Saturday, July 05, 2014

To dream fondly of the day when ads haunt our dreams

Heather Mallick's column about the public's willingness to sell out to the corporate sector for cheap unfortunately meanders off on a few too many tangents before reaching much of a point. But even if she'd connected with a truly incisive take, snark has nothing on Terence Corcoran - who goes to far as to whine that spam e-mails are "essential in a market economy", and to suggest that any legislation goes too far in regulating the digital equivalent of door-to-door sales.

Which leads to the question: exactly how many people - the marketing industry excepted - actually see the constant intrusion of advertisers as a net social good?

To be clear, there are some genuine reasons for concern about the anti-spam legislation in its present form. But it takes a truly fundamentalist consumerist to suggest that CASL's fundamental flaw is that it might allow people a moment's peace from the ever-expanding reach of the corporate sector.

And indeed, if anybody actually wants to test Corcoran's thesis as to the effect of advertising, surely the more likely conclusion is that we'd rather have less of it blasted at us - in person, on the phone, online and everywhere else - rather than succumbing to a future of an endless series of vacuum salesmen pounding on our doors forever.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Carol Linnitt observes that the Canadian public supports a shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy by a 76-24% margin - even as they overestimate Canada's economic returns from oil and gas.

- Meanwhile, Alison takes a look at the spread of (primarily oil-funded) advertorials in Canadian media.

- Kate Heartfield writes that even if the Cons' cuts to refugee health hadn't crossed the line into unconstitutionality, we should still consider them to be unconscionable from a policy-making perspective:
Even if you come away unconvinced of the soundness of the court’s conclusion, it is hard to come away sanguine about the effects of this policy.

A policy that “shocks the conscience and outrages our standards of decency” is not defensible, politically and morally, even if it is legal. It is hard to argue against the court’s opinion that the government “has intentionally set out to make the lives of these disadvantaged individuals even more difficult than they already are in an effort to force those who have sought the protection of this country to leave Canada more quickly, and to deter others from coming here.”

This judgment might not be the final word on the constitutionality of refugee health care, but it’s a damning critique not only of a particular policy, but also of the way our government makes policy in general.
- And Jay Monaco notes that the U.S. Supreme Court's latest set of appalling decisions serves as evidence that we shouldn't lean too heavily on the judiciary to compensate for the regressive legislation and policy choices we tend to see in the absence of a strong labour movement:
SCOTUS, in other words, is always going to be antagonistic when the law itself is the problem. Legal protections like the weekend, the minimum wage, the eight-hour workday, the 40-hour week, and prohibitions against discrimination are of incalculable value. Perpetually orienting ourselves solely toward gratitude for past victory, however, deludes us into a self-defeating reliance on the law as our protector. Much more consistently, it has played the opposite role.

It wasn’t so long ago that former union president Ronald Reagan used the cloak of law to break the air traffic controllers’ strike, an act often seen as the opening salvo in the 30-year war on workers that continues to this day. Yet Reagan’s heavy-handedness was not innovative so much as it was a return to time-honored tradition. Concessions like the eight-hour workday were not granted out of some inherent justice found in the golden hearts of enlightened politicians. They were only granted when the torches were at the gates and those in authority had no other choice – and only then after well over a century of fighting.
- Finally, Matt Bruenig suggests that we shouldn't rely on employers or other private-sector actors to make choices about social development. And Hilary Wainwright points to Public Service International's call for a stronger public sector.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Musical interlude

James Dymond - Siren's Song

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Reich discusses how a reasonable balance of economic and political power is necessary to any protection of meaningful personal freedom:
In reality, corporate free speech drowns out the free speech of ordinary people who can’t flood the halls of Congress with campaign contributions.

Freedom is the one value conservatives place above all others, yet time and again their ideal of freedom ignores the growing imbalance of power in our society that’s eroding the freedoms of most people.
The so-called “free market” is not expanding options and opportunities for most people. It’s extending them for the few who are wealthy enough to influence how the market is organized.

Most of us remain “free” in limited sense of not being coerced into purchasing, say, the medications or Internet services that are unnecessarily expensive, or contraceptives they can no longer get under their employer’s insurance plan. We can just go without.

