Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Leadership 2017 Reference Page (Pinned)

A one-stop source for general links on the 2017 NDP leadership campaign, to be updated as the race progresses. Please feel free to add additional suggestions in comments. (And note that new posts will appear below this one.)

General Information
NDP Constitution (PDF)
Leadership Rules (PDF) - Voting Process
NDP Leadership 2017
Leadership Debates: Ottawa (March 12) - Montreal (March 26) - Sudbury (May 28) - St. John's (June 11) - Saskatoon (July 11) - Victoria (August 2) - Montreal (August 27) - Vancouver (September 10)

Candidate Information
Candidate Website Twitter Profile Analysis Ranking
Charlie Angus CharlieAngusNDP.ca @CharlieAngusNDP Profile
Niki Ashton NikiAshton2017.ca @NikiAshton Profile
Guy Caron GuyCaron.ca @GuyCaronNPD Profile
Jagmeet Singh JagmeetSingh.ca @theJagmeetSingh Profile

Other Resources
National Post Leadership Tracker
Karl Nerenberg Candidate Profiles

All Posts By Label
Candidate Rankings - August 6 - August 13

Babble threads: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
Peter Julian Forum
Twitter: #ndp - #ndpldr

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Angled cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Karri Munn-Venn argues for a federal budget focused on social well-being - not merely on economic productivity. And Tom Hale discusses the harm done by social isolation.

- The BBC reports on new research showing that the UK's public support for parents is falling behind the rate of inflation, resulting in even two-income families falling well below a "no-frills" living standard.

- Matthew Jenkin assembles the stories of workers dealing with low pay and precarious employment in the UK, while Dominic Rushne offers a similar look at U.S. fast food workers. And Ali Chiasson exposes how Ontario restaurants took tip money from workers to fund so-called IOUs to be collected by management.

- Elizabeth McSheffrey digs into Husky's suppression of information about its oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River. And Karen Tam Wu (among others) writes to the federal government to push for a strong move toward energy-efficient building standards to reduce how much energy Canadians use.

- Finally, Peter Gowan and Mio Tastas Viktorsson discuss Rudolf Meidner and Gösta Rehn's model to put capital ownership in the hands of workers through wage-earner funds - and suggest that it's long past time to revisit the grossly unequal distribution of capital.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson write that equality of opportunity is an illusion if people don't have the necessary equality of income to make meaningful plans:
British social mobility is damaged by the UK’s high income inequality. Economists have argued that young people from low income families are less likely to invest in their own human capital development (their education) in more unequal societies. Young people are more likely to drop out of high school in more unequal US states or to be NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) in more unequal rich countries. Average educational performance on maths and literacy tests is lower in more unequal countries.

It isn’t that young people in unequal societies lack aspirations. In fact, they are more likely to aspire to success. The sad thing is they are less likely to achieve it.

But the ways in which inequality hampers social mobility go far beyond educational involvement and attainment. In unequal societies, more parents will have mental illness or problems with drugs and alcohol. They will be more likely to be burdened by debt and long working hours, adding stress to family life. More young women will have babies as teenagers, more young men will be involved in violence.
The evidence which shows the damage caused by socioeconomic inequality is mounting. The UK government risks being on the wrong side of history if it continues to fail to address the divide – and condemn us all to its devastating impact.
- Ben Chu talks to Richard Blundell about the importance of combining fair wages with social supports to ensure people can stay out of poverty, rather than assuming the former is a full replacement for the latter. Paul Tulloch charts the large number of Canadian workers clustered at the low end of the wage scale, while the Star's editorial board weighs in on the need to improve wages. And David Bush discusses the slow path toward a $15 minimum wage being charted by the B.C. NDP.

- Matt Bruenig responds to the possibility of increased antitrust enforcement by noting the futility of merely breaking up corporate structures which remain substantially owned by broadly similar groups of people - and instead proposing that we focus on common ownership as a policy goal.

- Dean Baker notes that the development of the Zika vaccine offers a clear example of the value of publicly-funded research. And Danyaal Raza writes about the need for further public investment in the health of Canadians - particularly in the form of pharmacare and dental care for all.

- Finally, Owen Jones points out how the right-wing media has fanned the flames of bigotry and fascism.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

On closing questions

Thus far in my posts about the federal NDP leadership campaign, I haven't said much about my own preferences as between the candidates. And there's a reason why I haven't been pushing for any particular outcome just yet, as I'm still far from sure who I'll place in each position on my own ballot.

But for those who are likewise undecided, I'll offer my take on what I'll be looking for from each candidate from here on in - particularly in the last two debates which give us the best indication of the contenders' judgment under pressure as the campaign reaches its end.

