Friday, November 01, 2019

Musical interlude

Royksopp - Running To The Sea

Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Stephen Mihm writes that among other positive outcomes, wealth taxes and other progressive tax options reliably produce a boost in life satisfaction for a large number of people (while having little impact on the positional interests of the ultra-rich against each other). And Derek Thompson is the latest to point out that the Republicans' giveaway to the wealthy - like other trickle-down plans - failed even at its core goal of getting people with concentrated wealth to invest it.

- Meanwhile, David Macdonald examines the distributional impact of the tax cut the Libs are treating as their top priority. And PressProgress notes that the choice to burn fiscal capacity on top-heavy tax baubles rather than social priorities is a pattern for the Libs.

- The AP reports on a large Keystone pipeline leak in North Dakota. And Nives Dolsak and Aseem Prakash warn that the promise of long-term employment from dirty fossil fuels is as illusory as the claim that they don't put the environment at unacceptable risk.

- Richard Zussman reports that rather than kicking the can down the road in setting emission reduction targets as the Libs and Cons have done so many times, British Columbia's NDP government is setting near-term targets to reach its 2030 goal.

- Finally, Dominic O'Sullivan offers some lessons on proportional representation based on New Zealand's experience - including as to how governance can be more stable when parties don't have an incentive to gamble on snap elections. Bob Rae has some ideas as to how a minority Parliament can produce positive results - though it doesn't seem that Justin Trudeau seems remotely interested in taking the hints. And Colin Walmsley and Peter Adamski point out that Canada's distorted electoral system only encourages regional grievances and divides, including the trumped-up warnings about western separatism.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

New column day

Here, on the problems with the Saskatchewan Party's mismanagement which deserve far more attention than Scott Moe's attempts to pick fights with the federal government for show - including the need to plan for a future in which fossil fuel extraction won't be the basis for a viable economy.

For further reading...
- Again, Sarath Pereis and Murray Mandryk have both commented on Moe's childish posturing against the federal government.
- CBC has reported on the high personal debt faced by Saskatchewan's residents. And Stephen Gordon's chart of mortgages in arrears shows that more people are underwater than at any time since the end and aftermath of the Devine years.
- Umair Irfan reports on the combination of planned blackouts and wildfires devastating California as one of the most obvious immediate consequences of the climate crisis.
- Finally, Jillian Ambrose reports on the emerging plans to fully power the world with offshore wind turbines, while Nicola Davis reports on developing technology which could allow electric vehicles to charge in minutes. Reuters takes note that Volkswagen is rapidly transitioning its production from combustion engines to electric based on the recognition that the former won't remain viable for long. And Noah Smith comments on the end of the oil age.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Justin Fox writes that there are plenty of options available to push for the wealthiest few to pay their fair share toward a functional and compassionate society. And Christine Berry discusses the need for a progressive plan of attack to fundamentally restructure our economy to serve the interests of people rather than plutocrats.

- Meanwhile, Thomas Walkom suggests that Doug Ford's backpedaling should include revisiting his attacks on Ontario workers. Both David Climenhaga and Graham Thomson point out some of the glaring flaws in Jason Kenney's attempt to maximize the pain inflicted on public sector workers in Alberta. And Steven Greenhouse theorizes that the success of a widespread GM strike may encourage more collective action by workers.

- Michael Harris writes that it's obvious why Andrew Scheer should be done as the Cons' leader - but far less clear whether the Cons will actually be interested in avoiding the same problems in choosing a replacement. And Peter Loewen and Michael Bernstein note that the Con's refusal to offer any viable climate policy may have been a major factor in their election loss.

- Finally, Scott Gilmore rightly questions whether it makes sense for Canada to be deepening its dependence on the U.S. when its administration has proven to be both capricious and incompetent around the globe.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Christopher Ingraham reports on the reality that extremely wealthy Americans are now paying lower systemic tax rates than workers. And Andrea Germanos writes that Michael Sayman is among the plutocrats calling for his own class to pay its fair share.

- Heather Mallick comments that the UCP is setting Alberta up for failure, while Max Fawcett discusses how Jason Kenney's budget is based on little more than a stubborn refusal to acknowledge a future which includes a transition away from fossil fuels. And Noah Smith notes that the oil age is coming to a rapidly-approaching end around the globe, while Jillian Ambrose reports on the ability of offshore wind turbines to fully power the world.

- Meanwhile, Rachel Level and Zach Goldstein point out how lower-income people are paying the price for the Trump administration's choice to side with the coal industry against climate science.

