Saturday, November 23, 2019

Musical interlude

Texas King - Boomerang

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Dylan Matthews writes about the growing body of evidence showing that minimum wage increases boost pay for lower-income workers while having no effect on the availability of jobs. And Paul Karp and Amy Remeikis report on new research challenging the explanation for reducing Australian superannuation rates in the name of wages.

- The Sutton Trust's polling shows how a strong plurality of UK voters see significant deterioration both in the equality of opportunity, and in the standard of living for future generations. But Grace Blakeley highlights the massive gains which can be achieved through UK Labour's plans for a transition to a green economy.

- Sharon Riley reports on the health and environmental risks imposed on Alberta landowners by the province's existing network of pipelines - particularly ones which are intended to be abandoned by their operators. 

- Andrew MacLeod discusses the importance of accountability and responsiveness to whistleblowing in ensuring that public institutions actually serve their intended purposes.

- Finally, Glen Pearson writes about the need for progressive leaders and activists to be willing to cooperate - though it's well worth noting which parties have shown their inclination to work together toward shared policy goals, and which has stubbornly rejected the concept.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Dan Hancox discusses how both work demands and consumerist force are causing people to lose sleep. And Jodi Dean writes about the need for a sense of comradeship to counter the impossible expectation of self-reliance.

- Anand Giridharadas argues that the wealthy few are beginning to lose their grip over the U.S. And Grace Blakeley discusses the potential for transformative change arising out of UK Labour's plan for a just transition, while Owen Jones comments on the need to draw young voters out to the polls to cast ballots based on future hopes rather than past resentments. 

- David Climenhaga rightly criticizes the Kenney UCP for planning to steal teachers' retirement funds. Jason Markusoff calls out Kenney's strongman tactics while noting the dangerous signal it would send if Albertans allow him to get away with them. And Graham Thomson highlights the importance of the effective and independent electoral oversight which Kenney considers an intolerable danger to his plans to cling to power.

- Meanwhile, PressProgress points out the connections between the UCP and extreme separatist groups, while also exposing the attacks on homeless people from both right-wing politicians and business lobby groups in British Columbia.

- Finally, the Globe and Mail recognizes that the coup and purge in Bolivia couldn't be any less peaceful or democratic.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Sabrina Shankman discusses new research showing how the climate crisis will affect today's youth. And Bill McKibben highlights why we can't afford to delay in reining in catastrophic climate change.

- But Damian Carrington reports on fossil fuel extraction projections which far exceed what we can afford, while Justin Lavoie notes that the Canada Pension Plan is betting on the fossil fuel sector being allowed to overshoot its emission targets. And Laura Kane reports on how the Trans Mountain pipeline has received hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies beyond the purchase price paid by the federal government.

- The News & Observer confirms that the utter failure of top-end tax cuts to help anybody but the richest few applies to North Carolina like every other jurisdiction.

- The BBC reports on UK Labour's plans to ensure that workers take back control of their economic direction. And Dawn Foster discusses the all-too-rare phenomenon of a political party running on a clear plan to improve people's lives.

- Finally, The Loop interviews Danyaal Raza about the predictable connection between privatized health care and longer wait times for all but the wealthiest few. And The Local points out how people's health suffers as a result of the lower tier of care offered in the prison system.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Alert cats.

On choice giveaways

There's been plenty worth criticizing about Scott Moe's combination of laughable demands of the federal government and refusal to take responsibility for anything his government is doing at home. But let's take note of yet another example of the Saskatchewan Party's fanatical focus on freebies for resource exploiters with no regard for anybody else:
The new document also includes at least one instance of the government walking back a decision made in the deeply unpopular 2017-18 budget — the choice to reinstate a $14-million provincial sales tax exemption for mining exploration and downhole drilling.
Of course, it was in that same budget that the PST was also added to construction - a move which continues to affect the ability of anybody in Saskatchewan to build literally anything. But any development of homes or businesses is apparently well down Moe's priority list compared to giveaways for oil drilling.

It was also the 2017 budget which shuttered STC. Concidentally, that required provincial grants of just under $14 million to help people and goods move all around the province - which is also apparently far less of a concern for Moe's Sask Party than handing subsidies to oil and mining conglomerates.

And the many other sectors which have seen direct harm from the Saskatchewan Party's cuts and choices - from film to restaurants to renewable energy - are still being told there's nothing for them. But the dying fossil fuel sector continues to be showered with incentives.

