Saturday, November 30, 2019

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Olivia Bowden reports on new research showing that the harmful health effects of air pollution are even worse than previously known.

- But in case anybody was under the illusion that we'd expect polluters to pay for the cost of their damage, Chris Varcoe points out that Jason Kenney is demanding that the oil companies who have left his province with hundreds of billions of dollars in reclamation liabilities be let off the hook in favour of federal funding. Mitchell Anderson notes that continued subsidies for the fossil fuel sector are based on nothing more than wilful ignorance about the future of energy. And Jamie Kneen examines how a tax system designed to favour mining companies produces no discernable benefit to the public.

- Julia Conley reports on the strong popularity of a wealth tax in the U.S. - including among voters across the political spectrum. But Rob Evans, Felicity Lawrence, David Pegg and Caelainn Barr expose how U.S. tycoons have been funding the UK's anti-social right. And Max de Haldevang discusses new revelations about Walmart's offshoring of profits to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

- Danilo Trist and Matt Saenz study the strong poverty-reducing effects of even the U.S.' limited income support programs.

- Finally, Derrick O'Keefe discusses the importance of treating housing as a matter of meeting residents' needs, rather than assuming it can only be built for the purpose of enriching developers. And James Wilt highlights the central role strong public transit can play in addressing both environmental and social pressures. 

Musical interlude

Meg Myers - Running Up That Hill

Friday, November 29, 2019

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses how the failure of neoliberalism to provide gains for any but the wealthiest few has led to risks to the democratic systems which have been treated as tied to laissez-faire economics. And Armine Yalnizyan challenges the false assumption that increased inequality can be justified in the name of competitiveness.

- Sarah Lawryniuk writes about the potential for Jason Kenney's wanton destruction of Alberta's public sector to produce massive social unrest along with economic damage. Rethinking Poverty writes about the importance of having policy designed by the people who experience its consequences, rather than being imposed out of ignorance by privileged people who presume anything that doesn't affect them personally must not matter. And Ash Sharkar writes that the UK's election may determine whether citizens see any hope of dealing with collective problems at the ballot box.

- Thomas Walkom puts Kenney's trumped-up complaints in perspective compared to the the enormity and importance of the global climate crisis. And Stephen Buranyi calls out the new form of conservative climate denial, which involves barely acknowledging the danger but refusing to do anything to actually cut greenhouse gas emissions.

- But Noah Smith writes that no matter how firmly oil-backed politicians remain in denial, there's no avoiding the fact that the age of fossil fuels is coming to an end.

- Finally, Jane Philpott and Danyaal Raza write that the time is now to put a national Pharmacare program in place.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

New column day

Here, on the "hush memo" issued to Saskatchewan doctors, and the Moe government's eagerness to limit any voice for public servants to an ineffective whistleblower process.

For further reading...
- David Giles previously reported on the Saskatchewan Party's plan for a snitch line to centralize all concerns about the health care system. And Adam Hunter's initial report includes the original SHA memo.
- The Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner's most recent annual report is here (PDF). And the relevant legislation is here (PDF): see in particular the limited scope of "wrongdoing" under section 3 which may be addressed, as well as the Commissioner's discretion not to investigate matters of policy choice in section 16(1)(d).
- Finally, Murray Mandryk has also weighed in.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Guy Dauncey makes the case that it's entirely possible - even if daunting - to meet the challenge posed by the climate crisis. But we need first to come to terms with the reality that emissions are still rising even as the need for drastic cuts becomes more painfully clear - and continued fossil fuel subsidies and oil industry jingoism aren't about to help matters.

- Grace Blakeley argues that UK Labour's election platform is both radical and credible.

- Rosa Marchitelli reports that one of the outcomes of an increased focus on speed in surgery has been more medical devices being left inside patients by rushed care providers.

- Finally, Stephen Kimber and John Kirk write about the Libs' selective indignation over human rights and democratic systems in Latin America (with a distinct bias in favour of right-wing dictators), while Judy Rebick laments Canada's lack of a meaninful response to the coup in Bolivia in particular. And Martin Lukacs discusses how the Libs have also chosen to whitewash the human rights abuses of Saudi Arabia in the name of profit.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jason Hickel observes that what progress has been made in human health and quality of life is the result of progressive policies, not leaving plutocrats to do what they will:
(S)ocial services require resources. And it’s important to recognise that growth can help toward that end. But the interventions that matter when it comes to life expectancy do not require high levels of GDP per capita. The European Union has a higher life expectancy than the United States, with 40% less income. Costa Rica and Cuba beat the US with only a fraction of the income, and both achieved their greatest gains in life expectancy during periods when GDP wasn’t growing at all. How? By rolling out universal healthcare and education.

