Saturday, October 21, 2017

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Jeremy Nuttall interviews Nelson Wiseman about the Libs' attempts to spin their way out of a trumped-up tax controversy - and how they're making matters worse in the process. And Murray Dobbin points out that there's a long way to go in making sure the wealthy pay their fair share: 
The dimpled face of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer in TV ads repeating the outright falsehoods contributed to a win-win-lose-lose outcome: The rich won by not having to play the game, small biz got a tax cut they didn’t deserve, the notion of tax fairness took a hit, as did any real increase in government revenue. The loss in revenue from decreasing the small business tax to 9.5 per cent will likely cancel out any increased revenue from what remains of the tax changes.

As the dust settles, we are left to puzzle over why Morneau and Trudeau chose this particular set of tax loopholes to close when there are so many others that would have been politically popular, would have forced the wealthy to defend their indefensible privileges, and would have brought in far more revenue.

One of the most outrageous giveaways which exclusively benefits the very wealthy is stock options. We lose a billion a year to this scam, which allows corporations to pay their executives with options to buy their company’s shares at a set, low, price. This loophole — the beneficiaries pay tax on just half the gains — also leads to CEOs driving up share prices in the short term to increase the value of their options, while discounting the long-term growth of the company.

The most costly loophole enjoyed by the wealthy is the capital gains exemption. The rationale for this break is laughable as it suggests that investing in the stock market is actually investing in new productive activity. In fact, it is nothing more than a tax break for gambling, which is exactly what anyone who invests in the stock market is doing.

There are other features of the tax system that basically reward people for already being rich — the benefits of RRSPs and Tax Free Savings Accounts accrue disproportionately to the wealthiest 10 per cent. The vast majority of Canadians — for whom these programs were supposedly established — come nowhere near the maximum contribution allowed. Capping the benefits could save billions.
The wealthy in this country can easily afford at least two new tax brackets targeting extremely high income. The myth so firmly rooted in the public consciousness and promoted by the media — that wealthy people create economic growth — needs to be challenged. It is useful to remember that in the late ’50s and early ’60s the highest marginal tax rate was over 80 per cent, and economic growth was nearly double that experienced over the past 25 years. 
Trudeau in the election campaign talked a lot about the scourge of inequality. The IMF report stated that, “between 1985 and 1995, redistribution through the tax system had offset 60 per cent of the increase in inequality caused by market forces.” Since that time, inequality in Canada has skyrocketed at the same time that the tax system failed completely to respond.
- But while Dobbin is unduly credulous about the prospect of the Libs actually living up to their promises, Luke Savage points out how their politics of spectacle are designed to distract from the type of elite-driven choices we'd expect from small-c and large-C conservatives. And the Globe and Mail has come around to the reality that Justin Trudeau is nothing but Stephen Harper with a sunnier brand, while Martin Patriquin reminds us that top-down control and contempt for the public are the historical norm for the Libs.

- Derrick O'Keefe writes that there's no room or time for neutrality in response to Quebec's Bill 62 which targets Muslim women for discriminatory treatment and isolation from basic social services. And Allison Hanes discusses the toxic mix of racism and sexism behind the bill, while Karl Nerenberg comments on its place in the broader politics of bigotry.

- Finally, Linda Nazareth highlights how Canada's social insurance system is grossly inadequate to deal with a new generation of corporate exploitation.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Musical interlude

Big Sugar - Little Bit A All Right

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Edward Harrison comments on the business-backed push to rebrand corporate control and crony capitalism as freedom. And Ryan Cooper points out that the concept of deregulation ultimately serves only to concentrate power in the hands of the wealthy few:
Government regulations can be good or bad. But for the most part, there is no such thing as no regulation at all. If government does not make those choices, then other businesses — Wall Street, most especially — will do it for them.

As an initial matter, it's important to remember that government "interference" in markets goes far beyond the usual regulatory agencies. Indeed, government creates markets, through property law, corporate law, securities law, labor law, and so on. These institutions generally get less attention from free-market types (who like to pretend that markets are some pre-political, freestanding entity), but the fact is that markets as we know them could not possibly exist without a strong state.

But when it comes to more traditional regulation, business decisions are for starters often constrained by market choices — and these almost always cut against the interest of workers.
Wall Street firms, like almost all corporations, are hierarchical, authoritarian, command-and-control organizations. (Indeed, as economist Brad DeLong wrote back in 1997, they are rather similar to the old Soviet economy in terms of structure.) These are the companies that are, by and large, writing the rules for how American business is conducted today. Everything from how much workers are paid, to how much companies will spend on innovative research, to what sort of products will be offered and precisely how they will be built — these are now under the strong influence of Wall Street, which demands quick and easy profits above every other consideration. The results are often just as bad as the most sclerotic government regulator — except this time, you can't call up your congressman and complain.

It's long since time the American people put their corporations back under democratic control.
- And Corey Robin discusses how hierarchical organizations make it difficult for anybody to jeopardize their individual positions by pointing out systemic abuses.

- Damian Carrington reports on the Lancet Commission's study showing that air pollution is responsible for 9 million deaths every year - and that its effects may only get worse.

- Meanwhile, Chris Arsenault reports on Nestle's continued extraction of water from two Ontario towns after its permits have expired.

- Finally, Tricia Wood makes the case for free public transit on the basis that mobility should be treated as a social good.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Peter Whoriskey examines how inequality is becoming increasingly pronounced among U.S. seniors. And Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson discuss how inequality contributes to entrenching social divisions:
The toll which inequality exacts from the vast majority of society is one of the most important limitations on the quality of life – particularly in developed countries.  It damages the quality of social relations essential to life satisfaction and happiness. Numerous studies have shown that community life is stronger in more equal societies.  People are more likely to be involved in local groups and voluntary organisations.  They are more likely to feel they can trust each other, and a recent study has shown that they are also more willing to help each other – to help the elderly or disabled.  But as inequality increases, trust, reciprocity and involvement in community life all atrophy.  In their place – as numerous studies have shown – comes a rise in violence, usually measured by homicide rates.  In short, inequality makes societies less affiliative and more antisocial. 

