Here, on how the U.S. midterms show the political risks of putting corporations over people – and how Saskatchewan citizens should take a hint asContinue reading
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading. – Matt Bruenig makes the case for a social wealth fund in the U.S. And David Dayen offers aContinue reading
This and that for your Thursday reading. – Ian Millhiser writes that the Republican majority on the U.S.’ Supreme Court is restoring the robber baronContinue reading
Assorted content to end your week. – Gwynn Guilford discusses how dependence on coal and other resources has left the U.S.’ Appalachian region both poorContinue reading
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading. – Gerald Caplan writes about the existential threats to humanity which are being either escalated or ignored: We areContinue reading
Assorted content to end your week. – Maureen Conway and Mark Popovich argue that something has gone severely wrong if (as seems to be theContinue reading
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading. – Kevin Connor reports that the more Ontario voters are exposed to the realities of public-private partnerships, the moreContinue reading
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
– David Dayen and Ryan Grim write that “free trade” agreements are in fact turning into little more than cash cows for hedge funds and other big-money speculators:
Under this system, a corporation invested in a foreign country can appeal to arbitration panels, consisting of three corporate lawyers, if that country enacts a law or regulation that violates a trade agreement or discriminates against the company. The ISDS courts can then award billions of dollars to the corporation to compensate it for the loss of expected future profits.
The problem is that these courts can also be used by speculators, who buy up companies for the sole purpose of filing an ISDS claim, or who finance lawsuits from corporations for a piece of the claim award.
“ISDS allows a small group of ultra-rich investors to extract billions of dollars from taxpayers while they undermine financial, environmental and public health rules across the world,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), an early opponent of ISDS, told HuffPost. “Our trade deals should not include ISDS in any form.”
The use of ISDS as a moneymaking engine, rather than for its initial purpose ― to protect foreign investors from having their factories expropriated or their businesses nationalized ― raises the question of whether there’s a better system available.
“Why should hard-won sovereign advances, like rules against polluting or consumer protections, be at risk when the obvious solution is for the investors to put their skin, not ours, in the game?” wondered Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden and a critic of TPP. “The simple solution is to have them self-insure against investment losses.”
– Mike Balkwill highlights the need to stop consulting endlessly about poverty, and instead take action by ensuring people have enough resources to meet at least their basic needs. Ann Hui reports on the especially dire circumstances facing First Nations families in Northern Ontario who have to spend upwards of half of their income on overpriced food. And Miguel Sanchez criticizes the Wall government’s attack on benefits to people with disabilities in Saskatchewan.
– Nicole Thompson points out how the Libs’ changes to the temporary foreign worker program are actually making matters worse for caregivers by eliminating any right to apply for permanent resident status. And Martha Burk documents how workers can lose out when employers force them to accept payroll cards rather than paycheques.
– Erich Hartmann and Alexa Greig argue that it’s long past time for Canada’s federal government to provide stable funding for health care in partnership with the provinces, rather than contributing only as much as it wants to at any given point. And Tom Blackwell reports on the dangers of relying on private providers by highlighting how they inevitably leave the public system to deal with complications.
– Finally, Tom Parkin notes that we should base our discussion of electoral reform on the actual experience of similar countries, not the obviously-false claims of people wanting to fearmonger us into accepting the status quo. And Andrew Coyne draws a parallel to the census as an argument for mandatory voting.Continue reading
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- David Dayen wonders whether the Obama administration’s decision to end the use of private prisons might represent the needed start of a movement away from relying on poor corporate services as a substi…Continue reading
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
– David Dayen wonders whether the Obama administration’s decision to end the use of private prisons might represent the needed start of a movement away from relying on poor corporate services as a substitute for public action:
Private prisons experienced more safety and security incidents. They had higher rates of assaults, inadequate medical checkups and compliance, eight times as many incidents of contraband cell-phone smuggling, and often housed new inmates in solitary confinement units, seemingly for lack of space. The report also detailed several grisly incidents since 2008: three riots in one Reeves County, Texas facility in two months; the death of a corrections officer in a riot in Natchez, Mississippi; and the closure of the Willacy County (Texas) Correctional Center, after inmates burned it to the ground.
