Saturday, December 21, 2019

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Heather Scoffield writes that a genuine commitment to fighting climate change could resolve multiple major issues facing Canada - while delay serves only to exacerbate them:
At the core of today’s western alienation and of today’s search for prosperity is a much larger issue: the future of energy in a warming climate.

It wasn’t on the agenda for the ministers and was only mentioned in passing in the prime minister’s mandate letter of marching orders for federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau. And that’s a missed opportunity to tackle the challenges of a carbon-based economy head-on and amplify what so many other key players in Canada are leapfrogging each other to act upon.
In an economy that depends so deeply on resource extraction, energy production and the financing and services around those sectors, climate change is primordial. In a recent paper from the Bank of Canada that sets out where central bank researchers need to assess the impact, the author points to oil and gas of course, but also real estate, agriculture and transportation. Electricity generation, infrastructure and any industry that uses a lot of energy are also on the front lines. Insurers, banks, pension funds, investment funds and real estate trusts are also in flux.

And from a consumer point of view, climate is affecting the price of everything, as well as the way we heat and cool our houses, drive our cars, clothe our children and prepare our food.

Global warming, and its fix — decarbonization — touches almost every corner of what we do, and the risks to the economy are enormous, starting now. At stake are our profits, our businesses, our governments’ tax revenues and our very quality of life
- But Marieke Walsh points out the gap between Canada's actions and its already-insufficient emission reduction commitments. And Keith Gerein discusses the utter lack of substance behind the anti-carbon-tax bleatings of the UCP and their right-wing allies.

- Jaskiran Dhillon and Will Parrish exposes the lethal violence authorized by the RCMP against peaceful land defenders in the interest of pushing through pipelines.

- Stuart Thompson and Charlie Warzel examine the information that can be gleaned - and the risks that can be created - from a single set of cell phone location data.

- Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood writes about the Libs' extension of EI sick leave benefits, while noting the need to go much further in filling in the gaps in our social safety net.

- And finally, Erica West comments on the multiple meanings of the term "emotional labour" - and the reality that all of them reflect the perpetuation of gender imbalances.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Musical interlude

Joywave - Obsession

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Brigid Delaney writes about the significance of the truth about climate breakdown. Graham Readfearn reports on the risk of outright firestorms as bush fires burn out of control. And Geoff Dembicki writes about a case from the Philippines seeing oil companies held responsible for the damage they've caused from a human rights perspective.

- Linda McQuaig highlights the absurdity of the financial sector whining about having been handed $15 billion in bonuses:
(D)espite their privileged perch, Canada’s big six banks have gotten away with paying extremely low taxes — the lowest in the G7. Partly by using tax havens, our wildly profitable banks have managed to reduce their taxes to a rate that is about one-third of the rate paid by other Canadian businesses, according to a 2017 Toronto Star investigation.

Some Canadians might wonder whether we are well served by our banks. In recent years, they’ve shut down branches across the country, leaving hundreds of rural and remote communities without a local branch. They’ve also declined to offer banking services to many low-income people, obliging almost two million Canadians a year to pay the hair-raising interest rates charged by payday loan operators.

Yet, proposals that Canada Post offer banking services at its 6,200 outlets across the country have been opposed by the big banks, which insist that they serve Canadians well.

Certainly they serve themselves well, with even a “bleak” year leaving bankers divvying up $15 billion in compensation, on top of their base salaries.
- Meanwhile, Jack Lakey writes that Doug Ford's campaign for corporate impunity includes an "ag gag" law seeking to criminalize anybody exposing the mistreatment of animals.

- Finally, PressProgress traces the third-party money used for Jason Kenney's benefit back to just two wealthy donors who attempted to route it through nearly 20 entities to avoid attention, while also offering an introduction to the corporate elites behind the Cons' party fund. And Alvin Finkel writes that "western alienation" is mostly a matter of elites seeking to provide an alternate enemy to the people they're exploiting.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Linsey McGoey discusses the historical case for abolishing billionaires rooted in Adam Smith's critique of plutocracy:
Smith was scathingly critical of the wealthy’s disproportionate power over government policymaking. He complained about the tendency of the rich to shirk tax obligations, unfairly passing tax burdens on to poor workers. He heaped scorn on government bailouts of the East India Company. He thought dirty money in politics was akin to bribery, and that it undermined the duty to govern impartiality. He wasn’t alone.

