Assorted content to end your week.
– Scott Sinclair, Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood and Stuart Trew study the contents of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. Sinclair and Trew also highlight why Canadian progressives should oppose the deal, while Howard Mann notes that the same criticisms, including a gross transfer of power to the corporate sector and the absence of any concern for developmental and environmental issues, apply to all of the new generation of corporate rights agreements. But the Council of Canadians notes that not only are the Trudeau Libs pushing ahead with every single trade agreement currently on the table, they’re also trying to lay the groundwork for a similar deal with China – even if it comes with both a blind eye to human rights violations, and an obligation to approve a tar sands pipeline.
– Bill McKibben examines how new climate data shows that we need a nearly immediate transition away from dirty energy in order to meet the Paris conference commitment to rein in global warming. And Seth Klein and Shannon Daub call out the new form of climate denialism – which pays lip service to the science of climate change, but attempts to detach it from any policy steps to improve matters.
– Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson argue that there’s no reason to keep hewing to neoliberal orthodoxy when decades of evidence show how it exacerbates inequality and harms health:
Even before the 2008 global financial crisis, neoliberalism was causing what the University of Durham’s Ted Schrecker and Clare Bambra have called “neoliberal epidemics.” As Schrecker and Bambra and many others have shown, income inequality has profoundly damaging and far-reaching effects on everything from trust and social cohesion to rates of violent crime and imprisonment, educational achievement, and social mobility. Inequality seems to worsen health outcomes, reduce life expectancy, boost rates of mental illness and obesity, and even increase the prevalence of HIV.
Deep income inequality means that society is organized as a wealth-based hierarchy. Such a system confers economic as well as political power to those at the top and contributes to a sense of powerlessness for the rest of the population. Ultimately, this causes problems not only for the poor, but for the affluent as well.
Careful analysis of statistical data debunked the idea that stressed executives are at a higher risk for heart attacks. Now, it has debunked the 1980s myth that “greed is good,” and has revealed the extensive damage inequality causes. It was one thing to believe these myths decades ago, but when experience and all the available evidence show them to be mistaken, it is time to make a change.
“Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error,” said the Roman philosopher Cicero. Now that we know how inequality harms the health of societies, individuals, and economies, reducing it should be our top priority. Anyone advocating policies that increase inequality and threaten the wellbeing of our societies is taking us for fools.
– And Ashley Quan points out
how a basic income could alleviate many of the harms caused by precarious financial situations.
– Finally, Thomas Walkom rightly notes that a federal crackdown on extra-billing under the Canada Health Act is long overdue. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links
Miscellaneous material for your Labour Day reading.
– Jared Bernstein comments on the prospect of a labour revival which can boost the prospects of unionized and non-unionized workers alike. And Thomas Walkom makes the case for closer identification between the NDP and Canada’s labour movement:
Labour needs a political party because unions, on their own, are a declining force. Only 29 per cent of the Canadian workforce is unionized. The number continues to fall.
This has happened because the economy, once characterized by large manufacturing plants, is now dominated by smaller service firms that, under current labour laws, are more difficult to unionize.
The decline of well-paying union jobs is one of the key factors behind the rise in income inequality that politicians routinely fret about.
Yet to reverse this trend would require a total rethinking of employment and labour laws, most of which were designed in the 1940s and ‘50s.
Among other things, the laws must be amended to eliminate the loophole that allows so many employers to pretend their workers are independent contractors who do not qualify for benefits or statutory protection.
As well, labour relations laws would have to be changed to allow unions organizing, say, fast-food franchise outlets, to take on the ultimate employer.
These are just a couple of examples. The point is that, if unions are to survive, labour laws must be rethought.
That in turn requires a political party willing to do the rethinking.
– And CBC reports that Ontario’s NDP looks to be taking that advice by looking to facilitate both certification and collective bargaining – though there’s still more to be done in examining the broader trends affecting unionization rates.
– Mark Dearn discusses how the CETA figures to undermine democratic governance in Canada and Europe alike. And the CP reports on Justin Trudeau’s attempt to stifle discussion of the actual terms of corporate control agreements by indiscriminately bashing anybody who raises reasonable questions about business-oriented trade deals.
– Michael Winship points out how profiteering around the EpiPen the fits into a wider pattern of pharmaceutical price gouging and other anti-social behaviour.
