Saturday, April 24, 2021

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Fahad Razak, David Naylor and Arthur Slutsky discuss how it's not too late to pull our health care system back from the brink of catastrophe. But Ryan Tumilty writes that we can't avoid a third wave merely by wishing for vaccines to be a magic cure-all.

- Robert Benzie offers a behind-the-scenes look at the utter mismanagement of the pandemic by Doug Ford and his caucus, while Bruce Arthur rightly points out that crocodile tears and unfocused apologies are no substitute for action to actually improve people's health and well-being. And Alexander Quon notes that Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan have been doing a far more effective job of controlling the spread of COVID-19 than the provincial government. 

- PressProgress highlights the push for sick leave in British Columbia (which sadly has gone unanswered by a government which should know better), as well as the broad support for paid sick leave across the country.

- Bill Henderson reports on a review which concludes that the Libs' climate change plan is more about checking boxes than actually reducing emissions to a level consistent with averting climate breakdown. Aaron Wherry's question as to whether the latest set of emission reduction targets can be taken seriously offers an implicit answer in the negative. And Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood and Clay Duncalfe examine how the supposed climate change funding in the Libs' budget includes far less than what's being advertised.

- Finally, Alex Himelfarb discusses what we'd expect to see in an actual transformational budget (as opposed to a cynical election platform by another name).

Friday, April 23, 2021

Musical interlude

 London Grammar - Lose Your Head


Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Michael Mechanic discusses how the promise of noblesse oblige represents nothing more than an excuse for a system designed to encourage the greedy accumulation of wealth and power. Laura Davison reports on the IRS' estimate that the U.S. is losing a trillion dollars annually to tax evasion. And Alex Boutillier and Robert Cribb report that Canada's federal budget includes some (albeit small and belated) steps to ensure that corporate ownership is traceable in order to ensure capitalists pay their fair share.

- Meanwhile, Steve Randy Waldman highlights how an appropriate corporate tax rate does nothing to affect which investments are profitable, but creates incentives to hire employees rather than hoarding money.

- PressProgress expands on Chartwell's decision to reward executives responsible for countless deaths, while rejecting fair wages for the staff actually performing work on the ground.

- Eric Doherty discusses how the Biden administration's significant action on climate change exposes the hollowness of the Libs' comparative response. And Joel Laforest reminds us that the Libs' carbon pricing scheme is falling far short of matching the climate impact of its regressive moves to subsidize the oil and gas sector.

- Finally, Amelia Williams talks to Don MacPherson about the lives that could be saved if we responded to the overdose crisis with any urgency at all.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Inputs and outputs

There's rightly been plenty of pushback against the Cons' sad excuse for a climate change plan. But it's worth highlighting that there's one way in which the principle behind it could accomplish more than the Libs' one-sided approach to carbon pricing.

It would seem too obvious to bear mention that the way to get the most bang for any given amount of carbon price collected would be to ensure that it operates to reduce emissions at both steps of its operation: creating incentives for people to reduce their own emissions to avoid having to pay it in the first place, and also ensuring that money collected gets put into emission-reducing activity. 

In 2019-2020, the total amount collected by the federal government was about $2.8 billion, with that amount increasing with the carbon price in the years to come. But there's nothing additional to ensure - or even incentivize - the use of that money to actually reduce emissions, as most of it has instead been returned in the form of an unrestricted rebate.

That means the Libs' choice has been to limit the effect of the current carbon price to the first step. There's an incentive to minimize carbon-intensive activity to avoid paying the initial price - but nothing to ensure the amount collected actually gets reinvested in emission reduction.

In contrast, the Cons' plan at least somewhat addresses the second step. In theory, the money collected as a carbon price would be used specifically for the purchase of carbon-efficient products.

Of course, it would take some work to design a manifestation of that theory less efficient or fair than the Cons' proposal for individual savings accounts tied to carbon levies actually paid. The Cons are insisting on creating a corporate-administered bureaucracy to dictate individual decisions, while doing nothing to ensure that money collected in the name of emission reductions is applied on a scale sufficient to make a difference.