It’s not hard to figure out why this happens. Private companies win contracts to manage federal prisons by undercutting the Bureau of Prisons’ operational costs. Unlike the government, private prison companies must also take their profit margins out of their budgets. The only way to make that work is to massively drop labor costs, corresponding to a severe degradation of the quality of prison management.
That reflects the problem with privatization as a whole. Private companies must carry out a government function—be it water, parking meters, mass transit, or K-12 schools—at a lower cost than the government can provide it, while taking their profit off the top. Time and again, the results reveal that to be impossible, at least if you want to provide the same quality of service. Yet we keep privatizing. Whether it’s Republicans expanding Medicaid or cash-strapped cities handing over bus service to Uber and Lyft, eventually costs shift from taxpayers to the users of the services, oversight becomes impotent as officials grow reliant on outsourcing contracts, and attempts to maximize profits lead to service breakdowns.
– But CBC reports that the worst is yet to come in Saskatchewan as Brad Wall has publicly put SaskTel up for corporate raiding.
– Jacki Andre discusses the hidden costs of living with a disability – which make it particularly unconscionable for Wall’s Saskatchewan Party to be trying to squeeze pennies out of people who rely on already-inadequate disability benefits.
– Floyd Perras highlights the multiple factors that contribute to (and exacerbate) homelessness. And Rocca Perla comments on the need to include social determinants of health within medical treatment of patients.
– Pat Rich describes the Canadian Medical Association’s rude awakening in finding out that Lib Health Minister Jane Philpott has no interest in its key priorities for improved care. And Alison points out how the Libs are conspicuously trying to wriggle out of their promise to end the unfairness of first-past-the-post politics.
– Finally, Anna MacDonald makes the case for stronger transparency as a means of limiting the harm of global arms dealing. But if there was any doubt that the Trudeau Libs are firmly on the side of weapons proliferation, Helene Laverdiere points out their inexplicable decision to stand against nuclear disarmament.Continue reading
This and that for your Tuesday reading.- David Dayen highlights the treatment of workers as the most fundamental difference between Scandinavian countries which have achieved both prosperity and social justice, and the U.S. and others which have sacrif…Continue reading
Assorted content to end your week.- In the wake of yesterday’s Brexit vote, David Dayen points out how the failure of technocratic policy left many voters believing they had nothing to lose in abandoning the European Union. Dawn Foster highlights the r…Continue reading
This and that for your Sunday reading.- Robert Frank comments on the connection between recognizing the luck and social support which lead to one’s own success, and being willing to fund a state which will ensure opportunities for everybody:I’ve seen e…Continue reading
Assorted content for your weekend reading.- Martin Lukacs highlights the Canadian public’s broad support for the Leap Manifesto – and the opportunity available to any party willing to put its contents into practice. And Shawn Katz is hopeful that the N…Continue reading
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- David Dayen examines the different treatment granted by businesses to well-connected elites compared to everybody else, and says it’s understandable that voters are looking for leaders who understand t…Continue reading
This and that for your Tuesday reading.- Matthew Yglesias writes that The Big Short and other stories focused on the financial aspects of the 2008 economic meltdown miss by far the most important part of the picture in the real economic destruction wro…Continue reading
Assorted content for your weekend reading.- Kaylie Tiessen offers some important lessons from Ontario’s child poverty strategy – with the most important one being the importance of following through. And Christian Ledwell encourages Prince Edward Isl…Continue reading
Miscellaneous material to start your week. – Tony Atkinson offers reason for hope that it’s more than possible to rein in inequality and ensure aContinue reading
Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading. – Thomas Walkom takes a broad look at the problems with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, while noting that the TrudeauContinue reading
Assorted content to end your week. – Kate McInturff puts forward some big long-term goals which deserve to be discussed as we elect our nextContinue reading