Saturday, April 03, 2021

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Emma Jackson highlights why we shouldn't treat carbon pricing as anything more than a tiny piece of a plan to avert a climate breakdown. Hadrian Metrins-Kirkwood writes about the importance of passing an ambitious Just Transition Act into law at the federal leve. And Noah Smith discusses how the U.S. (and other wealthier countries) can help to lead the technological side of a just transition, while Lara Fominoff reports on Ryan Meili's call to create green jobs and technology in Saskatchewan. 

- Meanwhile, Oliver Milman reports on the oil companies who have collected massive amounts of public subsidies linked to COVID relief while still laying off workers. And Loren Steffy discusses how abandoned oil infrastructure is posing an environmental and economic menace in Texas just like in Canada's petroprovinces. 

- Rebecca Solnit writes about the air pollution epidemic which kills millions every year - but which is largely ignored due to the limited wealth and power of the people who suffer from it.

- Yasmine Ghania reports on the passage through committee of a bill to effectively implement a global treaty against plastic waste - with the Libs filibustering and voting it against based on their desire to include a loophole allowing waste to be exported through the U.S.

- Finally, Tess McClure reports on New Zealand's new steps to increase taxes on the rich and enact a liveable minimum wage.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Musical interlude

Christine and the Queens - People, I've Been Sad

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- John Michael McGrath discusses how Ontario (like so many other jurisdictions) has walked directly into a third wave, resulting in people dying for no reason other than government negligence. Matt Gurney likewise notes that there are no longer any excuses for insufficient action given the extensive experience we have with the coronavirus (and the dire consequences of failing to respond appropriately). Andre Picard notes that the attempt to substitute empty words for meaningful action is resulting in the filling of ICUs. And Jen Gerson theorizes that a widespread tendency toward complacency has much to do with the poor responses across much of Canada.

- Meanwhile, Cecile Philippe and Nicolas Marques examine (PDF) what governments have won when they've pursued a COVID-zero strategy - including both superior health outcomes, and far less economic disruption.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board writes that there's no longer any justification for offering vaccinations by age rather than by more meaningful risk profiles (including exposure to people as an essential front-line worker). And Emma Teitel pairs a similar call to vaccinate frontline workers with another needed appeal for paid sick leave.

- Finally, Bernie Sanders offers a reminder of the obscene gap between rich and poor in the U.S. - and the readily available policy options to close it. Scilla Alecci discusses new research from the International Centre for Tax and Development on the amount of wealth being stashed offshore by corporations to avoid contribution to the social good. John Burbank writes about Washington state's move toward implementing a wealth tax. And Phillip Inman reports on the IMF's call for more progressive tax systems to reduce growing inequality of income and wealth.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Michael Atkinson and Haizhen Mou discuss their new polling showing that Canadians are particularly concerned with climate change and good jobs as part of our recovery from the pandemic - making a Green New Deal an obvious win-win. And Seth Klein writes about both the opportunity for the Alberta NDP and other parties to offer a clear path toward a just transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, and the risks in both political outcomes and policy results if they fail to do so.

- Peter Hotez writes about the damage being done to people's lives by the anti-science movement and its right-wing adherents and enablers around the globe. And PressProgress reports on the social conservative takeover of the Cons' national council as a vivid example of organized ignorance translating into substantial power. 

- Marc Lee writes about some of the ancillary policy changes which may help public and non-profit housing developments to succeed. And Kate Bezanson, Andrew Bevan and Monica Lysack note that when it comes to child care, funding is the primary hurdle standing in the way of a national system.

- The New York Times' editorial board points out how third-party verification of business income could go a long way toward ensuring that corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of taxes. 

- Finally, Andrew Jackson reviews Mark Carney's new book - and highlights how it only confirms the strict limits of neoliberal politics in which the role of elected governments is merely to shape the distribution of private capital:

It is refreshing to see recognition of the limits of private ownership and markets by such a prominent establishment figure, especially when it comes to dealing with financial excess, the climate crisis and rising economic inequality. However, Carney, while recognizing the need for government regulation and a non market sphere, emphasizes most the need to shift to stakeholder capitalism and socially responsible investment. Indeed he does so to the point of naivete.


Realists will doubt with good reason that stakeholder capitalism and social investment amount to much more than corporate PR. One can readily point to manifestly predatory corporate behaviour when it comes to price gouging monopolies, speculative finance, corporations undermining health and safety standards and promoting dangerous goods and practices (as in the opioid crisis), or profiting from intellectual property ownership of medically necessary vaccines and drugs, denial of labour rights and standards and resistance to unions, wilful denial of climate change by large energy companies over many years, pervasive corporate tax evasion, systemic discrimination in employment, and so on.

In fairness, Carney does not deny the need for government supervision and regulation to balance corporate capitalism with broader social goals. But his faith in socially responsible capitalism is excessive.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jim Stanford weighs in on the need for increased worker input into economic decision-making - particularly as change is otherwise imposed by management with little regard for the people most affected.

- Nathaniel Erskine-Smith makes the case for a wealth tax to recoup some of the windfall the wealthiest few have received during the coronavirus pandemic - though it's of course worth noting that more substantial policy would be even better, and that he and his party have voted against the NDP's efforts to pursue anything of the sort. And Umair Haque rightly questions the U.S.' idolization of the people who extract the most from their communities for their own personal gain. 

- Joe Roberts offers a reminder that poverty is the result of policy decisions which can easily be changed if we care enough to ensure people have a secure income. And Marc Lee pushes for British Columbia to adopt the poverty reduction proposals - including both improved income supports and social infrastructure - proposed by that province's basic income panel.

