Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Matt Bruenig offers up a set of proposals to help American families toward economic security. And Andrew Jackson has some suggestions to boost Canada's middle class:
(T)op-line statistics suggest that ordinary middle-class households are seeing little or no increase in their incomes even as many, especially young people, sink deeper into debt. This helps explain the rise of the populist right which has targeted (largely imaginary) tax increases as the problem, and proposes tax cuts as the solution.
What the Liberals have not done is improve public programs to significantly alleviate the cost burden on households through “in kind” benefits. A key example is Quebec’s child care program, which, according to a recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, costs parents of an infant in Montreal just $175 a month, compared with $1,685 a month in Toronto. Yet the federal government has only very modestly increased its support for provincial child care programs based on the Quebec model.

The Liberals seem set to reject a “big bang” national pharmacare plan which would widen access to needed drugs for the uninsured, remove the need for private insurance, and lower the cost of current employer plans for employers and workers. Instead, they seems to favour a drug benefit narrowly targeted to the working poor.

When it comes to the acute shortage of affordable housing in our big cities, the best single option is to invest in high-quality, mixed income, social and co-operative housing which increases non-market supply. Yet the real estate industry lobbying to allow new buyers to go even deeper into debt seems to be gathering steam as the answer to “affordability.” The new national housing policy is not very ambitious and is just getting off the ground.

The stagnation of middle-class living standards seems set to frame the pre-election political debate over issues of affordability. Progressives should be arguing that bold public programs to meet basic needs outside of the market are needed to targeted income supplements, and certainly far preferable to tax cuts, which would inevitably mean cuts to the services we already have.
- Meanwhile, Andrew Mitrovica discusses how Justin Trudeau has fallen prey to hubris even more quickly and blatantly than his Lib predecessors. But Paul Adams warns that it will be especially difficult for a limited media presence to meaningfully challenge leaders' spin in the course of Canada's impending election campaign.

- Dennis Gruending has some questions about the "convoy" propagandizing for unfettered oil development and against minorities.

- Finally, Bob Weber reports on the combination of inconsistent analysis and convenient omissions accepted in lieu of any meaningful environmental assessment of tar sands developments.

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