If you look at some of the most unequal societies such as South Africa or Mexico, it is clear from the way that houses are barricaded, with bars on windows and doors and fences and razor wire round gardens, that people are frightened of each other.  That is dramatically confirmed by a quite different indication of exactly the same process: studies have shown that in more unequal societies a higher proportion of a society’s labour force is employed in what is classified as ‘guard labour’ – that is security staff, police, prisons officers etc.. Essentially, these are the occupations people use to protect themselves from each other.  
Important to understanding the effects of inequality is the way it affects mental health.  An international study has shown that more unequal societies have higher levels of status anxiety – not just among the poor, but at all income levels, including the richest decile.  Living in societies where some people seem extremely important and others are regarded as almost worthless does indeed make us all more worried about how we are seen and judged.  There are two very different ways people can respond to these worries.  They may respond by feeling overcome by a lack of confidence, self-doubt and low self-esteem, so that social gatherings feel too stressful and are seen as ordeals to be avoided and people retreat into depression.  Alternatively, and yet usually still a response to the same insecurities, people may go in for a process of self-enhancement or self-advertisement, trying to big themselves up in other’s eyes.  Instead of being modest about their achievements and abilities, they flaunt them, finding ways of bringing references into conversation of almost anything which helps them present themselves as capable and successful. 

But the real tragedy of this is not simply the costs of so much additional security or the human costs in terms of increasing violence.  It is, as research makes very clear, that social involvement and the quality of social relations, friendship and involvement in community life, are powerful determinants of both health and happiness.  Inequality strikes at the foundations of the quality of life.  Status insecurity and competition makes social life more stressful: we worry increasingly about self-presentation and how we are judged. Instead of the relationships of friendship and reciprocity which add so much to health and happiness, inequality means we prop ourselves up with narcissistic purchases or withdraw from social life.  Though this suits business and sales, it is not a sound basis for learning to live within the planetary boundaries.  
Dr. Dawg, the Star's editorial board and Sadiya Ansari each criticize the Quebec Libs' bigoted attack on women who wear niqabs. And Emmett Macfarlane highlights why Bill 62's deliberate discrimination isn't likely to survive a challenge in court.

- Danyaal Raza offers some lessons for the U.S. from his experience working in Canada's health care system. And Gillian Steward writes that Donald Trump's actions to strip health insurance from Americans shows how important it is that Canada didn't settle for anything less than universality.

- Meanwhile, Ian Welsh argues that Barack Obama missed an important opportunity to reshape the U.S.' economy through both stimulus legislation and executive action.

- Finally, Susan Scutti reports on new research showing that exposure to air pollution in the womb has life-long consequences for a person's health. And Bob Weber reports on new research showing that methane releases from Alberta's oil industry may be far worse than previously assumed.

New column day

Here, on the latest confirmation from the Parliamentary Budget Office that a national pharmacare plan would both improve our health and save public money - and the Libs' and Cons' insistence on standing in the way.

For further reading...
- Brent Patterson weighs in on the Libs' refusal to work toward a national pharmacare plan, while Steve Morgan summarized the case for pharmacare.
- Patterson also discussed a Council of Canadians poll showing 91% public support for the concept, while Angus Reid has reached the same number.
- Canadian Doctors for Medicare pointed out some of the groups in support of national pharmacare. And the National Prescription Drug Utilization Information System has documented the higher costs arising out of private plans.
- The Canadian Labour Congress has developed a petition in support of pharmacare, while the Council of Canadians has set up a letter campaign.
- Finally, the Parliamentary debates on Don Davies' motion to negotiate a national pharmacare plan are here. And I discussed pharmacare here as one of the areas where a federal government could implement a key national program with the general agreement of the provinces (though I'll note that the Council of the Federation's website now seems to have been deleted).

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Drew Brown discusses how the Libs' claim to represent - or even understand - the interests of Canada's middle class is disappearing. And Steven Chase and Robert Fife expose Bill Morneau's broken promise to set up a blind trust for his assets while he makes decisions which will affect their value, while the Canadian Press reports that the consulting firm bearing Morneau's name (and in which he still holds a stake) will profit from the unwinding of Sears' pension plan.

- Paul Finch, Jared Melvin and Harpinder Sandhu suggest that land value taxes and closed loopholes could alleviate British Columbia's affordability crisis.

- Jen Gerson views Naheed Nenshi's reelection in Calgary as a much-needed rebuke to attempts by professional sports franchises to blackmail municipalities.

- Kathryn Blaze Baum discusses some of the considerations behind a possible tax on sugary drinks - though the UK's model of merely allowing their manufacturers to profit in different ways hardly seems to be the best possible outcome.

- Finally, Kate McInturff studies the best and worst places to be a woman in Canada. And Anne Kingston offers some ideas to close the persistent gender gap.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Curved cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Economist examines the latest research showing the amount of money stashed in tax havens is even higher than previously estimated. And the Guardian calls for action on the IMF's conclusion that we'll all end up better off if the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes:
The IMF’s analysis does something to redress the balance, making two important points.

First, it says that tax systems should have become more progressive in recent years in order to help offset growing inequality but rather have been becoming less progressive. Second, it finds no evidence for the argument that attempts to make the rich pay more tax would lead to lower growth. There is nothing especially surprising about either of the conclusions: in fact, the real surprise is that it has taken so long for the penny to drop. Growth rates have not picked up as taxes have been cut for the top 1%. On the contrary, they are much weaker than they were in the immediate postwar decades when the rich could expect to pay at least half their incomes – and often substantially more than half – to the taxman. If trickle-down theory worked, there would be a strong correlation between countries with low marginal tax rates for the rich and growth. There is no such correlation and, as the IMF rightly concludes, “there would appear to be scope for increasing the progressivity of income taxation without significantly hurting growth for countries wishing to enhance income redistribution”.
With a nod to the work of the French economist Thomas Piketty, the fiscal monitor also says countries should consider wealth taxes for the rich, to be levied on land and property. The IMF’s findings on tax provide ample and welcome political cover for Mr Corbyn and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, as they seek to convince voters that Labour’s tax plans are not just equitable but also economically workable. By contrast, the study challenges Donald Trump to rethink tax plans that would give an average tax cut of more than $200,000 a year for someone earning more than $900,000. The response from the US administration was predictable: mind your own business. The IMF is not naive. It knows it is one thing to make the case for higher taxes on the rich but another thing altogether to get governments to implement them, because better-off individuals have more political clout. The IMF has demolished the argument that what is good for the super-rich is good for the rest of us, but don’t expect the top 1% to give up without a fight.
- Bernie Sanders highlights the contrast between the greater equality Americans want, and the government by and for the few they're instead stuck with. And Rachel West and Harry Stein find that the Republicans are managing to overrun their own farcical talking points about the uses of government revenue - as they could in fact buy and maintain a pony for every small American child with the money they instead plan to funnel to the wealthy.

