Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Environics' polling on inequality shows over 80% of Canadians wanting to see governments reduce the disparity between the rich and the poor - even as the current federal government moves as far as possible in the opposite direction:
More than eight in 10 Canadians suggested their governments have a responsibility to do something to reduce the gap between the wealthy and the rest of Canadians.

When asked whose job it is to address income disparities, a clear majority agreed strongly (52 per cent) or somewhat (30 per cent) that governments should actively find ways to shrink the gap.
- Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias checks the evidence rather than taking corporatist dogma for granted, and finds that capital gains tax levels look to have little if any effect on actual investment:
Germany started charging capital-gains tax in 2009 and implemented a 25 percent rate on new investments. This seems to have changed nothing at all...

My bottom line is that while I'm not generally a deficit hawk, cutting the capital-gains tax rate without any budget offsets, as the Bush administration did in 2003, is incredibly irresponsible. Capital-gains tax cuts are extremely regressive, so if you really are a big believer in the growth-sparking impact of lower rates, the reasonable thing to do is offset the budgetary impact of the cut with a big progressive hike in ordinary income tax rates. If you're not willing to do that, then you're really just offering rich people a giveaway. Incurring the massive direct dissavings involved in a deficit-financed tax cut in exchange for some very-possibly-not-there incentive effect is crazy.
- And speaking of free money for those who don't need it: yes, the Cons are still planning to funnel an extra billion dollars per year in health-care funding toward Alberta at the expense of other provinces which need it more. And there's absolutely no way the change should be allowed to happen without some serious outcry from the regions that stand to lose out.

- Jennifer Ditchburn points out that the Cons have turned their usual smear tactics toward environmentalists and premiers, while Tim Naumetz reports on the attack ad launched by their "non-partisan" alter ego against Bob Rae.

- Finally, Dan Gardner points out the concept of fundamental attribution error as a reason to take a look at how international relations look from Iran's side.

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