Monday, February 17, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Monika Dutt offers a reminder that some of the best investments we can make in improving public health are aimed at social factors:
As a physician, I often see people at high risk of poor health because they live in poverty. We know that poverty contributes to higher rates of many conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, depression, and even children having difficulty in school.

It is simply harder to be healthy when you lack a decent income. Many people can’t afford their medications, adequate housing, activities for their kids or nutritious food — some of the staples for being healthy. This is a serious concern in a place like Cape Breton, where there is such a high rate of poverty.

To reframe how we think about poverty and health, we need to consider what is needed to create healthier communities. One important aspect of that is the elimination of poverty.
- Michael Swan points out the Ford government's moves to turn welfare into a profit centre. Matt Elliott highlights the unfairness of the TTC's plans to crack down in forcing extremely high fines on people who lack the money for transit. And Antonietta Corado writes about her path from relative security to homelessness. 

- Emily Leedham discusses how the law is all too often stacked in favour of capital and against the interests of labour and other groups of citizens.

- Amber Bracken challenges the attempts of outside actors to portray and stoke division within the Wet’suwet’en. And Kate Gunn and Bruce McIvor offer a primer on the law involved in the use of unceded land.

- Finally, George Monbiot discusses how ongoing policy choices which destroy the natural environment are exacerbating flooding in the UK. And Collin Gallant notes that Alberta may be able to resolve part of its vast problem of abandoned oil wells by turning well sites into solar installations.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Heesu Lee reports on Greenpeace's estimate that air pollution costs the world nearly $3 trillion every year. And Damien Cave writes that this year's wildfires have permanently changed Australia as people knew it.

- Meanwhile, Alice Bell warns against trusting oil barons when it comes to developing policy to combat climate breakdown. Ian Austen talks to Christopher Flavelle about divestment - including the fear people have of speaking out due to the petronationalism emanating from Alberta and elsewhere. And Paul Dechene traces how Regina managed to invite a climate denialist to keynote a sustainability conference.

- Alex Boyd recognizes the historical significance in Indigenous protests in support of Wet’suwet’en sovereignty over its land targeting railways across the country. And Doug Cuthand weighs in on the importance of First Nations standing up for their land.

- Owen Jones writes about the dangers of treating a university education as a commodity to be delivered by the most precarious workforce possible.

- Rod Myer discusses how the rise of the gig economy is endangering the very concept of retirement, while Euan Black notes that older workers are facing consistent age discrimination even as they're told retirement isn't an option. And Omar Mosleh wonders whether the job action at Co-op's Regina refinery will represent a watershed moment for Canada's labour movement.

- Finally, Joel Lexchin writes that among the other compelling reasons to develop a national pharmacare program, it may be necessary merely to counterbalance the increases in drug costs arising out of the Libs' trade concessions.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Don Pittis writes about Thomas Piketty's take that Bernie Sanders may be exactly what the U.S. needs.

- Laurie Penny wonders whether we're yet capable of overcoming the culture of complicity around the powerful men daring the justice system to hold them to account for immoral abuses of others. Laura Bassett questions why Mike Bloomberg expects a pass on dozens of examples of harassment and discrimination. And PressProgress calls out Andrew Wilkinson for minimizing the harm suffered by survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

- Elisha Dacey reports that after seeing the benefits of a strong film industry, Manitoba is making its film tax credit permanent. And Zak Vescera reports on Scott Moe's willingness to forgo federal health care funding in order to leave Saskatchewan on the hook for the privatization of medical services which has led to a doubling of waitlists.

- Charlie Smith points out that liquid natural gas projects too make little sense from a sheer business perspective even if one assigns zero value to both Indigenous rights and environmental protection.

- Finally, Scott Schmidt discusses the importance of speaking out against harmful government choices rather than silently acquiescing in social destruction - and while his focus is on the UCP, the message is one worth applying generally.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Musical interlude

Andy Shauf - Try Again

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Andrew Leach and Martin Olszynski go into detail about the calculations around the Teck Frontier mine - and particularly how any pricing assumptions which could make development viable are far out of date.

- Kate Yoder points out how the fossil fuel industry has been producing massive amounts of fake news among its other forms of pollution. And Jen Gerson weighs in on the laughable propaganda emanating from the UCP's war room.

- Meanwhile, PressProgress documents the connections between the kamikaze campaign which helped install Jason Kenney in power, and the UCP's attempts to have the federal government foot the bill for orphan oil well liabilities which would otherwise fall on some high-profile party funders.

- Martin Lukacs and Shiri Pasternak report on the nearly immediate attempt by businesses and the B.C. government to abolish Aboriginal title as soon as it was recognized by the Supreme Court. And Andrew Nikiforuk discusses how Canada's colonial legacy continues in the forcible takeover of Wet’suwet’en land.

- Finally, David Moscrop writes about the need for protest to challenge injustice built into the status quo. And Emily Riddle offers a reminder that we can fully expect police forces to defend entrenched power.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ed Broadbent and Andrew Jackson highlight how among its other advantages, a national pharmacare program would prevent workers from being tied to jobs by a need to preserve coverage through work:
On top of the unnecessarily high and rising cost of private insurance, the same parliamentary report reveals that 88 per cent of private insurance plans have co-pays or annual deductibles, which means that drug costs are partly covered out-of-pocket. Further, as employer-sponsored drug plans are generally much better than plans paid for by individuals in terms of drugs covered and co-pays, the evidence also shows that private insurance coverage is well below average for younger and lower-income families.

