Saturday, November 16, 2019

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- PressProgress highlights the latest example of the obscene concentration of wealth in Canada, as a mere 45 people own more than the GDP of over half the country's provinces and territories.

- Paul Precht dispels any myth that Alberta's anti-tax ideology has anything to do with its economic development. And the Canadian Press confirms with the former CEO of AIMCO that any move to withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan has nothing to do with pension security or efficiency.

- Gary Younge comments on the unfair advantage the UK Cons get from that country's corporate media. And Aditya Chakrabortty notes that the Cons have also used public money to lie about the damage done by their cruel austerity measures.

- Mehreen Khan reports on the Netherlands' shift away from exceptionally high speed limits due to their climate impact. And Ben Parfitt points out the large public subsidies for fossil fuels in British Columbia - largely due to the continuation of credits which were once intended to spur unproven types of development, but became seen as an entitlement by the industry.

- Finally, Jerry Dias and Andrew Bernhard write that it's long past time for foreign media corporations which make massive profits in Canada to start contributing - both by paying taxes, and by generating Canadian content.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Musical interlude

Tame Impala - Patience

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Rylan Higgins argues that it's long past time to move beyond a boom-and-bust oilpatch economy. And Ryan Meili writes that workers and residents alike stand to benefit from a shift to clean energy - including through the solar industry which was so abruptly shut down by the Moe government.

- But Wal van Lierop highlights how the fossil fuel sector is instead being subsidized - with the effect of stalling the transition to cleaner energy. And Mia Rabson reports that a promised federal inventory and review of fossil fuel subsidies is behind schedule.

- All of which means that it's no surprise that Canada is far behind our international peers in addressing greenhouse gas emissions - even as the global trends and goals fall short of what's needed to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown.

- Paul Krugman points out how the Trump administration's promotion of pollution will result in easily-preventable deaths. And the Price Of Oil project has mapped out the tens of thousands of documented oil spills in Saskatchewan as a vivid indication of the damage done by poorly-regulated polluters.

- Finally, Moira Wyton reports on the Kenney UCP's biased survey intended to grease the skids to remove protections for workers. And Mark Thompson and David Fairey make the case for British Columbia to launch an inquiry into gig work to ensure that workers aren't exploited by corporations avoiding the normal responsibilities of an employer.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thursday Evening Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Dayen highlights a rare moment of honesty from the payday loan sharks in their recognition that fair wages would reduce the consumer desperation underpinning their business model. And Brendan Greeley discusses the wealth tax - the merits of which are only proven by the theatrical outrage coming from the people exploiting the public and the planet to add to their own useless hoards of money.

- Lisa Friedman reports on the Trump administration's plan to avoid having industry-led environmental destruction derailed by accurate science.

- William Rees offers his suggestions for the elements needed in an effective Green New Deal. And Kirsten Patrick notes that Canada's twin voter priorities of improving health and ameliorating the climate crisis go hand in hand.

- Finally, Robin Sears argues that we need to plug the loophole enabling large-scale anonymous political advertising in Canada. And Gary Dale offers a reminder of the problems with an electoral system in which most votes are wasted.

New column day

Here, on how Scott Moe has been left alone and isolated by the supposed "resistance". (Though I'll admit I underestimated his willingness to declare his unthinking support for anything suggested by Jason Kenney.)

For further reading...
- Jacques Poitras reported that Blaine Higgs' sensible response to the federal election has been to stop fighting carbon pricing and get to work on developing a plan for New Brunswick.  The Canadian Press reported on Brian Pallister's rejection of Western separatism - though he deserves to be called out for misleadingly implying that provinces can't already avoid the federal carbon price by having a climate plan of their own. And Robert Benzie and Rob Ferguson noted that even Doug Ford started toning down his posturing toward the federal government since the election.
- Dave Cournoyer puts Kenney's "autonomy panel" in historical context.
- Joel Dryden discusses what a province forgoing the Canada Pension Plan would actually look like, while David Climenhaga points out that any scheme to take existing money away from the CPP is on shaky ground. And the Canadian Press confirms that Kenney's talk about endangering his province's pension security is purely a matter of spite.
- Finally, Norm Farrell discusses how Alberta has been suffering for its decision to use resource revenue to avoid making rational plans for the future.