- Max Fawcett writes about the developing conflict between an oil and gas industry seeking to keep wringing profits out of dirty energy regardless of the impact on anybody else, and a financial sector coming to terms with the broader costs of carbon pollution. And Nicholas Rivers, Kathryn Harrison and Marc Jaccard discuss the problems with relying on offset credits rather than real emission reductions in trying to avert a climate breakdown, while Alexander Quon reports on the foolishness of Scott Moe's plan to turn carbon pricing into a fossil fuel subsidy in order to avoid any emission reductions.

- Finally, Andrea Reimer discusses how Canada can keep big money out of politics - while pointing out how Saskatchewan ranks as the worst of the worst in allowing it unfettered influence over the political scene.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Connected cats.


Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Katie Raso describes the coronavirus pandemic as the neoliberal Chernobyl, having exposed how we're not only unable to respond to a disaster in progress - though it's worth adding the even more alarming reality that we're even falling short of consensus as to the fact that it's happening. Stephen Maher and Tonda MacCharles each offer their take on the government response after a year. And Aaron Wherry talks to Dan Gardner about how the pandemic demonstrates the danger of prioritizing short-term interests over long-term planning for entirely predictable events.

- Mariano Zafra and Javier Salas offer a look at how air circulation is crucial to limiting the spread of COVID-19. The Globe and Mail's editorial board warns that the virus is currently spreading far more quickly than vaccines can catch up to provide any protection,. And Abby Goudnough writes about the varied steps needed to get staff vaccinated at a single nursing home, while Martin Regg Cohn theorizes that we'll eventually need to make vaccinations mandatory. 

- Julie Ireton discusses how Canada's record of long-term care deaths in the midst of COVID is the worst among wealthy countries. And Karen Howlett focuses on the reality that some of those deaths can be traced to a failure to provide health care resources where they were desperately needed. 

- Meanwhile, Sharon Kirkey reports on Ontario's growing number of severe cases among younger people, while Alexander Quinn takes note of the same danger in Regina.

- Charles Rusnell and Jennie Russell report on Alberta's choice to mislead Cargill workers into thinking their workplace was safe in order to keep meat production going as a COVID outbreak tore through the plant. And Caryn Lieberman reports that public health experts are pulling their children from Ontario schools as the Ford government refuses to either shut them down or invest in making them safer.

- Finally, Umair Haque writes that Britain is destroying itself as a nationalist narrative of trying to hoard the spoils of development gives way to a massive selloff to foreign capital.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Mariana Mazzucato responds to Boris Johnson by recognizing that capitalism has no viable answers for collective action problems such as the ones posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

- Scott Schmidt discusses how the familiar right-wing attempt to squeeze the wages and working conditions of public servants does nothing but harm to both the services we need, and the economy as a whole. And Fife Ogunde argues that the people providing services that we treat as essential deserve to be paid accordingly. 

- Owen Jones warns that our living environment can't survive the single-minded pursuit of immediate profit over the well-being of its inhabitants. Tariq Fancy discusses how sustainable investing in its current form falls far short of the mark in averting a climate breakdown. And Andrew Leach wonders whether the Supreme Court's decision upholding federal carbon pricing in Canada will represent the end of a loud and scientifically-illiterate resistance to climate policy.

- Adam Morton reports on a new study showing how Australia could reach net-zero emissions by 2040 with a transition to wind and solar power. And Dirk Meissner reports on British Columbia's steps to set emissions targets for industries and communities.

- Angus Reid's latest polling finds large numbers of Canadians facing financial insecurity both in general, and particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

- Finally, Lee Stevens examines the glaring gap between the social programs available in Alberta and the support needed to lift people out of poverty. And Jason Hickel highlights why there's reason to be skeptical of claims about the elimination of extreme poverty which depend on both questionable assumptions about past standards of living, and an an exceedingly low standard to define the term today.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Alexandre Tanzi highlights how the 1% in the U.S. made out like bandits even as the country suffered through a pandemic year in 2020. And Karim Bardessy reminds us that there's plenty we can do to remedy the problem.

- Bruce Arthur writes that the third wave of COVID has arrived - and that there's precious little indication that we've learned from the previous two, raising a strong likelihood that this will be the worst yet. Andrew Nikiforuk weighs in on the Auditor General's findings as to how Canada has failed on a national level in its response to COVID-19, while the Canadian Press reports on Theresa Tam's urgent call for far stronger public health measures as variants increase the danger we face. Diana Zlomisic reports that even after an investigation has been conducted into last year's devastating death toll in long-term care homes, the Ford PCs continue to lack of any idea of the scope of the risk facing the residents still in the system. 

- Kelly Grant writes about the spillover effects of COVID-19 on our health care system, including the development of backlogs which may require years to be cleared. Nina Lakhani reports on the thousands of U.S. deaths which could have been avoided if people hadn't been cut off from water supplies. And Kaamil Ahmed points out that among other markers of growing inequality in education, millions of children around the globe have been delayed in developing basic skills due to the pandemic. 

- Ken Rubin points out how governments have cynically been using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to restrict access to information - even as they've also treated the public health threat as an opportunity to ram through unpopular policies while it's more difficult for the public to organize any resistance.

- Finally, Doug Cuthand discusses how the RCMP Civilian Review and Complaints Commission's report into the investigation and handling of the killing of Colton Boushie reveals the continuing effects of structural racism. And Mim Fatmi comments on the hate against Muslim women in Alberta, while also emphasizing the importance of claiming a place in public spaces rather than being hidden.