Saturday, February 13, 2021

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Duncan Cameron writes about the fundamental choice between austerity and full employment in developing the 2021 federal budget. And Noah Smith points out that while pipeline cancellations signal the imminent end of fossil fuels, they don't need to have any impact on job numbers if they're paired with appropriate transition plans.

- Luke Savage calls out corporate liberals for prioritizing the convenience provided by precarious workers over secure livelihoods for the workers themselves. And Brett Nelson discusses how Indigo is one more employer seeing a wave of unionization as workers join together to defend their rights and interests in the workplace.

- Christian Paas-Lang talks to Miles Corak about the need to be far more ambitious than the Trudeau Libs in combating poverty and inequality. 

- Sharif El-Defrawy and Bob Bell warn about the problems with Ontario's choice to privatize eye surgery as yet another step toward corporate health care. And Amitabh Chandra, Evan Flack, and Ziad Obermeyer study (PDF) how even small cost-sharing requirements for prescription drugs result in significant harm to patient outcomes.

- Finally, Claire Porter Robbins discusses the need to take action against growing racism in Alberta, while Dan Collen points out how far too many Canadian media outlets are giving positive coverage to racists and/or conspiracy theorists. And Christopher Curtis discusses how journalism is being trashed in the name of slightly increased corporate profits.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Musical interlude

 Tame Impala - Lost in Yesterday

Here we are now, going to the bothsides

Shorter Murray Mandryk:

Who can really say whether we should want to have more or less spread of a deadly disease? What we should focus on is compromising on a moderately disastrous pandemic that we can all be somewhat dissatisfied with. 

Update: And it gets better. Having declared the previous day that it's unfairly divisive to suggest we should do what's necessary to eradicate COVID-19, Mandryk's next missive tells us that it's not fair to hold Scott Moe accountable for failures in vaccine distribution due to...the presence of the virus he's refusing to rein in.

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Joe Vipond, Malgorzata Gasperowicz and Christine Gibson discuss how it's entirely feasible for Alberta (or any other province) to be COVID-free if its leadership bothers to pursue that goal. And Alex Ballingall and Tonda MacCharles look into the history behind our inability to produce vaccines in Canada - though to be clear, the answer isn't to shower massive amounts of money on corporations looking to cash in on the need.

- Brendan Kennedy exposes how the Ford PCs have been pocketing funding intended to provide pandemic relief for Ontario's residents. And Paul Taylor discusses how charitable food donations are a poor substitute for equity in income and employment.

- Richard Wolff reminds us that the growing concentration of wealth at the top is the result of a concerted effort to warp our economic system toward that end. And Dean Baker highlights how restrictive intellectual property rules are a major driver of increasing inequality.

- Meanwhile, the Canadian Press reports on a new PBO estimate showing that even a modest tax on online services could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars each year. 

- Finally, Matthew Brockett notes that New Zealand's examples for the world include a crackdown on property speculators to ensure that housing serves primarily to provide homes rather than investment opportunities. And Hannah Aldridge and Ricardo Tranjan point out that rents have increased in the midst of the COVID pandemic in Canada.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Steven Lewis examines how Canada can and should learn from Australia's success in controlling the coronavirus, while Robert Danich writes that conservative governments need to learn that they have responsibility for social health and well-being rather than pointing the finger at individuals. And Richard Matern observes that COVID-19 represents one of many dangers where none of us are truly safe unless everybody is protected.

- Derek Thompson takes note of the amount of effort being wasted on "hygiene theatre" rather than steps which meaningfully reduce COVID transmission. Martin Regg Cohn offers a reminder that masks rather than vaccines are the key new measure available to reduce individual exposure to COVID-19 (though of course social distancing remains the most important factor in reducing community spread). Cory Stieg examines the California jobs which are facing the greatest increase in mortality risk as a result of COVID-19 - with line workers and labourers bearing the brunt of the virus. And Wallis Snowden reports on what doctors were able to learn from the Edmonton curling bonspiel which turned into a superspreader event.

- Meanwhile, Peter Zimonjic and Vassy Kapelos report on the millions of rapid tests which are being wasted by provinces who demanded them in the first place (with Saskatchewan standing out as not even bothering to report on their use). And Stephanie Taylor reports on modeling showing nearly 19,000 asymptomatic COVID cases in Saskatchewan.

- Linda McQuaig highlights the unfairness that results when publicly-funded vaccine research turns into production and distribution designed to maximize corporate profits. And Joel Lexchin offers a historical reminder as to why Canada has been scrambling to find private vaccine supplies, rather than having meaningful public capacity available. 

- Kate Korte points out that free post-secondary education would be particularly valuable in the wake of the pandemic. But Ian Froese reports on the Pallister government's plans to instead force Manitoba students to systematically pay tuition in order to perform work for private employers. 

- Finally, Bruce Campbell writes about the prospect that 2021 could be a decisive turning point on climate action - but that it's still far from certain whether we'll end up shifting in the right direction. And PA Media points out how many lives strong climate action would save in terms of other factors including healthier lifestyles and reduced air pollution.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Caroline Chen discusses why opening restaurants and other indoor venues which involve prolonged contact is the worst possible choice if one wants to contain the spread of COVID-19.

- Michal Rozworski argues that we shouldn't see the relief efforts needed in the wake of a pandemic as an reason to focus on basic incomes at the expense of basic services and economic planning.