We’re likewise free not to be burdened with years of student debt payments; no one is required to attend college. And we’re free not to rent a place in a neighborhood with lousy schools and pot-holed roads; if we can’t afford better, we’re free to work harder so we can.

But this is a very parched view of freedom.

Conservatives who claim to be on the side of freedom while ignoring the growing imbalance of economic and political power in America are not in fact on the side of freedom. They are on the side of those with the power.
- But in fairness, it's probably true that our corporate overlords have reason to fear even the slightest scrutiny - as Joe Friesen reports that Manitoba's investigation into employers using temporary foreign workers found labour violations in nearly half of the workplaces involved.

- Meanwhile, PressProgress exposes internal Department of Finance documents discussing how the Cons' income-splitting scheme runs directly contrary to the basic principles of tax policy - most notably the principle of minimizing interference with personal choices. And Annie Bergeron-Oliver reports that the cruel, unusual and unconstitutional nature of the Cons' cuts to refugee health care has now been confirmed (PDF) by the Federal Court.

- Bryce Covert points out that contrary to the usual anti-wage spin, U.S. states with increasing minimum wages are actually generating more job growth. 

- Finally, Aaron Wherry rightly questions why the Prime Minister has the sole discretion to schedule by-elections. But I'd think that in the spirit of fixed general election dates as a means of allowing for greater certainty for parties in candidates, there's reason not to trigger by-elections immediately upon a vacancy either. Instead, wouldn't it make sense to have fixed by-election dates available at three- or six-month intervals since the previous general election, with all vacancies generated in that time period then filled at once?

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer respond to Joseph Stiglitz by pointing out that some of the inequality arising out of capitalism has nothing to do with rules further rigged in favour of the wealthy:
Although there is certainly significant substance to Stiglitz’s argument – policy decisions can have profound impacts on economic outcomes – nevertheless capitalism is far more responsible for economic inequality because of its inherent nature and its extended reach in the area of policy decisions than Stiglitz is willing to concede.
To begin with, in capitalist society it is much easier to make money if you already have money, and much more difficult if you are poor. So, for example, a rich person can buy up a number of foreclosed houses and rent them out to desperate tenants at ridiculously high rates. Then, each time rent is paid, the landlord becomes richer and the tenant becomes poorer, and inequalities in wealth grow.
More importantly, at the very heart of capitalism lies an incentive that leads to the increase of inequalities. Capitalism is based on the principle of competition, and businesses must compete with one another in order to survive. Each company, therefore, strives to maximize its profits in order to achieve a competitive advantage. For example, they can use extra profits to offset lowering the price of their product, undersell their opponents, and push them out of the market.
But in order to maximize profits, businesses must keep productive costs to a minimum. And a major portion of productive costs includes labor. Consequently, as a general rule, in order for a business to survive, it must push labor costs to a minimum.
Capitalism is a way of life, and for that reason it generates its own peculiar culture and world view that envelopes every other social sphere, a culture that includes competition, individualism, materialism in the form of consumerism, operating in one’s self-interest without consideration for the needs of others, and so on. This culture infects everyone to one degree or another; it is like an ether that all those in its proximity inhale. It encourages people to evaluate one another according to their degree of wealth and power. It rewards those who doggedly pursue their narrow self-interests at the expense of others.
The culture of capitalism, because of its hyper individualism, also produces an extraordinarily narrow vision of the world. Viewing the world from an isolated standpoint, individuals tend to assume that they are self-made persons, not the products of their surrounding culture and social relations. So the rich assume that their wealth has been acquired through their personal talents alone, while they see those mired in poverty as lacking the ambition and willingness to work hard. People are unable to see the complexities underlying human behavior because of the atomization of social life.
It is in this more subtle way that capitalism induces growing income inequalities. Because of their intensely competitive environment, politicians are more vulnerable to this capitalist culture than most. Capitalist culture engenders a mindset among politicians that leads them to craft public policies in favor of the good people, the rich and powerful, and turn their backs on the poor or punish them with mass incarceration.  They think it entirely natural to accept money from the wealthy in order to fund their re-election campaigns. And the more the inequalities in wealth grow, the more this mindset blinds politicians to the destructive implications of these “natural” decisions. 
- Meanwhile, Mark Serwotka discusses how privatized social services in the UK are predictably resulting in the public paying more to provide less service to recipients. And Stuart Trew and Scott Sinclair write that the next generation of trade deals will only further entrench corporate power at the expense of mere people.
- Jordan Press reports on Canada's ineffective response to tax evasion as a prime example of how the Cons are going easy on those who need and deserve it least - as a lack of CRA resources is resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars being moved offshore and costing the public billions in revenues.

