Saturday, March 30, 2019

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Frank Graves and Michael Valpy discuss the contrast between Canadian voters who are rightly concerned about the gap in wealth and power between the rich and the rest of us, and the Lib and Con politicians who go out of their way to preserve existing inequality and privilege:
The public has arrived at a rare moment of agreement that populism has been unleashed by a stratification of income not seen since the early years of the last century. In a country otherwise incommensurably divided on the major political issues of the day like immigration, globalization, climate change and the role of the state, EKOS finds harmonious thought among most Canadians—regardless of party attachment—that extreme and growing concentration of wealth at the top is responsible for Canada’s current social and economic problems. For example, wage increases for 90 per cent of Canadians have remained stuck at zero in constant dollars since 1980 while earnings for the top 0.1 per cent have gone up 500 per cent (note that chief executives of Canada’s five largest banks collectively earned $55-million in 2018 in total direct compensation, up roughly 6.5 per cent from 2017). There’s strong agreement across partisan boundaries on addressing the issue by taxing wealth and raising the marginal tax rate.
Across the border, politicians declaring their candidacies for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2020 are advocating for both wealth taxes and rising top marginal tax rates to popular acclaim. They are talking about inequality and promising to level the playing field in militant language — they’re using the word socialism, for heaven’s sake — seldom heard from American legislators.

In Canada, at the same time, many of the very voters who have moved into the authoritarian populist camp agree with those taxation measures, providing a nearly singular point of unity in an otherwise hopelessly fractured public.

Suppose, on the march to Canada’s October’s election, our political leaders began stepping up to the public judgment by proposing the creation of a wealth tax, of an inheritance tax, of caps on executive remuneration, of legislated routes to encourage profit sharing with workers. That may change the country’s political conversation.
- Meanwhile, Alex Ballingall reports on Jagmeet Singh's plan to take a first step toward a more progressive tax system by including more capital gains as taxable income. And Dana Nuccitelli writes about the elitism involved in protecting wealthy oil investors over the people who stand to suffer most from a climate breakdown.

- Paul Krugman highlights the absence of any of the promised economic spinoffs from the Trump administration's giveaway to the rich. And Robert Reich points out how misplaced trust in corporate self-regulation - exacerbated by an administration which is neither willing nor able to act in the public interest - is endangering Americans.

- Dylan Penner discusses some of the reasons to pursue a Green New Deal in Canada. And Noah Zon and Adrienne Lipsey offer some suggestions to improve Canada's system of parental leave.

- Finally, Andrew Nikiforuk looks in detail at some of the basic information lacking from British Columbia's belated review of the dangers of fracking. And Sharon Riley examines Alberta's failure to actually test the self-serving assertions of operators asserting they've reclaimed well sites.

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