Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Gary Bloch writes about the costs of poverty (and the small-minded attitude toward public supports which allows it to remain):
We also see the effects of poverty at home: the discomfort of living next to people who are struggling to survive, with the resulting anger and irritation this causes on both sides. Our children coming home from school talking about their friends who have to ask for help to go on a field trip or who hide their inadequate lunches out of shame.

To continue to avoid dealing with this situation is not only immoral, it makes no sense. This report highlights the negative side of continued poverty: poor health and lost productivity. But to read the report from another angle, it tells me that a society with no poverty would be healthier, happier, and easier to live in. We would also likely save money in the long run.

How do we get there? We know what needs to be done. There has been an endless stream of reports and commissions looking at how to address poverty. We have Toronto and Ontario poverty reduction strategies and are waiting for a federal version. We know we must address a lack of affordable housing or child care, inadequate social assistance rates, and the rise of precarious work. We are pretty sure climate change is making the situation worse.

But the biggest barrier to ending poverty is the political orthodoxy we have lived by for the past 40 or more years, grounded in austerity: that good government is small government, that social programs must shrink, and that taxes are evil. It is over this period that we have seen the most dramatic rise in poverty rates and income inequality, with a concentration of wealth in the top 1 per cent. It’s time for a rethink.

I’d be more than happy to pay more taxes if I knew that money would help my community to be healthier and happier. I feel good and hopeful when provincial and federal leaders talk about initiatives that will make life easier for those who are most vulnerable, and I am more than happy to put my money where my mouth is.
- Simon Enoch reminds the Sask Party that contrary to its austerian instincts, gratuitous cuts in a downturn serve only to make matters worse.

- David Morley discusses the need to measure our well-being in terms of health and other standards of living, rather than focusing merely on GDP. And Wenonah Bradshaw looks to Tommy Douglas' farewell speech as NDP leader as to the importance of mobilizing our resources for the good of people.

- Sheryl Ubelacker reports on the recommendations from a citizens' panel favouring a national pharmacare program to lower health costs and improve outcomes.

- Daniel Tencer follows up on David MacDonald's research into the costs of boutique tax giveaways to the wealthy which could fund the most important repairs to Canada's social safety net several times over. And the Star's editorial board offers its own call to end tax breaks for the rich.

- Finally, the BBC reports that even Mark Carney is offering a warning about public disillusionment with corporate-friendly economics - even if his goal in the process is to relieve just enough pressure to keep things substantially as they are, rather than to seriously reexamine whether our primary goal should be to facilitate capital accumulation in the first place.

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