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A Mound Of Sound Guest Post: Climate Change By The Numbers

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 05:02
One of the great malignancies of the 20th century was the spread of neo-classical economics. the macro- and micro-stuff that you probably had to learn in university.

I did a good bit of fraud work in my legal career. One of the key ways to unravel a well-crafted fraud was to ferret out the inconsistencies, the gaps, the irreconcilable contradictions. Neo-classical economics, being a work of fraud, also is replete with inconsistencies, illogic and irreconcilable contradictions, but it bundles them all up and jettisons them under the category of “externalities.” It’s sort of like your teenager shoving all the dirt and debris under the bed before proclaiming his room ‘clean’ before demanding the keys to the family car.

The use of externality is a dandy way of keeping incidental costs off the balance sheet. Carbon emissions? An externality. Impacts on climate change, ditto. Deaths in the hundreds of thousands? That too.

In yesterday’s Guardian there’s an item that reveals the face of climate change since the 1970s in 8 charts. It’s taken from a UN study.

What is most telling are two bar graphs toward the end of the article. One of these is titled, “Disasters ranked by reported deaths (1970-2012)”. The countries that dominate that list are Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Mozambique – essentially the Third World. The other is entitled, “Disasters ranked by economic losses (1970-2012)”. Here the top players are Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Andrew and Ike along with flooding in China and Thailand.






What this reveals is that for the Third World, climate change is a matter of life and death. For the developed and developing countries, it’s an economic problem. Economic challenges are approached from a “cost/benefit” basis. That’s where externalities, such as all those Third World deaths and suffering, come into play. Even though the industrialized world is responsible for almost all of the greenhouse gas emissions since the Industrial Revolution that are wreaking death and suffering in the Third World, we externalize that. We keep it off our books. It’s not relevant.

What have we become? Recommend this Post

Stephen Harper's Hugely Embarrassing Economic Problem

Montreal Simon - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 04:46


Well we all know how Stephen Harper likes to portray himself as a Great Economist Leader.

The brilliant leader with the best job record in the G7, or the best growth record since Jesus took five loaves and two fish, and fed five thousand.

And the ENVY of the world.

But sadly for him, Harper's story is also starting to smell a little fishy. 

Or just plain fraudulent. 
Read more »

Beggars Can't Be Choosers

Dammit Janet - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 23:29
In poetry, the word 'thousand' has represented not only an actual mathematical number of distict properties, but also a metaphor for infinity or without end; for example, 'never in a thousand years', 'one picture is worth a thousand words' and so on.

As I write this tonight, the fundraising effort to keep the Morgentaler clinic for women's health services in New Brunswick up and running has taken an optimistic turn.  With 17 days to go on the deadline for fundraising, the requested funds of $100,000CAN has sprouted to over 63% of the way.  It wasn't looking so hopeful last night when it was still below $19,000CAN, which at least, was higher than it looked last Friday.

$100,000 dollars.  An enormous, near infinite amount of money to most of us not living the life of the 1percenters.  When I was thinking about that, Friday night, I couldn't help but consider that progressive, fellow-feeling Canadians are in the position of literally begging for random donations to support legal medical services for cis-women and transgender men, because their provincial government had successfully fettered mandated services with administrative blockades that served no purpose beyond sectarian interpretations of morality.

Canadians in 2014. Begging. For. Funding of *legal* medical procedures. Potentially affecting 50percent+ of the national population. Begging. BEGGING IN THE STREETS for enough money to keep medical treatment safe.  BEGGING for the ability to help Canadians who practically have nowhere else to go, unless the State authorities deem them worthy of State mercy.

These State-imposed blockades deliberately and aggressively infantilize adult, taxpaying Canadians of sound mettle. Needful patients in the Canadian medical system must submit to the authoritarian, foot-dragging and subjective decisions of what is essentially a legally rejected 'in parens patriae' judgemental gauntlet of strangers that may or may not grant permission for access to safe, professional, *timely* and economically unfettered medical care.

That always works out well.

