- Duncan Cameron writes that Canada needs a new political direction rather than just a new government - and offers some worthwhile suggestions as to what that might include:
The inter-generational bargain needs to be renewed. Today's workers pay for their past studies and future retirement. Investing in youth and providing for retirement has social benefits and requires collective support. Much can done through a serious progressive income tax, but notable additional sources of revenue for student grants and other social spending exist. A financial transaction tax for instance could raise an estimated $4 billion, and has wide support in public polling.- Meanwhile, Naomi Klein writes that the crisis of climate change is challenging humanity's ability to act collectively at a point when that capacity is in serious doubt:
The biggest transfer of wealth in history is about to take place as the baby boomers pass on inherited wealth to their children. Inheritance needs to be taxed in Canada either as an ongoing wealth tax or through re-introducing succession duties.
Corporations are sitting on piles of wealth -- dead money, former Bank of Canada head Mark Carney called it. Erin Weir estimates that corporate cash on hand at the end of 2013 of $626 billion exceeds the federal debt of $611 billion. Tax idle capital and invest in public education, health, transport, culture and amateur sport.
Knowledgeable research shows that investing in early childhood education, reducing family poverty, improving social housing, ensuring gender equity, enhancing child-care facilities, adopting "living wage" policies, sane nutrition and agricultural practices, and promoting overall equality, reduces the cost of health care and improves the quality of life for everyone. Whether it be pioneering work by Dennis Raphael or the authoritative study by the World Health Organization, the benefits of enhanced equality for health are clear, and attainable when the social determinants of health are addressed successfully.
Our problem is that the climate crisis hatched in our laps at a moment in history when political and social conditions were uniquely hostile to a problem of this nature and magnitude—that moment being the tail end of the go-go ’80s, the blastoff point for the crusade to spread deregulated capitalism around the world. Climate change is a collective problem demanding collective action the likes of which humanity has never actually accomplished. Yet it entered mainstream consciousness in the midst of an ideological war being waged on the very idea of the collective sphere.- Inga Ting discusses how Australia's two-tier health system has done nothing but make wait times longer for those who can't afford to jump a queue. And Andrew MacLeod reports on the attempt of Brian Day and other medical profiteers to force a similar system on the Canadian public - even as the Canadian Medical Association (having moved on from Day's profit-over-patient mentality) points out how poverty already serves as a serious barrier to health.
This deeply unfortunate mistiming has created all sorts of barriers to our ability to respond effectively to this crisis. It has meant that corporate power was ascendant at the very moment when we needed to exert unprecedented controls over corporate behavior in order to protect life on earth. It has meant that regulation was a dirty word just when we needed those powers most. It has meant that we are ruled by a class of politicians who know only how to dismantle and starve public institutions, just when they most need to be fortified and reimagined. And it has meant that we are saddled with an apparatus of “free trade” deals that tie the hands of policy-makers just when they need maximum flexibility to achieve a massive energy transition.
...We also have to confront how the mismatch between climate change and market domination has created barriers within our very selves, making it harder to look at this most pressing of humanitarian crises with anything more than furtive, terrified glances. Because of the way our daily lives have been altered by both market and technological triumphalism, we lack many of the observational tools necessary to convince ourselves that climate change is real—let alone the confidence to believe that a different way of living is possible.
And little wonder: just when we needed to gather, our public sphere was disintegrating; just when we needed to consume less, consumerism took over virtually every aspect of our lives; just when we needed to slow down and notice, we sped up; and just when we needed longer time horizons, we were able to see only the immediate present.
- Finally, Kathleen Geier takes her own look at the power of wealth in influencing public policy. Dave Gilson examines the preferential tax treatment for people who already have more than they need - a point which is equally applicable in Canada when one compares the CCCE's own numbers as to how small a percentage of income businesses pay in taxes to the rates applied to individuals. And Trish Hennessy warns against throwing taxes under the bus as an option to fund our social priorities.