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Tuesday Morning Links

mar, 11/24/2015 - 05:05
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- David Olive talks to Robert Reich about his work fighting inequality:
There are certain irrefutable facts besides water always running downhill. There is no arguing, for instance, that the U.S. era Reich describes as the “Great Prosperity” — the three-decade span between the late 1940s and the late 1970s — was characterized by high rates of taxation on the wealthy; heavy government investment in the people; and the peak level of unionization in America’s private-sector workforce.

That was the era of high and rising household income in Canada and the U.S., and of heavy state investment in public education that yielded the world’s smartest workforces. It was the era of government investment in the Interstate and Trans-Canada highway systems that boosted economic productivity. It was the era in which more than one-third of private-sector workers belonged to a union.

And it was during that era that America’s burgeoning middle class made the U.S. a superpower, and raised Canada into the ranks of the world’s most affluent countries.

Especially in Canada, with a Medicare system more comprehensive even than Obamacare, rocket science is not required to restore a fairer distribution of our collective wealth. Raise taxes on the rich. Use the money to invest in people — their health, education and essential services. And stop thwarting the efforts of those workers who seek to organize their workplaces.

“It’s just common sense,” says Reich of simply taking the steps required to bring back the Golden Prosperity years. He leans forward, a look of weariness and mild frustration crossing his face. “Isn’t it?” - Aditya Chakrabortty discusses the meaning of austerian economics designed to inflate bubbles for the rich at the expense of the poor. Genevieve Lajoie reports that Quebeckers are strongly opposed to the provincial austerity being protested by the province's workers. And Melissa Healy highlights new research showing that inequality on both the individual and the social level is linked to less charitable giving by the wealthy.

- Joshua Rapp Learn points out a few of the ways in which climate change is getting very personal for Atlantic Canada. And Naomi Klein discusses what's being lost in the French government's crackdown on any public activism around the Paris climate conference:
The people facing the worst impacts of climate change have virtually no voice in western debates about whether to do anything serious to prevent catastrophic global warming. Huge climate summits like the one coming up in Paris are rare exceptions. For just two weeks every few years, the voices of the people who are getting hit first and worst get a little bit of space to be heard at the place where fateful decisions are made. That’s why Pacific islanders and Inuit hunters and low-income people of colour from places like New Orleans travel for thousands of miles to attend. The expense is enormous, in both dollars and carbon, but being at the summit is a precious chance to speak about climate change in moral terms and to put a human face to this unfolding catastrophe.

The next thing to understand is that even in these rare moments, frontline voices do not have enough of a platform in the official climate meetings, in which the microphone is dominated by governments and large, well-funded green groups. The voices of ordinary people are primarily heard in grassroots gatherings parallel to the summit, as well as in marches and protests, which in turn attract media coverage. Now the French government has decided to take away the loudest of these megaphones...
When governments and corporations knowingly fail to act to prevent catastrophic warming, that is an act of violence. It is a violence so large, so global and inflicted against so many temporalities simultaneously (ancient cultures, present lives, future potential) that there is not yet a word capable of containing its monstrousness. And using acts of violence to silence the voices of those who are most vulnerable to climate violence is yet more violence.

In explaining why forthcoming football matches would go on as scheduled, France’s secretary of state for sport said: “Life must go on.” Indeed it must. That’s why I joined the climate justice movement. Because when governments and corporations fail to act in a way that reflects the value of all of life on Earth, they must be protested.- Meanwhile, Andrew Nikiforuk weighs in on the fragility of our sources of groundwater. And Mike De Souza reports on a stop-work order resulting from a toxic leak from a TransCanada pipeline.

- Finally, Geoffrey Rafe Hall is the latest to comment on the NDP's campaign and what comes next.

On incomplete care

lun, 11/23/2015 - 14:52
Shorter Dustin Duncan:
I'm pretty sure a health care system can't do more than two things at a time. And for the ministry I'm overseeing, surgery is no longer one of them.

Monday Morning Links

lun, 11/23/2015 - 05:02
Assorted content to start your week.

