Opinion | What the Working Class Is Still Trying to Tell Us

I was ready for massive Democratic turnout for the election on Tuesday. But I was surprised how massive the Republican turnout was in response.

The Republicans who flooded to the polls weren’t college-educated suburbanites. Those people voted for Democrats this year.

They weren’t tax-cut fanatics. Half of the Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee either left Congress, ran for other offices or were defeated.

They weren’t even small-government Republicans. The same red states that elected conservatives to office also — in Nebraska, Idaho and Utah — approved ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid. The same red states that elected conservatives also approved initiatives — in Arkansas and Missouri — to raise the minimum wage.

These were high-school-educated, working-class Republicans.

A lot of us pundits said Donald Trump should run a positive campaign bragging about all the economic growth. But Trump ran another American carnage campaign. That’s because American life still feels like carnage to many.

This is still a country in which nearly 20 percent of prime-age American men are not working full time. This is still a country in which only 37 percent of adults expect children to be better off financially than they are. This is still a country in which millions of new jobs are through “alternative work arrangements” like contracting or consulting — meaning no steady salary, no predictable hours and no security.

Working-class voters tried to send a message in 2016, and they are still trying to send it. The crucial question is whether America’s leaders will listen and respond.

One way to start doing that is to read Oren Cass’s absolutely brilliant new book, “The Once and Future Worker.” The first part of the book is about how we in the educated class have screwed up labor markets in ways that devalued work and made it harder for people in the working class to find a satisfying job.

Part of the problem is misplaced priorities. For the last several decades, American economic policy has been pinioned on one goal: expanding G.D.P. We measure G.D.P. We talk incessantly about economic growth. Between 1975 and 2015, American G.D.P. increased threefold. But what good is that growth if it means that a thick slice of America is discarded for efficiency reasons?

Similarly, for the last several decades American, welfare policy has focused on consumption — giving money to the poor so they can consume more. Yet we have not successfully helped poor people produce more so that they can take control of their own lives. We now spend more than $20,000 a year in means-tested government spending per person in poverty. And yet the average poverty rate for 2000 to 2015 was higher than it was for 1970 to 1985.

“What if people’s ability to produce matters more than how much they can consume?” Cass asks.

The bulk of his book is a series of ideas for how we can reform labor markets.

For example, Cass supports academic tracking. Right now, we have a one-size-fits-all education system. Everybody should go to college. The problem is that roughly one-fifth of our students fail to graduate high school in four years; roughly one-fifth take no further schooling after high school; roughly one-fifth drop out of college; roughly one-fifth get a job that doesn’t require the degree they just earned; and roughly one-fifth actually navigate the path the system is built around — from school to career.

We build a broken system and then ask people to try to fit into the system instead of tailoring a system around people’s actual needs.

Cass suggests that we instead do what nearly every other affluent nation does: Let students, starting in high school, decide whether they want to be on an apprenticeship track or an academic track. Vocational and technical schools are ubiquitous across the developed world, and yet that model is mostly rejected here.

Cass also supports worker co-ops. Today, we have an old, adversarial labor union model that is inappropriate for the gig economy and uninteresting to most private-sector workers. But co-ops, drawing on more successful models used in several European nations, could represent workers in negotiations, train and retrain workers as they moved from firm to firm and build a safety net for periods of unemployment. Shopping for a worker co-op would be more like buying a gym membership. Each co-op would be a community and service provider to address a range of each worker’s needs.

Cass has many other proposals — wage subsidies, immigration reforms. But he’s really trying to put work, and the dignity of work, at the center of our culture and concern. In the 1970s and 1980s, he points out, the Emmy Award-winning TV shows were about blue-collar families: “All in the Family,” “Taxi,” “Cheers,” “The Wonder Years.” Now the Emmy-winning shows are mostly about white-collar adults working in Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, New York and Washington.

We in the college-educated sliver have built a culture, an economy and a political system that are all about ourselves. It’s time to pass labor market reforms that will make life decent for everybody.

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David Brooks has been a columnist with The Times since 2003. He is the author of “The Road to Character” and the forthcoming book “The Committed Life: When You Give Yourself Away.”

 

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Lethbridge art exhibit highlights ‘beyond human-centric’ perspective of climate change

A new art exhibit that opened on Nov. 8 at the University of Lethbridge is displaying ideas of climate change in a unique way.

“The exhibition is important because one of the things art can do is shift the conversation,” said Josephine Mills, director and curator of the University of Lethbridge art gallery.

“I’m hoping this exhibition will open up conversation and new ways of thinking.”