Good employer plans certainly still exist, notably for full-time permanent employees working in the public sector and for large employers. Most unionized workers have decent coverage. But these kinds of jobs are increasingly difficult to find.
...
It seems highly probable that the proportion of workers covered by employer drug plans has been falling, and that the quality of these plans is eroding. The labour movement strongly supports a national pharmacare program not just to provide coverage to those who lack it, but also to reduce cost pressures on employers that work against increasing wages at the bargaining table. When companies provide drug plans, they have less income to allocate for wages for their workers.
...
The introduction of a universal, single-payer, pharmacare system has many good arguments to commend it. One of the most powerful, though least mentioned, is that the current employer-based benefit system is eroding. We should deal with that problem rather than pretending it doesn’t exist. National pharmacare is needed as soon as possible before even more Canadians find themselves lacking the means to afford the drugs they and their families desperately need.
- Michael Hobbes writes about the normalization of white-collar crime in a U.S. economy governed by little more than self-interest. And Duncan Cameron discusses the appeal of Bernie Sanders' message of "not me, us!" in response to the failures of capitalism at its most exploitative.

- Duane Bratt wonders when a large proportion of Alberta's population will start paying attention to the rigged process which saw Jason Kenney assume the helm of the UCP. And David Climenhaga notes that Kenney's government stands out among Canada's provinces in presiding over massive job losses.

- Finally, CBC examines the simple steps to safer communities in designing around pedestrians rather than vehicles. And Oliver Moore reports on a drop in fatalities in Toronto from a lowered speed limit alone.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jeff Spross calls out the absurdity of gutting protections for health and safety in the name of "regulatory certainty" - particularly when that really only means businesses know they can get away with as much damage on the public as they can inflict.

- Alice O'Keeffe writes about the importance of child care to set children and families up with opportunities to succeed. And CBC News reports on Don Davies' bill to finally introduce a national school nutrition program.

- Hilary Agro makes the case for drug legalization to avoid maximizing the harm from drug use.

-  Ellen Barry writes about the growing number of municipalities looking at free transit as a means of building a safer, more affordable and more environmentally friendly city. And Jolson Lim points out that Canadian mayors are pushing for dedicated transit funding as part of the federal budget.

- Finally, Paul Krugman offers a reminder of the Republicans' hypocrisy over deficits - which of course applies equally in Canada as right-wing governments gut public services to only partially paper over the holes they've created in budgets with reckless giveaways to the corporate sector. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Downed cats.






Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Fiona Harvey writes about the perfect storm of environmental crises leaving us at risk of societal collapse. And Tim Flannery calls out the deception and denial from Australia's government after it has contributed to setting its own country ablaze.

- Mark Olalde and Ryan Menezes report on California's old and abandoned wells - signalling that the problem of the public being forced to foot the bill for the exploitation of oil resources goes far beyond Alberta.

- Steve Lambert notes that Scott Moe's scheme to ship oil through Manitoba has been suggested - and rejected - before. Vassy Kapelos and John Paul Tasker report on the latest estimates showing the cost of Trans Mountain to be ballooning. And Cameron Fenton makes the case against approval for the Teck Frontier tar sands mine.

- PressProgress points out the unwillingness of Public Safety Canada, CSIS and the RCMP to properly label far-right extremism and terrorism. And Andrew Nikiforuk laments the choice of colonialism over reconciliation as both the B.C. and federal governments push a natural gas pipeline on unceded Wet’suwet’en land.

- Finally, Emily Needham reports on Scott Banda's choice to ally himself and the Co-op system with bigots and white nationalists in order to attack the workers who have made his corporation massive profits. And David Climenhaga examines Jason Kenney's propaganda network which is now being turned against health care workers.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Annie Lowrey writes about the affordability crisis which has left most Americans in dire financial straits even as aggregate economic numbers look reasonably strong:
(B)eyond the headline economic numbers, a multifarious and strangely invisible economic crisis metastasized: Let’s call it the Great Affordability Crisis. This crisis involved not just what families earned but the other half of the ledger, too—how they spent their earnings. In one of the best decades the American economy has ever recorded, families were bled dry by landlords, hospital administrators, university bursars, and child-care centers. For millions, a roaring economy felt precarious or downright terrible.

Viewing the economy through a cost-of-living paradigm helps explain why roughly two in five American adults would struggle to come up with $400 in an emergency so many years after the Great Recession ended. It helps explain why one in five adults is unable to pay the current month’s bills in full. It demonstrates why a surprise furnace-repair bill, parking ticket, court fee, or medical expense remains ruinous for so many American families, despite all the wealth this country has generated. Fully one in three households is classified as “financially fragile.”
...
What is perhaps most frustrating is that the Great Affordability Crisis is amenable to policy solutions—ones most other rich countries adopted decades ago. In other developed economies, child care, early education, and higher education are public goods, and do not require high-interest-rate debts or endless scrambling by exhausted young parents to procure. Other wealthy countries have public-health systems that cover everybody at far lower cost, whether through socialized or private models. And numerous proposals would transform residential construction in this country, including one that just failed in California’s legislature.
- Jordan Yadoo and Noah Buhayar report that the disconnect between wages and housing costs is spreading from the U.S.' largest urban areas across the country. Andrew Longhurst writes about British Columbia's need for far more public assisted living. And CBC News reports that the City of Regina's public posturing about reducing homelessness has led to zero funds being allocated.

- Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez discuss the need for a wealth tax to rein in the distortion of the U.S.' economy and political system by the richest few. And Jereon Kraaijenbrink points out why even some of the .1% are making a public push for a more fair tax system which would result in their contributing more.

- Meanwhile, Christo Aivalis is the latest to highlight how the Libs' "middle class tax cut" in fact does little for the people who most need the federal government's help. Sam Jones reports on the findings of the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights that Spain has left people to struggle in poverty even as its economy has recovered from recession. And Phillip Inman reports on new research into the continuing increases in the number of UK workers living in poverty.

- Finally, Tim Harford is optimistic about the prospects of a dematerialising economy which allows for social progress while limiting the environmental damage done by economic growth.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Carson Hammond and Rob Rousseau each make the case that Canada needs a left movement for change comparable to the wave of U.S. activism propelling Bernie Sanders toward a presidential nomination.

- Brigid Delaney argues that we need to stop settling for messages of self-care, and instead work toward building social supports which aren't operated according to capitalist principles.

- Nora Loreto writes that we should treat Tim Horton's as a typically exploitative fast-food chain, not a matter of national identity.

- Gerry McCartney, LyndaFentona, GeorgeMorris and PhilMackie introduce the concepts of "superpolicies" which produce positive feedback looks beyond their immediate effects, and "policy-omnishambles" which result in multiple negative consequences. And in a prime example of the latter, Peter Erickson, Harro van Asselt, Doug Koplow, Michael Lazarus, Peter Newell, Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran study (PDF) how fossil fuel subsidies distort our energy choices while also pushing us toward climate breakdown.

- Finally, Frank Graves and Michael Valpy write about the disappearance of moderation within the Conservative Party. And McKay Coppins looks in detail at the widespread disinformation campaign being deployed in lieu of any pretense that support for Republicans can be based on facts or valid principles.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Robert Reich comments that Democrats who failed to recognize and respond to a rigged economic system share in the blame for the rise of Donald Trump's toxic populism. And George Monbiot notes that Trump is just one of many strongmen-in-the-making daring anybody to stop them from running roughshod over the world:
These are experiments in absolutism. They don’t amount to fascism in their own right. But in conjunction with the elevation of preposterous and desperate men, the denigration of minorities and immigrants, political violence, mass surveillance and widespread mockery of liberalism and social justice, they suggest that some countries, separately and together, are beginning to head towards the darkest of all political places.

The normalisation of impunity is possibly the most important step towards authoritarian rule. Never let it be normal.
- Katharina Pistor makes the case that corporate limited liability only warps incentive structures to shift risks and costs from corporations to the public.

- Adam Hunter reports on the doubling of Saskatchewan's MRI waitlist as the Sask Party has pushed privatized service rather than expanding public capacity. And Patrick White highlights the unfairness of unconscionable fees for telephone access in prisons.

- Van Badham writes that climate denialism has evolved from pretending nothing is happening to our planet at all, to somehow claiming we'll be better off with extreme weather and an endangered natural environment.

- Finally, Shawn Jeffords reports on Doug Ford's plans to allow Ontario's natural forests to be decimated. And Dorothy Woodend reminds us that individual choices make far less difference in contributing to plastic pollution than systemic corporate waste.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Thursday, February 06, 2020

New column day

Here, on how the costs of approving the Teck Frontier tar sands mine likely include locking Canada into another cycle of public subsidies for a dying oil sector - making it clear that it isn't in the public interest.

For further reading...
- Tzeporah Berman has previously questioned how any approval could be reconciled with a meaningful response to the climate crisis. And Bill McKibben rightly recognizes that approval for Frontier is utterly contrary to any claim to climate leadership.
- Andrew Willis reported on Teck's conditions to actually develop the Frontier site even if it's permitted to do so.
- Joanna Partridge has reported on fund manager BlackRock's plan to divest from coal and other fossil fuels. And Nick Cunningham discusses how the financial sector is taking climate risk and expense into account in determining whether projects will be funded and/or insured.
- Finally, in case there was any doubt that Canada's petropoliticians will happily throw as much public money as they can get their hands on into subsidizing dirty fossil fuels, the Canadian Press reports on Scott Moe's plan to fund new pipelines which lack any apparent use while continuing to slash Saskatchewan's public services.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- John Clarke writes about the war on people living in poverty arising out of needless austerity:
The OCAP years have seen the abandonment of social housing by governments, the elimination of the Canada Assistance Plan (CAP), Tory cutbacks that compare to those of Thatcher and Reagan and their consolidation by Liberal governments. When we began we never imagined that the state of homelessness would attain the grim proportions it exhibits today. The intensification of the war on the poor is the defining feature of the last three decades.

