Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Duncan Cameron discusses how the G20 is dancing around the problem of corporate tax evasion. The Economist issues a call to action against offshoring. And David Atkins points out what's more likely needed to deal with a global problem which can be exacerbated by just a few defectors:
What is needed are global treaties with negative enforcement mechanisms, including but not limited to potential tariffs and sanctions, for nations that refuse to put rules in place to curb corporate theft and malfeasance. Nations that allow corporations conduct the worst forms of corporate tax evasion and arbitrage should be made pariahs as surely as those who harbor terrorists and violate the most basic human rights. Like most white collar crime, the cause and effect between harm done and suffering received is indirect, so it lacks the same emotional stigma. But the removal of trillions of dollars from the world economy into corporate tax havens that could have gone to education, infrastructure, climate change abatement and poverty alleviation directly damages and even destroys the lives of hundreds of millions of people, just so that a few can live the most opulent lives of any creature on the planet in its entire history.

The world doesn't currently have such international protocols. But it should. And in time, it will. When it does, our age will have seemed quite barbaric indeed.
- Laurel Rothman and Andrew Lynk comment on the link between health and poverty in Canada. CBC highlights Canada's place at the bottom of the list of comparable OECD countries when it comes to funding early childhood education. And while I don't fully agree with his concerns about social programs, Jordon Cooper discusses how the difficulty of surviving poverty makes it far more difficult to build a life in the longer term:
A study entitled Some Consequences of Having Too Little was published last year, in which researchers considered how the scarcity of resources changed behaviours. When you have nothing, your focus is on acquiring that basic need, which uses up your good decisions and distracts your brain from its ability to make good decisions in other areas. Those constant survival needs take up a lot of time and energy that should be used in other areas.

Of course this leads to poor decisions, because our focus is on what we don't have, not on what it needs to get ahead. Our desire to deal with the stress leads to impulsive decisions. The immediate gratification helps in the short term, but causes problems later if rent money is used or if money is borrowed.
A wide-scale study in Britain showed that the longer people were homeless and in shelters, the worse off they were and the less they were able to cope. It's why "housing first" programs are so important. Margins and security allow you to go on to tackle other issues such as employment or health. Those margins are helped by having savings and money, but our social services system now barely keeps people alive. No wonder it is so hard to escape the cycle.
- In contrast, Andrew Coyne figures all we really need to do in order to claim victory over poverty is move the goalposts - preferably to ground level around the 20-yard line compared to the once-agreed standard of eradicating child poverty altogether.

- Mike Hudema discusses the Cons' failures when it comes to rail safety. And Leslie Young reports on Alberta's pitiful enforcement of environmental laws.

- But lest we worry that the Petro Party won't tolerate any accountability at all, we can rest assured that whistleblowers will continue to be subject to severe repercussions.

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