- Meanwhile, Tom Parkin writes that a distorted tax system is contributing to the erosion of Canada's middle class. Andrew Coyne discusses how the Libs' already-pathetic excuse for closing some loopholes has turned into another giveaway to corporations. And Chantal Hebert comments on the comedy of errors surrounding the Libs' tax policy.

- Kamal Ahmed points out that younger workers in the UK are increasingly having to borrow just to cover basic expenses. And Barbara Ellen writes about the patent unfairness resulting from people living in poverty having to pay more for the necessities of life.

- Finally, the Mound of Sound blasts the Libs for insisting on new pipelines rather than taking any meaningful steps toward a green transition (or even an honest accounting of the costs of fossil fuels). And Nike Block comments on Canada's longstanding and shameful history of prioritizing exploitative mining over people around the globe.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Karl Russell and Peter Goodman note that lower unemployment rates in the U.S aren't translating into higher wages. Alena Semuels points out the barriers preventing people from moving in order to pursue a higher income. And Kevin Brice-Lall interviews Jonathan Rosenblum about the need for activism to push beyond the initial fight for a $15 minimum wage:
What can you tell us about the business backlash in Seattle — how did they fight the movement for a $15 minimum wage? Given the Ontario Liberal Party’s promise of a $15 minimum, what advice do you have for activists currently fighting against business lobby?
It’s critical for us to recognize what produces concessions in the first place. In my experience bargaining union contracts and negotiating with politicians, I’ve found that it’s easy to overestimate the importance of what happens at the bargaining table. When I’ve led union negotiations I’ve emphasized to bargaining team members that what we win in the end depends 90 percent on what we do outside of bargaining, and only 10 percent on what takes place inside the room.

There are three related principles that constitute the bedrock of effective movement work in politics. First, a clear recognition that anything and everything we win in the political arena isn’t the product of political enlightenment by the establishment; it’s a concession to our power.

Second, a recognition that power — the ability to shape and influence things — is what we get when we band together and take action, whether in the streets, workplace, in halls of parliament, or through political campaigns. Our power is a function of our demonstrated ability to harm, punish, or embarrass our adversaries, to disrupt their agenda. There are no gimmicks or shortcuts to building collective worker power. And third, an understanding that the balance of power is not static, and we have to keep organizing or we’ll lose whatever gains we’ve achieved.
- Meanwhile, Susan Delacourt discusses how the decline of retail sales (at least through many familiar businesses such as Sears) figures to affect political dynamics in Canada.

- Joe Gunn highlights how Canadians are still waiting for a federal government to start fulfilling the promise of reducing poverty.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on Ontario's new guidelines for mental health claims which (like those of too many other provinces) establish an unfair double standard. And Benoit Denizet-Lewis points out the alarming increase in anxiety among teens.  

- Finally, Alex MacPherson reports on a legal opinion from Manitoba showing (to nobody's surprise) that Brad Wall's posturing against federal climate change policy has no basis in reality.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

On relentless positivity

Following up on my candidate profiles for the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership campaign, I'll point out one obvious change in dynamics since 2013 - starting with this observation from the previous campaign (emphasis added):
As long as there were four leadership candidates in the race, there were several ways to try to draw dividing lines among them. And the message that's suddenly crystallized in the media [as to a right-left split] wouldn't have registered as the most obvious classification scheme...
One could view the most important differences in the campaigns [as] geographical, with Meili/Broten and Wotherspoon/Weir largely representing Saskatoon and Regina members respectively while competing for other votes around the province. Or one could contrast the above-the-fray messages and statesmanship from Meili/Wotherspoon against the more conflict-oriented approaches of Broten/Weir.
That difference was and remains one rooted in both personality and strategy. While their forms of positive politics manifest themselves differently (Meili's to a greater extent in storytelling and political vision, Wotherspoon's more in crowd-friendly gregariousness), both candidates in the current campaign were on the upbeat side of the previous one.

And it will be worth watching whether (and if so how) that dynamic changes this time around.

In the absence of others on stage to test another candidate's vulnerabilities, neither Meili nor Wotherspoon will be able to count on other voices to do that work for them. And it will be worth watching whether both end up amplifying some more contrasting and critical messages of their own as a result.

At the same time, however, both candidates have also been strong proponents of party unity and solidarity in addition to presenting themselves as positive leaders. And a high-stakes two-way contest for the leadership will likely lead to some within the two camps seeing some opportunity in sharp attacks which both candidates figure to want to limit.

Paradoxically, the best way for both candidates to ensure that supporters don't go overboard may be to find the right level of respectful criticism in discussing and questioning each other - while emphasizing that a generally positive message is crucial to the NDP's future as a party. And we'll see who best works out that balance once Meili and Wotherspoon have to go head to head.

Leadership 2017 Links

One final roundup post from the NDP's federal leadership campaign - with a focus on Jagmeet Singh's first steps as the party's new leader.

- The Ribbon offers a roundtable discussion of Singh's victory. And Ryan Tumulty and Enzo DiMatteo each interview Singh about his campaign and his next steps.

- Brittany Andrew-Amofah discusses what Singh's victory means both for the NDP as a party, and for people of colour who might support it. Dr. Dawg tears into Terry Milewski's interview with Singh as an example of the media's double standard for minority leaders and guests, while Jade Saab is rightly frustrated about having to point out that there's more to Singh than his turban. And Jagdeesh Mann rightly notes that Singh isn't about to be pigeonholed into an overly simplistic view of the Sikh community. 

- Robin Seats discusses how Singh will need to build the NDP. Karl Nerenberg sees working-class voters and Quebec supporters as the keys to Singh's tenure.