- Upstream offers a summary of the Canadian Institute for Health Information's latest report, with particular emphasis on growing inequality in health metrics due to social factors despite increased funding into the the health care system.

- Jamie Golombek is the latest to highlight how most Canadians - including workers on the bottom two-thirds of the income scale - will get nothing from the Libs' "middle-class" tax baubles. And Iglika Ivanova follows up on Statistics Canada's look at food bank use by pointing out that nominal economic growth in British Columbia isn't reaching the people who need it.

- Jill Lepore discusses how a political system can be distorted by an outsized focus on polls.

- Jodie Sinnema reports on the Alberta NDP's detailed climate change plan, which was unveiled yesterday in advance of the Paris conference. PressProgress points out that the plan has earned support from all kinds of sources. And Rick Smith explains why we should recognize it as a major progressive win, while Mike Hudema takes particular note of the end of indefinite tar sands expansion.

- And finally, Joshua Keep is hopeful about the ongoing Newfoundland and Labrador election campaign - and particularly the strong progressive position from the NDP in a campaign where stopping the right isn't a serious issue. 

Sunday Morning Links

dim, 11/22/2015 - 09:06
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Louis-Philippe Rochon explains how higher taxes on the wealthy can be no less a boon for the economy than for the goal of social equality:
In fact, empirical analysis shows that while the relationship between higher taxes and economic growth is complex, there is no proof that raising taxes on the wealthy will lead to slower economic growth.  In fact, in many countries, including Canada, higher growth rates in the post-Second World War era have been associated with much higher marginal tax rates.
Between 1940 and 1980, the top marginal income tax rate in Canada was much higher, at well over 70 per cent. Despite these high rates, Canada's economy prospered. In other words, with a proposed new tax bracket in Canada of a mere 33 per cent, we are still far from reaching past levels, and even further away from levels that would be detrimental to tax revenues or even growth. We could increase it even higher with no repercussions on growth or even job creation, and the benefits of a less unequal wealth concentration could even have a positive effect on the economy.
(H)ow can we explain higher taxes on the rich and higher growth? It seems counterintuitive. Yet, it isn't, for two reasons. First, higher taxes on the top one per cent reduce income inequality. Many studies show that a more even (or less uneven) distribution of wealth and income contributes to higher spending and growth.

In the case of Canada, the higher tax rate for high-income earners is compensated by lower taxes on the middle class, who then will have more money to spend. Since the top one per cent save a higher proportion of their income, raising taxes for them won't affect their consumption, just their savings.

Second, by collecting more tax revenues, governments can spend more, and there is a definite and proven correlation between higher government spending and higher economic growth, despite all the non-Keynesian naysayers. The data is clear on this.- Juliette Jowit discusses the pathetic pace being made on the path toward gender pay equity. And Maureen Conway points out the need for both public policy and labour relations decisions oriented toward improved long-term outcomes - particularly given the glaring failure of short-term thinking over the past few decades.

- The Associated Press reports that a particularly egregious example of employer abuses is resulting in rare but well-deserved jail time for the perpetrator.
- Charles Mandel discusses John Brennan's observation that climate change is already (and will increasingly become) a major source of political instability, while David Roberts offers a useful analogy to gravity in assessing its effects. And Geoff Stiles offers a proposal as to how Canada can go from being a laggard to a leader at the Paris climate change conference.

- Finally, Doug Saunders writes about the importance of integration in order to combat extremism of all kinds. Tabatha Southey reminds us that hatred and ignorance between ethnic and religious groups only tend to reinforce each other. And John Cartwright notes that there's a particular need to speak out against bigotry in the wake of an election campaign where multiple parties including the deposed government deliberately stoked it for their political advantage.

Saturday Morning Links

sam, 11/21/2015 - 08:08
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Karen Brettel and David Rohde discuss how the cult of shareholder value is destroying the concept of corporations actually making anything useful. And Deirdre Hipwell writes that the financial-sector workers pushing aside a real economy in favour of a paper one are miserable and envious as a result.

