Saturday, June 15, 2019

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board points out the gross dishonesty of Jason Kenney, Scott Moe and other spokesflacks for the oil sector who are looking to turn the slightest hint of consideration of the environment and Indigenous rights into grounds for a civil war. And Melanee Thomas discusses the dangers of deliberately inflaming anger over fabricated slights as a political strategy. 

- Meanwhile, Sharon Riley and Sarah Cox expose the massive amount of lobbying the oil industry poured into the unelected Senate to undermine any consideration of the public interest. And Riley also points out how the biggest oil companies and their executives are conspicuously avoiding the slump being used an excuse for attacks on public services and workers.

- Dominic Dudley reports on the continuing trend of fossil fuels becoming unaffordable compared to renewable alternatives. And in contrast, Brendan Haley writes about the opportunity for Canada to lead in the industries of the future by investing in green technology rather than a dying fossil fuel sector.

- Andrew Coyne notes that the Libs' recently-announced refusal to follow through on a necessary next phase of a carbon price can only be taken to signal that they're abandoning even Stephen Harper's emission reduction targets.

- Finally, Thomas Walkom writes that pharmacare makes sense now just as it did five-plus decades ago when it was included as part of Tommy Douglas' plan for medicare - meaning that it's long past time to implement a universal pharmacare system.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Luke Savage writes that the most compelling case for socialist policies is the importance of expanding on the unduly narrow definition of freedom offered by the right:
Socialists, on the other hand, have long understood that class stratification, poverty, and economic deprivation are in fact both created and necessitated by capitalism: imposed on the majority by the imperative to generate profits, cut labor costs, and commodify every aspect of life.

Real freedom therefore requires a whole lot more than the basic civil and political rights enshrined in a liberal constitutional order. It is simply not enough to be free from arbitrary coercion by other people or the state — true freedom also means independence from the dictates of the market: its bosses, its tycoons, its profiteers, its expropriation of the wealth workers collectively create.
Despite what generations of conservative economists and politicians have insisted, equality and freedom are in fact mutually interdependent — the former being an essential precursor to the latter and its natural and indispensable ally.

By advancing economic rights as the basis for freedom, Sanders is in essence turning the Right’s definition on its head. While there remains much more to be done, his campaign is laying the groundwork for a sweeping redefinition of the political and economic orthodoxies that have long dominated American society — and offering millions a richer and more textured definition of freedom than most have ever known.
- And Brandie Weikle reports on the stress faced by a crushing majority of Canadians due to worries about pay and money problems.

- Andrew MacLeod lists five things to know about a national pharmacare plan. But the most important point comes from David Macdonald and Toby Sanger: we can easily afford to fund it (and benefit from massive long-term benefits) through readily-available revenue sources.

- Meanwhile, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy offers a reminder that taxes targeted at the wealthiest few so their job both in raising revenue and smoothing out unacceptable inequality. And Brian Faler notes that conversely, tax cuts for the wealthy deliver none of the broad economic benefits that are usually promised as a pretext to cater to the rich.

- Finally, Sarmishta Subramanian points out how the underfunding of education exacerbates inequality. And David Baxter reports on how Saskatchewan's school divisions have reached their breaking point after years of cuts and arbitrary decrees by the Sask Party.

[Edit: fixed typo.]

Musical interlude

Craig Connelly feat. Roxanne Emery - This Life

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Thursday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- PressProgress offers its annual reminder not to be taken in by the Fraser Institute's anti-tax spin. And Robert Frank reports that support for a more fair tax system in the U.S. extends even to millionaires, a majority of whom approve of a wealth tax for fortunes above $50 million.

- Fiona Harvey writes about the continued growth in greenhouse gas concentrations to level never seen in human history. And Helen Briggs points out how all kinds of species ultimately suffer from a growing wave of plant extinctions, while Al Jazeera reports on the threat posed by warming oceans.

- Meanwhile, Gordon Laxer implores the Trudeau Libs not to waste any more public money on the Trans Mountain pipeline or other fossil fuel infrastructure. John Paul Tasker reports on the Parliamentary Budget Officer's conclusion that a federal carbon price needs to be doubled in order to meet even Stephen Harper's emission reduction targets. And Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood warns about Canada's backsliding on what were already pale excuses for action to avert a climate breakdown.