Refugio artist Sarah Fuller said she aims to showcase the issue of climate change in a new light by highlighting two insects unique to specific parts of the world.

The Lord Howe Stick insect from Australia and Rock Crawlers found in the Rocky Mountains each need cold climates to survive.

Fuller said providing more information on these often-overlooked creatures and the ever-changing weather affecting their habitats provides an insight into glacier melt that isn’t always seen.

“I’ve lived in the mountains for the past 11 years, and I have a special connection to that landscape and that environment,” said Fuller.

“I’m trying to shift the perception and way of looking at that landscape and other landscapes beyond a human-centric way.

“I’m interested in the tiny things, the organisms and plants that live in this beautiful, sublime environment.”

Refugio is part of a research partnership at the University of Lethbridge that encourages the public to find new ways of thinking about the future of the environment.

The exhibit will be displayed in the art gallery until Jan. 10, 2019.

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U.S. pot firm Harvest eyes listing at $1.5 billion valuation: sources

TORONTO (Reuters) – U.S. cannabis retailer Harvest Enterprises Inc is set to raise $230 million (C$303 million) in a deal that would value the company at about $1.5 billion when it goes public in Toronto as early as next week, people familiar with the situation told Reuters on Thursday.

The Tempe, Arizona-based company had initially targeted $50 million through the offer, but increased the deal value to $230 million in response to strong demand, the people said. The offer, which is set to be priced at $6.55 per subscription receipt, is expected to close as early as this week. A subscription receipt can be exchanged for shares when the company goes public.

An external spokesman for the company declined to comment on the details of the offering. The sources declined to be identified as the information is not public.

Harvest plans to list on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) through a reverse takeover (RTO).

“The level of interest is high,” the company’s chief executive, Steven White, a former lawyer who helped found Harvest in 2011, told Reuters.

While federal illegality currently casts a shadow over the U.S. market, “everybody understands that the U.S. market is going to be the biggest market globally in the foreseeable future,” he added.

The United States is expected to account for over three-quarters of global legal cannabis sales over the next three years, according to Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics.

A raft of U.S-based cannabis retailers and producers have opted to go public in Canada to fund their rapid growth as access to capital remains tight for the industry in the United States.

Harvest’s competitors, including Medmen Enterprises (MMEN.CD), Green Thumb Industries (GTII.CD) and Curaleaf Holdings (CURA.CD), have all listed on the CSE this year through reverse takeovers.

An RTO allows a company to go public by rolling into a listed shell corporation, which typically has a faster timeline than a traditional initial public offering.

Harvest expects to have about 16 stores open by the end of 2018 and 50 by 2019, from nine now, according to a confidential investor presentation document reviewed by Reuters.

Harvest projects earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $226 million on revenue of $559 million in 2020, the presentation showed. Its valuation multiple, at about 6.7 times the projected 2020 EBITDA, is lower than some of its peers.

Curaleaf’s offering last month valued it at $4 billion, or 12.4 times its projected 2020 EBITDA.

Cannabis stocks received an added boost this week on voter approvals of medical cannabis in Missouri and Utah and recreational marijuana in Michigan, and on the firing of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch opponent of federal legalization.

Eight Capital, GMP Securities and Canaccord Genuity are the lead banks advising Harvest.

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Yemen peace talks 'pushed back to end of year'

Plan for peace talks pushed back amid renewed Hodeidah offensive, spokesperson for UN’s Yemen envoy says.

    The United Nation’s envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is no longer aiming to convene the country’s warring parties for peace talks this month and will instead try to bring them together by the end of the year, according to a UN spokesperson.

    Addressing reporters on Thursday, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said Griffiths’ goal was to hold consultations before the end of the year.

    “There is always different challenges to bringing the parties together,” Haq said.

    “What we’re trying to do is clear up any issues so that we can get a successful round of talks as soon as possible.”

    Griffiths, who is due to brief the Security Council on November 16, is trying to salvage the peace talks that collapsed in September.

    He said in a statement last week that he hoped to bring the parties to the negotiating table within a month.

    Years of war

    The conflict in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country and home to an estimated 28 million people, began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Houthi rebels, who toppled the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

    Concerned by the rise of Houthis, believed to be backed by Iran, a US-backed Saudi-UAE military coalition intervened in 2015 with a massive air campaign aimed at reinstalling Hadi’s government. 

    According to the UN, at least 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition entered the conflict. The death toll has not been updated in years, however, and is likely to be far higher.

    Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded an “immediate” halt to the fighting, warning that the country stands on a “precipice” and could face the world’s “worst famine” for decades if violence continues unabated.

    About 22 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.

    Fragile peace efforts

    International powers including the US and Britain have also stepped up calls for an end to the nearly four-year war in recent weeks.

    The calls came after an earlier attempt to hold peace talks in the Swiss city of Geneva in September was abandoned when Houthi representatives refused to attend, saying the UN had failed to meet the group’s pre-summit demands.

    Following the collapse of the talks, which would have been the first of their kind in nearly two years, the coalition announced it was relaunching an assault on Houthi-held Hodeidah, a strategically important Red Sea port city.

    “There’s always different challenges to bringing the parties together,” Haq said.

    “What we’re trying to do is clear up any issues so that we can get a successful round of talks as soon as possible,” he added.

    On Thursday, dozens of combatants were killed as pro-government forces closed in on rebel forces in the heart of Hodeidah, hospital sources said.

    Medics at hospitals inside the city reported 47 rebels had been killed in overnight ground fighting and air raids by a Saudi-UAE coalition supporting the government.

    Sources at hospitals in government-held areas on the outskirts said 11 soldiers had also been killed.

    Aid agencies have long warned that fighting in Hodeidah, the entry point for the bulk of Yemen’s commercial imports and aid supplies, risks escalating the country’s dire humanitarian crisis.

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    Recounts, runoffs loom over high-profile elections in Florida, Georgia

    (Reuters) – High-profile U.S. elections in Georgia, Florida and Arizona remained unresolved on Thursday, two days after the vote, with the prospect of legal challenges, recounts and ballot reviews setting the stage for possible weeks of uncertainty.

    The still-undecided races will not tip the balance in either chamber of Congress, but include contests in parts of the country important to the futures of both parties and potentially to President Donald Trump’s re-election chances in two years.

    In Georgia, where Republican Brian Kemp declared victory in the governor’s contest on Wednesday on a narrow lead, campaign officials for Democrat Stacey Abrams on Thursday vowed to pursue litigation to ensure all votes are counted.

    In Florida’s U.S. Senate race, a lawyer for Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson said a recount could still deliver him a victory despite a slim lead for Republican Rick Scott.

    The Florida governor’s race between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum also appeared headed for an automatic recount, after DeSantis’ lead narrowed on Thursday, despite Gillum having already conceded.

    The hotly contested U.S. Senate race in Arizona between two congresswomen, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally, appeared days away from a final call, with hundreds of thousands of ballots yet to be tallied and McSally holding a small edge.

    Democrats on Tuesday won their first majority in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2010, while Republicans appeared likely to expand their two-seat advantage in the U.S. Senate.

    Another cluster of races in the lower house where votes are still being finalized could add to the Democrats’ new majority, strengthening their hand as they seek to counter Trump’s policies.

    Related Coverage

    • Factbox: Democrats pick up net 32 seats in U.S. House, with some races still undecided

    Republican U.S. Representative Karen Handel conceded defeat to Democrat Lucy McBath, a gun control advocate, in a suburban Atlanta district on Thursday.

    Democrats also picked up two Republican districts in Washington State and New Mexico on Wednesday night, though Republicans held onto an open North Carolina district in a close race.

    According to media outlet calls and the data company DDHQ, Democrats now have flipped 32 seats – nine more than they needed to take over the House – with seven Republican-held districts still too close to call, including four in California, where many ballots are yet to be counted.

    ABRAMS STILL FIGHTING

    Abrams is vying to become the first black woman elected to serve as governor of a U.S. state.

    The Georgia contest came under national scrutiny because of Kemp’s role as the state’s top election official. Voting rights groups and prominent Democrats accused the Republican of using his position to suppress minority votes, an allegation he strongly denied.

    Kemp on Thursday said he had resigned as Georgia’s secretary of state, saying the move would ensure “public confidence” in the final results, while freeing him to focus on preparing for his new role as governor.

    The Abrams campaign told reporters that there were enough uncounted ballots to force a runoff. Under state law, if no candidate reaches 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers advance to a second vote in December. The election included a third-party candidate.

    Kemp’s vote count stood at 50.33 percent as of Thursday morning, according to unofficial results.

    “We are in this race until we are convinced that every vote is counted,” the Abrams campaign’s chairwoman, Allegra Lawrence Hardy, told a news conference. The campaign said it would file the first of what could be a wave of legal actions on behalf of voters in one county who had difficulty voting absentee.

    The Kemp campaign accused Abrams of trying to “steal” the election.

