Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Friday reading.

- In writing recently about employer efforts to intimidate workers into backing corporate-friendly candidates, I figured that the best examples we'd see would come from individual corporate magnates - as the candidates themselves would surely be smart enough not to state publicly that they support having employers dictate their employees' votes. But Mitt Romney has proven me wrong.

- Meanwhile, pogge rightly questions the reality-challenged spin about "union bosses" somehow exercising any power beyond that which workers have democratically voted to authorize. And Timothy Noah comments on the need to start reinforcing the labour movement in order to encourage greater equality.

- Which leads nicely to Miles Corak's discussion of new research as to what kind of policy will best serve to rein in inequality (rather than exacerbating it as the Cons' tax baubles have done consistently since they took power):
Just as interesting are Prof. Veall’s views on the policy implications. He suggests that there is probably not much scope to raise marginal tax rates on the very rich, but favours a broadening of the base:

“… my review of research on tax responsiveness in Canada leads me to believe that ... there is some risk that increases in the top marginal tax rates might raise little or no revenue. If the goal is to increase taxes on those with high incomes, I would argue that the immediate priority should instead be broadening the personal income tax base, particularly eliminating tax preferences that are likely to be taken advantage of by the upper end of the income distribution.”

The preferential treatment of different types of capital income is one of his concerns.
- Plenty of others have pointed with approval to Andrew Coyne's column on the respective merits of institutional and reputational power in Canada. But to me, the most important takeaway is that the prospect that the same respect for principle which gives our independent officers some enduring moral authority can apply in the political sphere as well:
What is interesting is what happens when power collides with principle: when the pack confronts, not another pack, but a determined individual of conscience. Nothing has prepared the pack for this. Faced with someone they cannot frighten, and who does not want anything from them, they are bewildered. All of their normal tactics and approaches are suddenly useless. All of their power turns to dust.
...
As cynical as we may be about our politicians, there is something ingrained in Canadians that honours the individual who will not “be reasonable,” will not “go along,” will not accept that “this is how it has always been done.” That isn’t true everywhere, but it is here. When the call to conscience comes, it finds an echo. But the reason we know what it sounds like is because we have had examples — because of those individuals in our past who have been willing to stand up, alone if necessary, against the power of the pack. 
- Finally, RPIRG has released a report card on social and environmental issues among Regina's mayoral candidates. Insightrix' poll gives us a strong indication which three candidates have a plausible chance of winning. And taken together, the two seem to point to a rather clear choice for Regina's voters.

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