Saturday, April 18, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Canadians for Tax Fairness offers a checklist to allow us to determine whether the federal budget is aimed at improving matters for everybody, or only for the privileged few. And Andrew Jackson argues that the Cons' focus should be investment in jobs and sustainable development:
Business investment is likely to fall even further due to the resource slump and halted mega projects. This might be offset a bit by new investment in the hard-hit manufacturing sector and in high tech, though there is no sign of that in the most recent numbers.

In this context, the federal government should be doing everything in its power to boost a slowing economy and to help set the stage for a more durable, investment driven recovery.

Ottawa has been advised by the IMF and many prominent economists, from former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers to former federal deputy minister of finance Scott Clark, that it can and should boost public investment, especially in mass transit and basic municipal infrastructure.

Since the economy is operating with a significant and growing slack, such spending would boost GDP by more than the actual increase in investment. The federal government itself has cited figures showing that the boost to infrastructure investment in the recession had a multiplier impact on the economy of 1.5, meaning that GDP rose by $1.50 for every $1 spent.

The case for public investment is even more compelling now that the Government of Canada can borrow long term at interest rates well below the rate of inflation to finance projects such as mass transit which demonstrably have a positive economic return in terms of boosting long-term productivity.
There is also a need to focus our research and development efforts on industries which will transition us to much more environmentally sustainable economy, such as renewable energy, the construction of a national power grid to displace coal-fired power, and the promotion of much more energy efficient technologies throughout the economy.

The federal Budget will likely pay lip service to boosting investment through small additions to existing commitments. But the current government has given the real priority to costly tax cuts such as family income splitting and doubled TFSA contribution limits, leading them to cut spending on direct government programs to balance the books.

Lack of real attention to investment will leave our sluggish economy dangerously dependent upon growing household debt, and ill-prepared to face the economic and environmental challenges of tomorrow.
- But David Olive reminds us that the Cons are actively working to demolish the government's ability to serve as more than a conduit for corporate interests. And Seth Klein notes that the use of tax-free savings accounts to line the pockets of the wealth at the expense of the rest of us also serves as compelling evidence as to who's intended to benefit under the Harper Cons.

- Meanwhile, John Lorinc reports on the use of community benefits agreements to ensure that good jobs are available to the people who need them, offering an important reminder that role of government shouldn't be limited to handing out money without considering how to maximize its effect.

- Thomas Walkom calls out the Ontario Libs for trying to use a sideshow of beer sales to distract from the reckless selloff of Hydro One.

- Bruce Johnstone notes that the Cons' corporate giveaway of what's left of the Canadian Wheat Board is happening despite a glaring lack of answers to major questions, while Mia Rabson offers a eulogy for the CWB. And the National Farmers' Union points out that labeling what's left as "Canadian" is a matter of spin and wishful thinking.

- Finally, Doug Cuthand rightly slams the Cons for trying to blame First Nations men alone for Canada's shameful legacy of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

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