Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Doug Saunders interviews Thomas Piketty about the need for checks on the undue accumulation of capital, and the readily available means of achieving that end:
To solve the problem of rising inequality, you propose small worldwide taxes on capital transfers and on wealth, and prohibitive taxes on extreme incomes and inheritance. But such taxes are not popular today, and there is little sign they will catch on. Does this make you pessimistic?

I believe in the power of ideas, I believe in the power of books, but you have to give them time. Books have a very long-term impact, and it’s never a deterministic impact – you can never say “this book has had this particular impact on policy.” It’s much more complex.

The kind of policy conclusions I derive in the book are already in the public debate. For instance, we have this talk about tax havens. Five years ago, people were saying that nothing would ever happen; Swiss banks would keep their accounts secret and would never accept having automatic transmission of information. And then suddenly there were U.S. sanctions against Swiss banks and things began to change. I think these general moves will continue.
- Kayle Hatt takes a look at the spin behind Tim Hudak's slash-and-burn plan for Ontario - as well as what the province stands to lose through the wanton destruction of public services. And Esther Epp-Tiessen explains why we should see a contribution to the social good in the form of taxes as part of our duty to each other.

- Which means Victor Adebowale and Henry Kippin are right to comment on the need for people to feel they have some say in how our public services are set up - rather than being stuck with a corporate model (italics removed):
[Citizens'] notions of public good appear increasingly out of step with reforms being made to our current public service model. The highest proportion of those surveyed see public services as ‘important to the whole community’ (33%), and ‘available for everyone to use’ (33%) – somewhat at odds with a dominant narrative that has focused on targeting, cuts and, at the extreme, ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ welfare recipients. No major party talks any more in terms of universal entitlements or the ‘same services for everyone’ – partly because of public finances, but also because a batch of studies tell us postcode lottery is already a reality.
 It is not enough for future actors in public service markets to prove delivery competence, financial integrity and an appetite for risk. Private profit and producer interest has clearly been pursued over public purpose in some cases, and this must change – again, a relationship with two sides.
- Meanwhile, the Mowat Centre offers a proposal for corporate tax reform - featuring a far greater focus on rents and windfall profits rather than normal rates of return on investments.

- Finally, Mike de Souza reports on how the public interest is being left out of the National Energy Board's considerations in enforcing the rules governing pipelines.

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