In other words, Jason Kenney isn't the only premier treating economic diversification as a negative while actively trying to become even more dependent on volatile resource prices. And the fact that resource exploitation is once again being given priority over people's well-being should confirm that nothing's going to change for the better until the Saskatchewan Party is ousted from power.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board writes that Canada needs to do its part to avert as much of the impending climate breakdown as can be avoided.

- Chris Kennedy rightly points out that Canada's responsibility includes the fossil fuels we're subsidizing for export - encouraging other countries to pollute our planet while shifting the damage off our own books. And Brennan Doherty offers a reminder that the tar sands' pollution levels are increasing.

- Meanwhile, Kate Aronoff comments on the connection between climate policy and resource extraction, while noting that there are severe limits on what can be accomplished merely by substituting the resources we churn through without changing the mindset of exploitation. And Derrick O'Keefe writes about the need to fight against Bolivia's racist coup.

- Finally, Andrew Woodcock reports on research showing that UK Labour's plan to nationalize water, energy and mail would pay for itself within a mere seven years.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jeremy Rifkin sets out how Canada can implement a Green New Deal - while also reminding us of the costs of failing to do so. And Brett Dolter charts the path toward net zero emissions from Saskatchewan's perspective - even as Scott Moe's government confirms the sad reality that it's chosen to hit the snooze button for another decade.

- Brandon Doucet writes that it's long past time for Canada to provide universal dental care to its residents.

- Owen Jones writes that UK Labour's promise of free universal broadband access hearkens back to its great nation-building work of the past. And Miranda Hall comments on the broader social and economic benefits of making sure everybody can connect to the world.

- Jim Stanford points out that rather than representing a particularly new development, the gig economy is based on all-too-familiar principles including workers supplying their own equipment and taking the risk of work not materializing.

- Finally, Jim Tankersley, Peter Eavis and Ben Casselman report on the U.S.' precipitous drop in revenue from large corporations - including Fedex taking its taxes paid down to zero - which hasn't been matched with any discernible investment. And Robert Reich writes about the laughable attempt by billionaires and their paid flunkies to pretend that fair taxes on the wealthy would lead to anything but a more equitable distribution of income and wealth.

On unreliable suppliers

There's been plenty of bluster between Jason Kenney and Yves-Francois Blanchet over equalization and its relationship to the oil industry. But it's worth pointing out that to the extent Quebec (or any other province or jurisdiction) currently relies on fossil fuels from Alberta, Kenney himself has gone out of his way to make that an unacceptable risk. 

After all, Kenney's very first act in office was to declare that any supply of oil to a province which has concerns about pipelines can be cut off at any moment - taking what was already a dangerous symbol, and turning it into an immediate threat.

For the moment, there's a temporary injunction preventing Kenney from acting on it. But there's no indication he's backed off of the initial inclination to try to blackmail his province's customers into further endangering their own environment as the price of having any access to Alberta oil.

That represents an obvious reason why any Canadian province should be hesitant to make itself any more reliant on the tar sands than it can possibly avoid - particularly in deciding whether to accept the construction of long-term oil infrastructure. And even independent of the climate dangers of avoidable fossil fuel consumption, the safe course of action for any province looks to be to wean itself off the supply of an unscrupulous pusher as soon as possible.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Chris Hedges writes about the damage oligarchs are doing to humanity and the planet. And Dominic Rushe points out how whiny the people who have rigged the economy toward their own concentration of obscene wealth become when they face the slightest hint of being asked to contribute to the common good. 

- David Roberts writes that Donald Trump's impeachment proceedings represent what may be the most important clash of truth against the Republican noise machine. And Drew Anderson discusses how any talk about Alberta separation mirrors the U.S. Republican instinct to try to choose an electorate willing to endorse policies which will never be supported on a national scale.

- Duncan Cameron calls out Jason Kenney's fake populism. And Scott Schmidt writes that Kenney's posturing against Ottawa is intended as a distraction from the harm he's doing to his own province.

- Speaking of which, Ali Hogg's discussion of how "religious freedom" laws serve as a cover for bigotry is entirely applicable to the UCP's introduction of Bill 207 to deny health care based on religious dogma.

- Finally, Andy Beckett writes that Labour's forceful progressive push is redefining what's possible in the UK. And Meagan Day points out that American voters have a much-needed option to vote for more freedom from bosses both in terms of work hours and personal control.