Charlie Angus

One of the key themes of Jack Layton's success as the NDP's leader was that the lifetime of work he did in support of progressive causes earned him some leeway in making choices which might otherwise have been seen as controversial. And Angus' recent run of endorsements seems to suggest he enjoys much the same advantage. 

But Layton also succeeded in large part due to his work in reaching out to his caucus as well as to supportive groups. And while the leadership campaign is obviously a different context than the actual management of a caucus, Angus has presented himself as being relatively oppositional in his approach to his fellow leadership contestants.

I'll thus be interested to see if Angus is willing and able to pivot toward engaging with his competitors in a way which seems more consistent with being part of the same team once the campaign ends. And a failure to do so may be particularly problematic if he isn't able to move the needle any further in terms of caucus endorsements.

Niki Ashton

From the beginning, Ashton has been highly strategic in her approach to debates, taking many opportunities to put other candidates on the defensive. But possibly in order to minimize the risk of the same happening to herself, she's often defaulted to her talking points rather than seeming to engage with some of the questions directed toward here - even when they're at best tangentially related to the subject at hand.

To her credit, Ashton has released an extremely thorough and thoughtful set of policy proposals. But she hasn't yet changed her approach to the leadership debates, even when they delve into subjects areas where she's released detailed plans.

With that in mind, I'll be looking for Ashton to show some more willingness to get into the weeds as to policy details and analysis - with the ultimate purpose of testing her ability to explain and pitch the ideas her campaign has developed.

Guy Caron

Throughout the leadership debates so far, Caron has consistently demonstrated a superior combination of policy knowledge and good humour.

But his message has sometimes been lost in the delivery - sometimes as a product of his accent when speaking English, other times merely as a matter of timing and speaking style. And a relatively low-resource campaign - like a party facing a fund-raising disadvantage - needs to be able to make its strongest messages stick.

The upcoming Montreal debate represents Caron's chance to show that his strongest lines can land with a bit more punch in French than in English. And it's worth keeping an eye out as to whether his communication can be as sharp as his message from here on in.

Jagmeet Singh

Finally, after entering the campaign projecting a front-runner message, Singh has done extremely well in defending himself from the questions which inevitably come with that status. As a result, members shouldn't have any question about his ability to hold his ground.

What's still somewhat uncertain, however, is Singh's willingness to anchor his plans for growth in the values and policies of the NDP. And particularly given the likelihood that the campaign is headed for multiple ballots, Singh may need to reassure undecided members as to how their well-established priorities fit within his proposed movement.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Amira Elghawaby comments on the loss of empathy in Canadian politics - particularly due to a disproportionate focus on the perceived self-interest of a narrow group of upper-middle-class swing voters, rather than speaking to and about the people with the greatest need for collective voice:
A few years ago, psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley ran several studies that provide crucial insight into understanding this phenomenon. Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner wanted to investigate the role of social class. By measuring how those with more wealth, occupational prestige and education behaved while driving, they were able to conclude that those from more well-off backgrounds showed less empathy than others.

Luxury-car drivers were more likely than others to cut off other motorists, or speed past pedestrians, rather than give them the right of way. The researchers concluded that such attitudes were likely attributable to feelings of freedom and independence that negated the need to rely on others, or care about how others feel.

When governments and political parties are mostly concerned with wooing middle- and upper-class voters, it is small wonder that there is less focus on more niche social-justice issues, and more on issues perceived as directly affecting those broader segments of our society. When governments do buck the trend, segments of these privileged populations will often push back aggressively, attempting to drown out those less equipped to engage.

Take this line from a 2016 Environics study where the authors note that “acknowledgment of Aboriginal peoples as having unique rights is somewhat more evident among women, people born outside of Canada, and those with lower household incomes.”

Along with encouraging wider participation in the political process, there is urgency, too, in telling more stories to compel feelings of empathy throughout all communities.
- But in a promising sign, CTV reports that in Vancouver (as in Boston) a counter-protest has far outweighed a right-wing rally intended to foment bigotry.

- Andrew Coyne rightly argues that in the interest of genuine tax fairness, our public revenue system shouldn't encourage incorporation (or other strategic moves which allow for tax avoidance) in the first place.

- Cathleen O'Grady points out that in addition to having become entirely affordable, wind and solar power are already saving large numbers of lives compared to dirtier alternatives. Joel French discusses what needs to be done (beyond the first wave of modest carbon pricing) to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. And Hans Rollman contrasts the Libs' willingness to pump billions into questionable energy projects against their stinginess in funding equal services for Indigenous communities.