- Tabatha Southey discusses how the Scheer Cons are needlessly providing platforms for hate speech even while claiming to want nothing to do with it. And Doug Cuthand comments on the importance of recognizing genocide for what it is - and working on ensuring that we end it rather than perpetuating it. 

- Finally, Andray Domise offers a painfully apt summary of politics as practiced by the Libs:
Canada’s centrist Liberal party—for the millions of dollars it collects in donations, and the ability it has as a governing party to reshape our most pressing national issues such as housing policy, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, immigration and refugee policy, electoral reform and, of course, the environment—seems to find it completely out of its power to follow through on the political interests of the voters who elected it to begin with. For this party, politics is the aesthetics of hope, the promise of technocracy to solve our problems and the utter incapability of mustering the power to deliver on either within our lifetimes.

Politics, in other words, has long ceased to be the art of the possible for the Liberal Party. It is the art of procrastination, the art of kicking the can down the road, pledging that things will get better once we find an end to our endless crises, and simply trust that, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, we’re all in this together. Which raises the question: if the Liberal party were truly a corporate consulting firm operating under the auspices of party politics, how would its track record be any different?

New column day

Here, on how the developing issue of plastic pollution has brought out the worst in both PR-focused Liberals and regressive Conservatives alike.

For further reading...
- The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has discussed the growth of giant oceanic garbage patches. And Alyin Woodward reports on new research showing how microplastics are accumulating in even larger masses in deep ocean environments.
- Elizabeth Royte discussed the previous uncertainty as to how microplastics might affect humans, while Michelle Ghoussoub reports on new research from the University of Victoria showing how many microplastics we consume.
- The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has dealt with the plan to get to zero plastic waste here
- Charlie Smith previously reported on NDP MP Gord Johns' motion on ending marine plastic pollution, then offered that needed context for the Libs' announcement.
- CBC News reported on the Libs' recent announcement as well as Andrew Scheer's response.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Nick Hanauer discusses the futility of "educationism" which treats schools as the only factor in social outcomes without recognizing the importance of inequality and precarity in restricting opportunities for far too many children. And PressProgress points out that Brian Pallister's Manitoba PCs - in keeping with right-wing dogma - are determined to make matters worse for people already getting by with low incomes.

- Michael Spratt writes that Doug Ford's cuts to Legal Aid will end up costing more than they save (in addition to undermining outcomes in Ontario's justice system). Cory Coleman reports on the long-term damage being done by the Saskatchewan Party's failure to maintain the province's health facilities.

- David Climenhaga highlights how Canada's right has decided to pattern itself after Donald Trump in full, including by exhibiting an utter aversion to facts and proclivity for gaslighting. And PressProgress calls out Brad Wall (among other prominent Cons) for eagerly pushing climate denialism.

- Robert Reich argues that Elizabeth Warren's plan to revive the concept of industrial policy in the public interest offers a needed alternative to the corporatist view that the economy exists solely to serve the already-rich:
Smartness and openness go together. An open, explicit industrial policy becomes a national competitive strategy. A hidden industrial policy becomes a haven for political payoffs – a form of corporate welfare.

Which may be why big business in America killed off industrial policy in the 1980s. Such talk threatened to expose how much public money big business was raking in without doing anything in return.
Warren proposes enlarging federal research and development, and targeting it on leading technologies. These R&D investments would be “spread across every region of the country, not focused on only a few coastal cities”. The products that emerge would be built by American workers.

Her Green Manufacturing Plan proposes allocating $150bn annually for the next decade to renewable, green, American-made energy products, along with a dramatic expansion of worker training to ensure Americans have the skills for the anticipated new jobs.

It’s a national investment in our future. “Over the next decade, the expected market for clean energy technology in emerging economies alone is $23tn,” she explains.

It would also be good for the world. She calls for a Green Marshall plan, “dedicated to selling American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy technology abroad and a $100bn commitment to assisting countries to purchase and deploy this technology.”

As Trump erects tariff walls and rolls back federal efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, Elizabeth Warren is promoting a positive economic nationalism designed both to advance America’s workers and respond to one of the most profound crises confronting the world.
- Finally, Jim Bronskill reports on a directive allowing Canada's military to collect and use information about Canadians with minimal controls or oversight.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cats at rest.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Heather Mallick discusses the pattern of right-wing governments obsessing over undoing the good done by their predecessors, rather than paying the slightest attention to the public interest. And Mariana Mazzucato and Josh Ryan-Collins examine (PDF) about the importance of having leaders who work on building public value, rather than reacting only to perceived market failures.