- Finally, Noah Richler offers a valuable reminder of the role Thomas Mulcair played as leader - as well as how it should inform the party's continued work.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Ian Welsh neatly summarizes the rules needed to ensure that capitalism doesn't drown out social good:
Capitalism, as it works, destroys itself in a number of ways. For capitalism to work, it must be prevented from doing so:
  1. it must not be allowed to form unregulated monopolies and oligopolies;
  2. it must not be allowed to run bubbles; it must not be allowed to engage in mass fraud;
  3. the money gained from it must not be allowed to turn into power which controls government;
  4. and money must not, generally speaking be allowed to buy anything that matters: from health care to a good education.
Capitalism, as the standard saying runs, is a good servant, and a terrible master. Only fools let capitalists actually control anything in their society that truly matters.
- Jessica Elgot reports on Jeremy Corbyn's much-needed acknowledgment that the structural unfairness in the UK's economy demands fundamental change. And Paul Krugman highlights the many lies behind the Republicans' attempt to warp the U.S. economy even further in favour of the wealthy.

- Bruce Campbell points out the lessons we should have learned from the Lac-Megantic explosion - and contrasts them against a resulting investigation which is scapegoating a few workers while ignoring the systemic causes of a preventable disaster.

- Paul Wells examines the challenges involved in responding to Canada's opioid crisis.

- Finally, Taiaiake Alfred discusses the need to move past a colonial mindset in order to pursue reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. And Murray Mandryk writes about the Sixties Scoop and other recent and ongoing examples of systemic racism in Saskatchewan.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Leadership 2018 Candidate Profile: Trent Wotherspoon

As with Ryan Meili, I'll start my look at Trent Wotherspoon's new run for the Saskatchewan NDP leadership by pointing back to his previous candidate profile and campaign review. And despite all that's changed in the meantime, this campaign starts with an even stronger sense of deja vu for Wotherspoon's candidacy than for Meili's.

Wotherspoon's 2013 run began with the largest and showiest launch of any of the candidates. But any hope that a shock and awe approach would give him an aura of inevitability soon gave way to the realities of the campaign - and he wound up finishing a relatively distant third in the vote count, despite doing better in other metrics such as endorsements, fund-raising and personal favourability.

Since then, Wotherspoon's most obvious opportunity to build his profile has been his tenure as the NDP's interim leader - which certainly worked wonders in allowing members to see him as the face of the party and ensuring that they'd be exposed to his retail political skills. His time in that role saw the NDP gain strength (thanks in no small part to the Saskatchewan Party's abomination of a 2017 budget), and seems to have cemented his place as the leading candidate of the party establishment.

But then, Wotherspoon likely had that title at the start of the 2013 race as well before Cam Broten managed to wrest it away. And some of the same issues which hurt Wotherspoon's cause then look likely to resurface again in the new campaign.

Wotherspoon's policy offerings are again on the light side so far in the current race. And while there's time to fix that in part by releasing more platform planks, the hesitation to engage on all but the most friendly terrain also reflects the relative difficulty he had in responding to challenges in the previous leadership race.

Meanwhile, Wotherspoon's place as the insider candidate itself has come at a cost. A party which has been burned twice in a row voting for an establishment choice may be prepared to look for something new - particularly as less-conventional strategies have succeeded in other jurisdictions. And Wotherspoon's reversal of his one-time assurance that he wouldn't seek the permanent leadership may create a trust gap which will be difficult to navigate.

In sum, Wotherspoon has a ways to go in establishing that he can build on his personal appeal and base of support to earn the leadership. And while he's likely a slight favourite at this stage, it's entirely foreseeable that the campaign may again erode whatever advantage Wotherspoon now holds.

Leadership 2018 Candidate Profile: Ryan Meili

As I've noted before, Saskatchewan's NDP leadership campaign will involve some very familiar candidates. And so my starting point in analyzing the race will be to review the previous leadership campaign run by both Ryan Meili and Trent Wotherspoon - with a particular focus on anything that's changed since 2013.

With that in mind, here are Meili's candidate profile and campaign review from the 2013 race - which mostly hold up for now. And in particular, Meili's policy focus only seems to be getting stronger with time, as he's started this campaign with both a strong set of core principles and a plan to fund them.

The main differences for Meili since the last leadership campaign of course involve his development of political organizations: first in founding Upstream, then in getting elected as an MLA. And those should offer some comfort to voters who may have previously perceived Meili as lacking political experience. (That said, anybody treating a track record in elected office as the main factor in selecting a candidate will figure to be more interested in Wotherspoon's longer tenure in the Legislature - not to mention his time as the NDP's interim leader).

But the central reality surrounding Meili's campaign is this factoid from the previous two leadership campaigns:
Notwithstanding an entirely different type of leadership campaign and plenty of new participants within his own camp, Meili's final vote total of 4,120 was a jump of exactly 18 votes from his second-ballot total in 2009.
Meili thus has a well-established level of support he can likely match again. But where can he gain ground in order to change the final outcome?

There's some possibility Meili could win simply by holding his past vote count if the absence of Cam Broten as a competing candidate results in less organization and votes against him. But it doesn't seem likely that the membership rolls will wind up substantially smaller at a point when the public desire for an alternative government is much stronger than it was during the last campaign in particular.

If Meili is going to add to his vote totals, he'll need to find support beyond what he's been able to achieve already. Among current members, that will likely involve a combination of establishing that he's been able to improve in areas which have previously been perceived as weaknesses, and making the case that there's a need for more change internally than Wotherspoon will offer. And beyond partisan lines, it figures to involve reaching out to people who have been disillusioned in the past - with Meili's pledge to practice what he preaches about campaign finance serving as an important starting point.

Of course, while Meili will be looking to win over supporters from beyond past party lines, he'll also have to deal with the effect of forces outside the party on the leadership campaign. Much of Saskatchewan's media still seems determined to dismiss Meili, even while grudgingly recognizing that he's the only candidate in either leadership race doing much to advance any policy discussion. And the Saskatchewan Party began putting a target on Meili's back even while Wotherspoon was still the interim leader.

All of which means that Meili's past leadership campaign success probably isn't enough to make him a clear favourite to win at the start of the new campaign. And he'll likely need to aim substantially higher than he's been able to reach before in order to finally win the opportunity to lead Saskatchewan's NDP.