- Andrew Jackson points out that whatever one makes of the budget hole being claimed by the Libs, it could be easily filled with more fair and progressive taxes - with corporate taxes, capital gains and needless credits all offering ready sources of revenue.

- Or alternatively, the Libs could follow the Brad Wall strategy of pulling money directly from vital services (most recently schools) to paper over fiscal mismanagement. But before doing that, they might want to take note of the connection between public-sector cutbacks, low wages and economic stagnation.

- Nick Falvo offers some insights on the problem of homelessness in Canada and the readily-available options to address it. And David Ball points out that a well-designed housing program can take us a long way toward fighting climate change as well.

- Finally, Adam Radwanski, Frédérick Guillaume Dufour, Marc Zwelling and Jocelyn Maclure each offer their take on the NDP's election campaign and next steps.

Musical interlude

ven, 11/20/2015 - 19:41
WestFunk feat. Isla Meller - Apollo

Friday Morning Links

ven, 11/20/2015 - 08:10
Assorted content to end your week.

- Roderick Benns interviews Scott Santens about the effect of a basic income:
Benns: Why is the concept of a basic income guarantee so important at this point in our societal development?

Santens: We’re living in a paradox of absurdity, where we’ve created truly incredible levels of technology, growing at exponential rates, and yet we’re not using it to propel our civilization forward. Technology has from the moment the first tool was ever created, been intended to reduce human labour and enable us to do so much more than we ever would without it. And yet here we are working 47 hours a week instead of 40, and working nine hours a day at the office despite not actually working for four of them. We’re encouraging people to work in jobs they hate instead of doing work they love. We’ve increased the risks of failure, putting a counterproductive brake on innovation. We’re increasing inequality, hampering our economies. We’re reducing bargaining power by decreasing the ability to say no. And we’re replacing human workers with technologies that don’t buy anything. None of this makes any sense if our goal is for technology to work for us instead of against us. So let’s do that instead. - Don Braid explains why it's taken an NDP government to provide Alberta's farm workers with protections they've lacked for a century. And Ben Spielberg and Jared Bernstein offer a fact check against the U.S. Republicans' hostility to a reasonable minimum wage.

- Murray Dobbin considers the Trans-Pacific Partnership to be a test of Justin Trudeau's willingness to offer meaningful change from the Harper Cons. But PressProgress points out that there's a real question as to whether the Libs are even willing to allow for the public debate they've promised. And Duncan Cameron notes that we don't seem to be getting much but conservative economic philosophy from the Libs.

- Laura Best explains why Canada should have little trouble meeting its commitments to assist Syrian refugees. And Remzi Cej discusses how he'd describe Canada to newcomers looking to escape war and poverty - offering a standard we should absolutely work to meet.

- Finally, David McGrane recaps a conference honouring the memory and work of Allan Blakeney by setting out a few of the challenges we need to meet in order to be able to claim a functioning democratic political system.

Thursday Morning Links

jeu, 11/19/2015 - 06:59
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda Tirado writes that whatever the language used as an excuse for turning public benefits into private profits, we should know better than to consider it credible:
Given how much I had heard my whole life about British dignity, and the fact that there is a thing here called the House of Lords, I had assumed I would find something like comity and refinement among the people charged with running the place. Instead, I found Boris Johnson.

I began to feel at home immediately. Then I heard the term “skivers and strivers”. It felt familiar – in America we say “makers and takers”. If you listen, you can’t help but hear US-style campaigning creeping into the British political system. It’s not only the rhyming phrases meant to boil an incredibly nuanced issue down to a simple cops v robbers scenario. It’s the exact same arguments.
There is only so much variation you can put on one school of political thought, and both men are fairly mainstream-to-right with occasional forays into ideological counterproductivity. Both want to pare government spending to the bone, ostensibly to cut the debt and/or deficit depending on which we are very concerned with this week. In the end, you’ll wind up with some pretty sizeable tax cuts to the wealthy either way.

