Sunday, July 08, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Ed Finn writes that we shouldn't believe claims that Canada lacks money for social benefits when Lib and Con governments have deliberately chosen not to bring in the revenue needed to fund them:
Canadian governments back in the 1960s and ‘70s never asked where the money was coming from when they launched our public health care system, the Canada Pension Plan, unemployment insurance, and other social programs. These programs were at their peak in 1975, when the country’s per capita GDP was just $7,489.94.

Making historical comparisons is complicated by having to take the effects of inflation, exchange rates, and other variable factors into account; but it’s safe to infer that the per capita income generated by Canada’s economy today -- in constant U.S. dollars -- is almost as twice as high as it was in the 1970s.

Why, then, are we still being told by our political leaders that Canada cannot afford to enhance or even maintain the social benefits we somehow managed to fund with far less national income four decades ago? 
Clearly the cause of Canada’s purported “shortage” of funds for social spending does not derive from a revenue shortfall, but from a heartless maldistribution of revenue. The decision to tolerate inexcusably steep rates of poverty and homelessness; the refusal to expand medicare to cover drugs, dental and vision care; to provide cost-free child care and tuition-free higher education; to improve public pensions and other social programs -- all these decisions have been matters of choice, not necessity.
So the answer to the recurring “where’s the money coming from?“ question is that it comes mainly from Canada’s working people. Millions of low-income tax payers are being denied better social and economic conditions because their governments have misspent their tax payments while reducing tax rates for the rich. That’s what gives our political leaders the contrived excuse that they can’t afford further social spending.

How much larger would the contents of their financial coffers be if they maintained an honest and equitable tax system? If they fairly taxed wealthy individuals and profitable corporations? If they stopped lavishing corporations with tax exemptions and subsidies? If they imposed and collected taxes on the enormous amounts of money stashed in foreign tax havens? (The tax haven haul alone would increase federal revenue by at least $10 billion a year -- and by as much as $47 billion, according to Conference Board of Canada estimates.)

A federal government truly committed to serving the public interest instead of powerful corporations and the wealthy elite would stop depriving itself of the much greater financial assets it could legitimately acquire.
- Catherine Bosley and Fergal O'Brien take note of the lack of wage growth even in what's supposed to be a tight U.S. labour market. And Noah Smith discusses the impact new automation figures to have on the working class - and the importance of a strong social safety net to make sure advances in technology don't leave a large number of people worse off.

- Nora Loreto comments on the connection between Canada's settler-state mentality and the perpetuation of racial disparities. And David Climenhaga points out that the rhetoric around the defence of property pushed by Alberta's UCP (among other right-wing parties) is intended to echo the U.S.' dangerous "stand your ground" laws.

- Finally, Anita Khanna, Sid Frankel, Martha Friendly and Peter Bleyer discuss Canada's embarrassing failure to make a meaningful dent in child poverty in three decades after Parliament unanimously agreed to eradicate it - as well as what needs to be included in an effective plan to fight poverty at last.

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