Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Noah Zon points out that while it's impossible to avoid rhetoric about eliminating "red tape" for businesses, we've seen gratuitous barriers put in place to prevent people from accessing needed public support:
It’s a good principle to make interacting with government as easy as possible. For example the Ontario government has ensured that businesses only have to call one number to get business information — whether about buried utilities or regulations more generally. The federal government has implemented service standards for when businesses need to deal with regulators, and they are reporting on performance. Without the red tape slogan, you might just call these efforts good policy, good governance, or good service delivery.

Despite these efforts, some of the most problematic and unnecessary hurdles have been left untouched: the ones that affect individual people, most notably people living with low incomes. The maze of requirements and departments that low-income individuals have to navigate to access the benefits and services that they need and are entitled to is often more complex than those faced by businesses. This red tape burden exacerbates problems for vulnerable people and runs counter to the point of the policies and programs — which is to help people.

The compliance cost of getting and keeping the support that people are entitled to can be overwhelming. It takes away time and money from things that would improve people’s lives and help them move out of poverty, such as joining a community group or taking a course. Accessing and keeping social assistance can require extensive paperwork, starting from participation forms through monthly reporting, that take up the time of people in need, caseworkers and non-profit agencies. An individual needing support because of a disability could face multiple assessments to prove his or her need in different ways for different programs. To get the tax credits that people are entitled to and rely on, vulnerable people may have to rely on tax preparation services or miss out altogether if they don’t file taxes.

Researchers have found that excessive time spent navigating red tape can exacerbate poverty. Our poverty reduction policies are making things worse at the same time that they are supposed to be making things better. Making it easier to navigate the systems that are meant to help those living in poverty is essential to making it easier for people to improve their lives.
- Daron Acemoglu, Jacob Moscona, and James A Robinson highlight the vital role technological investment by governments has made in past economic development. And Brendan Haley writes that a successful transition to a green economy will need to involve a combination of broad carbon pricing and targeted measures for polluting sectors.

- Marco Chown Oved reports on the Canada Revenue Agency's willingness to allow large-scale tax evaders to avoid being publicly named.

- The Star's editorial board writes that the Libs' plan for after-the-fact review by MPs sworn to secrecy falls far short of addressing the problems raised by an obtrusive security state. And Thomas Walkom is duly skeptical that the Libs will bother to address the real issue.

- Finally, Maxwell Cameron discusses the political incentives created by false majorities, and suggests that a more proportional system should lead to far better behaviour from our leaders.

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