Saturday, October 05, 2019

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Jeff Spross discusses the effectiveness of a wealth tax both in generating revenue, and in reducing inequality. David Leonhardt notes that a wealth tax will actually boost the economy by putting to use assets which are otherwise idle (if not being used for outright counterproductive purposes). And Jonathan Ruga and Scott Young write that they and many other wealthy people recognize the need for higher taxes on those who can most afford to pay them.

- Bob Weber reports on Clean Energy Canada's study showing how clean energy projects to create far more future employment than fossil fuels. And Sandy Garossino's must-read report examines the utter lack of a basis in fact for Jason Kenney's conspiracy theories about environmental activism.

- Meanwhile, Drew Anderson takes the closest look we've yet been offered at the UCP's rigged leadership race - and the inclusion of high-ranking provincial and federal politicians in Kenney's scheme.

- Ed Broadbent writes that in an election where many parties are seeking to divide based on race and region, the NDP is leading the way in running a slate of candidates which reflects the full diversity of Canada. And Pamela Palmater points out the importance of recognizing and countering the interrelationship between individual and systemic racism.

- Finally, Garima Talwar Kapoor and Elizabeth McIsaac compare the tax tinkering on offer from the Libs and Cons, but ultimately recognize that both promises serve mostly to shovel money to relatively well-off families while neglecting the people who most need help.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Musical interlude

Kaskade feat. Skylar Grey - Room for Happiness

Thursday, October 03, 2019

New column day

Here, on the echoes of previous campaigns in Canada's federal election - including the possibility that the 1972 minority government scenario might be the best outcome of all.

For further reading...
- The column's discussion of public impressions of leaders is based on recent polling from Forum and Angus Reid  - with the latter also showing the NDP's strong opportunities for growth as a current second choice.
- Meanwhile, Duncan Cameron has also mused about the possibility of a minority government, while also pointing out the lack of a defining narrative so far. And John Ivison notes that the NDP's campaign against corporate excess represents another parallel between this year's election and that of 1972. 

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Tom Rand and Mike Andrade point out that the Alberta tar sands wouldn't be sustainable economically even if people ignored their environmental effects. Bruce Livesey offers a reminder that Andrew Scheer's plans are built entirely around favouring dirty oil at the expense of other industries and future generations. And Sharon Riley talks to some of the workers already making the transition from the oil patch to the renewable energy sector.

- Meanwhile, Eric Roston reports on reduced river flows around the world as another alarming byproduct of a deteriorating climate and a propensity to overuse natural resources. Trevor Hancock points out that we can't ignore how those same factors threaten our planet's biodiversity. And Tom Phillips reports on the Bolsonaro-backed land raids attempting to violently drive Indigenous people from their homes and expose the Amazon for exploitation.

- Andrew Jackson comments on the Greens' odd juxtaposition of promising massive spending, while simultaneously fixating on balancing the budget to a greater extent than any other party this side of the PPC.

- David Hulchanski examines (PDF) the context for decisions about Canadian housing policy, including both a low rate of current taxation and revenue generation, and a set of subsidies distinctly weighted toward ownership rather than rental housing.

- Finally, Haydn Watters takes a look at the electoral reform plans on offer in Canada's federal election.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Paul Krugman writes that complaints by the U.S.' wealthiest few about Elizabeth Warren reflect their insistence that extreme wealth be coupled with absolute and unquestioned power:
The point is that many of the superrich aren’t satisfied with living like kings, which they will continue to do no matter who wins next year’s election. They also expect to be treated like kings, lionized as job creators and heroes of prosperity, and consider any criticism an unforgivable act of lèse-majesté.

And for such people, the prospect of a Warren presidency is a nightmarish threat — not to their wallets, but to their egos. They can try to brush off someone like Bernie Sanders as a rabble-rouser. But when Warren criticizes malefactors of great wealth and proposes reining in their excesses, her evident policy sophistication — has any previous candidate managed to turn wonkiness into a form of charisma? — makes her critique much harder to dismiss.

If Warren is the nominee, then, a significant number of tycoons will indeed go for Trump; better to put democracy at risk than to countenance a challenge to their imperial self-esteem.
- John Michael McGrath discusses how a combination of arbitrary privatization and governmental heel-dragging has resulted in it taking far more time and trouble than necessary to build public infrastructure. Bryan Eneas reports on the Regina schools which are far over capacity due to the Saskatchewan Party's poor planning and underfunding.

- Thomas Walkom puts the Libs' costly tax tinkering in perspective by comparing it to the puny sums on offer for major social priorities. And Jonathon Gatehouse notes that Andrew Scheer's bombast against foreign aid is as inaccurate as it is dehumanizing.

- Finally, Owen Jones writes that we shouldn't be fooled by calls for both-sides "civility" as a response to organized violence and hatred by the right.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Costumed cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Suzanne Moore is encouraged that Greta Thunberg is challenging - and upsetting - a privileged male ruling class. Jennifer Ellen Good picks up on Thurberg's theme that an obsession with growth at the expense of sustainability can only lead to disaster. And Ricochet documents the UN speech of Autumn Peltier - whose message is every bit as compelling as Thunberg's, even if she hasn't received the same notice yet.

- Cameron Fenton writes that we should follow on the inspiration of last week's climate strikes by electing genuine climate leaders. And Nsikan Akpan highlights how the world's worst carbon polluters need to reduce their harm to our planet - with Canada's refusal to transition away from fossil fuel extraction representing the area where we most need to change.