- David Dayen warns that ineffective regulation is leading to yet another financial bubble, this time in capital markets.

- Finally, Humera Jabir writes that the Cons' tinkering with the temporary foreign worker program isn't doing anything to prevent the worst abuses of powerless employees. And the Alberta Federation of Labour points out that the TFWP is still being used to slash wages in half compared to the market rate for Canadian workers.

New column day

Here, contrasting the NDP's hard-fought Regina nomination elections against the stories of Paul Manly, Chris Rendell, and the apparent trend of federal and provincial NDP candidates being disqualified from seeking nominations for entirely insufficient reasons.

For further reading...
- The Leader-Post reported on the nomination victories by Erin Weir in Regina-Lewvan and Nial Kuyek in Regina-Qu'Appelle here. And for a couple of examples of Weir in particular making important points which don't entirely match the NDP's party line both provincially and federally, see his challenge to the cult of small business and his disclaimer-laden Commonwealth commentary on resource royalties and employment in Saskatchewan.
- Manly told his story here, while his past comments seeking the safe return of his father and challenging the NDP to do more in the effort are available here and here. [Update: And there's some response from party officials in Susana Mas' report, though the question of whether the NDP has rejected some candidates in the past on stronger grounds has little to do with whether it was justified in doing so with Manly.]
- Finally, CBC reports on Rendell's rejection alongside the recruitment of Bev Harrison here.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Atkins highlights Gallup's latest polling showing that U.S. trust in public institutions continues to erode. And Paul Krugman notes that there's reason for skepticism about the snake oil being peddled as economic policy in order to further enrich the already-wealthy:
Why, after all, should anyone believe at this late date in supply-side economics, which claims that tax cuts boost the economy so much that they largely if not entirely pay for themselves? The doctrine crashed and burned two decades ago, when just about everyone on the right — after claiming, speciously, that the economy’s performance under Ronald Reagan validated their doctrine — went on to predict that Bill Clinton’s tax hike on the wealthy would cause a recession if not an outright depression. What actually happened was a spectacular economic expansion.

Nor is it just liberals who have long considered supply-side economics and those promoting it to have been discredited by experience. In 1998, in the first edition of his best-selling economics textbook, Harvard’s N. Gregory Mankiw — very much a Republican, and later chairman of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers — famously wrote about the damage done by “charlatans and cranks.” In particular, he highlighted the role of “a small group of economists” who “advised presidential candidate Ronald Reagan that an across-the-board cut in income tax rates would raise tax revenue.”
(H)ow can you justify enriching the already wealthy while making life harder for those struggling to get by? The answer is, you need an economic theory claiming that such a policy is the key to prosperity for all. So supply-side economics fills a need backed by lots of money, and the fact that it keeps failing doesn’t matter.

And the Kansas debacle won’t matter either. Oh, it will briefly give states considering similar policies pause. But the effect won’t last long, because faith in tax-cut magic isn’t about evidence; it’s about finding reasons to give powerful interests what they want.
- And on the subject of corporate capture, Alan Pyke reports that Michigan's idea of making prison food services more efficient has involved hiring a private contractor which doesn't seem interested in actually feeding anybody. And Jenny Uechl points out Kinder Morgan's sweetheart deal from the National Energy Board which is allowing it to force the public and to foot the bill for a nine-figure pipeline application - from which it would of course claim the profits.

- Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett document (PDF) the role of unions in working toward greater equality (h/t to James Bloodworth), while reminding us what role we should expect unions, workers and corporations to play in a healthy society:
Companies have two functions. One is to produce the goods and services which we all need, but the other is to concentrate wealth and power among top executives and generate profits for shareholders. We need the first of these, but not the second. The second has been the mainspring of rising inequality and has provided powerful perverse incentives to top management.

