments to act in the interest of citizens and workers. 

- Finally, Andrew Coyne points out that the unelected Senate's interference in bills dealing with preventing oil spills and ensuring effective environmental assessments represents just another instance of obsolete political structures thwarting the will of Canadian voters.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Jo Davies points out the widespread recognition that Canadian corporations need to pay their fair share for a functional society. And Eric Levitz notes that Donald Trump and other right-wing pseudo-populists are ensuring the opposite, as the IRS has stopped any meaningful enforcement action against the wealthy since Trump and the Republicans have been in a position to direct its actions.

- Tom Parkin points out the profound impact activism can have in changing and saving lives. And Dave Meslin discusses the need to tear down our current political structures in order to build a sustainable society:
What if the greatest challenges of our time can’t be solved by our current political system at all? Indeed, what if the greatest challenges of our time are a direct result of our decaying political system? The symptoms are clear: Legislatures have descended into mob-driven battlegrounds. Centralized power within parties has transformed our elected representatives into trained seals who clap or jeer on cue, voting as they’re told. Growing cynicism and frustration among voters are leading to lower and lower levels of political participation. Corporate lobbyists continue to wield enormous influence. And we are constantly facing fishtail legislation: the absurd reality that each new government spends their first year in office undoing whatever the previous government had done.

None of this serves the public interest. In fact, all of it is holding us back from what we are capable of.
The first step is to overcome our fear of using words such as “rigged” or "broken” to describe our political state. There’s a concern that attacking our democratic institutions only serves to empower extremist ideologues. But the opposite is true. When we turn a blind eye to the need for radical change, it’s those very extremist leaders who happily take advantage of the vacuum and use it for their own purposes. We’ve seen the electoral results of this.

It’s time to change course. Pretending that that we can use our current political ecosystem to bring about meaningful change is not only negligent, it’s a guaranteed recipe for environmental suicide.

We need a political uprising of passionate activists and leaders, prepared to prescribe and implement surgical interventions that will change the tone, shape and nature of power. Ours is a battle for inclusive governance, for deliberative and thoughtful decision-making and for elections that offer real choice and representative results. It’s a fight to inject some humanity into our democracy, for a new culture of political engagement and for decentralized and participatory local government, throwing open the doors to a system that is currently designed as an insider’s game.
- Joel French writes about the need for Alberta to pay attention to both its own youth and the rest of the world, rather than wrongly assuming that it can rely indefinitely on expiring industries without a plan to transition to a modern economy. And Carol Kroeger comments on the shortsightedness of ruling out - and demonizing - any carbon pricing as one of the means of averting a total climate breakdown. 

- Finally, Shael Polakow-Suransky writes about the need to ensure early childhood education in order to ensure that every child has a fair chance in life. And Sandra Black, Paul Devereux, Petter Lundborg and Kaveh Majlesi highlight how wealth disparities are passed on between generations.