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Paul Wells writes about Justin Trudeau's natural affinity for the rich and privileged, while the Star remains unduly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to fulfilling promises of Indigenous reconciliation and tax fairness. And Chantal Hebert discusses Bill Morneau's role at the centre of the Libs' broken progressive promises, while Elizabeth Thompson exposes Morneau's shell-corporation-owned French villa which apparently slipped his mind on previous ethics disclosures.

- Larry Cohen offers some policy suggestions to aim higher to protect workers in the U.S. - including sectoral bargaining and wage structures.

- Geoff Leo reports on the Wall government's deliberate actions to avoid both rights of access to information and fair hiring practices in the public sector. And Murray Mandryk connects that secrecy to the Saskatchewan Party's contempt for public servants.

- Carolyn Jarvis discusses the latest in-depth collaborative investigation across journalism schools and media, this time documenting the health costs of poorly-regulated and never-reported chemical spills in the Sarnia area.

- Finally, Lana Payne highlights the importance of empowering girls - and the reality that there are still far too many barriers to equal opportunity based on gender.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Musical interlude

Avicii - X You

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Matt Bruenig explores the U.S.' wealth inequality and finds a similarly skewed distribution of wealth among all kinds of demographic subgroups. And Robert Reich discusses why the attempt to sell a tax cut for billionaires as doing anything but making that problem worse is nothing short of laughable.

- Meanwhile, Richard Partington reports on a study proposing a "basic services" model for the UK to alleviate precarity in multiple facets of life:
Free housing, food, transport and access to the internet should be given to British citizens in a massive expansion of the welfare state, according to a report warning the rapid advance of technology will lead to job losses.

Former senior government official Jonathan Portes and Professor Henrietta Moore, director of University College London’s Institute for Global Prosperity make the call for a raft of new “universal basic services” using the same principles as the NHS. They estimate it would cost about £42bn, which could be funded by changes to the tax system.

The recommendations include doubling Britain’s existing social housing stock with funding to build 1.5m new homes, which would be offered for free to those in most need. A food service would provide one third of meals for 2.2m households deemed to experience food insecurity each year, while free bus passes would be made available to everyone, rather than just the over-60s.

The proposals also include access to basic phone services, the internet, and the cost of the BBC licence fee being paid for by the state.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said the recommendations would “help inform Labour’s thinking”.

“This report offers bold new thinking on how we can overcome those challenges and create an economy that is radically fairer and offers opportunities for all,” he added.
- Citizens for Public Justice has released its annual report on poverty in Canada. And Jeremy Nuttall writes that people living with disabilities are all too often caught in poverty traps.

- Meg Sears, Richard van der Jagt and Warren Bell discuss how more effective environmental policies can lead to massive improvements in public health. 

- Finally, Thomas Walkom points out that Canada has plenty of options if the U.S. makes good on its threat to walk away from NAFTA

Thursday, October 12, 2017

New column day

Here, on the growing gap between the Trudeau Libs' "middle class" messaging and the self-perception of a growing working class in Canada.

For further reading...
- Ekos' polling is discussed here, with detailed tables here (PDF).
- The Libs' 2015 platform is again here (PDF). And again, PressProgress discussed Bill Morneau's message that Canadian workers should accept precarity as the new normal here.
- For information on a few of the barriers being placed in the way of younger workers, see Statistics Canada's summary of the trajectory of tuition fees, Daniel Tencer's discussion of ballooning housing prices, and Patricia Kozicka's reporting on the trend of childbirth being pushed later into life.
- Finally, I wrote about the Libs' failure to close tax loopholes for the wealthy here. And John Paul Tasker and Karina Roman reported on the sudden move to crack down on employee benefits, while Tencer reviewed its effect on lower-income workers before the Libs hastily retreated.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Nathaniel Lewis and Matt Bruenig discuss the relationship between massive inheritances and ongoing wealth inequality. Nick Hanauer makes the case for much higher taxes on the wealthy as part of a plan for improved economic development, while a new Ipsos poll finds that three-quarters of Americans are in favour of that possibility. And Larry Elliott reports on a new IMF study which concludes that a more progressive tax system will reduce inequality without affecting growth:
The Washington-based IMF used its influential half-yearly fiscal monitor to demolish the argument that economic growth would suffer if governments in advanced Western countries forced the top 1% of earners to pay more tax.

The IMF said tax theory suggested there should be “significantly higher” tax rates for those on higher incomes but the argument against doing so was that hitting the rich would be bad for growth.

But the influential global institution said: “Empirical results do not support this argument, at least for levels of progressivity that are not excessive.” The IMF added that different types of wealth taxes might also be considered.
IMF research found that between 1985 and 1995, redistribution through the tax system had offset 60% of the increase in inequality caused by market forces. But between 1995 and 2010, income tax systems failed to respond to the continuing increase in inequality.

It also said inequality should be tackled by giving a more pro-poor slant to public spending.

“Despite progress, gaps in access to quality education and healthcare services between different income groups in the population remain in many countries,” Gaspar and Garcia-Escribano said, adding that in rich countries men with university education lived up to 14 years longer than those with secondary education or less.

“Better public spending can help, for instance, by reallocating education or health spending from the rich to the poor while keeping total public education or health spending unchanged,” they added.
- Michael Nienaber reports on a push by German trade unions to translate productivity gains into reduced hours of work. And Martin Regg Cohn argues that corporate fearmongering isn't a valid reason to avoid ensuring that workers make a living wage.

- Meanwhile, the Mowat Centre and Smart Prosperity Institute study (PDF) how decent work fits into a green economy. And George Monbiot theorizes that a combination of private sufficiency and public luxury could represent the economic model which allows us to reconcile higher standards of living with environmental sustainability.

- Finally, Geoff Leo reports that the Wall government has ordered public servants to use private e-mail accounts to deal with sensitive issues in order to avoid any public record of their actions. And Alex MacPherson notes that the Sask Party has refused (or neglected) to provide information to allow the Auditor General to even assess the effects of its destruction of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Stephanie Levitz reports on new polling showing an increasing number of Canadians self-identifying as part of the working class or poor, while also seeing little room for optimism about their futures. And Jared Bernstein offers his analysis as to why wages are remaining stagnant south of the border.

- Randy Shore writes about the growing gap between the cost of living and the wages employers are willing to pay - though it's hard to have much sympathy for businesses on the latter point. And Amelia Gentleman notes that more than half of London's poor are in working families - signalling that a job is no assurance of a reasonable standard of living.

