Saturday, July 11, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- David Macdonald notes that the federal government's investments in the wake of COVID-19 have been necessary to keep intolerable burdens off of people who haven't been able to bear them. Scotiabank weighs in (PDF) on the reality that the costs of inaction would be far worse than those of supporting people through a public health crisis. And Heather Scoffield writes about the folly of obsessing over deficits and debt when we enjoy extremely low interest rates, while facing an urgent need to rebuild from the coronavirus pandemic:
(D)espite all the billions that have been spent on income support, wage subsidies, commercial rent and vulnerable people, the federal government can afford for now to keep borrowing if it chooses.

That’s a relief because even though the emergency part of the pandemic economy seems to have passed, we are still very far from anything resembling a recovery. Governments at all levels are under intense pressure to spend more in the name of that eventual recovery — on everything from help for hard-hit sectors for the economy to COVID-proof child care to job-creation schemes that would alleviate unemployment.

Plus, the last thing any government would want to do right now is to pull back on supportive spending because financial markets and investors believe we can’t handle the debt load. There’s a consensus around the world that a premature retrenchment would do more harm than good, nipping a fragile recovery in the bud. Since the public debt carrying charges on extra debt are so low, Canada doesn’t have to be too concerned about that.
- Dana Goldstein writes about the looming disaster if schools aren't provided with sufficient resources to reopen safely in the fall, while Amy Greer, Nisha Thampi and Ashleigh Tuite discuss how that can be done. Chandra Pasma discusses how to establish a safe post-secondary education sector in the wake of COVID-19. And Kerry Clare writes about the need for fathers to join the push for policies which ensure women don't bear the brunt of insufficient supports.

- Canadians for Tax Fairness highlights the need for a more fair tax system in light of Cameco's avoidance of a multi-billion-dollar contribution to our country by moving uranium through a Swiss subsidiary.

- Alec Connon discusses how the financial sector lies behind racial disparities and the climate crisis. And Amanda Marcotte points out that the same conspiracy theory underlying climate change denial has been repurposed to attack any public response to COVID-19.

- Finally, Dan Darrah and Ben Elvin write that now is the time for labour militancy to ensure that grocery workers (and other people working to provide our essentials of life) receive a living wage and fair benefits.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Musical interlude

Slowdive - Alison

On lunatic fringes

Let's take a moment to acknowledge a rare opportunity to agree with the messaging of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation: any plan to hand out more giveaways to the corporate sector can only be reflect policy based on the definition of insanity.

On national interests

PressProgress highlights how Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan Party are continuing to rely heavily on corporate donations from outside the province. But it's worth noting how people across Canada who are worried about Moe and his extraprovincial puppetmasters have the opportunity to fight back.

As I've written before, Saskatchewan has extremely lax political donation laws. And Moe (like Brad Wall before him) has chosen to keep them in place based on the perceived advantage of being able to exploit corporate donations from outside businesses seeking to buy their way into the province.

But those rules also leave the door open for grassroots donors from outside the province to have an impact. So in addition to working on organizing in their own communities, Canadians are also able to contribute to change for the better in Saskatchewan in an election scheduled for October.

And that change can't come a moment too soon.

After all, the Saskatchewan Party's corporatism has had ramifications stretching far beyond our provincial borders. When every other Canadian jurisdiction was able to reach agreement on climate change policy, it was Moe who served as a roadblock to consensus on behalf of oil barons. And that was in keeping with the Saskatchewan Party's role in blocking then delaying any CPP expansion.

One might have thought that Jason Kenney's taking power in Alberta would have allowed Moe to moderate Saskatchewan's position. Instead, Moe has chosen to echo and amplify Kenney's most destructive messages even when they have absolutely no movement behind them in his own province - including by musing about snatching pensions and imposing a provincially-run police force. (That latter threat is particularly jarring as Moe's own highway patrol has been exposed stockpiling prohibited weapons and lining the pockets of bigots.)

The October election is fast approaching, and the province is braced for another Saskatchewan Party ad blitz over the summer. Which means that now is the time to ensure that Ryan Meili's NDP is able to hold its own in presenting its plans for a people-centred COVID-19 recovery, and defining Moe as he answers to the province's voters for the first time. And if enough people pitch in, what might seem like a small amount of money by the standards of larger provinces could make a huge difference in charting a healthier path for Canada as a whole.

