- The Huffington Post discusses a study showing how poor Canadians pay the highest marginal tax rates on income that pushes them over benefit thresholds. But it should be fairly obvious that the solution is to set up rational models for social programs which avoid counterproductive incentives - rather than following the C.D. Howe Institute's apparent preference to freeze them in place. And indeed, Jordon Cooper writes that strategies based on the principle of investing where it's needed most can go a long way in propelling citizens out of poverty for the long term.
- Alex Himelfarb sees inequality and detachment at the root of Canada's current lack of broad political engagement:
The research also shows that how governments design and deliver social and labour programs is key to achieving both greater trust and greater equality. In this age of austerity and tax cuts, many governments are doing exactly the wrong things, exacerbating inequality by undermining wages and weakening the programs that reduce inequality and alleviate its consequences, moving from universal to narrowly targeted approaches or starving the programs that the research shows make the biggest difference. What Rothstein’s work demonstrates is that universal programs – universal healthcare, childcare, education, income security, and access to justice, are the most effective by far in promoting equality and social trust. They are inclusive and not subject to arbitrary income cut offs and often degrading means-testing in which officials decide who’s in and who’s out. They bring people together across income and cultural differences. Because they belong to everyone, everyone has a stake in their quality.- Meanwhile, Andrew Rawnsley sees the need for the UK's political parties to do far more to build a genuine mass membership - a point which figures to apply in Canada as well.
In countries where social trust is low and inequality high, it is awfully hard to reverse direction. Even when people know what’s needed, there’s not enough trust to get it done. This is the classic social trap. Absent trust, people are not willing to pay the necessary taxes; each worries that they’re being ripped off by the other, those at the top effectively secede from society and those at the bottom withdraw believing that the game is rigged. It is almost impossible in those cases to imagine big new social programs or even strengthening existing ones. And so inequality and distrust grow; solutions seem increasingly out of reach.
- Finally, Murray Mandryk suspects that Stephen Harper has become his own worst enemy. And the NDP helpfully highlights the one and only way to stay off the Cons' enemies list.