- Finally, Risa Schwartz offers some suggestions as to what a NAFTA chapter on aboriginal rights could look like. And the Globe and Mail's editorial board rightly proposes that the now-failing inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women should be turned over to Indigenous Canadians.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Leadership 2017 Links

The latest from the federal NDP's leadership campaign.

- Bruce Anderson and David Coletto take a look at public perceptions of Canada's political parties. And the relatively small differences in public views of the NDP as compared to the Liberals may offer either a suggestion as to what grounds of distinction appear most open at the moment, or a challenge to the leadership contenders to discuss how they plan to shift public opinion.

- The Canadian Federation of Students offers the candidates' responses on post-secondary education. Arshy Mann examines Niki Ashton's LGBTQ policy proposals. Radio-Canada interviews Guy Caron about his place in the race, including the danger of focusing unduly on fund-raising totals. And Ryan Maloney reports on David Suzuki's endorsement of Charlie Angus.

- Stephen Tweedale offers a thoughtful endorsement of Jagmeet Singh, with a particular emphasis on his income security proposals. And Matthew Green discusses how Singh persuaded him to join a political party, while Jules Sherred offers his view of what the theme of "love and courage" means.

- Meanwhile, Jenn Laura Lee supports Ashton as a transformational voice for youth. And David Heap sees her as an inspiration for members of the progressive movement to re-engage in party politics.

- Aaron Wherry discusses the implications of Singh electing not to move immediately to seek out a seat in the House of Commons if he wins. Molly Kraft comments on the significance of Singh's candidacy - and some responses to it - in determining how inclusive the NDP will be as a party. And Eric Grenier offers some projected numbers as to the candidates' first-ballot placement - and the membership totals Singh would need to bring in to rank at the top.

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Stephen Metcalf discusses the meaning and effect of neoliberalism:
“(N)eoliberalism” is more than a gratifyingly righteous jibe. It is also, in its way, a pair of eyeglasses.

Peer through the lens of neoliberalism and you see more clearly how the political thinkers most admired by Thatcher and Reagan helped shape the ideal of society as a kind of universal market (and not, for example, a polis, a civil sphere or a kind of family) and of human beings as profit-and-loss calculators (and not bearers of grace, or of inalienable rights and duties). Of course the goal was to weaken the welfare state and any commitment to full employment, and – always – to cut taxes and deregulate. But “neoliberalism” indicates something more than a standard rightwing wish list. It was a way of reordering social reality, and of rethinking our status as individuals.
Still peering through the lens, you see how, no less than the welfare state, the free market is a human invention. You see how pervasively we are now urged to think of ourselves as proprietors of our own talents and initiative, how glibly we are told to compete and adapt. You see the extent to which a language formerly confined to chalkboard simplifications describing commodity markets (competition, perfect information, rational behaviour) has been applied to all of society, until it has invaded the grit of our personal lives, and how the attitude of the salesman has become enmeshed in all modes of self-expression.

In short, “neoliberalism” is not simply a name for pro-market policies, or for the compromises with finance capitalism made by failing social democratic parties. It is a name for a premise that, quietly, has come to regulate all we practise and believe: that competition is the only legitimate organising principle for human activity.
What began as a new form of intellectual authority, rooted in a devoutly apolitical worldview, nudged easily into an ultra-reactionary politics. What can’t be quantified must not be real, says the economist, and how do you measure the benefits of the core faiths of the enlightenment – namely, critical reasoning, personal autonomy and democratic self-government? When we abandoned, for its embarrassing residue of subjectivity, reason as a form of truth, and made science the sole arbiter of both the real and the true, we created a void that pseudo-science was happy to fill.

The authority of the professor, the reformer, the legislator or the jurist does not derive from the market, but from humanistic values such as public spiritedness, conscience or the longing for justice. Long before the Trump administration started demeaning them, such figures had been drained of salience by an explanatory scheme that can’t explain them. Surely there is a connection between their growing irrelevance and the election of Trump, a creature of pure whim, a man without the principles or conviction to make for a coherent self. A man without a mind, who represents the total absence of reason, is running the world; or at least ruining it. As a Manhattan real estate wiseguy, though, Trump, hey – he knows what he knows: that his sins have yet to be punished in the marketplace.
- Meanwhile, David Graeber writes that the recent push toward austerian politics and bubble economics is creating another private debt crisis.

- Lana Payne highlights the need for collective action to counter racism and hate. And Meghan Brophy interviews Tony Pecinovsky about his work building a workers' centre in St. Louis modeled on the cooperative education institutions of the early 20th century.