But can two countries with very different approaches to shared sacrifice and benefit have the same economic strategies? Given that a British citizen thinks it their right to see a doctor, and an American citizen may or may not think that the very idea is the reddest of Soviet plots, can privatising healthcare really solve the woes of both nations’ systems? It seems unlikely, given that the US still has an incredible number of people who are uninsured and the system is largely still run by private companies, that the solution will resemble what’s needed in the NHS. - Jeremy Nuttall weighs in on the growth of food bank use in Canada. Miles Corak takes a look at income inequality, pointing out that a Working Income Tax Benefit which didn't wither away to nothing for the vast majority of workers would represent a good start in developing a more fair economic system. And Lars Osberg points out that there's plenty of room to increase how much high-end income goes to fund needed social benefits, while Carol Goar offers a few more suggestions as to how to pay for the Libs' campaign promises.

- CBC reports on the Canadian Institute for Health Information's latest study on the persistence - and in some case expansion - of health inequalities in Canada. And Canadian Doctors for Medicare calls for the federal government to step in and ensure that access to health care doesn't become a privilege reserved for the rich.

- Yves Engler writes that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is all about corporate control rather than free trade. And Michael Geist points out how the TPP is particularly flawed in its restrictions on digital policy.

- Barrie McKenna reports that the Libs are dropping at least one of the Cons' most gratuitous corporate giveaways by eliminating a mandatory P3 screen for infrastructure funding.

- Finally, the New York Times rightly argues that mass surveillance is neither necessary nor particularly helpful in trying to keep the public safe.

New column day

jeu, 11/19/2015 - 06:41
Here, on the decision-based evidence-making behind the Sask Party's selloff of Crown land and planned gutting of publicly-operated liquor stores.

For further reading...
- The Sask Party's announcement of a program to sell off farm land (and ratchet up lease rates for anybody who doesn't want to participate) is here. And the consultation process which made absolutely no mention of that plan is documented here (PDF).
- Similarly, yesterday's liquor retailing announcement is here. And while I've already discussed some of the problems with a glaringly biased survey, it's worth noting the massive gap between what people were asked about (PDF) and what the Sask Party plans to impose on the province as a result.
- Finally, the CCPA's study (PDF) on the effects of privatizing liquor sales is well worth another read.

Wednesday Morning Links

mer, 11/18/2015 - 05:53
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Randy Robinson points out that while it's worth setting a higher bar for all kinds of precarious work, it's particularly problematic for governments to try to attack protections for the people charged with delivering public services:
These are many more examples of public sector jobs gone bad. And let’s not forget all the contracted-out services paid for by government but now delivered by private employers. When it comes to these services, government is no different from any company that aims to dodge union wages for its “non-core” functions by sending work to the lowest bidder. Cost, not job quality, is what matters most.

The ritual punishment of all public employees after recessions is cyclical and—we hope—soon coming to an end. But the growth of a precarious public sector workforce is a structural transformation that mirrors what is happening right across the economy. If the current government is serious about helping precarious workers, it can’t ignore its own.- Leslie Young reports on a spike in food bank usage among other indicators of poverty and precarity in Canada. Matt Bruenig breaks down the face of poverty in the U.S., while Bryce Covert looks at the added difficulties facing single mothers trying to raise children without any secure source of income And Ina Jaffe discusses how gender inequality continues into retirement.

- Danyaal Raza, Steve Morgan and a group of health experts make the case for a national pharmacare program.

- David Climenhaga takes a look at the University of Calgary's corporate influence scandal - and why we shouldn't be the slightest bit surprised.

- Finally, John Klein duly slams John Gormley, Brad Wall and everybody else seeking to create a mob against convenient minority targets. And Paul Orlowski highlights the fact that Saskatchewan as a whole is more than ready to welcome refugees even if its current premier wants to foment suspicion, while Climenhaga is optimistic that Wall's cynical attempt to play to bigotry will lead to political repercussions.

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

mar, 11/17/2015 - 15:14
Kitchen cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

mar, 11/17/2015 - 08:25
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Martin Whittaker reminds us that the American public is eager for a far more fair distribution of income than the one provided for by the U.S.' current political and economic ground rules. But Christo Aivalis writes that there's a difference between a preference and a cause - and that we need to do far more to shift the fight for equality into the latter category.