Increasing employee representation on company boards and expanding the share of the economy made up of mutual, cooperative and employee owned companies would begin to tackle growing inequality and the concentration of wealth at the top. More democratic companies tend to have much smaller pay ratios among their staff.
As well as smaller income differences and good economic performance, cooperatives, employee owned companies and others in the stakeholder business sector have other advantages. Community life has weakened substantially in rich countries over the last generation but, as Oakeshott remarks, an employee buyout can turn a company from being a piece of property into a community¹. Perhaps a stronger sense of community at work could replace the sense of community that has declined in residential areas.  It is also likely that less hierarchical structures at work could begin to change the experience of work – making it possible for more people to gain a sense of self-worth and of being valued from their employment. Certainly, a sense that you don’t have control over your work, of unfairness, or an ‘effort-reward imbalance’, have each been linked to worse health and wellbeing.

The scales of top pay and of tax avoidance are two indications of how problematic the mismatch between profit seeking and the public interest can be. Other indicators include corporate-funded opposition to scientific evidence of harm associated with company products, such as the role of fossil fuel companies opposing climate science, the manipulation of regulatory bodies set up to safeguard the public interest, and the purchase of political influence on a scale which threatens the effective functioning of democratic institutions.
- Finally, Denis Campbell interviews John Ashton about the importance of greater equality as a matter of public health. And Faiza Shaheen writes that we can't have sustainable development without challenging inequality.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Playtime cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jessica McDiarmid reports on the hazardous materials being shipped by rail across North America - and it's particularly sad that Canadians can only learn about the risks being imposed on us through a U.S. guide. But lest we be under any illusions that our neighbours have an enviable record in managing their own risks, Claire Moser reports that even identified high-risk oil and gas wells in the U.S. aren't being inspected.

- And of course, that figures to have much to do with the fossil fuel industry's domination of politics on both sides of the border. Which brings us to Murray Dobbin's take on the need to challenge petropolitics and the oil barons who control them:
One of the major political factors preventing serious consideration of major and rapid policy changes is the sheer power of the fossil fuel industry. Unimaginable wealth translates into unimaginable power worldwide. To imagine bringing the industry to heel in a serious effort to slow climate change, we have to imagine treating the industry like we eventually treated the tobacco industry: as an existential threat to human health. For decades the tobacco giants exerted so much political influence they were virtually untouchable. To the extent that this changed (it is obviously still a health scourge especially in the developing world), it changed because the notion of corporate "rights" was successfully challenged.

Multiply the impact of the tobacco industry by 1,000 and you have some idea of how difficult it will be to escape the political and social conventional thinking that protects the oil "industry" from rational policy. Indeed part of that conventional thinking is seeing the giant corporations involved as just another industry. This actually serves to protect this sociopathic monster because we have rules governing industries and the individual companies that make them up. Companies are "citizens" with rights (thanks to our Charter) and they live forever. They have literally unlimited money to lobby governments for continued subsidies ($2 billion yearly from Ottawa), and tax breaks against subsidies for renewables which could save the planet. Even though 97 per cent of climate scientists agree about climate change, these corporations have the power to trash science and sow doubts about global warming.

The energy giants are protected by rogue governments like those in Alberta and Ottawa. They are permitted to take as much of the stuff out of the ground as fast as they can ship it and sell it, regardless of the global consequences. Like no other sector of the economy (except perhaps nuclear power) they are allowed to externalize hundreds of billions -- possibly trillions -- in costs they should be paying: air and water pollution costs, health costs, the costs associated with distorting the rest of the economy, the cost of new roads and bridges and freeways and paved-over farm land. We refuse to tax it to cover those costs, and that means ridiculously low prices and little incentive to wean ourselves from its pernicious and deadly effects.
- And in keeping with Dobbin's proposal for public ownership in the resource sector, Paul Krugman recognizes the absurdity of criticizing ideas merely because they've existed for some time. (Which of course goes doubly for ideas which have proven to be smashing successes when implemented in full.)

- John Oliver suggests that corporations should bear the burdens facing individuals if they expect to share in the rights that properly apply to people:

- Finally, Rick Salutin sees Canada Day as the perfect time to reflect on the importance of citizenship - and to question why the Cons are so eager to grant themselves power to take it away.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Benjamin Shingler reports on the push for a basic annual income in Canada. And Christopher Blattman notes that cash serves as a valuable treatment for poverty wherever one diagnoses the disease:
The poor do not waste grants. Recently, two World Bank economists looked at 19 cash transfer studies in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Almost all showed alcohol and tobacco spending fell or stayed the same. Only two showed any significant increase, and even there the evidence was mixed.

