Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Alex Hunsberger writes that the CERB may be a flashpoint in determining whether the cost of the coronavirus pandemic will be borne primarily by people who can afford it, or people who merely can't avoid it. Alison Pennington highlights how Australia's government - like so many others - has chosen to use the pandemic to reverse decades of progress for women. And Jamelle Bouie points out the importance of combating economic inequality in order to make any progress against systemic racism.

- Levon Sevunts reports on polling showing a majority of Canadians in support of a 30-hour work week. And Joe Jones looks to the activism of the 19th century as a precedent in pushing for reductions in working time.

- David Climenhaga writes about the need for Alberta to start providing support for research aimed at something more than propping up a dying oil and gas sector. And PressProgress highlights the Sask Party's trumpeting of an anti-worker oil lobbyist as the type of "entrepreneur" they see representing the province. 

- Graham Thomson discusses the cynical political calculations behind the UCP's push for government-controlled referenda. And Charles Rusnell reports on the UCP's gutting of any review of legislation which transferred total power into the hands of its cabinet.

- Finally, Josiah Mortimer notes that the UK's first-past-the-post system has resulted much of the country being written off for electoral purposes.


  1. The article on referenda wasn't very strong. The problems with having them aren't fundamental; the thing about referenda is that it's easy to make them gameable.
    So for instance, it sounds like Kenney's proposing a thing where the government gets to decide what referenda are about and how they will be worded . . . sort of a binding push-poll. That's broken, and very deliberately so.
    Usually, referenda allow a bunch of spending, as usual giving the wealthy a huge edge in defining the issues and pushing their solutions.
    Even done with goodwill, referenda typically are defined as a yes/no vote on some proposed measure. This is a problem--whoever defines it wants it to pass, so they will word it to make it sound necessary. And the structure makes it all by definition a case of "Something must be done. This is something. Therefore, this must be done!"
    The way referenda should be done is, some group initiates it by defining an ISSUE, and proposing one or more actions. Then, there is a waiting period during which other groups can propose different solutions to the issue. Put 'em all on the ballot (or, you know, all the ones that could gather enough signatures or whatever) and do an instant-runoff, STV type vote between them, so rather than some way or the highway people will choose their preferred approach. And of course, money should be kept out of the whole process as much as possible.