Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- As quickly as the Fraser Institute churns out corporate propaganda, Sixth Estate responds - this time nicely debunking a report encouraging yet more giveaways to big pharma:
(T)here’s a glaring lie by omission in the summary for this document: although the Fraser Institute really wants you to know that we spend about the same amount as the Americans do on drugs, what they don’t think you need to know is that, according to their own numbers, we actually spend almost 21% less per prescription than the Americans do. So government controls work, if not as well as we might hope, and the Fraser Institute wants to get rid of them anyways.

Secondly, the most interesting thing about healthcare comparisons is that Canadian brand-name drugs cost half as much as in America, but our generic drugs cost twice as much. Both are due to government price controls: our government forces prices low on brand-name drugs, but also allows generic drugmakers to charge high prices. You might think the solution, if the goal is lower drug prices for consumers, is to impose lower price controls on the generic market, or even just to let it float freely, like the Americans do.

That’s not the Fraser Institute’s solution. They say if you completely deregulate the industry, then the drugmakers will drop the prices on generic drugs, but they’ll still respect the artificially low rates for brand-name drugs. This sort of economic wizardry is exactly why we should take the Fraser Institute and dump them into the sea — an economical solution because they’re already near the ocean.
- While Andrew Jackson points out that plenty of think tanks from across the political spectrum prefer an expanded Canada Pension Plan to the Cons' gift to the financial sector, Carol Goar sums up exactly why the Cons' choice makes no sense:
(The Cons' plan) is a second-best solution and a poor substitute for strengthening the Canada Pension Plan, which covers the entire working population, is mandatory for all employers and employees, has worked well for 45 years and is actuarially sound for the next 75 years.

The only problem with the Canada Pension Plan is that it doesn’t provide enough to live on. The average annual payout is $6,150 a year. Even when that is combined with Old Age Security — the universal payment to all Canadians over 65 — the average is just $12,100, which falls roughly $6,800 below the poverty line.

That was fine when it was a supplement to the workplace pensions that most families could count on a generation ago. But today, 11 million workers have no pension. Many have no retirement savings at all.

Academics, actuaries, nonbank economists, labour leaders and seniors have urged the government since the recession to expand the Canada Pension Plan. Polls show Canadians would be willing to increase their contributions to assure themselves and others a dignified retirement.

The Conservatives are offering a less comprehensive, less reliable alternative.
- The Ottawa Citizen decries the Cons' willingness to run billions of public dollars through a shredder for the sake of posturing on crime. And Daphne Bramham notes that the prison-industrial complex is making inroads in B.C. as a result.

- Finally, Mike Smith's take on how to get anything done at the municipal level is well worth a read.

No comments:

Post a Comment