Saturday, January 23, 2021

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Anna McMillan reports on the disproportionate effect COVID-19 has (predictably) had on First Nations reserves in Saskatchewan. And Maan Ahmidi reports on the appearances and realities arising out of the Libs' continued appeals against orders to stop withholding equal access to services from Indigenous children.

- Diane Collier and Anne Burke write about the need to start listening to teachers about COVID in the classroom. 

- Of course, it may also be a nice touch to not raid teachers' pension funds to be placed under the the politicized control of an incompetent administrator (as the Kenney UCP is doing). And Elise von Scheel reports that Jason Kenney has also gone out of his way to replicate the federal Phoenix experience by implementing a new payroll system which is resulting in public servants being shorted on their pay.

- The CP reports on Erin O'Toole's belated statement that the far right is unwelcome within the Con party rather than representing its core. But Sean Holman rightly argues that the only way for the Cons to avoid a Trump-style takeover is to push back hard against denialism and bigotry in all their forms - even as there's little reason for optimism that O'Toole or any of his provincial counterparts has any interest in that effort.

- Finally, David Climenhaga writes about Jim Stanford's work showing how a just transition to a clean economy is both possible and necessary. And Jessica Green studies the extremely limited effect carbon pricing has had in actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions - confirming the need for both direct regulation of emissions, and a strategy to scale up the use of cleaner replacements for the dirty systems we still rely on (without counting on nuclear unicorns from the future when there's technology already available).

Friday, January 22, 2021

Musical interlude

 snarls - Walk in the Woods

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- David Brancaccio and Rose Conlon write about the tendency for people involved in deliberately-rigged contests to believe their success is the result of skill rather than manipulation - offering an important comparison to wealthy people who can't sort out luck from merit in their own riches and power.

- Scilla Alleci discusses the prospect that the new year will see the public begin to collect a reasonable share of the revenue currently being sucked up by COVID profiteers and environmental scofflaws. Ian Vandaelle reports on CIBC Deputy Chief Economist Benjamin Tal's recognition that increased taxes on the wealthy are likely - and properly - on their way. And Michael Smart suggests looking to a capital gains tax instead to both increase revenue, and limit the disproportionate accumulation of wealth.

- Supreet Kaur, Sendhil Mullainathan, Suanna Oh and Frank Schilbach examine the effect of financial security on workers, showing that even a modicum of reassurance about cash on hand produces demonstrable improvements in productivity. And Dara Lee Luca and Michael Luca study the effect of minimum wage increases on restaurants, finding that higher-quality businesses do just fine when required to pay a fair wage. 

- Veena Dubal and Juliet Schor write about the need to ensure that gig workers have the same protections available to traditionally-classified employees. 

- But Josh Rubin points out that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been disproportionately felt by lower-income workers, while the already-secure have largely thrived. And Pia Arenata takes note of the health dangers of precarious work as people are forced to risk the spread of a deadly virus for want of other options to support themselves.

- Neil O'Brien highlights why we can't merely ignore anti-social COVID spreaders.

- Finally, Robert Reich discusses the need for radical action to avoid slipping back into the same "normal" which allowed Donald Trump to take power.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jim Stanford explores how a just transition plan can ensure that workers have new opportunities in the midst of a needed shift away from dirty fossil fuels - and also highlights how a blinkered refusal to accept the decline of the oil sector will only make matters worse for workers. And Thomas Lukaszuk writes that there's no reason for Alberta (or any other province) to obsess over oil rather than emerging clean technology.

- Karim Bardeesy writes about the need for a paid sick leave plan which ensures that people don't feel the need to contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in order to keep paying their bills. And Maryse Zeidler highlights how a focus on high-risk populations is crucial to our COVID response, while Bruno MĂ©garbane, Fanchon Bourasset and Jean-Michel Scherrmann find that stay-at-home orders do create a substantial benefit in reducing viral spread. 

- Jeremy Nuttall examines what other countries have been able to accomplish in providing long-term care where their focus is on the personal well-being of residents, rather than opening up rent-seeking opportunities for investors.

- But Theresa Boyle warns that a policy vacuum is allowing our health care system to shift increasingly toward privatized and profit-seeking services. And Joel Lexchin discusses how big pharma is trying to limit Canadians' access to needed medication, while Rachel Aiello reports that Pfizer is taking advantage of the need for COVID vaccines to seek special treatment from the federal government's next budget.

- Finally, as most of the world celebrates Donald Trump's long-awaited removal from office, Ta-Nehisi Coates points out the need to recognize and challenge the forces that allowed him to take it in the first place.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

 Conflicted cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jim Stanford discusses the reality that even from the standpoint of GDP and economic activity, we're better off implementing strong enough measures to control (or better yet, eradicate) the spread of COVID-19 rather than allowing the virus to run wild. But in the latest signal that far too many provinces are going backward in ensuring people can survive the coronavirus, Kelly Bennett reports on Doug Ford's decision to force nurses to go unpaid while they're in mandatory quarantine. 