The reality is that the historical case for abolishing billionaire privileges has a long heritage, stretching to enlightenment thinkers and the revolutionaries they inspired, including countless enslaved and working-class people in forgotten graves.

Thomas Paine, the 18th-century British radical whose writing helped to spur the American Revolution, called for the establishment of a wealth fund, financed by taxes on property, that would give every woman and man a lump sum of money in both early adulthood and again in old age. Today, basic income policy proposals revive this idea.

The handouts to the rich that he complains about in Wealth of Nations have never entirely disappeared. Instead, a language of “free trade” has obscured the government’s role in favouring the wealthy. Just look at the past 30 years, a time of ever-growing subsidies to pharmaceutical executives who gouge consumers with unacceptably high drug prices; tax gifts to tech corporations that lobby to erode worker and consumer protections; the ever-replenishing “money-tree” of quantitative easing programmes that rain on the rich while the poor work ever-longer hours.

Smith did talk about the invisible hand. But he also wrote about the “invisible chains” that structure people’s lives. He and his revolutionary friends understood that wealth inequality could become a type of invisible cage. He taught his readers a simple lesson: keep the power of the rich in check.

- Meanwhile, Michal Rozworski examines how so many British voters cast ballots for a Conservative government which they knew couldn't care less about their well-being.

- Scott Leon and Brittany Andrew-Amofah offer some suggestions to improve the availability of housing due to its critical effect on people's health. BC Housing studies the effect of non-profit housing on property values and concludes that the former doesn't harm the latter. And Angela Sterritt reports on the Squamish Nation's plan to build 6,000 rental housing units in Vancouver.

- Meanwhile, Zak Vescera reports on the response of landlords to the Moe government's short-sighted welfare changes - with the predictable effect being an avoidable increase in evictions.

- Finally, H.M. Jocelyn highlights how the Trudeau Libs have sold out Canadian sovereignty and privacy to the Trump administration.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Curled-up cats.

Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- David Ritter writes that a gross failure to act against a climate breakdown causing out-of-control wildfires and unprecedented temperatures is creating a crisis of legitimacy for Australia's government. Chris Hatch and Barry Saxifrage discuss the failure of the world's governments to turn dozens of climate meetings into meaningful progress. And Samantha Beattie examines Imperial Oil's deliberate climate denial after its own research confirmed the damage carbon pollution is doing to our planet.

-  Meanwhile, Hiroko Tabuchi reports on a single Ohio methane leak spewing more carbon pollution into the air than some entire countries. Which is of course an ideal time for a reminder that Jason Kenney doesn't want leaking methane to be regulated.

- OneZero examines the environmental injustice in Detroit, where deadly pollution is concentrated in clusters of poor and minority residents.

- Finally, Heather Scoffield discusses how the Trudeau Libs have abandoned their progressive promises and rhetoric now that they're again ensconced in power. And Amanda Terfloth offers a devastating account of how people are suffering from the Libs' stalling on universal national pharmacare.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Sarah Schulman discusses the importance of sleep as a determinant of health, arguing that a safe bed is the first step toward addressing all kinds of social ills.

- Laura Lynch interviews Adria Vasil about the massive amount of avoidable waste generated by a combination of online shopping and corporate brand valuation.

- Thomson Reuters reports on the justified anger of the world's smaller countries in response to the climate obstruction of the wealthiest countries on the planet. And Eleanor Boyle points out that if we recognize the importance of the fight against a climate breakdown, we should be willing to accept rationing as part of our battle plan.

- Gil McGowan, Guy Smith, Heather Smith, Mike Parker, Rory Gill and Jason Schilling argue that Jason Kenney has no right to turn the retirement savings of Alberta workers into a bailout fund for a dying oil industry. And Murray Mandryk points out the immaturity behind Scott Moe's trial balloons about claiming power over immigration and policing - though the more important factor in Moe's announcements looks to be a complete absence of independent thought as he instead parrots whatever Kenney says. 

- Finally, Nora Loreto highlights how Quebec's Bill 21 singles out minority women as being forced to choose between their faith and culture or the ability to support a family.