Saturday, September 26, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

 Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Charlie Smith talks to Robert Hare about the increasing concentration of corporate control - and deterioration of the public's capacity to provide a needed counterweight - in the decades since The Corporation was released.

- PressProgress exposes the hundreds of thousands of dollars of Saskatchewan Party donations connected to the Rawlco radio network's owners. And the Saskatchewan NDP highlights how Scott Moe insists on preserving an archaic campaign finance system where he's motivated to serve out-of-province numbered companies rather than the people of the province. 

- Marco D'Angelo warns that transit services are in danger of falling into a death spiral just as they're proving especially vital in ensuring fair access to transportation while minimizing carbon pollution.

- Meanwhile, Ian Hanomansing interviews David Suzuki about the Libs' appalling willingness to hype nuclear power, while CBC News reports on their choice to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at offshore drilling - even as they again dither when it comes to meaningful action to avert a climate breakdown.

- Finally, Saskatchewan's Chief Electoral Officer Michael Boda puts a call out for people to work at the polls to ensure everybody has access to the polls.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Musical interlude

 Black Pumas - Colors

Friday Afternoon Links

 Assorted content to end your week.

- Karon Liu offers a basic primer on how to avoid contributing to the second wave of the coronavirus. And the Canadian Teachers' Federation surveys how educators and students have been - and continue to be - affected by COVID-19.

- CUPE is encouraging Saskatchewan's votes to cast their ballots with an eye toward the importance of public services. Adam Hunter reports on the doubling of Saskatchewan's MRI wait-list as the Sask Party's move toward privatized health care predictably did nothing to improve access in the public system. And CBC News reports on the likelihood that Scott Moe's choice to intercept federal CERB funding will end up leaving people homeless.  

- Brian Bethune talks to Michael Sandel about how the language of meritocracy contributes to ongoing (and indeed increasing) inequity.

- Finally, Emily Eaton and Simon Enoch examine how a move toward a renewable Regina can align with the goals of reducing poverty and inequality. And Seth Klein discusses the need to deal with the climate crisis and inequality together:

(C)limate policy purists are wrong. The rebuttal is two-fold.

First, these issues are actually deeply intertwined. Lower income people and countries are more vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis. Those with higher incomes and wealth have greater GHG emissions. Conversely, many climate action policies impact lower-income people harder, and thus these impacts must be mitigated.

And second, it is only by linking these issues that we win over and mobilize broad popular support. We cannot ask people to separate their fears about the climate crisis from the other affordability anxieties, economic pressures and systemic crises they face. At a very basic level, inequality undermines trust that “we are all in this together.”

Many doubt that the task at hand will be undertaken in a manner that is fair. It is hard to rally the public if many believe the rich are merely buying their way out of making change—fortifying their homes, walling their communities or purchasing carbon offsets in the hope that others will lower their actual emissions. Equally troubling is a cultural narrative that sees climate action as part of an elite project in which the poor or those currently working in the fossil fuel sector are expendable. 


High levels of inequality undermine social cohesion and promote social divisions, rather than building the social and political trust needed to chart a future based on a sense of shared fate. If climate policies are not perceived as fair, public support will not be sustained, and political determination will shrink accordingly.

The more a robust climate action plan is linked to an exciting plan to tackle poverty and inequality, along with a hopeful and convincing jobs plan, the more we maximize public support. Plus, it’s the right thing to do.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Thursday Morning Links

 This and that for your Thursday reading.

 - Patrick Brethour discusses houw the effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been anything but fairly or equally distributed. And Katherine Scott highlights how the effect has been to undo decades of already-slow progress in improving the conditions of single mothers.

- Don Pittis discusses how New Jersey's wealth tax provides an example for us to follow. And Andrew Jackson makes the case (PDF) for a wealth tax in Canada:

It is both reasonable and practical to add a wealth tax to our current arsenal of fair taxes, to be levied at a low but rising rate on very large fortunes. The aim would not be just, or even most importantly, to raise extra revenues, though these would add to fiscal capacity, but to prevent the accumulation of huge fortunes which give the ultra rich far too much power and undermine democracy. The ongoing shift of taxes away from labour to the owners of capital which undermines the fiscal base needed to support social programs and public services and exacerbates rising inequality must be reversed. While there are some difficulties in levying an annual wealth tax, it is ultimately a feasible political choice and a matter of political will.

- Stephen Gordon and Christopher Ragan discuss the prospect of updating the Bank of Canada's mandate both to better measure inflation, and to account for additional factors including employment. And Marc Lee points out the folly of obsessing over the federal debt in the midst of a pandemic.

- The Star's editorial board writes that it's time to address homelessness by building long-term housing, not only shelters. And Ashwin Rodrigues notes that any effort to rely on private-sector landlords to provide housing will need to contend with new gig-economy structures designed to facilitate evictions.

- Finally, Russell Smith points out how algorithms shape what we read online - including by directing readers away from anything that doesn't fit an arbitrary conception of a significant topic.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Scott Schmidt writes that it's inevitable that a government (like the UCP) which sees cruelty as the point of governance will reflect that attitude in its actions.

