Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Star-Phoenix editorial board comments on the need to crack down on tax havens:
(T)he scale of the avoidance Mr. Henry detailed in his report, The Price of Offshore Revisited, drives home just how immoral is the practice of tax avoidance, particularly at a time when even rich countries such as Spain and the United States are staggering under their debt loads and deficits because they can't raise enough tax revenue.
As Gwynne Dyer, a Canadian journalist based in Britain, notes in a recent column published in Embassy magazine, despite efforts by some governments to recoup tax revenues lost offshore, the problem has more than doubled over the last five years just as debt crises and resulting austerity measures have thrown millions out work.

The fact there are relatively few people hiding so much in a relatively few places such as Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Cayman Islands, and Jersey should make it simple for the international community to exert pressure to collect the taxes that governments are owed.
Since the tax revenue and corrupt funds come from all countries - from small developing nations to outlaw states to the largest economies in the world - a global agreement not only should be possible but imperative.
- But lest anybody think it'll be easy to get the 1% to live up to social obligations, the same Canadian corporate sector that's hoarding giant piles of unused cash is demanding approval not to use its reserves to properly fund employee pensions.

- Even as they claim to have no resources to provide for basic social needs, the Cons have set up a secret torture committee and plan to burn $1 billion on drone warfare. Which means it's no wonder they're so determined to silence anybody who might point out a principled need for action.

- Speaking of which, Don Lenihan and Graham Fox discuss how the Cons have inverted Canadian federalism by refusing to take any responsibility for the public policy areas Canadians care about most:
(T)he federal government seems to have opted for a more transactional approach to governance, concentrating on issues like border security, crime and natural resources. The Harper government seems uncomfortable with complex processes and relationships, so its guiding principle is to keep things as simple as possible.
By contrast, the Council of the Federation (COF) is emerging as a new kind of collaborative forum. The provinces are using it to build and test the strategies and coalitions they think governments need to solve complex issues...
...The provinces, recall, have responsibility for many of the issues that register the least confidence (and highest complexity), such as health, education and other social services.
As a result, the pressure on them to experiment and collaborate is growing exponentially.
This, in turn, is pushing them toward more pan-Canadian approaches, while the federal government, which views its responsibilities as more transactional, is returning to watertight compartments and bilateral relationships.
(I)f the provincial effort is even modestly successful, we don’t think the federal government can avoid engaging for long. We believe it has a natural leadership role in this new, pan-Canadian environment. Its networks, infrastructure, resources, and legislative authority would make an essential contribution to solving issues around energy, healthcare and innovation. Eventually, the federal government will have to come back to the table — whether it be this government or some future one.

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