And more importantly, the Cons are dedicated to keeping the carbon price at so low a level as to be counterproductive in the broader fight against a climate breakdown. There's value in trying to double the impact of each dollar of carbon price collected, but it pales in comparison to the demand to keep the actual price at under a third of the amount included in the Libs' plans.

All of which is to say that while the Cons' plan is predictably the worst on offer among the major federal parties, it also highlights one of the longstanding weaknesses in the Libs' scheme as well. And that should open the door for alternatives which use the strengths of both - rather than limiting our climate change discussion to a debate over the merits of the Libs' one-sided price.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Max Fawcett discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inability of simplistic right-wing populism to respond to any complex problem. And Laura Sciarpelletti reports on one of the consequences of political leaders who are willing to feed into anti-science quackery, as anti-public-health propaganda is being allowed to run on Estevan billboards. 

- Mike Crawley exposes the horrifying preferences of Doug Ford's PCs to do nothing or even relax public health rules in the midst of a catastrophic health system failure, while Dan Darrah writes about the right's entrenched belief that profits are more important than people's health and well-being. John Michael McGrath is duly appalled that Ford is just now starting to pay attention to the most basic facts about COVID-19. Kenyon Wallace and May Warren report on new research showing how the coronavirus has spread more severely in already underprivileged communities. Roberta Bell talks to Susan Shaw about the imminent danger that Saskatchewan may need to start turning away emergency patients, while Elizabeth Payne discusses the growing number of pregnant women in intensive care as a result of COVID. And Hannah Ellis-Pederson reports on the uncontrolled outbreak of a new variant in India as the worst-case scenario.

- Jacob Lorinc notes that it's taken this long for a substantial portion of the corporate class to recognize that even it's better off if people have sick leave to allow them to limit their risk to the people around them. And Randy Robinson writes that the Day of Mourning for lost workers should offer a rallying point for labour to press the demand.

- Finally, Alexander Panetta writes about the reason for skepticism that Canada's latest greenhouse gas emission reduction commitment will be taken any more seriously than the previous rounds which have led to increases in carbon pollution. 

[Edit: fixed formatting.]

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Timothy Wilson reports on the emerging revelations of Enbridge's paying to harass environmental activists. And Jeremy Appel offers the background facts as to W. Brett Wilson's abandonment of wells operated by Forent Energy - leaving Alberta's public to pick up the tab for his company's failure to clean up its messes. 

- And based on those stories among others, there's ample reason both to agree with Nicolas Perrone's argument that we shouldn't pay reparations to fossil fuel companies for transitioning to a cleaner society, and take into account his warning that they'll consider themselves entitled to nothing less.

- Amanda Follett Hosgood reports on the RCMP's pitiful response to the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. And PressProgress exposes how Lib MP Kevin Lamoureux arranged to pay public money to a "subject matter expert" to prepare a petition to treat criticism of police as hate speech. 

- Robert Baird writes about the history of the idea of "whiteness", as well as the role it's played in justifying or excusing the treatment of people as subhuman.

- Finally, Dale Smith discusses how the Cons are using concern trolling and delay tactics to prevent the passage of legislation to ban conversion therapy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Elevated cats.





Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Matt Gurney discusses the complete lack of leadership which has led to catastrophic public health results in Ontario, while Haley Steinberg talks to Andrew Morris about the Ford PCs' utter disregard for evidence-based recommendations to limit the spread of COVID-19. Davide Mastracci bluntly observes that Ford and his ilk can only be described as mass social murderers. Alexander Quon traces the connection between the ill-advised relaxation of public health rules and the spread of COVID variants in Saskatchewan. And Murray Mandryk recognizes the complete disconnect between the Saskatchewan Party's spin about the pandemic, and the crisis facing Saskatchewan's health care system and the people whose survival depends on it.