    “Stacey Abrams can’t accept the fact that Georgians rejected her radical agenda at the ballot box, so now she’s desperately trying to steal this election in the courtroom,” said campaign spokesman Ryan Mahoney, in a statement.

    In Florida, Scott’s lead was narrowing on Thursday. Nelson trailed by around 17,300 votes, or 0.21 percent, below the state’s 0.25 threshold for a hand recount.

    “The results are unknown,” said Marc Elias, an attorney for Nelson’s campaign. Historically, Democrats tend to pick up votes in recounts, especially hand recounts, he said.

    Elias also pledged legal action if the campaign found that rejected ballots due to signature mismatches were disproportionately hurting minority voters.

    Scott’s campaign on Thursday also accused Nelson of trying to “steal” the race.

    “It is sad and embarrassing that Bill Nelson would resort to these low tactics,” a campaign statement said.

    In the Florida governor’s race, DeSantis’ lead had winnowed to about 38,500 votes on Thursday afternoon, or 0.47 percent of the vote. The state conducts an electronic recount when the margin falls below 0.5 percent.

    Gillum’s campaign said it was prepared for any outcome, including a recount.

    “We want every vote counted,” Gillum said in a video posted to Facebook on Thursday. “In spite of the fact that we’re a little bit down in the numbers, we’re hopeful that every single vote will be counted in this race.”

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    N.B. political scientist makes predictions on who will be named to Higgs’ cabinet

    When the sun sets, the province’s premier-designate will begin calling his Conservative caucus members one by one to notify them who will be in or out of cabinet.

    “You have to work with the people that you have and try to find the best fit,” said New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs.

    St. Thomas University political science professor Tom Bateman believes MLA Robert Gauvin, the caucus’ only francophone MLA, stands out.

    “The Conservatives really have to [show] New Brunswickers that they represent the whole province: both language communities. So Mr. Gauvin I think is a shoo-in for a senior portfolio or even deputy premier,” said Bateman.

    Next up on the watch list is Dominic Cardy, who is being referred to as a “wild card.”

    Cardy is the former leader of the New Democrat Party (NDP) and chief of staff to Blaine Higgs during his time as the leader of the official opposition.

    “He’s a really strong personality and I think sometimes his instincts are sometimes on the divisive side and Mr. Higgs will want to make sure that Mr. Cardy doesn’t overshadow him on different policy files,” said Bateman.

    There won’t be more than 10 people in the cabinet because there’s a rule in place that limits cabinet size to just half the size of the caucus. With multiple portfolios, ministers will have more than one department to oversee.

    It’s being predicted that Higgs will have at least two to three women in his cabinet and that career politician Ted Flemming could end up with a role in health or as minister of finance.

    “He is a very popular MLA. He’s very good on the camera and he’s got a lot of experience, so he will have a major portfolio,” said Bateman.

    And with fracking in the spotlight and representing the Sussex region, Bruce Northrup is a likely candidate for natural resources and development.

    Higgs isn’t willing to give up his roster just yet, holding those names close to the chest. That is until at least Friday, when Tory MLAs will be sworn in yet again, this time as government.

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    Former president alleges fraud in Madagascar election

    Vote marred by ‘invalid electoral register, intimidation and pre-ticked ballots’, says Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

      Former Madagascar president Hery Rajaonarimampianina has alleged “many voting irregularities” in this week’s election, raising fears of protests and a disputed result.

      In a statement on Thursday, Rajaonarimampianina said a number of “anomalies” have been detected, including an “invalid electoral register, intimidation [and] the presence of pre-ticked ballots”.

      “All indications are that the votes of the Madagascan people have been stolen,” Rajaonarimampianina, who held office from 2014 to September 2018, said.

      “We will not let the people be robbed of their vote,” he added.

      As of the latest count, Rajaonarimampianina had won about three percent of the vote based on results from nearly 300 of Madagascar’s 24,852 polling stations.

      Election frontrunners and fellow former presidents Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana, meanwhile, had about 45 percent and 40 percent of support respectively.

      Provisional results are expected by November 20 which must then be confirmed by the High Constitutional Court by November 28.

      If none of the three-dozen hopefuls wins more than 50 percent of the votes, a runoff between the two best performers will be held on December 19.

      The new president will serve a five-year term beginning in January 2019.

      Election officer, Ernest Razafindraibe, told Reuters news agency that turnout on Wednesday, a vote considered to be an acid test of the impoverished island’s democratic credentials, was about 45 percent. Nearly 10 million people were eligible to take part in the ballot.

