Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Murtaza Hussain nicely sums up why we should be pushing for businesses and wealthy individuals to contribute their fair share through a progressive tax system rather than through self-aggrandizing charity:
The private social safety net, provided by corporate donors as compensation for the public one which their tax avoidance helps shred, is a poor substitute for democratically accountable public spending. Besides being poorer, free of public oversight, and geared primarily towards public relations efforts, the private safety net is a rug that can and will be pulled out from under its beneficiaries at the slightest notice. Goldman Sachs, which generously gave $320M in charitable contributions in 2010 and $500M in 2009, drastically cut its charitable budget to $78M a year in 2011 in response to reduced profits while making minimal cuts to employee bonuses and other compensation. “Doing God’s work”, as Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously described the companies activities is apparently an elective commitment based on market conditions. Whereas...a strong public safety net is managed democratically by its beneficiaries, corporate charity can and will disappear the moment it is deemed necessary which exemplifies clearly why it is no substitute for government spending.
- Gregory Beatty points out the remarkable returns Canadians have achieved through the Canadian Pension Plan, and rightly asks who other the financial services industry than stands to benefit from pushing retirement savings toward more risky and costly programs like the ones preferred by the Harper Cons.

- Of course, if the Cons know that reality doesn't support their desire to demolish governments at every level, they're perfectly happy to pretend the facts don't exist. And evidence-based experimentation couldn't be further from the Cons' plans.

- But it can get awkward when the dogma runs into more thoughtful governments. And the comparison between the Cons and their Latin American counterparts on drug policy is reflecting rather poorly on Canada. Meanwhile, Paul Krugman points out that there's an important economic lesson to be learned from Brazil and other social-democratic countries in our hemisphere.

- Finally, Ryan Meili points out how investment in prescription drugs can result in positive results in terms of both health costs and outcomes.

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