It has played a distinctive role in the broader neoliberal assault on the working class. At root, the dominant motivation has been to restore profitability through intensified exploitation. Technological innovation and class war have combined to reorganize the global workforce. The Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research uses the example of the iPhone to demonstrate the brutal efficiency of the Global Supply Chain. As it accesses raw materials and component parts, such an operation takes advantage of egregiously exploited workforces across the planet.

Even in a rich country like Canada, the neoliberal decades have seen a huge intensification of the rate of exploitation. Industrial jobs have been moved offshore, unions have been weakened, low wage precarious work has proliferated and the social infrastructure has been battered. A key component of the attack on social programs and public services, has been the reduction of income support for unemployed, sick and disabled people.
- Meanwhile, May Warren discusses the less-than-surprising link between luxury vehicles, dangerous driving and "disagreeable" men focused on status. 

- AC Shilton reports on the toxic effects of pollution in the dying town of Minden, West Virginia. And Geoff Dembicki offers a reminder that aging fossil fuel infrastructure poses an imminent threat to the Great Lakes among other areas.

- Finally, Wyatt James Schierman makes the case for news coverage to focus far more on what actually matters, and far less on gossip and trivia. And David Moscrop writes that the proper response to contrived threats to national unity is to build unifying structures such as a national pharmacare program.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Opportunistic cats.




Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Justin Worland writes that the financial sector is belatedly and slowly waking up to the dangers of the climate crisis - with crucial implications for both the limited future of the fossil fuel sector, and the development of the energy sources which will replace it. Regan Boychuk discusses Alberta's glaring lack of a plan to deal with that reality. And Malte Humpert makes clear that natural gas isn't any more viable a solution in addressing shipping than for other purposes.

- John Lorinc highlights the need for rent control to address Toronto's lack of affordable housing. And Craig Evan Pollack, Amanda L. Blackford, Shawn Du, Stefanie Deluca, Rachel J.L. Thornton, and Bradley Herring study how money for housing can reduce medical costs and other social expenses.

- Roy Romanow and Greg Marchildon make the case for a national pharmacare program. Ariel Fournier reports on the problems with limited access to medication which is common in other countries but hasn't been approved in Canada. And Zak Vescera reports on the nursing homes desperately wanting for resources in Saskatchewan, while Owen Jones points out the lack of support for end-of-life care in the UK.

- Finally, Alex Hemingway comments on the dangers of British Columbia's fixation on balanced budgets over social investments. And Ryan Tumulty notes that the Libs are at least gesturing toward making well-being a priority in their budget development.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Larry Elliott writes that continuing inequality looms as an obstacle to meaningful climate action. But David Love offers a reminder that climate apartheid is the likely end result of failing to rein in carbon pollution.

- Christopher Smart outlines the OECD's plans to regulate how multinational corporations are taxed. But Alex Cobham warns that the current structure looks to cause increased complexity without actually reducing the availability of tax havens.

- Chris Maisano points out the glaring disconnect between a U.S. population which is increasingly supportive of unions, and public policy which has been designed to prevent workers from actually organizing. And Cole Stangler discusses the importance of turning an increasing number of moments of activism - such as the French general strike - into longer-term membership and involvement.

- PressProgress warns that the same mining companies who have been allowed to exploit our environment without cleaning up their messes now have a plan to profit off of remediating their own damage. Janet French reports on the UCP's plan to start allowing oil operators to dump water from tailings ponds into Alberta's waterways. And Scott Miller reports on the Saugeen Ojibway Nation's resounding vote against taking on the risk of Canada's nuclear waste. 

- Finally, Bruce Campbell discusses the origins of both the Lac-Mégantic catastrophe and the failure of Boeing's 737 Max planes in self-regulation by businesses more interested in cutting costs than averting foreseeable tragedies.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Andrew Jackson highlights how the Libs' signature tax baubles are accomplishing little while costing significantly more than projected. And Karen Stewart joins the ranks of the wealthy looking to pay more of their fair share in taxes - emphasizing in particular the need to adequately mobilize against a climate breakdown.

- David Roberts discusses the importance of social tipping points in ending the harm carbon pollution is doing to our planet. Sophia Reuss reviews the new book by Kate Aronoff, Alyssa Battistoni, Daniel Aldana Cohen and Thea Riofrancos on the potential for a Green New Deal (and the need to fight for it). John Geddes notes that the climate crisis can't be addressed by individuals without governments leading the way. Bentley Allan argues for Canada to pursue a green industrial policy. And David Suzuki makes the case for the federal government to focus on electric buses in its next budget.

- Meanwhile, Noah Kaufman rightly calls out the right's excuses for inaction by pointing out that vague allusions to innovation aren't the least bit helpful in combating the climate crisis.

- And James McCarten takes note of the glaring lack of any climate language in the new NAFTA which the Libs are determined to push through without meaningful review or debate.

- Finally, Mia Rabson reports that the Libs have managed to confirm the obvious point that plastic waste harms the environment - meaning that they have one less excuse for continued inaction on single-use plastics.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Derek Thompson discusses how the U.S.' capitalist system has been designed to squeeze younger workers - leading to many of them being open to systemic change. And in the context of UK Labour's leadership campaign, Grace Blakeley writes about the need for socialists to talk in aspirational rather than merely incremental terms to ensure voters recognize that democratic change is possible:
The idea of ‘aspirational socialism’ is Long-Bailey’s answer to this problem. It was always going to be difficult to convince an electorate beaten down by a decade of austerity that their lives could suddenly be transformed for the better simply by ticking the right box on polling day. But reframing socialist transformation around the idea of ‘aspiration’ aims to cut through this pessimism and make Labour’s ideas seem more achievable. In the context of declining social mobility, stagnant wages and an impending climate catastrophe, it should not be difficult to argue that there exists a need for collective social transformation alongside individual self-advancement. 