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Don Pittis writes about the emptiness of any discussion of energy options which doesn't account for the importance of averting a climate breakdown.

- Somini Sengupta discusses the deadly effects of unprecedented wildfires in the Arctic region, while Nadine Achoui-Lesage and Frank Jordans report that we may be headed to a 1.5 degree temperature increase as soon as 2024. Nita Bhalla reports on new UN research showing how climate change is contributing to the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases. And Eric Roston highlights how a hotter world will include unnecessarily large amounts of inequality and poverty.

- Rachel Adams-Heard and Ellen Gilmer highlight the reality that there's no justification for building new fossil fuel pipelines. And Kyle Bakx reports that the result of Alberta being handed a federal bailout to deal with orphan wells has been an actual slowdown in reclamation work.

- Bruce Campbell discusses the lessons which tragically haven't been learned in the wake of the Lac-Mégantic oil train explosion.

- Finally, Kristy Kirkup reports on polling showing that three-quarters of Canadian recognize the problem with systemic racism in the RCMP. Momtaza Mehri points out that the fight against racism involves far more than merely paying attention to one's own privilege. And Meagan Day comments on the vital role of the labour movement in building solidarity to overcome racism and other forms of prejudice.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

On double insecurity

Shorter Bill Morneau on what his government expects of workers generally:
Nobody has a right to expect secure, long-term employment.
Shorter Bill Morneau on benefits for workers affected by COVID-19, as his government eliminates direct income support while maintaining only a wage subsidy:
Nobody has a right to support in the midst of a pandemic unless they have secure, long-term employment.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Sylvia Fuller and Yue Qian weigh in on how working mothers are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic (and a policy response which has included no effort to ensure the availability of child care).

- Peter Weber discusses how Sweden's insistence on staying open in the midst of a pandemic produced absolutely no economic gains while leading to thousands of avoidable deaths. Adrienne Matei explores the severe and lasting effects of even a "mild" case of COVID-19, while Ian Sample notes that the aftereffects may include serious brain disorders. And Shaun Griffin examines research showing how any hope for herd immunity to COVID-19 through natural infection is entirely misplaced.

- Adam Houston notes that Canada may need to make use of its compulsory licensing rights to ensure a supply of the medications which are being hoarded by the Trump administration. And Jesse Whattan warns that corporations may be looking for opportunities to sue governments under trade agreements for having the audacity to attempt to protect the public from the threat of a pandemic. 

- The Broadbent Institute and other organizations have called for a wealth tax in response to the Parliamentary Budget Office's recent study on its potential to raise revenue without affecting anything but unbridled greed. And Luke Savage makes the case to ensure that such a tax disperses power as well as money.

- Finally, Rick Smith writes about the rise of the U.S.' progressive left as finally providing an analogue to Canada's NDP.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Ari Rabin-Havt argues that any available means of treating COVID-19 need to be viewed as public goods to be made available to all, rather than windfalls for big pharma based on its ability to control supplies and prices.

- The Guardian's editorial board sounds the alarm about the grossly disproportionate burdens COVID-19 is placing on women.

- Tess Wilkinson-Ryan writes about the psychology of decision-making in the face of reopening - and the difficulty individual will have making good choices when faced with confusion or contradictory messages from governments and businesses. And David Roberts identifies the risk that with COVID-19 - as with climate change - we may be shifting our baseline expectations to accept perpetually worse outcomes as a "new normal" rather than pushing for action to achieve better ones. 

- Andre Mayer highlights the possibility that our efforts at rebuilding could finally put us on a path to averting climate breakdown. And Lori Nikkel discusses how the coronavirus pandemic should spur us to ensure that Canadians no longer face hunger or food insecurity. 

- Finally, Doug Cuthand writes about the need for an overhaul of Saskatchewan's treatment of people who are currently ending up in remand. And Kelly Geraldine Malone reports that Manitoba has followed through on ending discriminatory "birth alerts", even while Scott Moe continues their use in Saskatchewan.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Lookout cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jonathan Aldred highlights how COVID-19 has laid bare the folly of a neoliberal economic structure which encourages insecurity, fragility and illusions of control over the unforeseen. And Merran Smith and Michel Letellier discuss how a rebuilding program centred on clean energy will be superior to pouring money into the status quo from an economic perspective and well as an environmental one.