- Tiffany Crawford reports on what may be the most damning research yet into the disparity of opportunity by gender, showing that men with failing grades in high school receive as much of an opportunity in leadership roles as women with straight-A marks. Bethany Lindsey reports on Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond's findings as to the disparity in health care between Indigenous people and other British Columbia residents. And Zak Vescera reports on the doubling of Saskatchewan's overdose death rate in 2020 even as the Moe government pretended to be concerned about addictions and harm reduction only to the extent it served their goal of keeping corporate profits flowing.

- Sharanjit Leyl reports on Mark Carney's recognition that the climate crisis will ultimately prove even more damaging than the coronavirus pandemic if we don't built the capacity for collective action needed to fight it, while Matthew Green reports on the massive death toll already caused by dirty fuels. Michael Patrick Smith writes about the need to kick our fossil fuel habit (from the viewpoint of somebody who has depended on it for his own job). And Andrew McWhinney discusses the need to talk about our climate breakdown in a way that appropriately calls out the role of capital in pushing for continued harm to people and the natural environment.

- Finally, Sharon Riley exposes the UCP's attempt to divert essential water supplies to coal mining in the face of fierce public opposition. And Scott Schmidt writes that Jason Kenney's gaslighting is no longer having the same effect as Albertans realize they don't have to accept his disinformation, while Bruce Livesey documents Kenney's fall from inevitable premier to cause and recipient of mass anger within his own chosen province.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Angela Stewart interviews Malgorzata Gasperowicz about the potential for Alberta to eradicate COVID-19 with a seven-week shutdown, rather than letting new and more dangerous variants run rampant in the months before vaccines can be widely distributed. Jillian Horton observes that premiers who have been unable to recognize the sunk cost fallacy as it applies to their past decision-making are endangering large numbers of lives in the process. Martin Regg Cohn writes that there aren't many easy answers in determining how to handle schools - though funding proper ventilation and reducing community spread would seem to be obvious means of reducing the risk that exists.

- Jeannie Stiglic, Jenny Cowley, Charlsie Agro expose how payday lenders are exploiting Canadians desperate for short-term loans due to a lack of ongoing public supports. And Richard Partington writes about the massive debt being taken on by UK businesses who have been told they need to try to stay open regardless of the harm to public health and their own sustainability.

- Stefanie Marotta points out how workers are caught in the middle of jurisdictional finger-pointing between the Ford PCs and Trudeau Libs when it comes to being able to avoid going to work while sick. And Jeremy Appel writes about the investigation into last year's uncontained outbreak at Cargill's High River meatpacking plant - while Joel Dryden and Sarah Rieger report that there's another one underway. 

- Dharna Noor examines the massive financial costs of putting off a just transition to decarbonized energy, while the Guardian notes that major oil companies are already dealing with the reality that their past windfall profits aren't materializing anymore. And Ben Geman reports on Ford's announcement of a massive investment in shifting to electric vehicles (as a response to GM's loud publicity campaign to the same effect).

- Finally, Gwladys Fouche reports that in addition to participating in the movement away from funding dirty fuels, Norway's sovereign wealth fund is also pulling any support from corporations engaged in tax evasion. And Ashley Cowburn reports that even the UK Cons are going further than federal Libs in examining the prospect of a windfall profit tax so that the world's largest companies don't further add to their wealth and power as a result of a pandemic.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Bill Blaikie discusses how our growing inequality and precarity is the direct result of harmful policy choices:

By 1985 we were five years into the neo-liberal era brought on by the election of Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the U.S.  They advocated policies like cutting taxes for the rich, cutting social assistance for the poor and the working poor, reducing the role of government in providing for the common good, reducing the power of unions to advocate for adequate wages, and basically letting the "market" decide.

Over the next forty years the " market" decided that the rich would get richer, the middle class would struggle, and the poor would get poorer. The current rate of economic inequality makes the seventies look like an egalitarian dream. CEOs that only made $500,000 back then might make 5 million or a lot more today.

Cutting taxes for the rich did not lead to economic investment that would cause economic benefits to " trickle-down". The only thing that trickled down was you know what, while power and income trickled up, and up, and the adequacy of wages shrunk, and shrunk.
Hence the fact that many who need and use food banks, and even some of the homeless are. people with jobs.


All this by way of explaining, in an obviously limited way, to younger people who surely must wonder why there are encampments of the homeless in their city, and in bus shelters, that it didn't have to be so, and it doesn't have to be so in the future. The current situation is a choice.  Our common responsibility, young or older, is to make our politicians make the right choices, and to support those who already advocate such choices.

- Thomas Walkom highlights how compulsory licensing would ensure that Canadians have access to COVID-19 vaccines (and other desperately-needed medical products), while Karl Nerenberg highlights how the NDP is looking to prioritize people over profits in both pharmaceutical production and long-term care. And John Miller notes in the wake of Bell's mental health whitewashing that the telecommunication sector represents another area where public needs and resources have been turned into a source of private profiteering.

- Ben Parfitt examines how British Columbia offer dirty industry the chance to use massive amounts of water at cut-rate prices. 

- Pam Palmater writes about Jason Kenney's litany of failures since taking power in Alberta. And Sara Birrell discusses the embarrassment that was Regina City Council's exercise in oil-worshipping self-flagellation.

- Finally, Brian Platt examines what an effective response to COVID-19 would look like - in stark contrast to the murderous insistence on doing as little as possible (particularly among right-wing premiers). And Kirby Bourne reports that independent restauranteurs are among the people begging for a COVID-zero strategy to replace the expectation that businesses will stay open regardless of the cost to public health.