Canadians shouldn't have to beg on bended, humble knee to get necessary medical attention. The organizations opposing the ability of cis-women and transgender men to have timely and *dignified* access to pregnancy terminations and/or contraception are pleased to make a mockery of Canada's long standing Supreme Court human rights decision.

They're counting on lying, public shaming, and economic challenges as their weapons to force *other peoples'* unwanted pregnancies to term, no matter the human cost to the already living.  They're *happy* about such tactics.  They *want* begging.  They want social control in their hands, not the hands of individuals wanting lives of choice and personal respect.  They're well funded.

They shouldn't be the only ones so funded.

$100,000CAN.  Let's work for the New Brunswick clinic and its deadline but let's also look beyond its survival.  There are underserved urban and rural areas all across the country.  Maybe this is naive, or even repetitive, but let's run with that poetic number.  Why can't we take that $100,000 figure and break it down?

What about 1,000? 1,000 Canadians who believe access to legal, evidence-based abortion and contraception services are important.  1,000 pledges to provide $100.00CAN to a yearly project? We have 10 provinces and 3 territories. In their bounds, are there not 1,000 people willing to put up less than $9CAN per month equivalent?

1,000 pledges that could either seed money support for areas of Canada lacking in Abortion/contraceptive services or match extra funds raised.  1,000 pledges to say there aren't sluts or saints, only Canadians in need. 1,000 pledges that show political circles we're not going back to the way medical access was in this country before abortion and contraception services were legal.

Canadians shouldn't have to beg for their lives.

Not in a thousand years.

New Brunswick Activists Push Back, Canadians Respond Generously

Dammit Janet - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 15:52
I've been watching the fundraising efforts by Reproductive Justice New Brunswick. They are trying to raise $100,000 to secure the lease on the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic, which is closing this week.

At about 8:30 this morning, the total stood at $18,400 with just 17 days left in the campaign.

Sometime soon after that, a piece in the Globe and Mail titled "Abortion in New Brunswick: The vise tightens, and activists push back" appeared.

By 11 a.m., the total had zoomed to more than $32,000 and as of just now (6:30 p.m.) it stands at more than $51,000.

As comments at the fundraising site and on the Globe article indicate, people across the country are shocked by the New Brunswick government's cavalier attitude towards women's rights. Canadians find it appalling that not all of us have equal access to healthcare. Some of us were under the impression that we'd fought this battle and won.

Surprise!

Donations are not the answer of course. This is merely a stop-gap.

The goal is to force the NB government to repeal its idiotic Regulation 84-20 so that women of the province can have medicare-funded, self-referred abortions like other Canadians.

And no, we haven't forgotten Prince Edward Island, where the attitude towards women's healthcare is similarly antediluvian.

If you can, please consider a donation and spread the word among your friends and networks.

For those who prefer to use cheques, you can mail them to Reproductive Justice New Brunswick at PO Box 761, Stn. A, Fredericton NB E3B 5B4.

Here's a tweet from one of the organizers today.

In my life, I have never felt more love in my heart than I do today. This adopted kid is forever grateful. #NBProchoice #SaveTheClinic

— Kathleen Pye (@KathleenCanada) July 14, 2014

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 08:38
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Ralph Surette highlights the dangers of a pollution-based economy which fails to account for the damage we're doing to our planet and its ability to provide food for people:
This is something to behold. A more-or-less hurricane in early July. Has anyone ever seen such a thing?

This is climate change, and it's getting worse. And whereas the news of the day is about people with the power out, the long-term story is about the hit to agriculture, now and in future, here and worldwide -- keeping in mind that farming is more than an "economic sector." It's the food supply.
...
This is the story all over, as agriculture, always up and down, has become a wild, unpredictable ride through floods, droughts, storms, killing heatwaves, heat-related pest infestations and other hazards. In some places -- drought-ridden California being the prime example -- the scary question is whether agriculture there is simply finished for good.
...
What to do? As with our pollution-based economy generally, the answer is one we and our established systems resist ferociously: to change our ways. The experts point out that a third to half of food is actually wasted and mere increased efficiency, especially energy efficiency, in the food system -- from the farm to us -- would work wonders. Only 43 per cent of the world's grains are consumed directly by humans. The same applies to the other part of the food system, fisheries. A staggering figure in that regard is this: of the 110 to 130 million tonnes of fish caught worldwide annually, 30 million tonnes is discarded at sea -- the same amount as goes to fishmeal to feed farmed fish. Is this as impossible to change as it seems? - Meanwhile, Tavia Grant discusses the health effects of climate change.

