Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Thomas Frank asks how we've allowed billionaires to escape any responsibility for the maintenance of civilization by moving their wealth offshore:
I know that what the billionaires and the celebrities have done is legal. They merely took advantage of the system. It’s the system itself, and the way it was deliberately constructed to achieve these awful ends, that should be the target of our fury.

For decades Americans have lashed out against taxation because they were told that cutting taxes would give people an incentive to work harder and thus make the American economy flourish. Our populist leaders told us this – they’re telling us this still, as they reform taxes in Washington – and they rolled back the income tax, they crusaded against the estate tax, and they worked to keep our government from taking action against offshore tax havens.

In reality, though, it was never about us and our economy at all. Today it is obvious that all of this had only one rationale: to raise up a class of supermen above us. It had nothing to do with jobs or growth. Or freedom either. The only person’s freedom to be enhanced by these tax havens was the billionaire’s freedom. It was all to make his life even better, not ours.

Think, for a moment, of how this country has been starved so the holders of these offshore accounts might enjoy their private jets in peace. Think of what we might have done with the sums we have lost to these tax strategies over the decades. All the crumbling infrastructure that politicians love to complain about: it should have – and could have - been fixed long ago.

Think of all the young people saddled with catastrophic student-loan debt: we should have – could have – made that unnecessary. Think of all the decayed small towns, and the dying rust belt cities, and the drug-addicted hopeless: all of them should have – could have – been helped.

But no. Instead America chose a different project. Our leaders raised up a tiny class of otherworldly individuals and built a paradise for them, made their lives supremely delicious. Today they hold unimaginable and unaccountable power.
- Matti Kohonen discusses how tax-avoiding businesses have stayed ahead of regulators and governments. And James King highlights the consequence that only the privileged few are seeing any gains in wealth.

- Jerry Dias rightly argues that Canada shouldn't be wasting time on trade deals like the TPP which serve only to further the grip of the corporate sector at the expense of citizens. But needless to say, the Trudeau Libs couldn't be less concerned about that prospect.

- Voices-Voix offers a report card on the Libs' time in office to date. And Laurin Liu comments on the dog-whistle politics Jagmeet Singh will need to fight in order to offer a governing alternative.

- Finally, the Star's editorial board weighs in on the need for improved parental leave for everybody - not merely the wealthier families who can take advantage of a longer leave period without extra income.

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