- Meanwhile, Cathal Kelly argues that it's foolish to prioritize the resumption of professional sports at a time when so much of our ability to engage with the world remains at risk due to an ongoing pandemic.

 - Dustin Godfrey reports on the decisions of two of TransMountain's insurers to wash their hands of involvement in pipeline construction. And the Energy Mix notes that Shell is joining other oil giants in writing down assets which aren't likely to be extracted, while Carl Meyer reports that liquid natural gas terminal operators are likewise recognizing they're relying on dubious bets about fossil fuel consumption.  

- But as dirty energy becomes ever less practical based on any fair evaluation, Emily Atkin writes about the cynical efforts of the sector (which has regularly imposed the burden of environmental destruction on minority communities) to associate clean energy with racism.

- Robert Sweeny writes about the Parliamentary Budget Office's most recent findings indicating that racial and economic inequality are worse than ever. Nimalan Yoganathan discusses how Jagmeet Singh's punishment for exposing actual racism in Parliament signals how racial inequality remains entrenched in our political system. And Sajmun Sachdev highlights how Singh's treatment mirrors the plight of many who have been told to apologize for calling out racism.

- Finally, Naomi Lakritz warns about the dangers of returning to the austerity and corporatism of Ralph Klein's Alberta. And Laurie Macfarlane discusses Boris Johnson's anti-democratic plan to put rebuilding in the hands of private developers interested in nothing but further building their own obscene wealth.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Robert Reich discusses how Donald Trump's insistence on pushing reopening without a plan to alleviate an ongoing pandemic has led to disaster both for the U.S.' economy and its public health. And the Economist highlights the need to make basic health precautions into social norms - even as Trump and his party, like Doug Ford and other right-wing politicians bent on pushing infectious masculinity, go out of their way to flout them.

- Yunghi Kim writes about a growing epidemic of hunger in a country more than capable of providing the necessities of life to everybody.

- Bharat Ramamurti and Lindsay Owens make the case for a fair wages guarantee to ensure workers aren't pushed into structural disadvantages as a result of COVID-19. And they particularly contrast that approach against a one-time bonus aimed at strongarming people into permanent low-wage jobs - which, needless to say, is also the Cons' plan.

- Meanwhile, Janyce McGregor digs into what should be the most fundamental criticism of the Libs' attempt to push students into sub-minimum-wage labour by classifying work as "volunteering".

- Susan Wright compares Jason Kenney's sad excuse for a rebuilding plan to the prospect of an energy transition which he refuses to consider. And Max Fawcett points out how Alberta's people are being sacrificed on the altar of supply-side zealotry.

- Finally, Sam Camping reports on the work activists are doing to raise awareness of the suicide crisis which the Saskatchewan Party has blithely chosen to ignore. And Morgan Modjeski reports that in addition to stockpiling prohibited weapons for no remotely plausible reason, Scott Moe's Highway Patrol has also been putting tactical training for its officers in the hands of an anti-LGBTQ trainer.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Linda McQuaig writes about the Libs' choice to use infrastructure programs primarily to generate massive returns for private investors, rather than ensuring that public money gives rise to good value and needed results.

- Meanwhile, the BBC reports on the UK Consumer and Markets Authority's (however obvious) conclusion that Google and Facebook exercise excessive control over the flow of information online - with breaking them up raised as one of the possible responses.

- Kim Siever offers a reminder that corporate tax giveaways merely lead to greater concentration of wealth rather than creating jobs. And in contrast, the Canadian Labour Congress notes that employers would benefit substantially from a national pharmacare program.

- John Loeppky discusses how Scott Moe's government is taking advantage of the CERB to strip away benefits from the people who need them most. And David Shield reports on the summer camps which are still waiting for word from the provincial government as to whether and how they'll be allowed to operate.

- Finally, Rebecca Huntley writes about the need to talk about our climate breakdown in emotional terms rather than purely statistical ones. And Darrin Qualman and Glenn Wright call out Moe and others who are using the promise of small nuclear reactors as just their latest delay tactic against any real climate progress.