- Laura Broadley reports that Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is now grudgingly admitting that its in situ oil extraction may be contributing to ongoing and still-unexplained oil spills. (As a friendly reminder, that's exactly the type of oil exploitation the Cons have declared to be immune from environmental assessment.) And Jessica McDiarmid writes about Windsor's fight to be able to protect its citizens from hazardous goods being shipped by rail.

- Gloria Galloway reports on the threat to Canada's national parks from unfettered resource development and a woeful lack of public investment.

- David Climenhaga points out that the Cons' latest spin on TFWs seems designed to allow low-pay zones wherever an employer wants to avoid offering a fair wage to Canadian workers.

- Finally, Shannon Gormley rightfully questions why equal pay for women is still projected to be a lifetime away:
Seventy-five years. According to an Oxfam report released Sunday, that’s how long it will take until women in G20 countries can earn, stow away and waste as much as the men who, right now, probably sign their paycheques. In no G20 country does women’s pay reach 80 per cent of men’s.
Before we get into how to save time (and money) — listen. That sound you hear is the sound of conservatives everywhere uttering a secret hope masked as insight: “Progress is slow,” these anti-progressives say, with a smugly wizened intonation peculiar to the type of man who smokes a pipe and has another man shave him with a straight razor.
Of course, 75 years isn’t slow. Turtles are slow; 75 years is an actual, honest-to-God lifetime. Seventy-five years is longer than it took a large chunk of Germany to go from being fascist to communist to capitalist. Longer than it took people to go from using typewriters to computers the size of living rooms to computers they wear on their eyeballs. Longer than it took Americans to go to the moon and then back again and then decide they didn’t feel like going to the moon anymore. Seventy-five years are about as many years as most of us will ever have....(W)omen who ask for raises, promotions and other career opportunities aren’t just denied what they want, they’re punished for asking: whether they ask “nicely” or assertively, whether they ask in writing or in person and, most remarkably, whether the person they ask is a man or another woman. Women’s bias against other women is a particularly clear indication that we can’t wait for our subconscious minds to change. We need to change systems and structures and let our minds catch up.
That’s Oxfam’s answer. In Canada, where “progress has stalled to a halt over the past two decades,” and only 57 per cent of women have been employed full-time over the past five years compared to 76 per cent of men, change has to mean national low-fee day care, which has given Quebec more money than it has cost, and no more public service cuts, which disproportionately affect women. Globally, it must mean equal pay legislation, non-discriminatory taxation, and paid parental leave.

They Say He's A Smart Guy

Northern Reflections - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 08:00


                                                                          http://www.globalresearch.ca/

Chris Hedges writes that there is a deep irony to what is currently happening in Gaza. It mirrors what happened to European Jews eighty years ago:

Raul Hilberg in his monumental work “The Destruction of the European Jews” chronicled a process of repression that at first was “relatively mild” but led, step by step, to the Holocaust. It started with legal discrimination and ended with mass murder. “The destructive process was a development that was begun with caution and ended without restraint,” Hilberg wrote.

The Palestinians over the past few decades have endured a similar “destructive process.” They have gradually been stripped of basic civil liberties, robbed of assets including much of their land and often their homes, have suffered from mounting restrictions on their physical movements, been blocked from trading and business, especially the selling of produce, and found themselves increasingly impoverished and finally trapped behind walls and security fences erected around Gaza and the West Bank.