- Kelly Geraldine Malone reports on the growing calls to prioritize Saskatchewan teachers for vaccination - particularly after the death of Victor Thunderchild. And Leslie Boehm and Greg Marchildon make the case for Canada to develop its own domestic vaccine-making capability.

- Brendan Kennedy writes about the obvious connection between the increased concentration of wealth in the course of a pandemic, and the growing calls for a wealth tax to ensure that newly-generated riches serve the public good. And Melvin Krauss theorizes that the U.S. and France may be able to pave the way for international agreement on both a global corporate tax, and taxes on big tech.

- Finally, David Macdonald highlights how some of the lessons we've learned from the coronavirus pandemic have been reflected in the federal budget released this week. Sean Speer writes that the budget offers an important indication that progressives are winning the battle of ideas in Canada, while Aaron Wherry agrees that it reflects a break with neoliberal orthodoxy. And Jim Stanford writes that the long-delayed announcement of a national child care plan will produce far greater economic impacts than assumed (at least as long as the federal government follows through with it).

Monday, April 19, 2021

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Andrew Nikiforuk calls out the premiers who continue to spout talking points about "balance" while failing utterly to control the spread of deadly COVID-19 variants. Jillian Kestler-D'Amours discusses how Ontario's medical calamity was entirely preventable, while David Moscrop makes the case for Doug Ford to resign due to his gross failures of leadership (though he's predictably decided to try to distract from that push with a cabinet shuffle). And RenĂ© Bruemmer points out that Quebec's comparatively substantial response to the emergence of variants of concern has allowed it to reduce the harm from its third wave compared to other large Canadian provinces. 

- Meanwhile, Alexander Panetta points out that the U.S. will soon be facing an issue of having an oversupply of vaccine which people aren't prepared to accept - with Canada likely to face a similar issue within a matter of months. And Danielle Ivory, Lauren Leatherby and Robert Gebelof highlight the connection between vaccine hesitancy and support for Donald Trump.

- Jenn Jeffreys writes that Canada needs to be prepared to respond to still more waves of violent right-wing extremism - due both to continued spillover from the Trump movement in the U.S., and our own hate groups at home. 

- Finally, Vikram Dodd talks to Andy Cooke about the reality that social action against poverty and inequality serves to reduce crime as well as ill health.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Peter Lozinski discusses the confusing and conflicting messages from Scott Moe which are making it difficult for well-intentioned residents to know what exactly they're supposed to do. Christo Aivalis weighs in on Doug Ford's choice to attack civil rights rather than taking any action which could possibly slow the spread of the coronavirus. David Rider offers a reminder that Ford's PCs (like other right-wing governments) had planned deeper cuts to the public health units responsible for responding to a pandemic. And Anne Huang comments that our handling of the third wave of COVID-19 are make it painfully clear which lives our current governments don't value.

- Daniel Hoyer examines how the federal budget can secure needed revenue from the wealthiest few to fund a just recovery. And Pat Armstrong, Marjorie Cohen, Laurell Ritchie, Leah Vosko and Armine Yalnizyan highlight the need for investment in our care economy as a focal point for the impending budget and our future planning.

- Janyce McGregor reports that foreign workers were relegated to unsafe housing after being recruited to work in Kingston. David Milstead discusses how for-profit long-term care home operators have handed their executives "attaboys" and and bonuses after being responsible for the deaths of large numbers of residents in the course of the pandemic. And Norm Farrell points out how the fines associated with harm to people's health or the environment are all too often treated as an expected cost of doing business to be paid out of corporations' petty cash.

- Amanda Connolly reports on the Libs' (and Bloc's) choice to shut down a defence committee study of sexual misconduct. And Robert Hiltz discusses what that default toward cover-ups and surface investigations says about our system of government more generally.

- Finally, Seth Klein discusses how the Trudeau Libs are failing to develop an effective response to the climate crisis due to their refusal to build any meaningful case for strong collective action. And Grace Blakely offers a reminder as to how ineffective and uncaring centrism as the "left" alternative has stoked the fires of right-wing fascism.