– Finally, Lyndal Rowlands writes that developed countries have a strong stake in working toward meeting global development goals – and suggests it’s long past time that we started acting like it. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links
Assorted content to end your week.- Armine Yalnizyan writes that the response to the European Commission’s finding that Apple has dodged $20 billion in taxes may tell us all we need to know about the relative power of governments and corporations:The E… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links
Assorted content to end your week.
– Armine Yalnizyan writes that the response to the European Commission’s finding that Apple has dodged $20 billion in taxes may tell us all we need to know about the relative power of governments and corporations:
The EC is also investigating state support received by Amazon and McDonalds in Luxembourg, a tax haven. Expect more costly court battles about the appropriateness of laws and systems of governance.
Since the 2008 economic crisis, giant corporations have gone from being “too big to fail” to “too big to pay.”
But as the big tax avoiders get feisty, so too are voters. The Panama Papers have made people aware of the hypocrisy: when those with deep pockets don’t pay, everyone else pays more. Governments are legitimately worried about their finances, and more focused on tax fairness than in decades. But as corporations both fight and rewrite the rules, occasionally cash-starved, debt-ridden nations are being enlisted to support their agenda.
The Apple story is huge. It could presage the end of tax competition, as nations co-ordinate attempts to combat absurd levels of tax-dodging. Or it could signal growing dominance of corporate power over state power. High stakes, to be sure, in the evolution of 21st-century globalization.
– Meanwhile, Allan Sloan discusses how Mylan’s profiteering in ratcheting up the price of EpiPens has been paired with glaring tax avoidance. And the NDP points out the conspicuous lack of any public benefit from the Libs’ and Cons’ track record of corporate tax slashing in Canada.
– Alex Hemingway writes about the costs of privatizing public infrastructure. And Thomas Walkom highlights the Libs’ options in reviewing Canada Post’s future – which include taking an obvious opportunity to better meet a large number of social needs through a postal banking system.
– Bloomberg View rightly argues that fossil fuel subsidies are about the dumbest possible type of public policy. And Samantha Page offers another reason why that’s so by pointing out the devastating health effects of oil and gas production and distribution.
– Finally, Simon Enoch offers a much-needed warning to the rest of Canada as to what Saskatchewan faces with Brad Wall in power. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links
Miscellaneous material to start your week.- Thomas Walkom writes that with both major U.S. presidential candidates taking an understandably skeptical view of free-trade agreements in their current form, Canada shouldn’t be planning on the past trade mo… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links
This and that for your Tuesday reading.- Jeff Guo reports on Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson’s research showing how the U.S. went from standing out internationally for its relatively equal distribution of wealth, to being equally exceptional in it… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links
There are many truths today that, thanks to the almost reflexive, visceral response of an often vitriolic social media, few dare to speak. Most recently, linking the terrible fires in Fort McMurray with climate change has been one of them. Is it insens… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: In The Service Of Truth
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- Aditya Chakrabortty comments on how massive amounts of wealth are both being siphoned out of our social systems, and used to buy the politicians who facilitate those transfers:(A)t root, the Panama Pap… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links
Miscellaneous material to start your week.- CBC and the Star have both started reporting on the Panama Papers – offering a glimpse of the tip of the iceberg of international tax avoidance. And the Star also recognizes why we shouldn’t let grey-area tax… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- Duncan Cameron discusses how deficit hysteria has overshadowed the far more important issues raised by the Trudeau Libs’ inaugural budget:Ottawa deficit spending is not big enough to stimulate an econo… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- Emily Badger discusses a new study showing just how much more expensive it is to be poor:(T)he problem isn’t simply that the poor aren’t savvy about sales or bulk buying. They’re more likely to use th… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links
There’s reason to be wary about the Libs’ handling of the Senate, as Thomas Walkom writes in his latest column. But it’s also worth noting that contrary to Walkom’s conflation of the two, there are important differences between selecting prospective Se… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On common values
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- Ronald Inglehart discusses the political roots of inequality – and the likelihood that the forces that have allowed it to fester for decades will eventually be reversed:New political alignments, in sho… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links
This and that for your Thursday reading.- Duncan Cameron offers his take on the Paris climate change conference. Martin Lukacs notes that while the agreement reached there may not accomplish anywhere near what we need, the building climate movement sho… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links
This and that for your Tuesday reading.- David MacDonald offers some alternative suggestions that can do far more to reduce inequality and boost Canada’s economy than the Libs’ upper-class tax shuffle. And Karl Nerenberg reminds us that the most import… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links