Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Marc Lee and Iglika Ivanova offer up a framework for a more progressive and fairer tax system.

- Andrew Hanon looks behind the Fraser Institute's labour-bashing and finds that what it's really criticizing is fair pay for women in the public sector.

- Fern Brady notes that conservatives have succeeded in pitting exactly the people with the greatest need for social assistance against each other - with the result being that far too few people are questioning whether cuts serve any useful purpose in the first place:
Logically, I'd expect those on the sharp end of things to be pro-welfare. But if anything, many interviewees had internalised a Thatcherite every-man-for-himself mentality, wanting benefits for themselves but resenting anyone else getting a handout.

There are almost too many examples to list but the kind of attitudes I heard daily went along these lines: the disabled man thinks it's wrong the drug user down the road gets methadone. The drug user is outraged that the large family next door gets a spare room and hopes they are hit by bedroom tax. The large family is sick of elderly people getting big houses they don't need. The elderly woman hopes these large families are forced to stop having kids once the money dries up. On and on it went in a circle, anger constantly directed at other victims of the coalition government's Welfare Reform Act instead of the politicians and policymakers responsible.
The value of influencing attitudes towards social inequality is deeply underestimated. If you manage to persuade everyone that poverty is a moral condition and claiming benefits is the symptom, it's a guaranteed way to ensure those handing out the money treat recipients as guilty until proven innocent. Shame is being employed as an ingenious tool to ensure people feel constantly stigmatised. And if you feel undeserving you're hardly going to be forthcoming about what you're entitled to.

This isn't just about votes. The less people believe they're entitled to this money – and they are entitled – the less likely they are to maximise their income through benefits. It's ideal for the government because it fosters an environment in which people are less likely to appeal when their claim is rejected and less likely to support those around them who may be suffering as a result of the welfare changes.

In a way you have to marvel at it. How do you get people to accept a policy that's inexcusably prejudiced against the most vulnerable in society? Make sure they take on the same mean-spirited, self-serving attitude that influenced that policy in the first place. Genius.
- pogge wonders rhetorically whether the Cons will ever act on a unanimous resolution to strengthen the Canada Elections Act to address robocalls and enforcement issues.

- Finally, Aaron Wherry nicely responds to Justin Trudeau by noting that better patronage isn't a path toward a useful or legitimate Senate. And Andrew Coyne muses that abolishing the current abomination might leave more options open for a less dubious upper chamber in the future.


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