Investing in our public services will allow people up and down the country to achieve their full potential, because you can’t build a better life for yourself if you can’t access a good education, decent healthcare and a safety net for when times get hard. Strengthening workers’ rights will allow people to work together to fight for better conditions, higher pay and dignity at work. And a Green New Deal will create jobs in places starved of investment for decades so that we can build a sustainable economy fit for the future.
...

Long-Bailey can argue that live in a rigged economy in which the rules are made and enforced by a tiny elite that profits from keeping wages down, rents high and ordinary people out of politics. The only way to challenge this model is to deliver a democratic revolution that will redistribute wealth and power away from the Westminster-based establishment and towards working people up and down the UK. 
 
Aspirational socialism and the democratic revolution can both be realised through the creation of genuinely democratic collective institutions, which can also provide a substantive socialist response to the call of ‘take back control.’ Abolishing the House of Lords, making the Bank of England publicly accountable and devolving power to local councils will all help to democratise and politicise the British state. Strengthening the labour movement, transforming corporate governance and introducing new models of corporate ownership will deliver a more democratic economy geared towards collective advance.
- David Segal reports on a $60 billion tax evasion scheme which is just now seeing European countries try to recover what's been stolen from the public purse. And Nicholas Shaxson makes the case for a unitary tax system to ensure corporations pay a fair share worldwide, rather than the patchwork under consideration by the OECD.

- Jordan Weissmann examines how private equity has destroyed major retail outlets. And Simon Wren-Lewis discusses how an increased political focus on the individual interests of the extremely wealthy has resulted in an unhealthy environment for many businesses.

- Finally, CBC examines how Finland has used a Housing First model to ensure that everybody has a home.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Musical interlude

Foals - Mountain At My Gates

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- George Monbiot recognizes that our climate policy needs to be based on maximizing our shift to a sustainable society, not on trying to barely reach insufficient emission reduction targets:
It’s not just the target that’s wrong, but the very notion of setting targets in an emergency.

When firefighters arrive at a burning building, they don’t set themselves a target of rescuing three of the five inhabitants. They seek – aware that they may not succeed – to rescue everyone they can. Their aim is to maximise the number of lives they save. In the climate emergency, our aim should be to maximise both the reduction of emissions and the drawing down of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. There is no safe level of global heating: every increment kills.

Maximisation is implicit in the Paris agreement: it requires governments to pursue “the highest possible ambition”. In its land-use report, the CCC repeatedly admits that it could go further, but insists it doesn’t need to, because its policies will meet the target. The target has supplanted the ultimate objective, which is to respond appropriately to the climate emergency. This is a classic vindication of Goodhart’s law: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”
...
The appropriate response to the climate emergency is a legal duty to maximise climate action. The CCC’s board should be disbanded and replaced by people whose mandate is rigorously to explore every economic sector in search of the maximum possible cuts in greenhouse gases, and the maximum possible drawdown. We have arrived at the burning building. The only humane and reasonable aim is to rescue everyone inside.
- Paul Krugman discusses how the movement to combat climate change has a far better grasp of economics than the elites trying to operate in denial. The Financial Times backs the EU's move toward carbon border taxes which ensure emissions can't be exported. And Emily Atkin notes that what's typically referred to as green-washing by the fossil fuel industry is better summarized as false advertising.

- Brigid Delaney writes about the profound physical effects of Australia's summer of scorching heat and uncontrollable fire. Laura Kane interviews Mike Pearson about the harm Trans Mountain construction is inflicting on natural salmon habitats. And Kieran Leavitt offers a reminder of the known health risks of fracking.

- Faisal Chaudhry points out the web of intellectual property provisions which lock in massive profits for the pharmaceutical industry while limiting access to needed medications.

- Finally, Katie Hyslop examines how to eliminate single-parent poverty in British Columbia. Corey Ranger calls out the Kenney UCP's targeted attacks on Alberta's most vulnerable people. And Darren Walker writes about the need for structural change - rather than philanthropy - in order to improve the living conditions of the people now suffering the most.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Kate Andrias notes that governments can ensure better jobs for everybody by fostering collective bargaining strength.

- John Favini writes that cooperation is deeply embedded in our biology - contrary to the spin that we naturally seek and require competition.

- Marc Edelman points out how the U.S.' laissez-faire governance has left rural areas in desperate need of development. And Mitchell Anderson writes that Jason Kenney has abandoned rural Alberta by imposing provincial funding cuts, strongarming municipalities into additional policing costs, and telling them never to expect to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and fees left unpaid by the oil sector.

- Louise Bradley discusses the importance of investing in mental health - and not only through corporate promotional campaigns. And Trish Hennessy offers her take as to how we should discuss the social determinants of mental health.