- Kate Aronoff points out the destructive alliance between corporate Republicans and the likes of QAnon to spread anti-science conspiracy theories. And Zack Colman and Alex Guillen write about the massive greenhouse gas emission increases to be expected based on Donald Trump's destruction of the environmental regulatory state.

- Patrick Greenfield reports on a new UN study showing that humanity is falling short of every single biodiversity target agreed to in Aichi, Japan 2010.

- Mike Clancy discusses the importance of ensuring health and safety in the workplace as the UK Cons systematically undermine any enforcement of safety standards.

- CTV News reports on the call by the Saskatchewan Medical Association for people to wear masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Wency Leung reports on the growing recognition that strokes may be the first symptom of COVID-19 visible in younger patients. And Rebecca Renner writes that while it's true that millennials are contributing to the spread of COVID-19, that reality is the result of the expectation they'll put themselves at risk at work rather than any personal irresponsibility.

- Finally, George Monbiot discusses how Extinction Rebellion is providing a desperately-needed example of how participatory democracy can work.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Monday Morning Links

 Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- David MacDonald examines how millions of Canadians could suffer from being pushed off of the CERB onto EI - both in lost or reduced supports, or more onerous requirements to receive any relief. Kathleen Harris reports on the continuing lack of sufficient programs for people with disabilities. And Zak Vescera and Alex MacPherson follow up on the Moe government's choice to turn federal emergency benefits into a provincial cash cow, including by requiring existing benefit recipients to apply separately both for the CERB for renewed provincial programs.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board offers some suggestions to ensure the second wave of the coronavirus isn't as catastrophic as the first, while also warning against a complacent, wait-and-see approach to readily-foreseeable spikes in case numbers.

- Jasmine Ramze Rezaee, Carolyn Ferns, Abigail Doris and Janet Davis discuss the need for universal child care in Canada.

- The Star's editorial board makes the case for improving and expanding our public health care system, rather than limiting ourselves to defensive efforts to preserve what we have now. And Bob Hepburn calls out the greed behind the cynical effort to turn Charter rights into a cash cow for would-be corporate health providers.

- Finally, Andrew Leach traces the tens of billions of dollars Alberta has poured into the Sturgeon refinery - including through a familiar pattern of claiming to be transferring risk to the private sector while actually putting public money up at every turn to build a project which will produce corporate profit. Carl Meyer reports on the growing sense that the Trans-Mountain pipeline will likewise prove to be a money pit - making it all the more obvious that we'd be better off investing in clean energy now, rather than putting sustainable development on hold pending some future expectation of profit. And Mark Frauenfelder reports on BP's conclusion that half the identified oil reserves in the world will never be extracted.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sunday Afternoon Links

 This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Alex Hemingway and Michal Rozworski both study both how Canada's wealthiest few have enriched themselves through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and discuss how more fair taxes would ensure they don't exploit a public health emergency to even further entrench their power. Bruce Campbell also makes the case for a wealth tax to be included in the impending Throne Speech. And the Tax Justice Network finds public support to crack down on corporate tax avoidance of 87 to 95% across wealthy countries.

- Eric Levitz reports on new research showing that the upward redistribution of income in the U.S. since 1975 has robbed workers of $2.5 trillion in total income each year (meaning that the total income for the bottom 90 per cent of workers could be nearly doubled), while Nick Hanauer and David Rolf point out the destabilizing effect of that income imbalance on U.S. society as a whole. And Ezra Klein notes that the effect of an undue focus on individualism and corporate control has been to leave most people to choose from among nothing but bad options.

- Dan Sinker discusses the problems with reliance on Zoom school rather than in-person education. Kristin Rushowy writes about new research from Sick Kids Ontario showing how a failure to invest in masks and physical distancing is putting children (and the people around them) at avoidable risk. Shelby Lisk reports on some of the Ontario teachers who have made the choice not to send their children back to school due to insufficient precautions for their health and safety. Kenyon Wallace and Rushowy report on the shock some Ontario parents have experienced in learning their kids' class sizes are bigger than ever, while PressProgress points out the complete lack of improvement in class sizes in Saskatoon.

- Michelle Ghoussoub writes about the confluence of disasters that's leaving people to guess whether respiratory problems are the result of a pandemic, a climate change-fueled disaster or both. And based on the connections between COVID-19 and the climate breakdown, there's no reason to pretend that the existence of the former represents any excuse for continuing to slow-walk action to mitigate the latter - particularly when Abacus Data's polling shows two-thirds of Canadians as seeing the pandemic as calling for major changes in economic and social policy. Mia Rabson reports on the support from a cross-partisan working group for a $55 billion investment in climate policy. Doug Cuthand comments on the folly of torching our planet in an effort to bail out fossil fuel investors whose industry is dying of natural causes. And Don Lenihan and Andrew Balfour discuss what will be needed to make a just transition work - including the voice for people outside of the corporate elite which was conspicuously left out of the free trade movement of recent decades.

- Finally, Lauren Pelley discusses how the "bubble" strategy to mitigate COVID-19 risk is becoming less effective due to the return to school and the absence of other readily-available options to reduce viral spread. Elizabeth Payne warns that the problems with long-term care homes which cause so many fatalities in the first wave look far too likely to resurface. And CBC highlights how health care workers are running on fumes as a year that's already been packed with unforeseen stress and anxiety stands to get all the worse.