What's Left: 2015-03-22 Volume 5

by Editors (What's Left) last modified 2015-04-06T09:47:10-04:00
It’s well known that capitalism and industrial development are responsible for climate change and it has become obvious that more capitalism will not reverse the destruction. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped the cheer-leading squad for “free markets” from continuing to spin the media.

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FEATURE

Capitalism is not the “solution” to climate change, it keeps making things worse

It’s well known that capitalism and industrial development are responsible for climate change and it has become obvious that more capitalism will not reverse the destruction. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped the cheer-leading squad for “free markets” from continuing to spin the media.

This week, the CBC published an editorial by Don Pittis who is so in awe of capitalism that he fails to realize that the “market” initiatives he credits for helping to solve climate change are actually government initiatives based on socialist principles. In addition to dozens of government programs across Europe, Pittis credits the free market with a massive expansion of solar and renewable energy in India – an expansion that is actually the result of comprehensive government measures implemented through publicly owned companies to meet the needs of India’s people, not the market.

The UK’s Guardian newspaper has launched a divestment campaign to undermine private investment in carbon-intensive industries. While it’s important to appreciate the campaign’s goal of keeping fossil fuels in the ground, asking people to pull their investments out of carbon-intensive companies will not undermine corporate investment in these processes. To “divest” from a publicly traded company, a stock must be sold to someone else. It might make the former investors feel better about themselves, but their investment has just been replaced by someone else’s.

Regulated public and private investment are the best way forward. We must invest in green transportation, renewable energy sources, and managing energy demand. Heavy regulation, democratic ownership and control of the industry is the only way to halt and reverse the destructive environmental tendencies of capitalism.

In this regard, France has been showing some leadership. It has introduced regulations stipulating that all new corporate buildings must have roofs that are green and/or include solar generation. Additionally, the city of Paris has announced that, starting this week, it will be halving the number of cars on the road (via regulation) and making public transit free to help combat pollution and smog.

Costa Rica has also seen some major success through heavy government investment in sustainable energy production. As of March 16, it had gone 75 straight days without burning any fossil fuels.

While many governments can be accused of spending too much time talking and not enough time acting, the state of Florida isn’t even allowing people to talk. It has banned the use of the words “climate change” by employees.

More: Keep it in the Ground

More: Don Pittis’ capitalism love-in editorial

More: France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels

More: Paris hit by air pollution spike, halves cars on roads

More: Costa Rica powered with 100% renewable energy for 75 straight days

More: The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE): An exceptional public enterprise in an atypical social democracy

More: Florida Environmental Staffer Says He Was Reprimanded For Talking About Climate Change

CANADA

Federal government continues to abuse temporary foreign workers

The federal Conservative’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) has gone through numerous changes since the public learned that high-profile companies were exploiting high numbers of temporary foreign workers. And these changes have not necessarily been improvements. “Best before” dates have been retroactively applied to work permits, meaning that thousands of temporary foreign workers will face deportation on April 1st.

Stories of the program’s misuse continue to surface. The Tyee exposed Facebook Canada’s reliance on foreign software engineers to staff a new Vancouver facility. Microsoft was also caught attempting to by-pass temporary foreign worker legislation in the United States by opening a centre in Vancouver.

The NDP has been calling for an independent review of the TFWP, and migrant workers associations like Migrante are calling for the TFWP to be a pathway to immigration. Where do we go from here? It should start with this: creating jobs and treating workers, whether Canadian or foreign, fairly and with dignity.

More: Four-year limit could lead some migrant workers to go underground

More: Facebook Hired Temporary Foreign Software Engineers in Vancouver

More: Temporary foreign worker program needs review following Microsoft deal: NDP

Harper’s ignorant comments continue to spread fear and division

We’ve all heard them: on guns, on the niquab, and on countless other topics. Lana Payne sums up Harper’s politics of fear, and reminds us that it’s our duty to work past them towards the politics of hope and compassion.

More: Fanning the flames of intolerance

Time to vote “Yes” in Vancouver transit referendum

Ballots have been mailed out to Vancouver-area citizens who are about to cast their vote in Canada’s first transit referendum. At stake is the question of investing more public funds into improving the city’s transit system. A coalition of workers, students and citizens is heading up the Yes campaign.

More: Bettertransit.info

More: Coverage from The Tyee

Follow: @voteyestransit

Follow: #TransitReferendum

Follow: #YesForTransit

Take Action

Brad Wall all-in on privatization

The budget was dropped in Saskatchewan last week, and it’s looking like a whole lot of bad news. Labour was unanimous in denouncing the short-sighted budget which will cut services and increase costs for most of the province’s people. At risk are some of Canada‘s strongest crown corporations that may be dismantled through costly privatization experiments.

More: Reactions from the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour

More: CUPE: Provincial budget increases costs for Saskatchewan people through privatization and cuts

More: Unifor: “Bad news budget” lacks a vision to build the province

Privatization and austerity more expensive and damaging than public alternatives

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has released a report showing how austerity measures are “slowing economic growth” and hurting the economy while Public Services International, an international federation of public sector trade unions, has released 30 years of research exposing just how much of a rip-off public-private partnerships are. And with the facts on their side, more than 10,000 people protested against austerity at the launch of the new \$1.8 billion headquarters of the European Central Bank in Germany last week.

More: CCPA: More Harm Than Good: Austerity’s Impact in Ontario

More: Why Public-Private Partnerships don’t work, The many advantages of the public alternative (New PSI publication)

More: Blockupy: Thousands Protest in Frankfurt Calling on Eurozone to Dismantle “Laboratory for Austerity”

CUPE campaigns to end privatized garbage collection in Toronto

On the local front, campaigns against the outsourcing of waste collection in major cities across the country are ongoing. Solid waste work is dangerous and privatization increases rates of injury of workers, decreases environmental standards and reduces quality of service. CUPE has launched a campaign to stop the privatization in Toronto.

More: Help keep Toronto’s solid waste public

Take Action

Labour on the front lines

Job action begins at MagnaCharge

Tendering process at Toronto airport means loss jobs for hundreds of workers. Unifor calls on the airport authority to stand up for job security

Black Press blocks Unifor’s attempt to end dispute

Bottles not cans still in effect. Steelworkers welcome industrial inquiry in beer can strike and have called for another day of action Saturday, March 28th from noon to 2pm

ELSEWHERE

Celebrating 30 years of open source

Thirty years ago Richard M. Stallman invented the concepts of GNU and Copyleft. GNU/Linux, Open Access publishing, and copyleft licences like Creative Commons have created a world of free, shareable content and computer program development that remain at the very heart of modern technological innovation. Without Stallman’s contribution, the Internet as we know it would not exist, and modern research and communications would likely be completely controlled by monopoly capitalism. Not only did this mark the development of new technological and legal models for digital content development, it was also the beginning of a new type of cooperative culture.

More: Celebrating 30 years of GNU and Free Software

Left Forum NYC Dates

Registration is open for this year’s Left Forum in New York City. The conference is the largest gathering of socialists in the US and 4,500 people attended last year. The forum starts May 29th and early bird registration ends April 22, 2015.

More: Register for the Left Forum

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