Saturday, March 10, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Martha Friendly, Susan Prentice and Morna Ballantyne discuss how universal child care is a necessary element of any serious push toward equality for women. Dennis Grunding notes that it will take a concerted public effort to secure the universal pharmacare program Canadians want and deserve - even though the blueprint was set out over half a century ago. And the Star's editorial board calls out the Libs for their stubborn and counterproductive refusal to consider universal social programs of any kind:
The research of Rothstein and others, drawing on numerous international examples, suggests universal programs have a number of advantages that should not be glibly dismissed by governments, especially ones concerned about the middle class and those aspiring to join it.

For instance, because everyone benefits from them and is therefore invested, universal programs have been shown to be more durable, less vulnerable to market fluctuations or political lurches. Commitment to medicare, for example, has not seriously wavered, even through major recessions and long stretches of austerity government.

Moreover, while the initial costs can seem politically prohibitive, universal programs often create significant long-term savings. A universal pharmacare program, for instance, would allow for the bulk-purchasing of drugs and the elimination of administrative bureaucracy, yielding billions of dollars in savings forgone by a more targeted approach.

Finally, and crucially for a government concerned about inequality, universal programs have been shown to promote solidarity and trust. Targeted or means-tested programs may stigmatize recipients, contributing to a sense that low-income people are apart from the rest of the community. “A welfare state built mainly on means-tested programs,” Rothstein writes, can actually “perpetuate feelings of inequality among both the poor and the more affluent.”

Such feelings should worry Trudeau. After all, the prime minister rightly observed that Donald Trump won the U.S. election in part because too many Americans felt they were not sharing in the country’s prosperity and that this was something Ottawa must also address. The evidence suggests universal programs, design depending, can be a powerful tool for doing just that.
- Meanwhile, Patrick DeRochie lists a few of the crucial social supports which are receiving substantially less federal money than the Libs are paying out in subsidies to oil and gas companies.

- Andrew Jackson points out the importance of measuring different types of poverty (including absolute and relative measures), and ensuring that public policy responds to all of them.

- Finally, Rick Salutin discusses the potentially valuable side of populism which genuinely reflects the interests of people excluded from decision-making. And commenting on the Ontario PCs' leadership campaign, Martin Regg Cohn recognizes the risks that arise when only anti-social candidates present populist messages.

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