- Finally, Bill Curry reports that Canada's federal capacity to invest in people has been cut down by more than a billion dollars per year due to additional costs from the Libs' tax baubles.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Laura Flanders interviews Naomi Klein about the connection between the climate crisis and inequality - including her recognition that any attempt to address the former without simultaneously responding to the latter is doomed to fail:
But there are a lot of people who say, “Got it, we understand. We have to deal with racism and homelessness and health care, but right now we have a pollution, environmental recycling, consumer problems. Let’s just focus with that, with plastics or with the supply chain.”

Right. And frankly, I think that that has been the approach of the mainstream green movement for a long time. Sometimes said explicitly, sometimes sort of sotto voce, which is like, “Look, let’s just save the planet first and then we’ll deal with, you know, racism and inequality and gender exclusion and sort of just wait your turn.” And that doesn’t go over very well because for people who are on the front lines of all of those other crises, they’re all existential. I mean, if you can’t feed your kids, if you’re losing your house, if you are facing violence, all of it is existential.

And so, we just have to accept that we live in a time of multiple overlapping intersecting crises and we have to figure out how to multitask, which means we need to figure out how to lower emissions in line with what scientists are telling us, which is really fast. And we need to do it in a way that builds a fair economy in the process. Because if we don’t, people are so overstressed and overburdened because of 40 years of neoliberal policy, that when you introduce the kinds of carbon-centric policies that try to pry this crisis apart from all the others, what that actually looks like is you’re going to pay more for gas, you’re going to pay more for electricity. We’re just going to have a market-based response. And so, it’s perceived as just one more thing that is making life impossible.
- James Purtill writes about the lack of trust people throughout the developed world have in the likelihood that the efforts of workers will be rewarded - and the frustration they've developed with the capitalist system which has produced that disconnect. And Nicole Aschoff highlights how corporations are downright eager to sacrifice people's lives in the name of maximizing their short-term profits.

- Doug Cuthand writes that the increasingly disproportionate share of Indigenous people within Canada's prison population reflects ongoing discrimination within a colonial society. And Justin Brake reports on the RCMP's treatment of public support for Indigenous land protection as a threat to be beaten back through the power of the state.

- Finally, Max Fawcett points out that the UCP's plans to tie university funding to post-graduation income are particularly ill-suited for a boom-and-bust economy where the degrees which seemed most valuable a decade ago are turning into dead ends now.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Relaxed cats.





Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Gabriel Winant reviews Matt Stoller's Goliath, and discusses in the process the importance of challenging the assumptions capitalism as a system rather than presuming that it can be rendered just merely by taking steps to break up immediate monopolies. And Alexandra Posadzki's reporting on threats from Rogers if the federal government tries to make access to networks more affordable only confirms the need for a national public alternative to the telecom oligopoly. 

- Meanwhile, John Clarke argues that after recognizing that housing is a right, we should take the necessary step of taking what's going unused for the benefit of the people whose needs aren't being met.

- Tom Spears reports on the failures of Ottawa's P3 LRT system - which has only make public transit as a whole less reliable for people who would otherwise use it.

- Shannon Gormley discusses the Libs' loose relationship with the rule of law where it conflicts with the interests of accumulated capital.

- Trevor Harrison laments the Kenney government's choice to mirror the Trump administration in its disdain for the truth. And Michael Coren questions Doug Ford's choice to provide payoffs to parents rather than resources for a viable public school system.

- Finally, Meghan Bell writes that any effort to improve mental health at a societal level will need to address the inequalities and stresses which undermine our well-being.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Asher Schecter interviews Emmanuel Saez about the realities of growing inequality - and the denialists looking to exacerbate it. And Chris Hayes talks to Gabriel Zucman about the benefits of a wealth tax.

- Laurie Monsebraaten reports on a new study showing how Canada could eradicate poverty with a basic income. And Alison McIntosh and Rebecca Graff McRae examine what a basic income could mean for Alberta.

- Meanwhile, Steven Greenhouse and Sharon Block each discuss a new study calling for a boost to the bargaining power of American workers, with an emphasis on sectoral bargaining which eliminate the race to the bottom between employers. And Jim Stanford writes that we shouldn't attribute to technology what's actually the result of choices in defining the power relationship between employers and workers:
Technology is neither our friend nor our enemy as the world of work changes. And workers face far more urgent problems than being made redundant by automation. Today they confront pervasive precarity, stagnant and unequal incomes, and an absence of voice in their work lives. These challenges cannot be fixed either by the automatic working of market forces or by the advances of digital technology. Instead, they demand quick and powerful responses from policy-makers and other labour market stakeholders.

By focusing on the demand side of the labour market, not just the supply of skilled workers, we can ensure there are fulfilling, productive jobs for future well-trained graduates to fill. By giving workers more protection and more say over technology and how it is managed (rather than leaving those decisions solely up to employers), we can attain a better balance between the goals of profitability and the goals of decent, secure work. By building more representative and participatory structures and processes to address both existing and future workplace challenges, we enhance our collective capacity to manage technological change more successfully and fairly.
- Zaid Noorsumar discusses how profit motives are distorting Ontario's home care system. And the Canadian Labour Congress is pushing for the new minority Parliament to finally implement a national pharmacare system to ensure cost isn't a barrier to the medication people need.