- Thomas Piketty offers a warning about the end of France's wealth tax - which is equally applicable to jurisdictions which lack it to begin with:
 Confronted with the rise in inequality, awareness is gaining momentum. Those who advocate withdrawal into some form of cultural identity are, of course, attempting to exploit the feeling of abandonment experienced by the working classes, at times successfully. But concomitantly we see the rise of a new demand for democracy, equality and redistribution. The United Kingdom might swing distinctly to the left in the years to come – and perhaps also the United States if the democrat candidates who are preparing to stand are anything to judge by.

In this type of context, the abolition of the wealth tax today in France, almost 40 years after the arrival in power of Reagan and Thatcher, has totally missed the plot. There is absolutely no sense in making tax gifts to groups who are old and wealthy and have already done very well in recent decades. All the more so as the loss in revenue is anything but symbolic. If we add the gifts made to dividends and interests ( which will in future be taxed at a maximum rate of 30%, as opposed to 55% for salaries and incomes from non-waged activities), we come to a total cost of over 5 billion Euros. This is the equivalent of 40% of the total budget allocated to the universities and higher education which will remain static at 13.4 billion Euros in 2018, whereas the numbers of students rise steadily and preference should be given to investment in training. I would like to bet that the students will remind the government of this when it endeavours to add selection to austerity in the coming months.
The political strategy which consists in transforming the wealth tax into a property tax (impôt sur la fortune immobilière), to avoid a complete suppression of the wealth tax, quite frankly leaves me speechless. There is no logical reason to levy a higher tax on a person who invests their fortune in a house or a property rather than in a financial portfolio, a yacht or any other type of good. We can only hope that elected members remember that they were not elected to be part of this kind of farce.
- James Wood reports on the Alberta Federation of Labour's push to ensure that legalized marijuana results in decent work through publicly-owned cannabis stores. 

- Jino Distasio points out how funding for Housing First initiatives can go much further than other attempts to address homelessness.

- Finally, Monia Mazigh points out that the Canadian Museum of Human Rights is conspicuously missing the most recent violations which show how much work there is yet to be done.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Feline coverage.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Asad Abbasi reviews a new book following up on Thomas Piketty's work on the causes of inequality.

- Peter Goodman and Jonathan Soble point out that the combination of tight job markets and stagnant wages has become a consistent reality in the developed world - and that a combination of precarious work and attacks on unions is responsible. And Hank Danizsewski notes that precarious jobs are now the norm for half of London workers.

- David Olive sets out a few basic facts about closing tax loopholes currently exploited by Canadian corporations. And Josh Bivens and Hunter Blair point out why tax giveaways for the wealthy don't help anybody but the lucky few, while Marcus Ryu notes the particular implausibility of any claim that free money for rich people will create desirable jobs. 

- Owen Jones discusses how the UK's press has largely become a tool of the wealthy and powerful rather than a provider of needed information for the public. David North interviews Chris Hedges about the hold of corporations over the U.S.' political system and media. And Kevin Taft comments on the oil industry's "deep state" which has captured public institutions in Canada.

- Finally, Justin Wolfers reports on new research showing how racism manifests itself in responses to basic questions about the U.S.' public services.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Christopher Thompson highlights how the use of monetary policy to fuel economic growth rather than a progressive fiscal policy alternative has served largely to enrich the already-wealthy. Rachelle Younglai and Murat Yukselir report on Canada's growing income gap, while Andrew Jackson points out how increased inequality has been paired with stagnant or worsening poverty levels.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses the UK's choice between continuing with a rerun of '80s neoliberalism, or pursuing shared development. And John Quiggin offers some suggestions as to what the next socialist alternative might look like:
The middle of the 20th century was a unique period of sustained economic growth and broadly shared prosperity in developed market economies. The crucial feature underpinning this success was full employment, guaranteed by Keynesian macroeconomic management. In an economy with full employment, workers are no longer dependent on the goodwill of individual employers or the confidence of business as a whole. If one job does not suit, there is always another.

In these circumstances, the distribution of market income between wages and profits, and among wage-earners, tends naturally towards greater equality. Conversely, as we’ve seen since the 70s, when governments are driven by the need to please financial markets, ever-growing inequality is the inevitable result. The most striking evidence is the rising share of income going to the top 1%, as documented by Piketty and others.

The success of Keynesian stimulus in the immediate aftermath of the GFC and the disastrous outcomes from the shift to austerity after 2010 show that Keynesian economic management is as vital as ever. Going beyond crisis management, socialist governments would reinstate the commitment to full employment, and solidify it through policies such as a jobs guarantee, ensuring the availability of a full-time job for anyone who has been unemployed for some minimum period.

However, the technological and social changes that have taken place over the past 60 years mean that the traditional notion of full employment, focused on full-time jobs for male breadwinners, is no longer adequate. We need a more flexible approach, accommodating the more diverse patterns of life and work of the 21st century.

In this context, the idea of a universal basic income set at a level comparable to the age pension has considerable appeal. The ultimate goal would be to provide an unconditional payment lower than the return from working but sufficient to sustain decent living standards.
A socialist program would allocate much less economic activity to big business, and more to other forms of organisation. In deciding what kind of economic activity belongs where, a range of considerations are relevant. These include the scale of the activity, the extent to which it is possible and appropriate to charge market prices, the scope for competition and the relative importance of economic and non-economic motives.

In part this would imply reversing the neoliberal program of privatisation and marketisation. Large-scale capital intensive activities with limited scope for competition, such as the provision of infrastructure, would be returned to public ownership.
There is also much more room for voluntary and non-government activity. The neoliberal state, through contracting, competitive tendering and the audit culture, has sought to turn voluntary work and non-government organisations into low-cost providers of government services. In the process, much of the creative potential of civil society has been lost. Expanding the scope for voluntary social initiatives would fit naturally with a socialist program, and this is already beginning with the rise of social enterprises.
The idea of a socialist economy with unconditional access to basic incomes and greatly expanded provision of free services might seem utopian. But in the aftermath of neoliberal failure, utopian vision is what is needed. To re-engage people with democratic politics, we need to move beyond culture wars and arguments over marginal adjustments to tax rates and budget allocations, necessary as these may be in the short term.

