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the Teck Frontier mine - and particularly how any pricing assumptions which could make development viable are far out of date.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.