- CBS News reports on doctors' observations that COVID-19 can cause worse lung damage than smoking even for people who avoid exhibiting severe symptoms.

- Zeynep Tufecki and Jeremy Howard ask why we haven't seen more of a shift toward better masks for the public as the pandemic continues. And Ian Gauthier rightly calls out Erin O'Toole's complaints about vaccinating people in prison as a public health threat to everybody which serves no purpose but cheap pandering to base instincts. 

- Speaking of which, PressProgress exposes how the Cons have accepted donations from a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi - and are seeking to blame Derek Sloan alone for donations made into party coffers. And Aaron Wherry discusses how little O'Toole has done to depart from the Trump playbook, even as he claims offence at being associated with it.

- Finally, Emma Graney reports on the latest revelations about oil operators misleading Alberta about their failure to clean up abandoned wells. And David Climenhaga writes that Jason Kenney's combination of aggressive anti-environmentalism and reckless determination to bet on a dying industry with public money has resulted in billions going down the drain in the form of the failed Keystone XL pipeline.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Monday Afternoon Links

 Assorted content to start your week.

- Scott Gilmore discusses how our elected leaders have failed us in responding to COVID-19. Shannon Devine offers a warning to the Ford PCs about their insistence in putting workers' lives and health at risk in the midst of a pandemic. And Christy Somos reports on a new survey showing that over two-thirds of Canadians support the ability to bar unvaccinated people from business premises.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board highlights how the Atlantic provinces were able to contain the spread of COVID-19. And Caitjan Gainty and Agnes Arnold-Forster note that vaccines alone don't generally eradicate a disease in the absence of exactly the types of public health measures which have done the most to limit the spread of the coronavirus before a vaccine was available.

- Falice Chin examines Canada's worrisome literacy gaps - with one in six adults lacking even basic literacy skills, and fully half having difficulty processing complex texts in a world governed by them.  

- Lucas Edmond writes about the need for direct action to confront the attacks on labour by Brian Pallister (a point which of course applies to his ideological soulmates elsewhere as well).

- Finally, Noah Smith discusses how the vast majority of the economic profession has come to reject the corporatist dogma that higher minimum wages lead to meaningful job losses.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

On climate pollution

Martin Olzynski's submission this week has called plenty of attention to the Kenney UCP's funding of climate denialism through an inquiry attacking environmentalism. But let's note that the response to Olzynski's observations only makes the inquiry look all the worse.

Here's the excuse from the inquiry's spokesman:

Boras suggested to Global News that concerns raised about whether some of the reports question climate change and the role humans play in it are irrelevant to the inquiry’s mandate.

“The inquiry is not about the status of climate, that’s not in its terms of reference,” he said. “A forensic accounting exercise about foreign funding of policy initiatives by groups in Canada (is).”

Even if the plan is to avoid any recognition of climate change (and it's telling that the inquiry's response is to try to downplay its existence), consider what the response implies about the inquiry's operations.

Taking Boras' explanation at face value, that would mean a public inquiry has spent substantial amounts of money on "expert" reports which consist of climate denialists spouting propaganda which has nothing to do with either the inquiry's mandate, or their own commissioned role. 

And rather than trying to at least ensure that the work product of its own process meets even the barest standards of accuracy or relevance, the inquiry has in turn willingly served as a conduit for that denialism by distributing it to participants - only to disclaim responsibility by saying people apparently shouldn't care that its hand-picked collaborators are engaging in gratuitous anti-science disinformation on the public dime.

Of course, it shouldn't come as any surprise that a process long steeped in corruption and bias is continuing to demonstrate both at appalling levels. But it's remarkable when the best defence the inquiry has to valid concerns about being anti-evidence is that it's also wasteful and careless.

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Kate Aronoff writes about the need for a functional and representative democracy to ensure that public demand for climate action is actually represented in policy decisions. And Seth Klein rightly proposes that the NDP (or Bloc) should take the opportunity in a minority Parliament to push the Libs to add some far stronger and earlier action to their insufficient climate accountability bill.

- Meanwhile, Avery Shannon and Naia Lee note that Vancouver offers a model for other municipalities to follow at the municipal level.

- Veronica Penney reports on new data showing that electric vehicles may already have reached the point of being less expensive than combustion models even without accounting for the environmental damage caused by fossil fuels. 

- Reuters reports that even the IMF is now urging countries to increase spending in the midst of a pandemic which is suppressing economic activity - even as our tired right-wing politicians continue to demand that we sacrifice lives on the altar of deficit reductions.

- Finally, Monia Mazigh writes that as long as Canadian governments seek to maintain a "terrorist" designation as a basis for legal distinctions, we should push for it to be applied to the Proud Boys and other purveyors of right-wing violent extremism. And Amira Elghawaby argues that people opposing the white supremacism of Trumpists on both sides of the border should have no hesitation taking up the title of "anti-fascist".