Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Danielle Martin highlights how investments in ending poverty including a basic income can improve health outcomes among other key social indicators:
Far more than consumption of medical care, income is the strongest predictor of health. Canadians are more likely to die at an earlier age and suffer more illnesses if they are in a low income bracket, regardless of age, sex, race, and place of residence.
There are at least two ways in which income is related to health. First, income allows people to purchase the things that are necessary to survive and thrive, such as nutritious food and safe shelter. Second, income affects health indirectly, through its effect on social participation and the ability to control life circumstances. Put another way, the biggest disease that needs to be cured in Canada is the disease of poverty, and part of the cure is to implement a big idea: A Basic Income Guarantee for all Canadians.

We can eliminate income poverty by ensuring that no one in Canada has an income below what’s needed to achieve a basic standard of living. If we did so, we’d see a considerable improvement in the health of Canadians. The Basic Income Guarantee goes by various names (such as the guaranteed annual income, the negative income tax, and the basic income), and there are different ways to design it. The version I like best works like this: if your income from all sources falls below a certain level, you get topped up to a level sufficient to meet basic needs. That’s it. A true Basic Income Guarantee would ensure that everyone in Canada has an income above the “poverty line.”

The Basic Income Guarantee can’t and mustn’t replace all social programs. We still need good public education, publicly financed health care, quality affordable child care, affordable housing, and reliable unemployment insurance. But it would eliminate the need for the kinds of income support programs that invade people’s lives and limit their choices.
- And Robin Boadway and Roderick Benns similarly argue that a basic income should be included in our set of fundamental needs in setting labour policy - though we shouldn't pretend it's a complete solution to the problems facing workers either. 

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses how workers stand to lose out from Donald Trump's combination of trickle-down and crank economics. And Alan Blinder and Alan Krueger note that Trump's preference for corporate deal-making is likely to ensure that the most important work in building and maintaining necessary but unglamourous infrastructure doesn't get done.

- The Star rightly points out that we shouldn't use prison as a solution to individuals' mental health problems.

- Tamara Khandaker writes that the Libs' idea of reexamining the already-appalling civil rights abuses in Bill C-51 seems to be to push an even more intrusive and unaccountable surveillance state.

- Finally, Karl Nerenberg observes that Justin Trudeau may be creating far larger risks for himself by passing up a clear opportunity for electoral reform, rather than working with the consensus in favour of a proportional electoral system. And PressProgress muses as to what an electoral reform survey would look like if it were designed to be as slanted as the Libs', only in the opposite direction.

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