- Jim Stanford offers a preview of the results of Con-style climate policy, as Australia's equivalent has led to massive emission increases (after a carbon price had produced some actual reductions). And John Paul Tasker notes that Andrew Scheer has yet to develop any clue how to deal with the climate protestors trying to alert him to the essential challenge of our time. 

- Laurie Monsebraaten reports on a new study showing the $33 billion cost of poverty in Ontario alone. And Colin McClelland notes the financial precarity facing an increasing majority of Canadians.

- Finally, Justin Ling writes about the strong evidence supporting the decriminalization of drugs - representing another area in which the limited distinction between the Libs and Cons masks the need for far more radical action than either can be bothered to consider.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Grace Blakeley writes that class politics are making a sorely-needed return, raising the prospect that people might again start to make gains against corporate forces:
The reemergence of class politics is not a fad; it is a response to the material conditions created by the collapse of finance-led growth. After a recession caused by the reckless greed of the few was followed by an austerity programme that sought to impose the clean-up costs on the many, it is more obvious than ever that the wealth and power of the elite comes at the expense of everyone else. Or, to paraphrase Bernie Sanders, there has been a class war in this country for a long time – it’s time the working class won it.

In this new political context, economic policy is no longer a question of tinkering around the edges of a stable model: economic policy today is about power. As I argue in my new book, this is the moment for working people to seize back control of our most important institutions and rebalance power away from capital and towards labour.

The only way to bring about such a shift is to promote state, worker and community ownership of society’s most important resources. In an economy in which ownership is mediated by the finance sector, this requires a socialist government to take on the banks the way Thatcher took on the unions.

Finance-led growth emerged because its advocates used their control over the state to smash the organised power of working people and convince them that capitalism had won, once and for all. As the finance sector became ever more powerful, and the alternatives to capitalism faded further from view, it became extremely difficult to believe that there could be another way to organise the economy. Today, the greatest challenge for the left is to remind people that history isn’t over, that capitalism hasn’t won, and that we still have the power to change the world.
- Emma Teitel points out how Greta Thunberg and other climate activists are rightly forcing people to pay attention to devastating climate risks.

- But Fatima Syed and Emma McIntosh report that the forces who brought the world such catastrophes as Brexit and the Trump presidency are trying to push Canadian voters to accept continued negligence. And Charlie Smith writes that the Libs and Cons alike are serving their wealthy donors and patrons by trying to keep any option to transition away from fossil fuel extraction off the ballot, while Linda McQuaig calls out Justin Trudeau in particular for throwing money at pipelines while refusing to invest in clean transportation.

- Finally, Naheed Nenshi writes that Trudeau's history of blackface shouldn't draw our attention away from the ongoing and deliberate hatred being stoked in the federal election campaign. And Desmond Cole, Azeezah Kanji and Amar Wala go into detail about how racism is still reflected in public policy.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Gary Mason worries that Canada has become so accustomed to prioritizing fossil fuels over the habitability of our planet as to make impossible any action to avert a climate crisis:
(H)ere we are, more than a third of the way through the campaign, and there is nary a courageous, groundbreaking climate initiative in sight. Instead, the Liberals ended the week announcing measures to help make homes more energy efficient. While the time we have to mitigate the widespread damage a warming planet will cause evaporates before our eyes, we argue about the need for new pipelines. The debate around energy and the environment has become so caustic, so toxic, that our political leaders can’t even be honest with us.

There is no better example of this than when Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said at a town hall event in Peterborough in January, 2017, that while he couldn’t shut down the oil sands immediately, “we need to phase them out, we need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels.” It should not have been a controversial statement because it’s true. And yet, politicians in Alberta (and many citizens, too) lost their minds, accusing the Mr. Trudeau of betraying them, of forging a plan to rob thousands of people of their livelihoods. A few days later, Mr. Trudeau tried to undo the damage, saying that he “misspoke” – the oil sands would not be going anywhere soon, he assured Canadians.

I think that may have been the moment I decided meaningful climate policy in Canada was doomed. If a federal leader couldn’t even say what we know to be true – that we need to transition off of fossil fuels soon – then what hope was there of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the level we must, in the limited time we have?
Audits that have been conducted on the Liberals’ climate plan to date have suggested they are going to fall well short of their goals. Since the government introduced its first climate plan in 2016, it has purchased a pipeline and approved a massive liquefied natural gas project in B.C. It says it has put a cap on oil sands emissions of 100 megatonnes annually, but has refused to impose or insist on regulations to ensure that happens. There is also no schedule in place in which the cap begins to decline – a necessity.

By some estimates, at the current trajectory, emissions just from oil and gas production will be 80 per cent of Canada’s total emissions by 2050. Even by 2030, they are forecast to be 47 per cent off our total emissions output.

“We’d have to ban all fossil-fuel-car sales and stop all heating by gas in the country right now under that scenario and we’d probably still couldn’t meet our targets,” says Tzeporah Berman of, a grassroots environmental organization headquartered in San Francisco.

When it comes to meeting our Paris obligations, we are having a completely dishonest conversation.
- Aaron Wherry notes that voters are being offered multiple parties talking about combating climate change - though the details are crucial to putting those sentiments into practice. And Canadians for Tax Fairness points out that more equitable tax system can also help contribute to reining in climate change.

- Bob Weber reports on the dangers facing Canadian water supplies due to a climate breakdown. And Rebecca Leber offers a reminder that the effects of climate change on oceans go far beyond rising sea levels.

- Finally, PressProgress exposes the funding behind "Canada Proud" from anti-labour employers who are simultaneously lobbying against the use of Canadian steel.