On rejected applications

Let's see what Scott Moe is demanding from the federal government now...
On the immigration file, one goal is to “assert provincial control over the [Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program] (SINP).”
Interesting. Now, there's certainly reason to question Moe's governance in a lot of areas. But surely he wouldn't be so foolish as to push for additional power over the exact program where his government is currently embroiled in a scandal...
Zhang said her consultant told her she wouldn't even have to live in Saskatchewan or personally run the business. She said a representative of the GTEC developer, Brightenview International, promised the same thing.

However, an arrangement like that is against the rules. The entrepreneurial category of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) requires applicants to actively run their own business and live in the province.
In an email to CBC, Saskatoon lawyer Clara Bitzer, who has worked on several GTEC-related immigration files including Zhang's, said the project was "wholeheartedly endorsed by the government of Saskatchewan which went out of its way to encourage these applications."

(S)ince GTEC was launched, SINP has written letters of support for one hundred applicants. Sixty of those have been approved by Ottawa to start their business at GTEC. He said that so far the province has nominated one of those applicants for permanent residency.

MacFadden said he doesn't know the status of the forty that have not been approved by Ottawa. Brightenview acknowledges that some of them, like Zhang, have received denial letters from the federal government.
In other words, Scott Moe is loudly standing up for Saskatchewan scams, demanding that the federal government step aside from its jurisdiction over immigration to make sure nobody discovers his government's incompetence or the fraud it enables.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- PressProgress examines the damage Doug Ford wants to inflict on children in Ontario's education system. Fareed Khan calls out the right-wing politicians acting like spoiled children rather than responsible decision-makers. And Rick Smith discusses how to develop public policy to withstand the vandalism of today's conservatives:
(A) tangible connection to people’s daily lives is key.  Amongst their frenzy of repeal aimed at environmental policy and regulation, Doug Ford and his cronies have decided that the Greenbelt is untouchable.  One reason for this is doubtless that the Greenbelt is a physical place on the map, demarcated by numerous signs on the highway.  Ontarians have become accustomed to its presence and value it highly.  Similarly, in Alberta, Jason Kenney doesn’t dare attempt a full-blown repeal of the minimum wage, even if he hopes to chip away at it.

A second and related lesson is that policies that entrench rights in a universal manner are more enduring and far harder to undo. The Ford government doesn’t dare meddle with full-day kindergarten in the same way that it’s eliminating many other kinds of programmes. Why?  Because full-day kindergarten has become an integral part of our publicly-funded school system, available to all, and is now regarded by Ontario families as an essential service.

These lessons are every bit as applicable in a federal context.

Given the ease with which Ford eliminated Ontario’s partial, means-tested experiment with Pharmacare, the Trudeau Liberals would be doing Canadians a huge disservice to repeat this experience at the federal level.  The example of Medicare demonstrates better than anything the resilience of universal programs over small-scale reforms that are easily reversed after a single change of government.  We need universal Pharmacare now, not some piecemeal and underfunded half-measure.  In a recent Abacus poll for the Broadbent Institute, 78% of Canadians (and, interestingly, two-thirds of Conservative voters) support the federal government moving forward with universal, not partial, Pharmacare as a top priority.

With respect to climate change:  Carbon taxation, even when fully implemented, will be bickered over and — like all taxes, increased and decreased — by different governments over the next few decades.  Yes, we need to price carbon, but a massive green jobs creation program and rapid scale-up of permanent electric vehicle infrastructure would be impossible for even the most ardent climate-denier to demolish.
- Thera Kumar likewise calls for the Libs to follow through on a national pharmacare program - though it's worth noting they've been more slippery in any "promise" than Kumar implies. Aaron Carroll notes that even relatively small co-pay requirements can cause severe harm by preventing people from accessing needed medication. And Nicola Davis reports on the increase in childhood pneumonia under the UK Cons as a painful example of the price of social neglect.

- Grant Cameron reports on the CCPA's research showing that P3s only add to the price tag for infrastructure. And Ian Mulgrew reports on the progress of British Columbia's money laundering inquiry as a vivid example of a laissez-faire attitude run amok.