      Allegations of irregularities

      Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller, reporting from capital Antananarivo, said Rajaonarimampianina had yet to substantiate his allegations regarding possible irregularities.

      “He is warning people to be vigilant and cautious of the preliminary results and complaining about the late arrival of electoral material and equipment,” Miller said.

      “[But] they [his team] have not provided any evidence regarding some of his claims, including about ballots already being marked,” she added.

      The former leader’s claims came after a number of the less-fancied candidates expressed concern prior to the election over alleged irregularities in the voters’ roll. They also demanded that the poll be delayed, which was turned down.

      History of upheaval

      The apparent disagreements over the validity of Wednesday’s vote marked the latest instance of political upheaval on the Indian Ocean island – the world’s fourth-largest and home to about 25 million people – since it became independent from France in 1960.

      It has struggled to overcome political divisions after a disputed 2001 election that sparked clashes and a 2009 coup.

      Earlier this year, attempts by then president Rajaonarimampianina to change the country’s electoral laws backfired and sparked nearly three months of bitter protests.

      Political opponents claimed the proposed changes were aimed at barring their candidates from taking part in Wednesday’s poll.

      Following the demonstrations, in June, the Constitutional Court ordered the 60-year-old to form a government of national unity with a “consensus prime minister” in order to avert a full-blown crisis.

      Two months later, on September 7, Rajaonarimampianina resigned from office to compete in Wednesday’s election.

      The Madagascar head of state must step down 60 days prior to a presidential poll if he or she wishes to compete in the ballot, according to the country’s constitution.

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      France says no homage to Nazi collaborator Petain after outcry

      PARIS (AFP) – President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday (Nov 8) there would be no official homage to Nazi collaborator Philippe Petain as part of World War I ceremonies this week, a day after sparking outrage by saying his inclusion would be “legitimate.”

      “It was never a question of celebrating him individually,” Macron said in Maubeuge as he toured WWI sites in northern France this week ahead of the 100th anniversary of the armistice on Sunday (Nov 11).

      Petain was hailed as a national hero after WWI for leading French forces to victory, but during World War II he became head of the French government which collaborated with occupying German forces and helped deport thousands of Jews to death camps.

      Macron had indicated Wednesday that Petain would be among the eight army chiefs honoured at the Invalides military museum on Saturday, saying he had earned the nation’s gratitude.

      “He was a great soldier, it’s a fact,” he said, though he stressed that Petain had made “disastrous choices” during World War II.

      His comments were denounced by rival politicians and Jewish leaders, and set off a flurry of criticism on Twitter.

      “The only thing we will remember about Petain is that he was convicted, in the name of the French people, of national indignity during his trial in 1945,” Francis Kalifat of the CRIF association of French Jewish groups.

      Macron said Thursday that it was necessary to make a distinction between Petain’s WWI contributions and his crimes of WWII, while criticising what he called a “useless controversy”.

      “We have to recognise the historical truth, but also our duty to remember, and the consequences of the indignity which was established” at Petain’s treason trial in 1945, he said.

      Uneasy legacy

      French army officials had announced this week that all eight WWI marshals would be commemorated, with Macron represented by the general who is his top military adviser.

      However Petain is not among the marshals at the Invalides, having been buried on the Ile d’Yeu off the Atlantic coast.

      “The marshals whose honour has not been tarnished, and only those, will be honoured by the republic,” spokesman Benjamin Griveaux posted on Facebook late Wednesday.

      “If there was a confusion, it’s because we weren’t sufficiently clear on this point,” he said.

      For years French leaders have treaded lightly when dealing with Petain’s legacy, which continues to divide the nation decades on.

      Historians generally consider the marshal a brilliant tactician during World War I, not least for halting the German advance at Verdun in 1916.

      He also earned soldiers’ admiration by advocating strategies which avoided pointless fighting and deaths – though he nonetheless condoned the execution of attempted deserters.

      Hailed as a hero after the armistice, Petain would be called on to lead again after Germany invaded in 1940, taking over much of France.

      But as head of the Vichy regime, he actively collaborated with the Nazi occupiers, pursuing French resistance fighters while enacting second-class status for Jews and helping German soldiers round them up for the death camps.

      After the war’s end he was arrested for treason and given the death sentence, which was commuted to life imprisonment given his age. He died in 1951, aged 95.

      The debate over his legacy reflects a longtime divide along political lines, with rightwing groups often praising Petain’s endorsement of what he considered traditional Catholic values.

      As head of Vichy France, he replaced the country’s motto of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” with the more imperious “Work, Family and Country”.

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