Saturday, July 21, 2018

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Hugh MacKenzie comments on the continued need for an adult conversation about public revenue, including the importance of bringing in enough in taxes to fund the services which serve everybody's best interests:
The disconnect between public services and the taxes we pay to provide them that has dominated the Canadian political narrative for the past quarter-century isn’t just quirk of politics that we can just file under the heading “lies our politicians keep telling us.” That disconnect matters. It invites us to vote for a property tax freeze, a sales tax cut, an income-tax cut — even if it doesn’t benefit us much. It invites us to disregard the reality that governments have a responsibility to ensure the ability to pay for the public services that we depend on.
None of the tax cutters ever has the guts to be honest with people about the impact of reduced revenue on public services. But the pattern has been repeated over and over again across Canada.
In 1992, the five-year average of total government expenditures as a share of GDP was 48.6 per cent. In 2016, the five-year average was 40.1 per cent — in the context of today’s $2 trillion economy, that’s worth $170 billion in lost spending on public services.

We see clear crisis indicators of decline everywhere we look:
  • Crumbling public infrastructure. 
  • An elementary and secondary education system whose funding cannot meet the needs of today’s students. 
  • Post-secondary tuition that is now more than triple what it was 25 years ago. 
  • The lack [of] affordable housing and the rise in homelessness. 
  • A public health insurance system that excludes the fastest growing component of health care costs (pharmaceutical drugs) and that is straining to meet the needs of an aging population.
And now, in Ontario, here we go again, with a clear denial of the link between taxes and public services “no dollar is better spent — than the dollar that is left in the pockets of the taxpayer” elevated from meaningless political rhetoric to a line in the official Throne Speech of the new provincial government.

Nine years on, the report card on the adult conversation we need to have about taxes and public services can be summed up in two phrases: missing in action; and still badly needed.
- Meagan Day discusses the gap between CEOs and the rest of us as highlighted by Bernie Sanders' town hall on work and inequality. Debbie Weingarten notes that the vacations taken for granted by many aren't available to people scraping by in precarious work situations. And Maham Abedi writes about the personal stress caused by poverty.

- M.H. Miller writes about the crushing effect of personal debt on U.S. workers. And Hailie Salvian reports on Saskatchewan's number of mortgages in arrears which is disturbingly high both in historical context, and in comparison to every other Canadian province.

- Finally, Nicholas Keung reports on an audit showing how Canada's treatment of immigrants is already biased toward arbitrary long-term detention, while Nora Loreto fully expects matters to get worse with Bill Blair having been put in charge of a new anti-immigrant portfolio due to his lock-'em-up track record. Lana Payne calls out the Cons for stoking xenophobia as a matter of cynical political calculation. And Dan Zakreski reports on the attack on Abu Sheikh as yet another example of the violence being perpetrated in the name of bigotry.

[Edit: added link.]

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