Saturday, November 09, 2019

Saturday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- David Jones writes about the important benefits enjoyed by workers as the result of the efforts of the labour movement. And Arindrajit Dube studies the international effects of minimum wage increases, finding that they consistently improve lower-end wages while having little effect on job numbers.

- Meanwhile, Graeme Orr points out how Australia's government is misusing state power to silence the public in criticizing or boycotting exploitative corporations. And the Canadian Press reports on a new study making the seemingly obvious point that miners should be required to ensure they can pay to clean up their messes before being allowed to put the environment at risk.

- Catherine Carstairs hopes that a minority Parliament will be the impetus for Canada to finally move toward universal pharmacare.

- James Glave highlights how new building regulations are producing important reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. And the Star's editorial board calls for an end to heel-dragging in eliminating lead from Canada's drinking water.

- Finally, Mitch Potter writes that any Western separation movement lacks any basis in reality. PressProgress takes a look at what the people behind "Wexit" also stand for publicly - including explicit racial and gender discrimination. And David Parkinson offers a much-needed reminder that the rest of Canada has been asked to sacrifice to goose oil industry profits in the past - only to have the recipients of that sacrifice now making ill-informed complaints about somehow being singled out for economic punishment.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Musical interlude

Big Wreck - Too Far Gone

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Luke Savage responds to the attempt by neoliberals to escape growing discontent with corporate control and individual atomization by denying they actually represent a distinct position capable of being opposed:
The ubiquity of a particular phenomenon does not make discrete analysis of it useless; if anything, such omnipresence makes identifying it a more urgent and critical task. A phenomenon so diffuse that it seems manifest throughout politics, economics, and culture is hardly a chimera, and the apparent reticence of many commentators to recognize or even acknowledge its valence as a term can only be viewed as a symptom of neoliberalism’s continued stranglehold on our political, cultural, and intellectual life.

The longer something is a part of your reality, the more it tends to fade from your field of focus. Put another way: the more pervasive a particular object or phenomenon, the easier it can be to take its presence for granted. After its initially disruptive incursion in the 1980s, neoliberalism fast became a feature of our collective existence, so indelible many now seem unable to recall a time before it existed, let alone conceive a future that goes beyond it. An ideology secures hegemony at precisely the point it ceases to be considered an ideology: its claims transform into axioms; its theories harden into dogma; its abstruse vernacular becomes the lingua franca; its assumptions are subsumed under “common sense.”

That neoliberalism remains so poorly understood in the very political mainstream whose frontiers it now circumscribes is a testament to both the breathtaking scope of its counterrevolution, and the daunting task facing those of us who desire its overthrow. It is everywhere and therefore nowhere: at once so diaphanous it seems invisible; so internalized it appears inescapable.
- Cameron Fenton hopes that a minority Parliament will give rise to a Canadian Green New Deal. And Judy Rebick discusses what the NDP accomplished during the election campaign despite a disappointing outcome in terms of votes and seats.

- Desmond Brown reports on Toronto's continued lack of sufficient shelter spaces to ensure that homeless residents have safe places to sleep through the winter. And Robert Tibbo calls out Justin Trudeau for choosing to separate refugee families.

-Rob Ferguson reports on Doug Ford's plan to gift polluters with a low, one-time fee to dump hazardous substances wherever they want for as long as they want. And Matt Elliott notes that Ford's refrain about finding "government waste" has consistently been followed by a failure to find anything of the sort.

- Finally, Clifford Krauss discusses the flood of oil which looms as a potentially decisive threat to any hope of preserving a habitable climate.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Annie Lowrey highlights how low-income households are bearing the brunt of unequal inflation, as prices are increasing more quickly for their needs than for the luxuries bought by wealthier households.

- Paul Krugman comments on the delicate sensibilities of billionaires who refuse to accept even the slightest public discussion as to whether their obscene wealth is a desirable policy outcome. And Norm Farrell examines the role of corporate money across Canada's political scene.

- Gordon Laxer argues that the path toward national unity involves ensuring that all of Canada moves together toward a post-fossil fuel future. But Sharon Riley reports on the "deep state" lobbying which represents an increasingly large part of the efforts by oil companies to prevent any progress on that front.

- Meanwhile, Chris Turner discusses Canada's unique interaction between a strong environmental movement and an entrenched oil and gas sector. (And it may be worth noting how much time is being wasted on war rooms and secessionist rhetoric intended to try to deny or avoid the existence of the former.)

-  Kyle Bakx reports on the shutdown of Houston Oil & Gas - and the resulting liability for 1,300 orphan wells which will be left with the public.

- Finally, Nick Barlow discusses how an archaic first-past-the-post electoral system has contributed to the dysfunction in British politics.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Michael Spence discusses how a wealth tax can work, while noting that the worst possible response to growing inequality is to refuse to do anything. And the Centre for Labour and Social Studies summarizes the current class disparity in the UK, as well as some of the options to combat it.

- Hannah Hoag and Jack Marley survey some expert advice on what we need to do to respond to the climate crisis.

- Bob Ascah rightly points out that it's foolish to bet the economies of Alberta and Saskatchewan on the bare hope that handing money to big business will somehow produce an oil boom, rather than transitioning toward the industries of the future. And Nick Falvo lists a few key facts about Jason Kenney's devastating austerity budget.

- Doug Cuthand highlights the utter lack of plausibility to any western separatist threats. And Zach Laing notes that the forces trying to promote the issue beyond any reasonable level of attention include Russian disinformation and disruption campaigns alongside Jason Kenney and Scott Moe.

- Finally, Martha Mendoza examines Canada's widespread problem with unsafe drinking water. And Jennifer Ackerman and Katelyn Wilson focus on the high levels of lead in the water in parts of Saskatchewan's major cities.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Edgardo Sepulveda writes about Chile's popular revolt against austerity and inequality - while at the same time pointing out how Canada is foregoing the revenue needed to provide for people's basic needs.

- Nicole Aschoff discusses a few trends highlighted by actors in the housing market, while noting how they fit (or clash) with the overarching need to treat housing as a human right rather than a profit centre. And Michael Savage reports on UK Labour's plan to ensure warm homes for all (while at the same time drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions).

- Cory Doctorow details Google's alarming plans to claim absolute power over neighbourhoods, replacing both democratic governance and individual self-determination with total corporate control. And Kaushik Basu offers some suggestions to rein in the monopoly power of tech giants to ensure the Internet serves as a public good rather than a source of increased inequality.

- Patty Coates points out that Doug Ford's attempt to sound conciliatory following the federal election hasn't extended to any action to alleviate his government's threats to workers' safety and livelihood. And Duncan Cameron discusses how the federal Conservatives - like many of their provincial counterparts - have utterly abandoned any sense of socially responsible red Toryism in favour of exclusionary Republican fanaticism. 

- Finally, Robert Gebelhoff writes about the multiple manifestations of the climate crisis, including the destruction of entire ecosystems.