- Susan McReynolds talks to Alison Ronson about Canada's subpar protection for land and fresh water compared to other developed countries. And the CP reports that the damage wrought by tar sands tailings ponds is under investigation by NAFTA's environmental commission.

- Finally, Betty Ann Adam writes that after ten years of policy which regularly imposed disproportionate burdens on Indigenous people and communities, it's too late for Brad Wall to paper over his divisions with a one-time apology for the Sixties Scoop.

Musical interlude

Salvatore Ganaccia - Rocket Science

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Leo Gerard calls for an end to trade deals designed to favour the wealthy at the expense of everybody else. And Rick Salutin writes that NAFTA can't reasonably be seen as anything but:
(N)o matter how many numbers Freeland plucks to show the economy’s mighty growth in the free trade years, in those same years, most people’s lives have hardened: income stagnated; infrastructure declined; universities became debt traps — the growth was distributed entirely upward. This is politically toxic.

She said Monday, “Too many working people feel abandoned by the 21st century global economy, and have voted accordingly.” So, “We must share the fruits of trade ...” It’s “the all-important, connecting piece, the tie between free trade and equitable domestic policy … They need to advance together.”

This is not irrational, it’s just impossible. Why? Because the whole purpose of the deals was to undercut the gains of the majority, who’d benefitted since the Second World War, by shifting jobs to poorer places (like Mexico) so as to extract concessions and raise profits. Why would those who backed the deals for those reasons, give that up? Using trade deals to benefit everyone is a nice idea but, like that spider, it’s not their nature. You’re trying to reengineer their souls.
- Jeremy Nuttall explores how younger workers have been left out of any economic growth. And Angella MacEwen points out that businesses have plenty of room to offer higher wages rather than focusing solely on short-term shareholder payouts.

- Noah Smith offers a thorough set of suggestions to build a stronger and more equitable U.S. economy - with more progressive taxes and stronger social programs playing vital roles.

- But Robin Shaban highlights how the Saskatchewan Party's budget will result in a windfall for high-income residents and corporations, while forcing most workers to pay more. And Charles Hamilton reports that an emergency mental health unit funded by donations is on hold for lack of staff, forcing people with urgent mental health needs into the general emergency care system.

- Finally, Sarah Berman examines how the most basic of housing is becoming unaffordable in a large number of Canadian cities (including Regina).

Thursday, August 17, 2017

New column day

Here, following up on my recent posts as to the state of the federal NDP's leadership race as of today's membership deadline.

For much more material on the leadership campaign, I'll simply point again to the reference page here. And I'll encourage anybody interested in the NDP's place in Canadian politics to sign up and participate in the leadership votes to come.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Owen Jones calls out the dogmatic centre for first laying the groundwork for the rise of the populist right, then trying to vilify anybody working on a progressive alternative. And Chris Dillow zeroes in on what's wrong with the neoliberal view of the world:
- Insufficient scepticism about capitalism. Centrists have failed to appreciate sufficiently that actually-existing capitalism has led to inequality, rent-seeking and stagnation. New Labour’s deference to bosses fuelled their presumption that banks were in good hands and didn’t need to be on a tight leash.
 - A blindness to the importance of inequalities of power. Centrists take it for granted that elites should be in control, even if they lack the capacity to be so. This left them vulnerable to Vote Leave’s slogan, “take back control.”
 - Excessive deference to the media. Centrists were for years obsessed with a form of “electability” which consisted in accommodating themselves to media lies about austerity and immigration.
Centrism’s intuitive appeal lies in the tendency to associate it with the virtues of moderation and empiricism.
Such an association, however, is at least partly unwarranted. In failing to appreciate sufficiently the flaws in capitalist hierarchy, centrists are being ideologues more than empiricists.
- Meanwhile, Nora Loreto challenges the labour movement to take a leading role in countering racism and fascism.

- Justin Ling offers the inside story of the Cons' complete radio silence in response to the Rebel's role in fomenting hate. And Adam Radwanski points out that the Libs' choice to cozy up to Steve Bannon and the Trump administration can only undermine their claim to offer any alternative to the right's anti-social values.

- Katharine Lindemann interviews Tarani Chandola about her new research showing that people trapped in low-quality jobs may be worse off than those with none at all. And Dan Levin reports on the desperate situation facing migrant farmworkers in Canada - while Michael Grabell points out that undocumented workers in the U.S. have it even worse, as employers are able to have them criminally charged and deported at will to escape responsibility for work injuries.

- Finally, Vanessa Gruben and Louise Belanger-Hardy offer some suggestions to make sure provincial governments are able to hold big pharma accountable for harm done to public health.