- Ed Struzik discusses how climate change is affecting Alberta's cattle ranges facing unprecedented droughts. And Emily Chung reports on new research showing that our groundwater supplies are mostly non-renewable.

- Robin Sears argues that we shouldn't let terrorists succeed in their goal of undermining our shared humanity. Unfortunately, Brad Wall didn't get the memo - and is facing due outrage for his willingness to let refugees suffer for the crimes of others.

- But there's at least some good news when it comes to greater inclusion in Canada - in the form of both premiers looking to help settle refugees, and a federal government dropping some of the Cons' most egregious attempts to exclude minority groups.

Monday Morning Links

lun, 11/16/2015 - 06:54
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Tony Atkinson offers reason for hope that it's more than possible to rein in inequality and ensure a more fair distribution of resources if we're willing to put in the work to make it happen:
(T)he present levels of inequality are not inevitable; we are not simply at the mercy of forces beyond our control. If we want to reduce inequality, and that is a big “if”, then there are steps that we can take. They are not necessarily easy and they have costs. We would have to discard economic and political orthodoxies. If our leaders are serious about tackling inequality, then they have to move outside their comfort zone and to consider a wider agenda. But there are concrete measures that can be tried if we are serious about tackling inequality.

At the same time, I should emphasize at the outset that, while I make far-reaching proposals, I am not seeking to go to the opposite extreme: from dystopia to utopia. Rather, I am concerned with a reduction in inequality below its current level — that is with the direction of movement, not the ultimate destination. My reading of the current state of opinion is that many people feel that present inequality is excessive, while having different views about how much they would like to see it reduced. My book is directed at this broad coalition, allowing the reader to choose how far they wish to go along the road described.
Reviewers have accused me of being nostalgic for a bygone-era that never will be repeated. But much of the book is concerned with how the world has changed and how it will change in the future. I devote considerable space to the role of technology and robotisation; I stress how the labour market is changing so that we can no longer focus on “jobs”; I discuss the shifting relation between the ownership of wealth and the control of capital. These developments potentially have profound distributional implications. But they are not necessarily grounds for pessimism. The citizens of OECD countries today enjoy a standard of living that is much higher than that of their great-grand-parents. The achievement of a less unequal society in the period of the Second World War and subsequent post-war decades has not been fully overthrown. At a global level, the great divergence between countries associated with the Industrial Revolution is closing. It is true that since 1980 we have seen an “Inequality Turn” and that the 21st century brings challenges that I have not discussed — such as population ageing and climate change. But the solutions to these problems lie in our own hands. If we are willing to use today’s greater wealth to address these challenges, and — crucially — to accept that resources should be shared less unequally, there are indeed grounds for optimism.- David Dayen argues that we need to revive the use of antitrust law to rein in corporate abuses. And CBC exposes another galling example of pharmaceutical profiteering, as an off-patent drug needed to treat childhood epilepsy on an urgent basis saw its price rocket from $33 per vial to $680 after a multinational purchased its previous manufacturer.

- But David Schneiderman points out that the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other corporate control agreements are instead designed to tie government hands - and makes the case that we need a serious public debate before signing on.

- Anne Farries discusses how ill-advised austerity has affected basic public protections such as firefighting - and the problem extends well beyond Farries' focus on rural Cape Breton.

- Finally, Andrew Potter nicely sums up the Harper Cons' philosophy as setting up provincial firewalls from the federal level - rather than allowing for the exchange of money and knowledge necessary for a federal system to function.

Sunday Morning Links

dim, 11/15/2015 - 07:26
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Reich writes about the growing disconnect between the few well-connected people who have warped our political and economic systems for their benefit, and the rest of us who are on the wrong side of that system:
(C)orporate executives and Wall Street managers and traders have done everything possible to prevent the wages of most workers from rising in tandem with productivity gains, in order that more of the gains go instead towards corporate profits. Public policies that emerged during the 1930s and the Second World War had placed most economic risks squarely on large corporations. But in the wake of the junk bond and takeover mania of the 1980s, economic risks were shifted to workers. Corporate executives did whatever they could to reduce payrolls: outsource abroad, install labour-replacing technologies and use part-time and contract workers.