You might worry handouts encourage idleness. But in most experiments, people worked more after they received grants.

You might also worry that the poorest of New York are different. The average person in Uganda is impoverished; it’s easy to believe he would make good decisions with cash. But a homeless person in New York is not average. Substance abuse is pervasive. Maybe panhandlers here are different from the global poor.

I used to believe this. Now I’m not sure. A few years ago, I started working in Liberia’s urban slums. My colleagues and I sought out men who were homeless or made their living dealing drugs or stealing. Many abused alcohol and drugs. We tested different programs in a randomized trial of a thousand men. One thing we tried was giving out $200 in cash.

Almost no men wasted it. In the months after they got the cash, most dressed, ate and lived better. Unlike the Ugandans, however, whose new businesses kept growing, the Liberian men were back where they started a year later. Two hundred dollars was not enough to turn them into businessmen. But it brought them a better life for a while, which is the fundamental goal of any welfare program. We also tested a counseling program to reduce crime and violence. It worked a little on its own, but had the largest impact when combined with cash.
- Mark Esposito writes about the connection between growing inequality and the loss of opportunity for young workers who don't come from privileged backgrounds:
(W)hatever the main factor underpinning high youth unemployment, income inequality undoubtedly exacerbates the problem. Simply put, many jobs – particularly the most lucrative ones – are available almost exclusively to young people from wealthy backgrounds.

In the UK, for example, only 7% percent of children attend private schools. But roughly half of the country’s chief executives, and two-thirds of its doctors, have been privately educated . This trend is expected to persist, with the next generation of doctors likely to be born into families that rank among the wealthiest 20% of the population.

There are several possible reasons for this pattern. For starters, the highest-status positions require the most prestigious educational background – and that costs money. Moreover, many internships – a prerequisite for the most attractive jobs – are unpaid, making them unfeasible for graduates whose families cannot afford to support them.

But money is not the only requirement. In many cases, sought-after jobs and internships – and even admission to top educational institutions – are far more accessible to those who are within the employers’ personal or professional network. When the job market rewards whom you know more than what you know, young people with well-connected parents have an obvious advantage.
With financial status serving as the key determinant of opportunities, young people from poorer backgrounds are becoming increasingly discouraged – a situation that can lead to social unrest. Unless all young people have legitimate prospects of improving their social and economic status, the gap between rich and poor will continue to widen, creating a vicious cycle that will be increasingly difficult to escape.

The good news is that efforts to alleviate youth unemployment will reduce income inequality, and vice versa. The society that emerges will be more stable, unified, and prosperous – an outcome in which everyone, rich or poor, has a stake.
- Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer discuss the need for unions to build and maintain a strong political movement which goes beyond the boundaries of any one political party. And Josh Israel highlights a few of the U.S. labour groups who are moving beyond traditional organizational models.

- Finally, Michael Harris summarizes Stephen Harper's legacy, while raising important questions about whether Canadians want to be defined by tyranny:
The new prime minister ushered in his majority government with a performance that both confirmed and contradicted some of his earlier pronouncements. It was true, as he once predicted, that the country was becoming unrecognizable through fundamental changes pushed through in his majority. Many of them had to do with the effective deconstruction of Canada’s democratic institutions. It was untrue — outrageously so — that he would be the prime minister of all Canadians, as he claimed after his election in 2011.

As the country quickly discovered, Harper was the Great Divider, pitting one group of citizens against another, a tactic singled out and criticized by former prime minister Joe Clark. He was the champion of a voracious corporate sector, the practitioner of bully-boy diplomacy, and the generous patron of the police and security establishment.
It is no accident that Canadian politics has been infected with Republican tactics, from vicious attack ads to the stealthy and illegal use of robocalls to undermine democracy. It is no mystery that Canadians have seen their pensions diminished, have lost mail delivery, veterans offices and libraries, and after 2017, face cuts in support of medicare. Society is not Harper’s client — corporations and business elites are. In the interest of those groups, he has even used the country’s security establishment to spy on Canadians for the high crime of opposing his policies.

