Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Jim Stanford looks into the fine print of the Hudak PCs' assumptions about corporate tax slashing and finds that even their own numbers show that most of the money gifted to corporations would be thrown away (emphasis added):
On second reading there are other interesting aspects to the Conference Board simulation of corporate tax reductions.  The one that jumped out at me was their estimate of increased business capital spending after the tax cut (reported in Table 5, and the main driver of economic benefits in the simulation), reported in the fifth line of Table 4.  They see an additional $133 million of business investment in the first year, rising to $227 million in the third year.  In other words, by their estimates, less than one dollar in three of the CIT cut is reinvested by business in new fixed capital investments.  This highlights the problem that has been experienced with CIT reductions as a stimulative tool.  They translate only weakly into new business spending.  That’s why the final gain in GDP (even counting indirect and induced multiplier effects) is always smaller than the initial cost of the tax cut.  Even in the Conference Board study, one big lasting legacy of CIT cuts will be an additional increment to corporate cash hoarding, worth over $600 million per year by the 10th year (comparing the value of the CIT reduction in that year to the modest increase in capital spending).  That sounds like a good reason not to do it at all.

Remember also that the Conference Board report did not incorporate (at the PCs’ request) the negative effects on GDP of employment from any offsetting reduction in other government programs (which the PCs have promised they would do, making the CIT cut supposedly “revenue neutral”).  They make this clear on p.5.  It is thus not a reasonable simulation of what the party is actually proposing.
- Meanwhile, Bill Curry reports on the Cons' choice to allow employers to import thousands of temporary foreign workers for the minimum wage rather than making effort to recruit local workers. And Julia Smith writes that the real issue with the TFWP lies in its development of jobs intended to be exploitative - no matter who ends up filling them:
(T)he jobs TFWP are filling do not come with the same rights that Canadian workers enjoy. TFWP visas for low wage jobs are tied to a specific employer and location, meaning TFWs can't leave one job for another if there's a problem. In many cases they're required to live in accommodation provided by their employer -- so if they lose their job they also lose their home.

Caregivers and agricultural workers, who make up the majority of TFWs, are not allowed to unionize. Instead, in cases of exploitation, they must submit individual grievances. As is well documented, when TFWs do complain, they risk unemployment, homelessness and deportation. One recruitment company emailed businesses with strategies to prevent TFWs from becoming 'Canadianized.' In others words, seeking Canadian labor standards.

Helena Sanchez, from the Temporary Foreign Workers Association of Quebec, notes, "We are paying taxes as Canadian citizens, but are not treated as citizens. We do not have the same rights as Canadians."
Sanchez says she hopes that instead of seeing TFW as competition, Canadian workers will stand with TFW and demand better conditions for all. "If Canadians protect TFW rights, they are also protecting their rights," she says, pointing out that if employers have to offer the same working conditions, then competition for jobs also becomes impartial.
- Michael Harris looks at the latest Bruce Carson influence peddling scandal - and the judgment of the prime minister who's repeatedly allowed a convicted fraudster into his inner circle:
Since [Carson] himself was not yet five years out from the date that his own government employment ended, it was illegal for him to be dealing with public office holders over the development or amendment of any government policy; the awarding of any grant; or the arranging of a meeting between a public office holder and any other person.

Why was he able to do that? Carson’s passport to the highest offices in the land bears Stephen Harper’s face.

So do tell us Mr. Prime Minister, besides a criminal record, a taste for young escorts, and an alleged yen for unregistered lobbying, how did Bruce Carson come to sit by your side – and why did you give him so much power and so much of the people’s money?

An explanation and an apology would be appropriate right about now.
- Matthew Millar reports that two Con MPs are using their time and public resources to develop a partisan election application - and figuring to gain personally in the process. And Sophia Harris finds yet another example of the Cons refusing to collect evidence which would show their choices are wrong-headed - this time dropping the survey questions which have shown their publicly-funded propaganda campaigns to serve no useful purpose.

- Finally, Susan Lunn reports on a belated federal attempt to look into growing shortages of prescription medications. But while Lunn rightly notes the futility of trying to address that problem with a list of which drugs are lacking, it's worth noting the obvious remedy: rather than merely setting up a slightly more organized system to beg big pharma to meet public health needs, it's entirely possible to set up a public manufacturer to actually end the shortages.

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