Socialists have always seen short-term political struggles as part of a long-term project of transforming society for the better. It is this fact which explains why conservatives have always used the term “socialist” as a bogeyman. It’s also why the term has retained its appeal through decades of neoliberal retrenchment. Social democratic and liberal parties, compromised by their acquiescence in, or embrace of, neoliberalism, need to make a decisive break with the recent past. An explicit embrace of socialism would make that break clear.
- Jonathan Ford highlights how rentiers are making a killing from the UK's push toward privatization while putting public services at risk. Laura Glowacki reports that the Manitoba PCs are pushing consultants' reports trying to shift essentials of life such as housing even further into corporate hands. And Lynne Fernandez responds by pointing out the faulty assumptions behind that message.

- Jim Rankin exposes how employers are able to trap migrant workers to Canada in debt bondage. Yves Engler suggests that the absolute least Canada could do for people migrating from countries exploited by our resource sector is to accept them when they arrive. And Nicholas Keung reports on how our immigration detention system is instead oriented toward punishing people who make the effort to pursue a better life.

- Jean Swanson suggests a "mansion tax" to ensure that money is available to fund basic social needs in Vancouver. And Emily Lazatin reports on the growing number of homeless elderly people there as the cost of living soars out of reach.

- Finally, the Star's editorial board calls for a smarter approach to drug policy based on legalization and harm reduction.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Reuters examines how well-being improves when people live in urban areas rather than suburban ones. But Tannara Yelland reminds us that we can't pretend for a second that people will have the opportunity to do so when there's more immediate money to be made pricing housing out of the reach of most residents.

- Brian Dijkema takes note of Ontario's work on providing an alternative to payday lending by allowing credit unions to off short-term lending (without the disregard for the borrower which results in exploitation by the commercial financial sector).

- Tristin Hopper reports on Russia's dumping of toxic rocket fuel in Canada's Arctic region, while the Canadian Press follows up on the concerns of the communities facing the danger. And Victor Ferreira reports on the U.S.' secret testing of carcinogens on Winnipeg, Medicine Hat and Suffield.

- Gabriela Novotna and Tom McIntoch argue that we shouldn't be treating drug addictions as crimes when we know the human cost of doing so.

- Finally, Michael Harris discusses how Justin Trudeau has let down the voters who hoped for change after 2015 - though he's rather too generous in assuming the "real Justin Trudeau" is what he campaigned on, rather than who he's been in power. And Brent Patterson comments on the Libs' shameful stand against universal pharmacare which would both save lives and improve the state of public finances.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Saturday Afternoon Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses how the Republican's trillion-dollar corporate giveaway will only exacerbate inequality without doing anything to help the U.S.' economy:
If inequality was a problem before, enacting the Republicans’ proposed tax reform will make it much worse.

Corporations and businesses will be among the big beneficiaries, a bias justified on the grounds that this will stimulate the economy. But Republicans, of all people, should understand that incentives matter: it would be far better to reduce taxes for those companies that invest in America and create jobs, and increase taxes for those that don’t.

After all, it is not as if America’s large corporations were starved for cash; they are sitting on a couple of trillion dollars. And the lack of investment is not because profits, either before or after tax, are too low; after-tax corporate profits as a share of GDP have almost tripled in the last 30 years.

Indeed, with incremental investment largely financed by debt, and interest payments being tax-deductible, the corporate tax lowers the cost of capital and the returns to investment commensurately. Thus, neither theory nor evidence suggests that the Republicans’ proposed corporate tax giveaway will increase investment or employment.
An alternative framework would increase revenues and boost growth. It would include real corporate-tax reform, eliminating the tricks that allow some of the world’s largest companies to pay miniscule taxes, in some cases far less than 5% of their profits, giving them an unfair advantage over small local businesses. It would establish a minimum tax and eliminate the special treatment of capital gains and dividends, compelling the very rich to pay at least the same percentage of their income in taxes as other citizens. And it would introduce a carbon tax, to help accelerate the transition to a green economy.

Tax policy can also be used to shape the economy. In addition to offering benefits to those who invest, carry out research, and create jobs, higher taxes on land and real-estate speculation would redirect capital toward productivity-enhancing spending – the key to long-term improvement in living standards.

An administration of plutocrats – most of whom gained their wealth from rent-seeking activities, rather than from productive entrepreneurship – could be expected to reward themselves. But the Republicans’ proposed tax reform is a bigger gift to corporations and the ultra-rich than most had anticipated. It avoids necessary reforms and would leave the country with a mountain of debt; the consequences – low investment, stalled productivity growth, and yawning inequality – would take decades to undo.
- And PressProgress examines how the Cons are trying to mislead Canadians about even the smallest steps toward tax fairness.

- Roderick Benns comments on the first report from Ontario's basic income pilot project, including the fact that many employed people are signing up for income support.

- Armine Yalnizyan and Chris Disdale highlight how the Temporary Foreign Worker Program was used to exploit workers willing to pay for the opportunity to live in Canada. Nicholas Keung reports on the plight of migrant workers who are still treated as "temporary" after decades of hard work. And Astra Taylor interviews Jessica Bruder about the growing number of people dealing with precarious work and lives into retirement age in the U.S.

- Finally, Paul Buchheit writes that privatization is a disaster for any hope of democratic governance over public services and institutions.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Michael Paarlberg discusses how the ratchet effect is making American health care far more durable than Republicans may have realized - while recognizing that there's a lesson to be drawn for the design of other social programs as to the value of a broad constituency of support.

- Kate Fane and Kourosh Houshmand point out that the few millenials getting ahead are those who already have a head start.

- Christine Saulnier examines who would benefit from a $15 minimum wage in Nova Scotia - with a third of the province's workers standing to see a raise.

- Diane Dyson responds to the attempt to defend privileged treatment for the rich with rhetoric about jobs by suggesting that tax breaks or other rewards actually be tied to jobs worth having. And Noam Scheiber notes that larger businesses - such as Ben & Jerry's - can make a substantial difference by demanding better treatment for workers in their supply chains.

- John Warnock offers a reminder as to how NAFTA's corporate-biased structure came to pass. And the CCPA makes some suggestions (PDF) to develop a deal that's more fair for the public.