- Finally, Vaughn Palmer writes about the unexplained exploitation of B.C. consumers when it comes to gasoline prices. And David Leonhardt comments on the $5,000 annual cost to consumers arising from corporate consolidation in the U.S.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cuddly cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses how decades of laissez-faire economics and deference to the rich have undermined any effective democratic decision-making. Bruce Boghosian observes that structural change is needed to avoid a tendency toward the concentration of wealth and concurrent rise of inequality. And Owen Jones comments on the need to break up the billionaires' club rather than catering to it.

- Dale Marshall writes that contrary to the constant spin emanating from the same sources as historic climate change denial, Canada's oil industry is doing more environmental damage than ever. And Alex Lubben points out that the harm done by the recent Keystone spill will be virtually impossible to remediate.

- Geoff Leo reports on the shady immigration scheme associated linking the Saskatchewan Party government, the Global Transportation Hub and Brightenview - then follows up by reporting that it's only the latest public exposure that's forced Scott Moe to stop rubber-stamping questionable "investor" nominees.

- Meanwhile, the Brandon Sun highlights why Manitoba has every reason to question Brad Wall's judgment as he's been handed a political appointment to attack public power distribution.

- Finally, Nathaniel Dove reports on the deaths being caused by overcrowding in Saskatchewan's overburdened emergency rooms. And Murray Mandryk contrasts the Sask Party's obsession with megaprojects against the NDP's recognition that people need to come first.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Daniel Tencer reports on Ray Dalio's recognition that the economic system which made him a multi-billionaire is broken. And Harvey Cashore, Chelsea Gomez and Gillian Findlay report on the Liberal-connected tycoons who lobbied against any steps to stop the offshoring of wealth.

- Tom Conway discusses how employers are spying on their workers in order to increase their level of control while shutting down any attempts to unionize. Matthew Van Dongen notes that Hamilton's bus drivers face the need to strike just to secure real bathroom breaks. And Alex McKeen reports on Ravinder Singh's courageous steps to expose the exploitation of temporary foreign workers - and the need for our immigration system to ensure workers aren't punished for doing so.

- Mitchell Anderson examines Alberta's history of throwing away its natural resources. And Linda McQuaig offers a reminder that Canada has previously benefited from publicly-owned drug research and manufacturing.

- The Canadian Press reports on the food insecurity facing nearly half of the families living on First Nations in Canada.

- Finally, Murray Mandryk discusses how the Saskatchewan Party's callous response to reports about lead in the water in Saskatchewan cities reflects a government which is itself in dire need of replacement.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Arwa Mahdawi writes that the outsized influence wielded by billionaires makes them something beyond merely wealthy people. Tom Whyman challenges the worship of the excessively wealthy as a particularly destructive religion. Robert Reich points out that the means of accumulating a billion dollars bear no relationship to the public good. The New York Times' editorial board rightly notes that the concentration of wealth is an impediment to overall growth (to say nothing of shared prosperity).  And Rashaan Ayesh points out how that concentration continues apace, with the U.S.' wealthiest 1% now approaching the total riches of the country's entire middle and upper-middle classes.

- Meanwhile, Grace Blakeley writes that any effective plan to combat the climate crisis need to include systemic challenges to the current power of capital and its exploitation of everybody and everything around it.  And Michael Jacobs comments that the crisis of capitalism can't be solved with the same thinking that created our current imbalanced system.

- The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives offers some proposals which would do far more to make life affordable than tax cuts. Heather Scoffield discusses how the Cons limit their ability to respond to the needs of the public by refusing to acknowledge any value to tax revenues and the services they fund, while PressProgress notes that five companies alone are claiming billions of dollars in free tax giveaways from Jason Kenney's UCP while Alberta's people face grinding austerity.

- Pamela Palmater argues that the Trudeau Libs should take up a radical agenda to fight climate change and pursue reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, while Julia Rodgers suggests that a minority government should be expected to be more accountable. But Matthew Hayers offers a reminder how a distorted electoral system has created exactly the wrong incentives for any of those purposes.

- Finally, Tiffany Gooch makes the case for Canada to start living up to its commitments (and international standards) in funding foreign aid.