“The process of destruction [of the European Jews] unfolded in a definite pattern,” Hilberg wrote. “It did not, however, proceed from a basic plan. No bureaucrat in 1933 could have predicted what kind of measures would be taken in 1938, nor was it possible in 1938 to foretell the configuration of the undertaking in 1942. The destructive process was a step-by-step operation, and the administrator could seldom see more than one step ahead.”
There is no halocaust. One hopes that history has taught us something. Nevertheless, it is a patten which is repeated over and over again:

The Palestinians in Gaza live in conditions that now replicate those first imposed on Jews by the Nazis in the ghettos set up throughout Eastern Europe. Palestinians cannot enter or leave Gaza. They are chronically short of food—the World Health Organization estimates that more than 50 percent of children in Gaza and the West Bank under 2 years old have iron deficiency anemia and reports that malnutrition and stunting in children under 5 are “not improving” and could actually be worsening. Palestinians often lack clean water. They are crammed into unsanitary hovels. They do not have access to basic medical care. They are stateless and lack passports or travel documents. There is massive unemployment. They are daily dehumanized in racist diatribes by their occupiers as criminals, terrorists and mortal enemies of the Jewish people.
No one seems to have brought these parallels to the attention of Stephen Harper -- or perhaps he has chosen to ignore them. For the prime minister there is always one side to any issue. Economics is about supply, not demand. The world is populated by "Us" and "Them."  Israeli policy is always right, never wrong.

And they say he's a smart guy.

Giving Credit Where It Is Due

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 07:11


Over the years on this blog, I have been deeply and justifiably critical of the excesses of unfettered capitalism. Degradation of the environment, activities contributing to widescale climate change, and exploitation of labour have been some common targets. Yet every so often, something comes along to show that not all businesses are based on such a rapacious and monolithic model.

In yesterday's business section, The Star reported on a number of enterprises that puncture the myth that paying ones's employees more than the minimum wage is a shortcut to bankruptcy, a favoured assertion of the right.

One of those enterprises is Coffee Pubs,

where the starting wage is 50 cents higher than Ontario’s $11 an hour minimum wage. Full-time staff can start earning an ownership share in the company after six months of service. The business has also expanded to include bartending and catering services. It has 16 employees; workers start at $11.50 an hour and qualify for medical and dental benefits after three months. Managers earn about $30,000, and the Cluleys, the husband and wife owners, say they pay themselves slightly more.

A small company with only two location, Coffee Pubs's decision to depart from the conventional pay model is a bold one, given that employee remuneration in a small operation is a much greater factor in overall costs than in large enterprises.

So why did they do it? Both serendipity and social conscience seem to have played roles.

Their first site, at Bloor and Bathurst in Toronto, is leased from The Centre for Social Innovation, which offers rents geared to revenue. Their second venue is at Artscape Youngplace, a collaborative public space in a former elementary school that’s home to artists’ studios, galleries and an Ontario Early Years Centre.

The Cluleys say that their advantage comes from the strong relationships they’ve forged with local vendors, tenants and walk-in customers from the surrounding neighbourhood. They estimate they have about 100 to 150 customers each day and about half of them work in the building.

The other part of the equation is their philosophy:

“We could use cheaper ingredients and pay the staff less and make more money. We know that this way isn’t going to get us wealthy but we believe in the model,” Erin said.

“We believe if we are patient, we can make a big difference. We want to show there’s another way to run a business that’s not just profit for its own sake.”

The article includes reference and links to other organizations promoting similar values, but on a larger scale, such as B Corporation and Wagemark Foundation.

Like industry leaders including WestJet and Costco, more and companies are discovering that treating employees with dignity, respect and decent wages has tangible benefits:

They argue firms that create high-quality, well-paying jobs and treat their workers better will have a more loyal and engaged workforce, leading to better bottom lines, and better end results for everyone.

We can only hope that this model, which in many ways is the antithesis of the rapacious and unfettered capitalist one widely practised today, ultimately becomes the norm. We, of course, can do our own part by patronizing such enterprises and spreading the word about them with any means we have at our disposal.

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