A new set of laws and regulations facilitated this transformation. Trade agreements, for example, encouraged companies to outsource jobs abroad, while enhancing protections for the intellectual property and financial assets of global corporations. Government budgets that prioritise debt reduction over job creation have undermined the bargaining power of average workers and translated into stagnant or declining wages. Some insecurity has been the result of shredded safety nets and disappearing workforce protections.
Given these changes in the organisation of the market, it is not surprising that corporate profits have increased as a portion of the total United States economy, while wages have declined. Those whose income derives directly or indirectly from profits – corporate executives, Wall Street traders and shareholders – have done exceedingly well. Those dependent primarily on wages have not.

Britain is not as far along the path toward oligarchic capitalism as is America, but it is following the same trail. Markets do not exist without rules. When large corporations, major banks and the very rich gain the most influence over the composition of those rules, markets invariably tilt in their direction – adding to their wealth and their political influence. Unaddressed and unstopped, the vicious cycle compounds itself.- Meanwhile, Brent Patterson notes that even the Globe and Mail is calling for the Libs to put the brakes on the Trans-Pacific Partnership before we sign away even more decision-making authority to the corporate sector.

- Mariana Mazzucato points out that everybody can benefit from an entrepreneurial public sector. And Katie Herzog reports on the massive economic development and job growth we'd expect from a transition to renewable energy.

- Andrew Jackson reminds us that the Libs' much-hyped "middle class tax cut" serves mostly to shuffle money around the top 10% of the income scale, and suggests using any increased revenue to actually help the people who need it most.

- Finally, Andrew Defty examines the causes and effects of reduced party membership in the UK. And David Ball discusses the snowflake organizational model which offers one means of reaching more people than the relatively small number already engaged in politics.

Saturday Morning Links

sam, 11/14/2015 - 05:12
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne points out that even some of the world's wealthiest individuals are highlighting the need for governments to step up in addressing major collective action problems such as climate change and inequality. And Angella MacEwen offers one important example of that principle being put into practice, writing that Quebec's family-friendly parental leave policies have made a major impact in improving both social and economic outcomes.

- Duncan Weldon observes that wages will face conflicting pressures in the years to come, as increased replacement of work with new technology is weighed against a demographic crunch in the supply of labour.

- Carol Linnitt exposes some of the cynicism and denial from the corporations who have all too often been able to dictate the terms of climate change conversations, while David Climenhaga notes that the Cons' more overt obstructionism did little but to get the world to tune Canada out entirely. And PressProgress offers some good reasons for Alberta (and other jurisdictions) to move past coal power to cleaner, renewable alternatives.

- Nathan Raine discusses the futility of "tough on crime" policies which do nothing to address the social factors which actually cause criminal behaviour.

- Finally, Errol Mendes points out why we shouldn't be satisfied with the results of an election where xenophobia managed to have a significant impact on the outcome - even if the parties pushing it weren't the ones who benefited most. And Samantha Ponting charts just a few of the corporate connections of the Libs' new cabinet.

Musical interlude

ven, 11/13/2015 - 15:14
The Avener & Kadebostany - Castle In The Snow

Friday Morning Links

ven, 11/13/2015 - 06:46
Assorted content to end your week.

- Julie Delahanty discusses the need for Canada's federal government to rein in rising inequality. And Tim Stacey duly challenges the excuse that today's poor people just aren't poor enough to deserve any consideration.

- Amy Goodman interviews Joseph Stiglitz about the serious problems with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Andrea Germanos reports that Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, is joining the chorus pointing out how the TPP will affect public health. And Andy Blatchford points out how the TPP's intellectual property provisions are designed to enrich the U.S. at the expense of Canadian industry.