- Finally, Benjamin Perrin declares his recognition that supervised consumption sites are needed as a matter of basic compassion.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Linda McQuaig points out that what normally gets claimed as a higher life expectancy arising out of capitalism in fact consists of publicly-implemented sanitation.

- Richard Denniss rightly argues that no job - including that of a politician - is worth endangering the habitability of our planet. And George Monbiot writes that we should gladly accept being labeled "extreme" if that's what it takes to preserve a liveable environment.

- Sara Hastings-Simon notes that there's a chance to transition toward producing rare earth minerals if we're willing to stop subsidizing fossil fuels instead. But Beth Gardiner reports that the oil industry is looking to keep on pushing its products - even if that means ramping up an already-appalling amount of plastic waste in order to replace the extraction of oil and gas for burning. And David Suzuki observes that we're already seeing insufficiency coverage of the ecological crises we face today.

- Meanwhile, Karl Bode and Matthew Gault report on the latest moves toward planned obsolescence for corporate benefit, as the choice to stop supporting "legacy" systems forces people to agree to scrap products which they'd prefer to keep using.

- Finally, Chantelle Bellerichard reports on the Office of the Correctional Investigator's observation that the gross over-representation of Indigenous people in Canada's prison system is only getting worse.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Justin Nobel exposes the toxic - and even radioactive - side effects of the oil and gas industry. Reuters reports on the widespread presence of permanently-dangerous chemicals in drinking water in cities across the U.S. The Canadian Press reports on charges against an Alberta company arising out of a hydrogen sulphide leak. But Inyat Singh notes that Alberta's provincial auditor is just about to begin a review of one of the lasting environmental harms being dumped on the public in the form of orphan wells - and Sharon Riley writes that Alberta's government has buried the facts on that front before. And Paul Cowley discusses the likely-futile attempt of Alberta municipalities to secure the power to require oil and gas operators to pay their tax bills, even as Jason Kenney declares they're far more deserving of sympathy and public financial support than, say, people living with disabilities.

- Duncan Cameron points out how the corporate elites at Davos are prioritizing oil profits over a liveable planet. And Adam Scott and Patrick DeRochie discuss the folly of gambling public pension funds on fossil fuel infrastructure such as the the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

- Umair Irfan reports on the protest by Harvard law students against the firm working on helping Exxon and other oil giants escape any consequences for their contribution to the climate breakdown. But Joshua Sealy-Harrington points out how a combination of soaring tuition and limited options upon graduation is making it difficult for law school graduates to pursue work in keeping with their values.

- Gernot Wagner offers a reminder that the oil industry was aware of the realities of climate science before most - and that it worked feverishly to suppress the truth and manufacture doubt in order to keep extracting profits. And Stephen Maher writes about Volkswagen's evasion of any criminal charges for its emissions fraud.

- Finally, Andrew Nikiforuk debunks the myths being used to try to paint liquid natural gas and other fossil fuel expansion projects as a solution to climate change, rather than an aggravating factor.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

New column day

Here, on the Saskatchewan Party's dangerous focus on privatization and photo-ops rather than the public infrastructure the province needs.

For further reading...
- Alex MacPherson reported on both the Moe government's advance notice of the flaws in the roof of the new North Battleford hospital, and the continued use of panels from a provider whose products had already failed in the building's walls. And Scott Larson's report includes more details about the litany of problems with the building.
- Zak Vescera reported on the belated declaration that the Saskatchewan Health Authority is looking at addressing a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure deficit - a mere six months after the provincial auditor updated the state of disrepair in Saskatoon's facilities, which in turn came a year after the SHA itself started acknowledging the size of the backlog it's only now starting to address.
- CBC News reported on the limited use of the grossly-overpriced Regina bypass. And again, Sara Birrell highlighted how Saskatchewan has been harmed by the Sask Party's P3s.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz, Todd Tucker and Gabriel Zucman write about the need for governments to bring in sufficient revenue to act in the public interest. And Sophie Alexander points out some of the millionaires who want their class to contribute their fair share.

- Robinson Meyer offers some historical perspective on both the climate breakdown we're already facing, and the continued carbon pollution which only figures to make matters worse. Mitchell Anderson comments on the futility of the Australian government's helicoptering of temporary food supplies to wallabies while it remains determined to destroy their habitat. And Emma McIntosh writes that both global economic forces and public opinion are on the side of a transition away from fossil fuels.

- Meanwhile, John Vidal writes that the solution to our excess of plastic waste involves planning to avoid creating it in the first place, not relying on recycling after the fact.

- Josh Rubin reports on the wage stagnation facing men living in Toronto over the past two decades. And the Economist weighs in on the connection between minimum wage levels and suicide rates.

- Finally, David Climenhaga takes note of the general strikes in France to save pensions under attack by Emmanuel Macron - as well as the media blackout against that type of collective action in Canada.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Comfy cats.




Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Michael Enright interviews Linda McQuaig about the loss of public resources to privatization - even in the face of popular opinion:
People don't like big corporations. They don't like the big five or six banks because of the banking fees, etc. So the idea of privatization and private enterprise is a pretty easy target for you, isn't it?

You're absolutely right. Polls show privatization is generally very unpopular. That's why they renamed it public-private partnerships, to make it sound more friendly. And the big banks are anything but popular.

