- Following up on yesterday's column, David Atkins discusses his own preference for front-end fixes to poverty and inequality:
The standard way you'll hear most progressives address inequality issues is to allow the labor market to run as usual, but levy heavy taxes on the back for redistribution.- Chuk Plante and Rachel Malena introduce a week of action on the part of the the Poverty Costs campaign - a particularly important prospect given that investments to fight poverty can more than pay for themselves. Kathleen Geier discusses how inequality kills. And Paul Krugman challenges the "hammock fallacy" used by the right to complain about social investments:
No doubt that is the simplest way of doing it. But it also creates some problems, including a perception of unfairness, the potential to simply lower the tax rates when conservatives are put in charge, and capital mobility in which the richest people simply leave the country.
Front-end fixes that distribute wealth more fairly before it makes it to the hands to the plutocrats is more desirable in my book. They're harder to get rid of legislatively, they eliminate the "we're overtaxed" argument, and they reduce the incentive for capital mobility.
(I)f generous aid to the poor perpetuates poverty, the United States — which treats its poor far more harshly than other rich countries, and induces them to work much longer hours — should lead the West in social mobility, in the fraction of those born poor who work their way up the scale. In fact, it’s just the opposite: America has less social mobility than most other advanced countries.- Unfortunately, we too are stuck with a federal government proudly trumpeting an economy which is generating almost nothing but part-time work - and a provincial one determined to favour private, low-wage labour no matter what the cost to Saskatchewan in both wages and productivity.
And there’s no puzzle why: it’s hard for young people to get ahead when they suffer from poor nutrition, inadequate medical care, and lack of access to good education. The antipoverty programs that we have actually do a lot to help people rise. For example, Americans who received early access to food stamps were healthier and more productive in later life than those who didn’t. But we don’t do enough along these lines. The reason so many Americans remain trapped in poverty isn’t that the government helps them too much; it’s that it helps them too little.
- Thomas Mulcair weighs in on the Cons' Unfair Elections Act designed to avoid any change on the federal scene:
With its euphemistically named Fair Elections Act, the Conservatives have managed to introduce one of the worst electoral bills to date. Among other things, it would strip Elections Canada of its investigative powers when, in fact, those powers need to be improved; increase the limit of political donations (they apparently haven’t been paying attention to the Charbonneau commission); and disenfranchise youth, seniors and aboriginal voters.- Likewise, both the Cons' appointed chief electoral officer (Marc Mayrand) and their most-cited authority on supposed voter fraud (Harry Neufeld) confirm there's no reason for confidence in either the bill or the government seeking to impose it on Canadian voters. And Justin Ling sees the Cons as having made as strong a case for their bill as they have for the necessity of ghostbusting.
Canadians are not fools. They know the Conservatives are loading the dice in their favour. Every single one of these measures stands to unduly benefit their party.
But the most baffling provision is the one that prevents Elections Canada from educating Canadians about their vote or encouraging them to take part in this fundamental democratic duty. I say “baffling” because at a time when political cynicism is rampant and electoral participation is at historic lows, how can they possibly try to convince us that this will enhance our democracy?
“Getting Canadians to vote is the responsibility of political parties,” they say. I beg to differ. To think this way is to relegate this essential democratic principle to a simple act of petty partisan politics — and it doesn’t work.
- Finally,Tannara Yelland writes that Saskatchewan's access-to-information laws manage to stand out as weak even compared to their antiquated federal counterparts.