- Matthew Yglesias points out that a contrast in views over public policy which further enriches the wealthy represents one of the most promising wedge issues to split votes away from the U.S. Republicans (not to mention an issue worth pursuing in its own right). David Coletto observes that a similar trend applies in Canada. And Kate Aronoff writes that regardless of any philanthropic contributions, an economic system which generates isolated billionaires rather than widespread power and prosperity is absolutely ill-suited to address the threat of a climate breakdown.

- Joe Vipond and Kim Perrotta highlight how climate change denial is making Albertans sick. James Riley notes that Jason Kenney and Doug Ford are missing the point as to the value of energy efficiency. And Gordon Laxer discusses how the Libs' multi-billion-dollar pipeline purchase and trade sellouts fit into a general lack of serious action to transition toward clean energy.

- Finally, Paige Towers points out how to reduce harmful noise pollution at an individual level. And the Globe and Mail's editorial board suggests that Canadian cities take the lead in turning down the volume at a municipal level.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Phil Dzikiy discusses how GE is already losing massive amounts of money due to its incorrect assumption that fossil fuels would be profitable. And Brad Plumer points out that far more corporations are recognizing the need to plan for the fallout from a climate breakdown in the very near future.

- Vik Adhopia reports on the work of researchers to ensure that eye drop dosages reflect what will actually make the best possible use of medications, after pharmaceutical corporations have chosen to instead encourage spillage and waste. And Cherise Seucharan reports on the NDP's plan to treat access to contraceptives as a basic need rather than a profit centre. 

- Bob Bell points out how the right-wing push toward more alcohol sales and consumption produces ill effects for public health and government budgets alike.

- Finally, Andrew Rawnsley writes about the disconnect between the UK's archaic first-past-the-post electoral system and the will of the public. And the NDP has unveiled its plan for electoral reform - featuring a commitment to implement a system of proportional representation, while building in a referendum once the public is in a position to judge its options from experience rather than reactionary fearmongering.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Angela Rayner writes about the distinction between limited social mobility and genuine social justice, while highlighting UK Labour's commitment to the latter:
(T)he role of our education system is not just about helping a lucky, talented few rise to the top, but about ensuring that everyone can realise their potential. People sometimes point to me as someone who had a difficult start but got on in life as evidence that anyone can succeed on their own. But actually my life shows the exact opposite. Any success I have had is thanks to Labour governments that provided the council house, minimum wage, tax credits and Sure Start children’s centre that enabled me to achieve it. 

 That is social justice. Not one person doing better than the people they grew up with, but all of us working together to give everyone the chance to reach their full potential. The very opposite of what the Tories believe or do. 

Focusing solely on social mobility not only disregards overall levels of inequality and poverty, but it implies that only a few talented people deserve to escape what they were born into, thereby legitimising the inequality that holds millions back.
We won’t stand for a society in which only a lucky few succeed while inequality and poverty hold back millions. We will focus on social justice, not just social mobility, to build a society in which everyone can develop their talented and succeed regardless of their background.  
- Robert Kennedy writes about the latest climate breakdown scenarios from the Breakthrough National Center for Climate Restoration. And David Climenhaga points out that it's essential for health care workers (and others) to point out the effects of climate change in their areas of work and expertise, rather than accepting instructions to ignore the widespread effects of our climate crisis.

- Amanda Garris reports on the new revelations about the severe underestimation of methane gas emissions from the fertilizer industry. And Natan Obed discusses how Inuit people stand to face some of the most severe results of a climate breakdown, while Doyle Rice points out the number of heat-related deaths in the U.S. which will only be exacerbated by further climate deterioration.

- Finally, Leyland Cecco reports on the latest from the UN special rapporteur on toxic chemicals who has pointed out how Canada has chosen to ignore Indigenous rights by subjecting First Nations to toxic pollutants. Chris Arsenault exposes Titan Minerals' environmental violations in Peru (which appear to have been ignored until they became useful for corporate machinations). And Elizabeth Weise reports on the damage to our oceans from plastic pollution which goes far beyond readily-observable garbage patches.