Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Mark Bittman discusses the connection between economic and social ills in the U.S., and offers a message which applies equally to Canada:
I have spent a great deal of time talking about the food movement and its potential, because to truly change the food system you really have to change just about everything: good nutrition stems from access to good food; access to good food isn’t going to happen without economic justice; that isn’t going to happen without taxing the superrich; and so on. The same is true of other issues: You can’t fix climate change or the environment without stopping the unlimited exploitation of natural and human resources (see Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything”). Same with social well-being.

Everything affects everything. It’s all tied together, and the starting place hardly matters: A just and righteous system will have a positive impact on everything we care about, just as an unjust, exploitative system makes everything worse.

Increasingly, it seems, there’s an appetite and even unity to take on the billionaire class. Let’s recognize that if we are seeing positive change now, it’s in part because elected officials respond to pressure, and let’s remember that that pressure must be maintained no matter who is in office.
- Louis-Philippe Rochon writes about the harm inequality is doing to Canada's economy, and proposes an eminently reasonable set of policies to reduce it:
1.  Governments must make job creation their mission.  In fact, nothing short of a full employment policy will do.  Since when is unemployment an acceptable social and economic end?
2. We must raise the minimum wage and make sure that it is sufficient for Canadians to live on.  The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives estimates that for two working parents with two children, the living wage in Toronto should be $16.60 an hour and $14.07 in Winnipeg, a far cry of where it stands now. Many studies show raising the minimum wage does not hurt employment nor does it cause slower growth.  In fact, the contrary is true.
3. We should adopt a guaranteed annual income for all working Canadians. There are many variations of this policy, and more work needs to be done to determine the best program for Canada, but the central idea is a sound one.
4. We must implement an inheritance tax, in order to avoid the transfer of tax-free wealth from one generation to another. Canada remains to this day one of the only industrialized countries without an inheritance tax.
5. We must cap corporate annual bonuses. It has become common for corporate CEOs to make six and sometimes seven-figure bonuses. Bonuses are certainly valid in many instances, but the practice has become extreme.
6. We must raise the number of tax brackets and marginal tax rates on higher income. We now have evidence that high or higher taxes on income do not hinder growth. So what’s stopping governments from raising the marginal tax rate on higher income to 60 per cent or even 70 per cent? Canada’s tax system has become considerably less progressive in recent years. 7. We must encourage increased unionization. This will allow workers to be better protected and in general have higher wages and better benefits.
8. We must reconsider taxes on capital gains. We must consider all capital gains as taxable income.
- Zi-Ann Lum reminds us of Dauphin's experience actually eliminating poverty through a guaranteed annual income. And Michael Bryant suggests that eliminating anti-panhandling laws would be a valuable step in ending the criminalization of poverty.

- David Pugliese reports that as another prime example of their Mostly Competent Government, the Cons are committing Canada to paying more than twice as much as other countries for the same C-17 transport planes.

- Jordan Press writes about Suzanne Legault's investigation into the Cons' refusal to release public data in usable formats. And Jason Kirby duly mocks the Cons' excuses so far.

- Finally, Thomas Walkom discusses the catch-22 facing anybody who's wrongfully and unilaterally proclaimed to be terrorists by the Cons - as it's impossible to raise money to even challenge the designation without putting donors at risk of receiving the same label themselves.

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