Saturday, August 03, 2019

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The New York Times' editorial board highlights how many of the people looking to defend a habitable planet from environmental destruction are being met with state-assisted violence in response. And Oxfam examines how Australian mining companies are exploiting west Africa to the tune of billions of dollars of resources without any benefit going to citizens.

- AnnaMaria Andriotis, Ken Brown and Shane Shifflett discuss the plight of families borrowing more and more to give the appearance of keeping up a middle-class lifestyle which can't be supported by their income. And Raina Delisle examines the practical difficulties facing parents trying to get by at the poverty line.

- Margot Roosevelt reviews Steven Greenhouse's Beaten Down, Worked Up as highlighting the accomplishments of unions in checking corporate abuses - and the need for a strengthened labour movement to continue that role. 

- Simon Enoch comments on the long-term cost of P3s which is all too eagerly foisted on future generations by short-sighted and self-serving politicians. Dan Planeto takes note of the Sask Party's constant privatization of Saskatchewan's public services. And Vaughn Palmer writes about the need for far more investigation into the B.C. Libs' giveaway of public lands to developers who haven't even bothered to pay the cut-rate sticker price.

- Finally, James MacLeod writes that Canada's grossly inefficient enforcement mechanisms make it far too easy for businesses to avoid compensating citizens for severe privacy breaches.

Musical interlude

Seven Lions feat. Davey Havok - December

Friday, August 02, 2019

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Ainslie Cruickshank reports on new polling showing that most Canadians support a transition to a clean energy economy even without having received much information about the path to get there. And Yvonne Hanson writes that a Green New Deal will only work if it pushes us toward both social and environmental justice:
In order to make climate solutions realistically achievable, we must first address the social barriers that stand in the way of making them happen. If people can’t afford climate-friendly alternatives, we must raise wages and invest in social welfare to put more money in their pockets so that they can afford to factor environmental costs into the cost-benefit analysis they perform when deciding what to buy. If people are driving their cars to work instead of taking transit, we must invest in a robust public transit system that incentivizes them to leave the car at home by making it faster and cheaper to get to work via transit.
Put simply, the GND is a package of policy changes that would affect almost every aspect of Canada’s economy. The goal is to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs by using federal funds to stimulate the development of postcarbon social, economic, and physical infrastructure. Retraining fossil fuel industry workers, subsidizing the transition to renewable energy, funding community and co-op driven climate action projects, empowering Indigenous leadership, and guaranteeing fair wages, adequate low-carbon housing, and a robust social safety net for everyone financially affected by the transition away from fossil fuels.

Essentially, the GND would fund the transition to a postcarbon economy and mitigate the economic fallout that working class people may experience as a result of the transition. Climate action must create jobs for working people; no one can be left behind in the shift to a postcarbon economy.
- Simon Lewis warns against counting on sucking carbon emissions out of the air as a substitute for the steps we need to take toward a clean energy economy.

- Erica Alini reports on the continued concentration of wealth in Canada both within and across generations. And Steve Wamhoff writes that any claim about difficulty in collecting wealth taxes appears to be little more than self-serving spin on the part of the rich who don't want to pay their fair share.

- Thara Kumar discusses the need for additional investments in our public health care system, rather than a belief that for-profit corporate providers and individual self-funding represent the only option to add to our existing capacity. And Tammie Sutherland reports that Doug Ford's decree that students need to claim credits outside of school in order to graduate will only serve as a cash cow for corporate credit mills.

- Finally, Chris Selley writes about Ontario's miserable turn on the Lib-Con merry-go-round, as Ford wasted no time in matching the corruption of his ejected predecessors.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Kate Lyons points out the health effects of our climate breakdown, including childhood deaths and the stunting of growth. Pheobe Weston reports on research showing that new heat waves are pushing temperatures past what the human body can handle. And Matthew Yglesias notes that even in the absence of the destruction of our planet's climate, we'd have reason to move away from fossil fuels due to their other harms to health and well-being:

- Linda McQuaig offers a reminder that the foreign influence we should be concerned about is the money behind big oil (which is throwing its weight around as the federal election approaches). And Barry Saxifrage reports that we're still increasing the burning of fossil fuels, even as the resulting dangers are clear and alternatives have been developed.

- Meanwhile, Avi Lewis highlights why a Green New Deal is entirely practical and achievable if we put our minds to it. And Damian Carrington notes that according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, just a small fraction of the money now used to subsidize dirty fuel could fully fund a transition to clean energy.

- Will Davies discusses the alliance of rentiers behind Boris Johnson's assumption of power in the UK - and its plans to exploit Brexit at the expense of the public. 

- Finally, Tanya Talaga asks what it will take for Canada to finally and fully end the longstanding water crisis in Indigenous communities.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

This and that for your mid-week reading.

- Noah Smith writes about the unfairness and inaccuracy in blaming people for finding themselves in poverty. And Sarah Kaine and Emmanuel Josserand call out the business sector's concerted efforts to normalize and spread systematic wage theft.

- Joelle Gergis points out that our climate is deteriorating at a rate which is alarming even to the scientists who have been monitoring it for decades. Geoff Dembicki discusses how Alberta can transition away from a dirty energy economy while ensuring plenty of work is available for people now stuck relying on fossil fuel extraction for work. And CBC News reports on British Columbia's plan to replace its entire bus fleet with electric vehicles.

- Meanwhile, Alden Wicker notes that removing water from products as packaged and sold could go a long way toward eliminating unnecessary waste.