Harper once advised people to not listen to what a politician says, but to watch what he does. Beyond the clouds of spin and public relations thrown up by his government’s communications machine sits a truth very different from the image of ‘strong and stable government’.

The lasting impact of Stephen Harper’s time in public life will be a diminished Parliament, toxic politics, and a compromised electoral system that will make every citizen smaller … the legacy of tyrants.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Thomas Frank interviews Barry Lynn about the U.S.' alarming concentration of wealth and power. Henry Blodget thoroughly rebuts the myth that "rich people create jobs". And David Atkins goes a step further in discussing how hoarded wealth hurts the economy in general - with a particularly apt observation about how inequality erodes our social connections:
It is not an accident that trust in major institutions has declined on a linear track with rising inequality. Study after study has shown that trust in our fellow citizens and in institutions at large are dependent on the level of inequality and corruption in society. This stands to reason: people know when they're getting the short end of the stick, even if they can't agree on why. Conservatives wrongly blame government spending and regulation. Liberals rightly blame disproportionate rewards going to the very wealthy. Not surprisingly, then, high levels of inequality also create strong partisanship within society as politicians and pundits alike ratchet up the rhetoric of blame. As both secular and religious institutions seem equally powerless to address increasing economic and social insecurity, the social fabric begins to fray and people tend to self-segregate in many ways, including politically. Economic tension and social tension tend to go hand in hand.
- And David Sirota writes about the effect of corruption on policy-making - with some all-too-familiar priorities looking like the more sure sign that political decisions are being made based on cronyism rather than the public interest:
One analysis comes from researchers at Indiana University and University of Hong Kong. They compared data from 25,000 convictions in public corruption cases with state spending data. As Governing magazine reports, the researchers document that the most corrupt states like Tennessee “tended to spend money on construction, highways, and police protection programs, which provide more opportunity for corrupt officials to use public money for their own gain.” Governing adds that those “states spend less on health, education, and welfare, which provide less opportunity for officials to collect bribes.”
- Meanwhile, Eric Bombicino wonders whether we're letting our public sector get slashed precisely because it does its job effectively:
(A)pathy, like happiness or love or suicide, is a complex thing with many sources, but based on my highly scientific process of talking to people at parties and coffee shops over the last two weeks, I’ve noticed a particular sort of apathy emerge:
I call it, “things are working” apathy.
“Look man, democracy is working for me, my garbage gets picked up, roads are in decent repair, and I can walk into a hospital and get an operation in a relatively short period of time: things are working.” Fair point, and an interesting one: the success of democracy has afforded some the luxury of apathy.
Over the weekend, an old high school buddy, after notifying me of his apathy because “things are working,” took me through a lengthy diatribe on the one political viewpoint he does hold: how much his small business pays in taxes. After this riveting session on payroll taxes and deductibles explained in mind-numbingly unnecessary detail, I asked him what level of taxation he would find fair. 
He repeated his earlier point: it needs to be lower, the government “takes” (read: confiscates) too much of his money. I then pointed out that since he wanted lower taxation across the board, he would want less government and government services. A perfectly defensible position…if you want less government.
He said he loves those things the Canadian government provides: healthcare, education, infrastructure, the social safety net. (In fact, they all play a role in the foundation of his apathy: that “things are working.”) 
We then stared at each other for a long time. He took a sip of his drink. And then repeated he was paying too much in taxes.
I found this fascinating. He didn’t want less government; he didn’t see small government as equaling a bigger economy. He simply wanted lower taxes. Full stop. No belief system or ideology is at play here; just a void of ignorance.
The irony here is plainly cruel. This void of ignorance created by his contentment with how “things are working” motivates him to want to destroy those very things.
- But Stephen Pimpare notes that upwards of a third of U.S. households have faced poverty in just a three-year span from 2009 to 2011, meaning that there isn't much distance between a large number of people and the worst effects of corporatist policy. Which makes it all the more inexplicable that policy based on hatred of the poor still seems to be the norm - as Kim Redigan points out in response to Detroit's mass disconnections of people from their municipal water source.

- Finally, Edward Greenspan and Anthony Doob rightly lambaste the Harper Cons for their nonsensical crime and justice policies. And Hannah Spray's story on Trevor Machiskinic offers a compelling example where mandatory punishments and inflexible precedents lead to an obviously flawed result based on the background to an offence.