Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- The Star argues that a crackdown on tax evasion and avoidance is a crucial first step in reining in inequality. Susan Delacourt wonders when, if ever, Chrystia Freeland's apparent interest in inequality will show up in her role in government. And Vanmala Subramaniam reminds us why the cause of developing a more equal society is such a vital one:
So what?

If you’re upper middle-class or rich in Canada, that’s a question you might find yourself asking. Being rich-ish means that you will, for the most part, live a materially comfortable existence, relatively shielded from the day-to-day struggles of the bottom 40 percent of Canadian society. You’ll be able to save and invest a substantial chunk of money, live in a safe, quiet, green neighbourhood with good schools, travel, and put your kids through university so that they don’t graduate saddled with tens of thousands in debt. Inequality, in the short or even medium run, will probably not affect you. 

But if you’re at the two lowest rungs of the income ladder, the impact of inequality is what you see and feel and breathe every single day. Despite those 60 hour work weeks, you continue living paycheque to paycheque. You wonder why your hard work is deemed significantly less valuable than those in the upper echelons of the professional world. Your consumption patterns are, almost always, short-term. When it comes to spending, you cannot see beyond a month, or a week even. Forget saving or investing — those are goals as unattainable as being a unicyclist for Cirque Du Soleil. 

One of the biggest problems with living in a society with a massive income gap is that on an economic level, at least, growth will become unsustainable. “The rich cannot eat away all the money they’ve got because they have too much, but you can be sure that the poor will spend every penny they have because they have so little to begin with,” Armine Yalnizyan, Senior Economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives told VICE Money.

Indeed, increasing inequality reduces demand for basic goods since consumption levels depend more on the wages of those at the lower end of the income scale than the profits of the rich. When households struggle to consume on steady but low wages, they will increasingly rely on debt to maintain their lifestyles, worsening their long-term ability to consume, and save
- Mark Bulgutch warns against the dangers of running government (or public institutions) based on business principles. And Simone Chiose reports on a prime example, as Ontario universities are being required to justify higher education in terms of immediate economic outcomes.

- PressProgress examines how Christy Clark's government has pushed the cost of living ever higher in British Columbia, while Tara Carman discusses the advantages of making child care affordable and accessible. And Sean Boynton examines the public embarrassment arising out of the New York Times' report on the Libs' cash-for-access party operations.

- Reuters reports on China's massive shift away from dirty coal power - including by stopping construction which had already begun in order to move toward cleaner and more affordable alternatives. And James Wilt offers a quick look at the effects of coal power in Alberta, along with the health benefits of shifting away from it.

- Finally, Geoff Leo reports on the Saskatchewan Party's continued stonewalling of any attempt to investigate the Global Transportation Hub scandal.

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