Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your afternoon reading.

- Lawrence Martin argues that with an NDP Official Opposition at the same time as the effects of inequality and greed continue to send shockwaves across the globe, there's no time like the present for Canada to debate higher taxes as the price of needed public services:
As the official Opposition party, the NDP for the first time has a megaphone. When the party speaks of social justice, it no longer speaks from the margins. Interim leader Nycole Turmel is not a strong performer, but in Mr. Topp, in Thomas Mulcair, in Peggy Nash and others they have an impressive set of leadership candidates who are unflinching. Throughout the recent downturn, the Conservatives have had the great cover-all rationale working for them, it being that Canada isn’t doing as badly as other countries. They trumpet the splendid economic fundamentals, many of which – an example being the regulation of the financial sector – were put in place by previous governments.

While the country is doing better than others, the New Democrats have no shortage of ammunition. A society in which the gap between the wealthy and the rest is continually widening is a retrogressive, not a progressive, society.

In contrast to their southern neighbours, Canadians have a history, until recently at least, of accepting higher taxation levels as the price for a more just and egalitarian society. Mr. Topp and his fellow travellers must remind them of that.
- And Linda McQuaig has some suggestions as to how to make inequality obsolete:
Adding a new marginal tax rate of 60 per cent to those earning over $500,000 a year, and a 70 per cent rate to those earning over $2.5 million a year — rates that would simply restore the progressivity that existed during Canada’s booming postwar decades — would raise almost $8 billion a year, according to Osgoode Hall tax professor Neil Brooks.

Yet this $8 billion interests Flaherty so little that he can’t be bothered to collect it.

Compare this to Flaherty’s relentless pursuit of spending cuts, no matter how tiny the saving. He’s refused to back down for instance on closing the St. John’s maritime rescue centre — which answers hundreds of distress calls annually — even though its closure will save less than $56 million, a pittance compared to $8 billion.

Flaherty has assured us that, while Americans have legitimate concerns about inequality, Canada has a “very progressive tax system.”

But it’s Flaherty who’s got the dreamy ideas here. Our tax system as a whole — including sales, excise and property taxes as well as income taxes — isn’t actually progressive. A study by Marc Lee of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives showed that when all taxes are included, the poorest 10 per cent of Canadians — those earning less than $13,500 a year — paid fully 30.7 per cent of their tiny incomes in tax, while the top 1 per cent — with incomes above $300,000 — had a slightly lighter burden, paying 30.5 per cent of their incomes in tax.
- Jesse Lafleur documents some of the pieces of Saskatchewan's proud CCF/NDP legacy which have already been destroyed by the Wall government.

- Finally, if Tony Clement is right in suggesting that Vern Freedlander is completely off base in the advice he gave to the town of Huntsville, doesn't that only serve as all the more evidence of Clement's own bad judgment in pushing for his hiring?

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