- Judith Sayers takes a look at what it will mean for British Columbia to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And the Yellowhead Institute examines (PDF) the reality of land dispossession in Canada, along with some of the options to remedy it.

- Finally, Laurie Monsebraaten reports on Ontario 360's call to treat people receiving social assistance with respect, rather than confronting them with the language and strategies of the prison system. But then, Jodi Viljoen and Gina Vincent write that an effective criminal justice strategy would also include less incarceration and more work on risk mitigation.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Contained cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Vrishti Beniwal writes about Abhijit Banerjee's call to put concentrated wealth to better social use by taxing it.

- Yutaka Dirks interviews Linda McQuaig about the corporate takeover of far more public wealth than is normally recognized. And Matt Coughlin discusses how Australia's wealthiest employers are fighting to exacerbate inequality by extracting thousands of dollars each year from every worker through an even more unbalanced bargaining system.

- Crawford Kilian highlights the true meaning of Jason Kenney's budget buzzwords and euphemisms. PressProgress sets out the massive cuts to health, education and all kinds of other public goods in order to partially fund Kenney's gigantic corporate tax giveaway. And Alicia Bridges reports on the efforts of community groups to point out the harm the Saskatchewan Party has done to housing supports before winter arrives.

- Finally, Tanya Talaga writes about British Columbia's progress in becoming the first Canadian jurisdiction to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee discuss the utter failure of corporate-driven "market" incentives to produce fair outcomes:
If it is not financial incentives, what else might people care about? The answer is something we know in our guts: status, dignity, social connections. Chief executives and top athletes are driven by the desire to win and be the best. The poor will walk away from social benefits if they come with being treated like a criminal. And among the middle class, the fear of losing their sense of who they are and their status in the local community can be an extraordinarily paralyzing force.

The trouble is that so much of America’s social policy has been shaped by three principles that ignore these facts; to fix it we need to start from there.
(W)e should not be unduly scared of raising taxes to pay for these projects. There is no evidence that it would disrupt the economy. This is, of course, a touchy subject politically: The idea of raising taxes on anyone but the very rich is not popular. So we should start with raising the rates on top income and adding a wealth tax, as many have proposed. The key then would be to link the added revenue to efforts like the ones we describe above, which would serve to slowly restore the legitimacy of the government’s efforts to help those in need. This will take time, but we have to start somewhere — and soon.
- Pearl Eliadis reviews Nathan Andrews and J. Andrew Grant's Corporate Social Responsibility and Canada’s Role in Africa’s Extractive Sectors, while noting that corporations and governments alike have been painfully eager to permit gross human rights abuses and environmental destruction in the name of profits abroad. And Rupert Neate reports on the increased demand for private jets as an indication as to how the ultra-rich are completely detached from the limitations facing most people.

- Markham Hislop looks at Husky's recent layoffs and automation - in the wake of massive tax giveaways - as a signal that there's no future in which the oil sector provides many good jobs. Which is to say that if green growth may not be an option in the short term, nor is there much reason to think pouring more money into dirty energy will actually produce results for workers either.

- Finally, Shifrah Gadamsetti discusses how Jason Kenney is slashing Alberta's future with massive cuts to education, while David Climenhaga points out the lack of any plausible need for the UCP's attacks on public services. Jason Warick reports on the new of undrinkable water in a brand-new North Battleford hospital as just another example of what comes from P3 projects. And Bartley Kives notes that trumped-up separatism is serving as a convenient distraction for Kenney, Scott Moe and other conservatives trying to avoid being called on their antisocial choices in government.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Jim Coyle lists a few of the lies voters tell themselves around election time. And the Angus Reid Institute counts the large number of voters who cast a ballot for a party they don't actually support - with the Trudeau Libs as the main beneficiary of begrudged ballots. 

- Luke Savage discusses how the NDP can build off a campaign in which substantial progress on policy discussions and leadership approval led to disappointing vote and seat totals. And Ed Broadbent offers his suggestions as to how the NDP can exert influence in a minority Parliament, while Stefan Avlijas writes that an essential element of the balance of power is strengthening left-wing parties so they're in a position to fight another election campaign at any time.

- Meanwhile, Roberto Rocha points out how a financing system requiring parties to fund-raise through a large number of relatively small donors has affected Canadian politics.

- Emma Gilchrist discusses what we can expect on environmental issues from the new Parliament. And Chris Hall writes about the regional fault lines within Canada's new group of MPs.

- Finally, Greta Moran discusses the value of public ownership of utilities such as power grids. And an even more widespread planned blackout which will leave millions of Californians without power only confirms how poorly people are served when profit motives conflict with essential needs.