Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Edward Keenan is the latest to point out that any reasonable political decision-making process needs to include an adult conversation about taxes and why we need them:
This week, when asked about the prospect of raising taxes beyond the rate of inflation in coming years, John Tory called the idea “an admission of failure.”

This is distressing to hear. Consider the context: Tory’s current budget turns out to require a lot of dipsy-doodling that edges the city perilously close to its debt ceiling while hiking TTC fares and garbage fees. Meanwhile the unexpected bills keep rolling in: lookee here, Metrolinx just tossed another $95 million onto the city’s obligations! Whoah, lookee there, Toronto’s Union Station obligations just went up another $60 million because the province and feds are telling us to stuff our pleas for help. That’s without beginning to even ponder the 10-figure numbers involved in keeping the TTC and social housing in good enough shape that they can safely continue operating.

What Tory calls admitting failure, we might instead call “math.”

It’s difficult math to face up to, but it’s the result of more than a decade of childishly pretending we can avoid the calculations by thinking happy thoughts and wishing on the first star to the right.
The federal and provincial governments have refused to rain money on us from their own tax revenue. The quest for “efficiencies” has been on a long time, but has never shown the potential to be a miracle cure for our revenue woes. The City of Toronto needs to raise more money, either through property taxes or new “revenue tools.”

Maybe people don’t want to hear that. But telling it to them straight is not “admitting failure.” It’s owning up to reality, in the hopes of avoiding a civic failure that will follow if we continue to act like children who can’t handle basic math.
- But then, Ian Welsh reminds us that often what's right is also what's most efficient - as in the case of providing homes for the homeless.

- Bruce Western and Linda Forman Naval make the point that governments should make a concerted effort to make work available to released offenders - particularly if the alternative is to exploit current prisoners. But Jacob Boon reports on Drew Butler's sad example of how people are instead treated even after serving a sentence in full.

- Meanwhile, Thomas Walkom writes that while the Cons fearmonger about terrorism, they're deliberately ignoring the far greater security threat posed by climate change. And Thomas Mulcair presents the NDP's case against the Cons' terror bill.

- Kimberly Brown reports on the Canadian government's shameful interventions in Mexico on behalf of human rights abuses in the mining sector.

- Finally, Paul Adams muses about what we could expect from a Lib government and reaches exactly the right conclusion (if not one which is any surprise based on historical precedent): when it comes to the economy and social programs, Justin Trudeau and his party will be exactly as progressive as the NDP can force them to be and not an iota more.

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