Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz writes that while we should expect natural resources to result in broad-based prosperity, Australia (much like Canada) is now turning toward the U.S. model of instead directing as much shared wealth as possible toward the privileged few:
There is something deeply ironic about Abbott’s reverence for the American model in defending many of his government’s proposed “reforms.” After all, America’s economic model has not been working for most Americans. Median income in the US is lower today than it was a quarter-century ago – not because productivity has been stagnating, but because wages have.

The Australian model has performed far better. Indeed, Australia is one of the few commodity-based economies that has not suffered from the natural-resource curse. Prosperity has been relatively widely shared. Median household income has grown at an average annual rate above 3% in the last decades – almost twice the OECD average.

To be sure, given its abundance of natural resources, Australia should have far greater equality than it does. After all, a country’s natural resources should belong to all of its people, and the “rents” that they generate provide a source of revenue that could be used to reduce inequality. And taxing natural-resource rents at high rates does not cause the adverse consequences that follow from taxing savings or work (reserves of iron ore and natural gas cannot move to another country to avoid taxation). But Australia’s Gini coefficient, a standard measure of inequality, is one-third higher than that of Norway, a resource-rich country that has done a particularly good job of managing its wealth for the benefit of all citizens.
Australia should be proud of its successes, from which the rest of the world can learn a great deal. It would be a shame if a misunderstanding of what has happened in the US, combined with a strong dose of ideology, caused its leaders to fix what is not broken.   
- Meanwhile, Julian Beltrame reports that Canada's combination of corporate tax giveaways and gutting regulations has done nothing to change stagnant business investment. (Though as Armine Yalnizyan notes, that's sadly accompanied by the C.D. Howe Institute insisting on more of the same failed corporatist policies.) Don Pittis writes that stagnant wages are leaving Canadian workers with nothing to show for economic growth. And Dennis Howlett's mild optimism about Ontario's single-year budget is more than outweighed by his recognition that Ontarians are far worse off for decades of austerity and tax slashing:
For years now, Ontario governments (both Liberal and Progressive Conservative) have been inflicting austerity policies while failing to comprehensively collect revenue from large corporations and the wealthy. This sloppy fiscal management persisted - long after it was obvious that it just doesn't work.

Cuts to public services have caused a lot of pain and not much gain in terms of reducing deficits. Those cuts also boosted unemployment, slowed economic recovery and reduced tax revenue.

We can no longer afford the steep price tag that comes with avoiding revenue side solutions. Governments need to be clear about the real costs of tax cuts and loopholes.
After so much tax cutting, Ontario kick starting a $1 billion reversal is a pretty small step. But it is a step in the right direction. But further steps in this direction are needed in the next budget, including possibly some modest but broader income tax increases.

There's a caveat though.

Boosting taxes on the rich and on corporations will not result in more revenue if governments don't close tax loopholes and take stronger measures to go after tax cheats. On this front too, though there were some encouraging words in the Ontario budget:

"Reducing corporate tax avoidance and closing tax loopholes is a priority for the Ontario government. The government supports the principle that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes, including corporations."

Word is that Ontario government will be pushing the federal government and the Canada Revenue Agency to step up their efforts. This is welcome news. Each and every Canadian province loses revenue from corporate tax avoidance schemes that take advantage of tax loopholes and offshore tax havens. It is time for a strong stand by all provinces at the premiers meeting scheduled for August. They can no longer avoid tackling what has become a chronic problem.
- Stephan Lefebvre points out how yet another set of free-trade spin is based on flat-out lies about the effect of NAFTA.

- Ethel Tungohan highlights the absurdity of the Cons' temporary foreign worker tinkering which does nothing at all to help actual workers of any kind:
If Kenney and Alexander truly want to protect temporary foreign workers from abuse, they would include robust measures that take into account the reality of these workers’ lives.

Workplace audits should be accompanied by a guarantee that abused temporary foreign workers will not be deported and will be given jobs in other companies for the duration of their stay in Canada.

Temporary foreign workers should be given open work permits that tie them to a specific industry, but not to a specific employer to mitigate abuse.

And, most importantly, the Canadian government should recognize that temporary foreign workers provide important economic contributions to Canada. Like other immigrants, they come to provide for themselves and their families. They should be provided pathways to Canadian citizenship.

If they are good enough to work, they are good enough to stay.
- Finally, today is another NDP Day of Action - this time focusing on climate change to celebrate Jack Layton's birthday. You can search for an event here - and I'll point out my home riding's canvass and barbecue in particular for anybody in Regina interested in getting involved.

No comments:

Post a Comment