- Steven Hill discusses some of the most glaring problems with an economy based on precarious work. And Tim Harford rightly asks whether a shift away from steady employment will necessitate more public delivery of social benefits:
Details vary but most advanced countries have a list of goodies that must be provided by employers rather than the government or the individual. In the UK a full-time worker is entitled to 28 days of paid leave. In the US the default provider of health insurance is your employer. In many countries, employees cannot be sacked without long notice periods and a decent pension is the preserve of people with a decent job. As for freelancers, they may enjoy flexibility and independence and sometimes even a good living — but as far as social protections go, they are on their own.- Meanwhile, Noam Schieber and Patricia Cohen report on the shadow tax system which has allowed the wealthiest Americans to avoid contributing to the country around them.
(W)e should end the policy of trying to offload the welfare state to corporations. It is a policy that hides the costs of these benefits, and ensures that they are unevenly distributed. Instead we should take a hard look at that list of goodies: healthcare, pensions, income for people who are not working. Then we should decide what the state should provide and how generously. To my mind, there is a strong argument that the state should provide all of these things, to everyone, at a very basic level. What the state will not provide, individuals must pay for themselves — or seek employers who provide these benefits as an attraction rather than a legal obligation. Call it libertarianism with a safety net.
- Omar Arias and Dorota Chapko highlight the massive impact of early childhood education on brain development - with particular emphasis on the contrast between more efficient child care funding and the far-less-controversial job training measures which have significantly less positive economic effect.
- James Wood reports on the Alberta NDP's plan to make affordable housing one of its key priorities in the new year.
- And finally, both Gillian Steward and Don Braid highlight Rachel Notley's work to make Alberta into a constructive participant on the Canadian political scene rather than a rogue province.