- Meanwhile, Brad Hornick points out how trade agreements and corporate influence will limit what we can hope to accomplished at the Paris conference on climate change, while Reuters reports on the massive amounts of money still being used to subsidize fossil fuels. But on the bright side, IndustriALL notes that the International Labour Organization has stepped up to the plate in advance of Paris by adopting a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions paired with a "just transition" for workers.

- Finally, Bill Tieleman comments on the Christy Clark Libs' phantom government which manages to make information disappear as soon as truth is in danger of becoming public. And Sean Holman writes that the basic question the Trudeau Libs will face on access to information is whether to presume that "administrative secrecy" should generally trump any public awareness of government decision-making.

New column day

jeu, 11/12/2015 - 06:55
Here, on the opportunity posed by the change in Canada's federal government - as well as the risks involved in letting the moment pass without an activist push for meaningful change.

For further reading...
- Nora Loreto makes much the same point with a particular focus on Canada's labour movement.
- Susan Delacourt notes that Justin Trudeau is going so far as to ask for public involvement in at least some areas - though the more important ones for activism may be those where he isn't willing to make a public appeal.
- And as I noted in this post, data on voter turnout is here for this year's election, and here for previous ones.

Thursday Morning Links

jeu, 11/12/2015 - 06:53
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Seth Klein discusses the need to deal with climate change with the same sense of urgency and common purpose we've historically associated with major wars:
Canada’s experience in WWI and WWII serves to remind us that our society has managed a dramatic restructuring of the economy before. During both world wars, our economy had to be entirely re-tooled for a new common purpose: scarce resources were deployed for the task at hand, Victory Bonds were sold, profits were restricted to prevent war-time profiteering, new taxes were levied, household consumption shifted and quotas we applied on some goods, core industries were directed to produce the goods and services needed, people grew “Victory Gardens” and dramatically switched their transportation from private automobiles to public transit –– coincidentally, actions that also reduced emissions. And in the process employment grew dramatically.

While the threat today may move in slower motion, is the climate crisis we face really all that different?

Only now, we need a federal government that can lead us not into battle against other nations, but rather, into the fight for our collective future.- But Tyler Hamilton reports on the billions Canada continues to hand to the fossil fuel industry in subsidies, while Charles Mandel points out that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is designed to limit what we're able to do to rein in climate change. And John Klein exposes the Saskatchewan Party's disappearing promises when it comes to greenhouse gas emission reductions.

- Meanwhile, Thomas Walkom notes that Justin Trudeau doesn't have the same sense of urgency about the global problem of climate change that he's expressed when it comes to his promises on refugees - which is a problem however important (and beneficial) the cause of helping today's refugees. And so we probably can't expect Canada's failing grade on climate change to improve anytime soon.

- Finally, Paul Waldman points out how the U.S.' Republican presidential candidates are ignoring the facts as what's actually produced economic growth in the past in order to pitch yet more faith-based tax giveaways to the rich. And Pete Evans reports on David Madani's finding that the hope of a secure income is little more than an illusion for an increasing number of Canadians, while Andrew Prokop discusses how the TPP may only make matters worse (despite some spin about labour protections which likely won't be enforced).

On dramatic conclusions

mer, 11/11/2015 - 13:45
Presenting a one-act play starring Saskatchewan's Minister of Highways and Infrastructure, along with one of her party's most troublesome adversaries.

Reality: How can you possibly justify spending more public money on highways to get less done?

Nancy Heppner: There's a perfectly good explanation for that. It's because we're spending on the...(flips pages in the Compendium of Random Transportation-Related Terms)...culverts and bridges!!!

Reality: That's demonstrably false. So again, how can you justify spending more money on highways to get less done?

Nancy Heppner: There's a perfectly good explanation for that. It's because we're spending on the...(again flips pages in the Compendium of Random Transportation-Related Terms)...multi-year projects and flood repairs!!!

Reality: That comes nowhere close to accounting for the increased cost, and doesn't explain the reduced amount of road repaired. So again, how can you justify spending more money on highways to get less done? 

Nancy Heppner: There's a perfectly good explanation for that. It's because we're spending on the...(once again flips pages in the Compendium of Random Transportation-Related Terms)...viaducts and esplanades!!!