“The historical record is clear that economic growth itself has no direct, necessary positive implications for population health,” Szreter writes. “The most that can be said is that it creates the longer-term potential for population health improvements.”

Whether or not that potential is realised depends on the political forces that determine how income is distributed. So let’s give credit where credit is due: progress in life expectancy has been driven by progressive political movements that have harnessed economic resources to deliver robust public goods. History shows that in the absence of these progressive forces, growth has quite often worked against social progress, not for it.
- Stephen Prince writes that a U.S. tax system skewed to further enrich the wealthy ultimately produces worse outcomes for everybody. And Jim Hightower discusses how Donald Trump's "opportunity zone" scheme - trumpeted as a means to encourage development in poor communities - has instead been exploited to eliminate taxes on luxury housing developments.

- While the CN strike has been resolved through successful collective bargaining, David Climenhaga pointed out how most reporting on it failed to acknowledge the safety risks representing the primary concerns of the union. And Will Evans exposes how Amazon's endangerment of worker health and safety has been enabled by governments desperate to win its approval.

- Jorge Barrera reports on the Trans Mountain Corporation's surveillance of environmental activists and Indigenous land defenders. And Sam Levin and Will Parrish report on the U.S.' labeling of protest against Keystone XL as "terrorism" to be squelched by any means necessary.

- Finally, Angus Reid finds a substantial jump in Canadian voters' support for proportional representation following this fall's election. But Karl Nerenberg notes that Justin Trudeau's elimination of the ministry of democratic reform signals his unwillingness to even consider a more fair and representative electoral system.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cats with company.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz writes about the dangers of measuring economic and social progress solely in terms of GDP:
It is clear that something is fundamentally wrong with the way we assess economic performance and social progress. Even worse, our metrics frequently give the misleading impression that there is a trade-off between the two; that, for instance, changes that enhance people’s economic security, whether through improved pensions or a better welfare state, come at the expense of national economic performance.

Getting the measure right – or at least a lot better – is crucially important, especially in our metrics- and performance-oriented society. If we measure the wrong thing, we will do the wrong thing. If our measures tell us everything is fine when it really isn’t, we will be complacent.

And it should be clear that, in spite of the increases in GDP, in spite of the 2008 crisis being well behind us, everything is not fine. We see this in the political discontent rippling through so many advanced countries; we see it in the widespread support of demagogues, whose successes depend on exploiting economic discontent; and we see it in the environment around us, where fires rage and floods and droughts occur at ever-increasing intervals.
- Michael Roberts examines the need for economic transformation in the UK, while making the case that even Labour's election platform doesn't go far enough in addressing control over key sectors. And Joao Medeiros writes about Mariana Mazzucato's prescription for public involvement in - and benefits from - our future economic path.

- Joanne Seiff discusses the environmental damage done by a throw-away consumer culture. And Andrew Nikiforuk writes about the need for more sustainable economic practices - not only a conversion to new energy sources - in order to combat the climate crisis.

- Finally, Gregory Beatty highlights how the Wexit scam is being used to distract from the real and glaring failures of Scott Moe, Jason Kenney and other right-wing politicians.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Andrew MacLeod discusses how an anti-worker campaign at the Mountain Equipment Co-op demonstrates the need for employees to be able to bargain collectively without being subject to employer interference.

- Linda McQuaig writes about Doug Ford's plans to slash what's already Canada's lowest level of per-capita health care spending. And Katie Pedersen, Melissa Mancini and David Common report on the use of "trespass orders" by private care homes to prevent relatives from documenting or raising concerns about how seniors in care are being treated.

- Eric Reguly discusses how Denmark offers a role model in shifting from reliance on dirty energy to a sustainable economy. And Emma Jackson and Ian Hussey note that Alberta's phasing out of coal power also offers some valuable lessons.

- Finally, Alan MacLeod highlights the refusal of the corporate media to call out the fascist coup in Bolivia for what it is. And Doug Cuthand points out how the exile (and threat of politically-motivated prosecution) of Evo Morales fits into the wider repression of Indigenous peoples in South and Central America.