- Finally, in an observation which echoes into Canada's federal election campaign, Bhaskar Sunkara discusses the difference between the ambitious plans of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and the "no we can't" group of Democratic presidential candidates.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Blanketed cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- CBC News highlights how cost-of-living issues look to play a key role in Canada's federal election. And Jerry-Lynn Scofield points out that current asset valuations and economic assumptions are based on an entirely unsustainable combination of public, private and corporate debt loads.

- Adam Ramsay calls attention to Boris Johnson's government of lobbyists looking to ensure Brexit serves the interests of their wealthy clients. Christian Paas-Lang examines the well-connected donors serving up maximum contributions to both the Libs and Cons. And David Dayen discusses the need for progressive parties to highlight the corruption at the core of gross imbalances of wealth and power.

- Meanwhile, Douglas Belkin reports that the schemes rich Americans are using to game the education financing system include assigning guardianship of children to less wealthy relatives to position them to access financial aid.

- Douglas Todd reports on the employer-driven importation of temporary foreign workers in order to suppress wages and working standards. And PressProgress exposes the federal government's active promotion of pay as low as $3 per hour in the agri-food sector as part of an attempt to woo particularly exploitative employers.

- Finally, the Star-Phoenix and Leader-Post editorial boards discuss the importance of fighting poverty in order to prevent crime.

Monday, July 29, 2019


The effect of the perpetual fear of falling downwards on ideology:
As far as there are forces at play that push job losers to the right of the ideological spectrum, these forces appear trumped by other pressures that pull job losers to the left. Indeed, while we do observe many people who revise their ideology to the right during our study window, these rightward shifts do not seem directly driven by job loss experiences. This finding aligns well with other recent work suggesting that the success of right-wing populist parties is primarily fuelled by fears of economic hardship, as opposed to actual experiences of economic hardship. If anything, actual hardship seems to first and foremost trigger a leftward ideological shift.
The Libs' position on the desirability of a perpetual fear of falling downwards:
Finance Minister Bill Morneau says Canadians should get used to so-called "job churn" — short-term employment and a number of career changes in a person's life.
And when asked about precarious employment the finance minister told delegates that high employee turnover and short-term contract work will continue in young people's lives, and the government has to focus on preparing for it.

"We also need to think about, 'How do we train and retrain people as they move from job to job to job?' Because it's going to happen. We have to accept that," Morneau said during a question-and-answer session.
Canada's Libs: fuelling the rise of right-wing populism, one demand that we continually accept less at a time.

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Bob Rivett highlights the fact that climate protesters are motivated by the desire to save our world from the reckless corporations and politicians who are prepared to sacrifice it for short-term gain. The Associated Press reports that Chile's coast is the site of the latest uncontained oil spill, while Jimmy Thomson takes note of Constantine North's plans to contaminate Alaska's environment. Leah Stokes writes about Ohio's appalling combination of dirty fossil fuel bailouts and relaxed emission requirements. And Tom Phillips reports on Jair Bolsonaro's determination to destroy the Amazon and the Indigenous people who inhabit it.

- Jonathon Gatehouse fact-checks the NDP's climate change plan and finds that it's entirely possible to deliver the 300,000 jobs in the process of transitioning to a sustainable society. And in contrast, Andrew Leach points out the implausible (and indeed outright contradictory) claims behind Elizabeth May's energy plans.

- Stephen Leahy points out the environmental dangers - and other avoidable difficulties - created by the spread of clamshell plastic packaging.

- Wanda Thomas Bardnard writes that prisons are only exacerbating the problems they're supposed to solve by failing to prepare residents for their eventual release.

- And finally, PressProgress warns that the UCP's attacks on social programs include slashing funding for school breakfasts to hungry children.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sunday Morning LInks

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- James Cairns discusses why socialism is seeing a resurgence in popularity, particularly among younger citizens who see little reason for hope in politics as usual:
Occupy Wall Street popularized the language of the 99 per cent and the 1 per cent as a way of explaining class inequality. The 2012 Quebec student strike declared that "Education is a Right" while beating back a 75 per cent tuition hike. Bernie Sanders is campaigning for a "political revolution" that would end the power of corporate interests over public policy. Allied movements, such as Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, and Extinction Rebellion, while not explicitly socialist, fuel shifts in politics-as-usual.

These activist groups are doing socialist education on a mass scale. By their words and deeds, movements are giving people concrete reasons to believe in jobs with fair wages, cities built on affordable housing, the end of student debt, clean air and water for everyone.

Filmmaker and author Astra Taylor describes the despair of so many young people facing precarious employment, insecure housing, and crushing debt. She says the reason so many of these people are organizing for socialism is that "socialism would feel like having a future."
- But in case there was any doubt how many obstacles stand in the way of a fairer future, Shawn Gude interviews Matthew Lacombe about the stealth political control exercised by a few billionaires. And Peter Pomerantsev writes about the massive piles of disinformation being used to confuse and confound voters. 

- Paul Krugman offers a reminder that how corporate tax giveaways ultimately end up transferring massive amounts of wealth to foreign investors.

- The Economist writes that the environment currently looks to be the key ballot box issue for Canadian voters. David Suzuki discusses the dangers of recklessly producing and disposing of fossil fuel-basded plastics. And Sharon Riley offers some needed background on the Teck Frontier tar sands mine which has been recommended for approval despite the certainty that it will cause massive environmental damage even beyond its contribution to climate breakdown.

- Finally, Colby Cosh highlights why the latest bleatings about Alberta separatism don't deserve to be taken seriously.