- Finally, Andrew Coyne writes that whatever happens with British Columbia's impending referendum on electoral reform, Canada shouldn't be too far away from some experience to confirm that the fearmongering of defenders of first-past-the-post is utterly misplaced.

Musical interlude

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Runnin' Down a Dream

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Trish Garner offers some suggestions for evidence-based poverty reduction - with a strong emphasis on the need for employers to pay a living wage. And Jim Stanford challenges critics of a $15 minimum wage to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to fearmongering over job totals.
- Steve Buist discusses how a the stress of a precarious job market is manifesting itself in mental health challenges for millennial workers in Hamilton. 

- Alex MacPherson examines the relationship between low incomes, unstable housing and a host of preventable social ills. And Brenda Thompson highlights the absurdity of a Nova Scotia "welfare" system which requires people to put up cash up front - and wait for multiple bureaucracies to process requests - in order to apply for income they lack.

- Finally, Robert Koehler writes that the U.S.' acceptance of regular gun massacres is just one symptom of a more general culture of violence.

New column day

Here, on the Saskatchewan Party's choice to poison our province rather than coming clean about the dangers of sour gas.

For further reading...
- I'll link again to the reports from the National Observer and the Star on the sour gas hazard and cover-up, along with Emily Eaton's take (and Elizabeth McSheffrey's followup as to the Saskatchewan Party's non-response). Meanwhile, Global offers up its own report, while Murray Mandryk discusses the double standard applied to the oil sector compared to other health and safety issues. And Tammy Robert rightly notes that some of the ground was covered by Geoff Leo's previous reporting - though the new reporting does highlight some noteworthy aspects of the government response in particular, including the lack of any enforcement and the choice not to inform the public about the hazards of hydrogen sulphide.
- Gayathri Vaidyanathan highlights one of the studies showing that fracking chemicals are affecting drinking water in the U.S. And the Globe and Mail has reported on the connection between fracking and earthquakes in Western Canada, while Sarah Gibbens discusses how fracking is one of the causes of man-made earthquakes in the U.S. and elsewhere.
- Tim McDonnell writes that the U.S. oil industry is founded in large part on subsidies rather than any commercial viability, and links to the Stockholm Environment Institute's research (PDF) on that front.
- Finally, Peter Holley reports on GM's announcement that it's moving toward an all-electric fleet of vehicles.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Leadership 2017 Links

The latest from the NDP's federal leadership campaign following Jagmeet Singh's impressive first-ballot victory.

- Paul Wells discusses how Singh's youth and optimism fit with the NDP's history and self-image. Jeremy Nuttall interviews Brian Topp about some lessons Singh can take from Jack Layton - including his apparent plan to engage first and foremost in party-building in the lead up to the next election. Bill Tieleman suggests that Singh is Justin Trudeau's worst nightmare as a magnet for young and suburban voters (with Alex Ballingall also exploring the prospect), while John Doyle theorizes as to how Singh communicates with the public.

- Tim Harper discusses how Singh will be the first leader of a major federal party to be able to speak from experience about racial profiling. Drew Brown looks at Terry Milewski's appalling first interview of Singh as a prime example of how the media will need to learn to cover a non-white leader. And Susan Delacourt looks to the history of woman leaders at the federal level to warn against taking a single precedent as a sign that equality is at hand. 

- Christo Aivalis points out how Niki Ashton changed the campaign by pressing all of the candidates to talk about progressive principles and policies. And Dylan Robertson interviews Ashton about her view of the campaign.

- Nora Loreto examines a few policy areas where the NDP should focus in the lead up to the 2019 election. And Kristy Kirkup reports on Singh's appointment of Guy Caron to lead the NDP in Parliament in the interim.

- Finally, Althia Raj talks to several key figures in the campaign as to how Singh emerged with his first-ballot win.

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- The Equality Trust examines the UK's increasing level of personal precarity - and how public policy needs to be changed to support the people who need it, not those who already have the most. And Eduardo Porter offers a reminder that tax cuts for the rich do nothing but exacerbate inequality:
Big tax cutters like the United States did not grow faster than countries like Denmark, which kept taxes high. What did respond to lower taxes was inequality: The income share of the top 1 percent grew much more sharply among big tax cutters like the United States than in countries like France or Germany, where top tax rates changed little.

The findings contradicted the basic proposition on Mr. Laffer’s napkin. Indeed, they suggested an entirely different dynamic: Lower taxes did encourage executives and other top earners to raise their incomes, but not in ways that benefited the entire economy, like working and investing more. Instead, they were encouraged to manipulate the system in ways that, in fact, reduced the pie for everybody else, putting every decision at the service of increasing their pay.

Think about tax avoidance or outright evasion — which simply hides money from the Treasury, reducing the government’s ability to fund often critical programs, at no gain to the economy. But executives have been known to use other tricks — say, options backdating or earnings manipulation, or simply lobbying the compensation committee of their company’s board, or putting corporate strategy at the service of the current quarter’s earnings to give the share price a bump.

Taking into account all the ways top earners respond to taxation, Mr. Piketty and colleagues suggested that the optimal top tax rate on the Americans with the highest incomes — the rate raising the most money for the government — could exceed 80 percent with no harm to growth. Loopholes would have to be closed to prevent avoidance, but only the mega-rich would lose out. From an economic perspective, soaking the rich would, in fact, do good.
In more unequal societies, the rich have more power to distort policy making to channel more of the fruits of growth in their direction by, say, cutting taxes and government spending that might improve productivity and growth. Politics becomes more polarized. And it becomes more difficult to recover from economic shocks: Citizens in unequal societies are less likely to buy government promises that sacrifice today will lead to gains tomorrow.
- Stephen Gordon points out that blind anti-tax rage stands in the way of needed discussions of how to pay for the public services we all value. And Andrew Coyne comments on the absurdity of applying artificial preferences to small businesses.

- Jenny Gerbasi and Don Iveson discuss what's needed to establish an effective national housing strategy - with both public investments and meaningful tenant protections included in the mix. 

- Gareth Hutchins reports on a new study from Australia showing how the mining industry is highly susceptible to corruption. And Dogwood follows up on the Clark Libs' outsourcing of British Columbia's climate change policy to Alberta oil barons.

- Finally, Trevor Herriot exposes the Wall government's auctioning off of public land - while noting that there's been far too little public notice of the selloff of the natural commonwealth.