Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Lars Osberg discusses the positive effects of raising taxes on Canada's wealthiest few. And Avram Denburg argues for a speedy end to income splitting due to both its unfairness,and its impact on the public revenue needed to fund a healthier society:
(I)ncome splitting primarily benefits middle- and upper-income families, provides relatively little tax relief for low-income families, and skirts single parents altogether. Just as importantly, it acts to deter both parents from equal engagement in the workforce and devalues family policies that promote dual engagement.

From the point of view of child health, evidence suggests we should be doing just the opposite. Family policies that favour dual-earner households—universal childcare, enhanced parental leave and robust early childhood education—are associated with gains in child survival.

The more generous a country’s policies toward dual-earner families, the lower its infant mortality rate: remarkably, among OECD countries, every increase of one percentage point in dual-earner support correlates with 0.04 less infant deaths per 1,000 births.
(P)romises to roll back this policy represent a very small step toward confronting disparities in child health and well-being in Canada. Income splitting is one manifestation of a broader set of social values that has come to pervade our political institutions and discourse.

Going forward, Canadians should continue to press for values and policies that buoy all our country’s children, rather than leave those most vulnerable among us to be buffeted by rough market seas. 
- Meanwhile, Marc Lavoie discusses how the Cons' balanced budget legislation is designed to suppress public-sector wages by forcing workers to pay the price for a government's ill-advised choices. And Marc Lee writes that the health care system - which had previously been about the only public function not slashed to the bone by the B.C. Libs - is now under attack.

- Derek Gatopoulos and Nicholas Paphitis remind us that the humanitarian crisis of Middle East refugees is still crying out for international action, as 22 more people seeking to find a better life died in the effort today. And George Monbiot writes about the environmental disaster of out-of-control fires in Indonesia which is somehow getting virtually no attention.

- Finally, Rick Salutin argues that it's time to dispose of first-past-the-post electoral politics for once and for all:
This election was mainly about negating Stephen Harper, and only secondarily, who’d replace him. The first thing we do: kill first-past-the-post.

This democratic abomination is an insult to Canadians and a humiliation before the world, most of which doesn’t use it. It means winner take all, but what does that mean? You can win big with a tiny number of votes as long as everyone else gets even fewer. You can win with 10 votes out of 100 cast, if 10 others got nine votes each. Real 50-per-cent majorities don’t matter. It’s staggering that we’ve put up with it so long — as if the magic of casting a ballot blinded us to how it gets nullified and devalued at the same moment.
Personally, and this is where it gets sticky, I’d favour shoving anything — as long as it throttles FPTP forever — through. Once gone it’ll never rise again. No Canadian ever had a chance to vote on our constitution, either in 1867 or 1982. That’s a shame, but why get fastidious at this point? There was no debate, much less a referendum, on the wretched voting system we got. The sole legitimate use I can imagine for using a phoney parliamentary majority, would be to kill forever the possibility of having phoney majorities. After that, the process could continue — why not — toward a more perfect electoral system.

If there is a referendum I’ll cheerily join the debate and I’ll vote. But I’d happily forego it for the joyous certainty of never seeing FPTP again. That feels like a democratic inconsistency on my part and it embarrasses me. But frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.


  1. As you note, Salutin wrote: "... Personally ... I’d favour shoving anything — as long as it throttles FPTP forever — through. Once gone it’ll never rise again.... I’d happily forego [a debate and referendum] for the joyous certainty of never seeing FPTP again."

    Couldn't agree more, which is why I (and others?!) are NOT unhappy to see a Liberal majority: There is now no chance that Tom M. and friends can derail the process by pulling the plug -- as Saint Jack and friends did, derailing legislation on early childcare and First Nations matters.

    1. Yawn. And your excuse for the previous Lib majorities who did nothing for years at a time is...?