The interesting thing, though, is the gap between the public's attitudes — which is very skeptical about big business, wanting to rein it in, wanting to tax at higher — and our governments. Even though they [the government] don't go around openly siding with business and they're sensitive to the public mood, in their policies they're actively privatizing in ways that are very costly to Canadians. I think it's pretty clear that they're doing it because they're getting that demand from the private sector.
- Robert Booth reports on how private rental housing is harming health outcomes in the UK, while the Economist points out the problems flowing from an obsession with homeownership. Daniel Tencer highlights Canada's lack of transparency in real estate holdings. And the Star's editorial board makes the case for a vacancy tax in Toronto.

- Amelia Hill discusses the glaring gap in life expectancy based on wealth and other social factors.  And Olga Khazan writes about the many interrelated causes of the opioid crisis.

- Monika Dutt and Edward Xie offer a reminder that employers who require sick notes from employees make everyone worse off.

- Finally, Scott Schmidt rightly argues that the purpose of government should be to serve the interests of people, not to facilitate the concentration of capital in the name of economic growth.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz points out that a few gross numbers based on top-end wealth can't change the reality that Donald Trump's economy has only squeezed the working class. Jim Stanford highlights Australia's "retail apocalypse" resulting in massive job losses and disruption, while Josh Robin notes that male workers in Toronto have seen their wages stagnate since 2000. And Phillip Inman reports on the IMF's recognition that we're at risk of another crash at any time due to inequality and a precarious financial sector.

- Kelly Cryderman points out that Jason Kenney's supposed plans for jobs in Alberta are doomed as long as he insists on skimping on child care. And PressProgress is duly scathing in response to Doug Ford's desire to pattern Ontario's education system after Alabama's.

- Lee Fang exposes the lobbying and disinformation campaigns by pesticide producers to avoid accounting for the dangers of poisons which have been found to devastate bee populations. And Rebecca Cohen writes about a foiled corporate attempt to empty a basin beneath the Mojave Desert to be sold into Los Angeles' suburbs.

- Meanwhile, Sarah Boseley reports on the public health dangers arising out of Big Pharma's complete failure to adequately research new antibiotics (and the concurrent reluctance of governments to fund research designed to produce public benefits rather than private profits).

- Finally, Jennifer Pagliaro writes about the underfunding of libraries which keeps them from serving vital purposes - including as a place to go for people who otherwise lack one.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Dion Rabouin offers a reminder that corporate tax giveaways don't do anything to help the economy beyond the interests of wealthy shareholders. And Nicole Aschoff discusses the importance of building a model for progressive globalism to counter the reach of international capital.

- Meanwhile, PressProgress notes that the Libs' Infrastructure Bank is siding squarely with the latter by looking to turn municipal water supplies into fodder for corporate operators.

- Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryn WuDunn write about the deaths of despair which are lowering American life expectancies.

- Andrew Nikiforuk observes that B.C. fracking is causing the earthquakes which have long been anticipated, creating massive and avoidable risks to the province's dam infrastructure.

- Finally, Greg Jericho calls out the attempt of Scott Morrison's government to claim credit for climate negligence and "reductions" which involve the continued accumulation of carbon pollution - a position which is of course all too familiar in the Canadian context.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Monday, January 13, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- James Bradley writes about the range of responses to an increasingly threatening climate. And Emma Morris offers some suggestions as to how to become part of the solution to the climate crisis.

- Adrienne Buller discusses why the popular and necessary prospect of a Green New Deal didn't get anything approaching a fair hearing in the UK's general election. And Malcolm Turnbull writes that Australia's catastrophic bushfires should have provided the impetus for a transition - though part of the lesson to be taken from Scott Morrison's response is that we can't afford to have fossil fuel lackeys in power to obstruct vital progress.

- PressProgress rounds up a few of the Jason Kenney UCP's holiday disasters, while Scott Schmidt rightly criticizes the UCP's pattern of trying to point fingers at newly-declared enemies rather than answering even simple questions about its actions in government.

- Sara Birrell highlights just a few of the examples of how Saskatchewan has suffered as a result of P3 schemes.

- Finally, Birrell also discusses the clash of values underlying the Co-op refinery lockout. And Jim Keohane and David Colletto note that Canadians generally would prefer a far more secure pension system than is currently available to most.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Gary Younge writes about the need to respond to a bleak reality with the dedication to imagine and create something better. And Vickie Cammack and Donna Thomson highlight how the response to a climate breakdown includes mobilizing our capacity to care for others.

- CBC News talks to John Pomeroy about the effects of a changing climate on Saskatchewan agriculture - and particularly the dangers to the province's water supply.

- But Nick Cohen weighs in on the reality denial of the right-wing government and media in Australia (which of course matches that of their counterparts in Canada).

- In the wake of last week's sabre-rattling over Iran, Toula Drimonis reminds us that we have far more in common with the civilians trapped by the poor judgment of their governing class than with the elites pushing for war on both sites. And Shree Paradkar calls out the CBC for demonizing minorities by amplifying the Cons' spin about "anchor babies".

- Finally, Royson James highlights the opportunities Toronto - like so many communities - has lost by obsessing over property tax levels rather than investing in social development.