Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Harvey Kaye discusses how the rich's class warfare against everybody else has warped the U.S. politically and economically. And PressProgress observes that the Cons' reactionary politics have produced miserable results for Canadian workers.

- Which isn't to say the Cons plan to learn any lessons anytime soon, as James Fitz-Morris reports on the PBO's report showing how little anybody stands to gain from the massive cost of income-splitting. And Frances Woolley points out the utter frivolity of other vote-buying tax baubles, while also lamenting how much time is being spent studying pointless policy choices.

- Jim Stanford offers a primer on the investor-state dispute mechanisms being used to limit democratic decision-making in favour of corporate control around the globe. But Thomas Piketty writes that instead of handing still more power to our corporate overlords, we should instead be looking at a wealth tax as the best means of reining in inequality:
The ideal solution would be a global progressive tax on individual net worth. Those who are just getting started would pay little, while those who have billions would pay a lot. This would keep inequality under control and make it easier to climb the ladder. And it would put global wealth dynamics under public scrutiny. The lack of financial transparency and reliable wealth statistics is one of the main challenges for modern democracies.

Of course there are alternatives. China and Russia, too, must deal with wealthy oligarchies, and they do it with their own tools – capital controls, and jails whose bleak walls can contain the most ambitious oligarchs. For countries that prefer the rule of law and an international economic order, a global wealth tax is a better bet. Maybe China will come round to it before we do. Inflation is another potential solution. In the past it has helped lighten the burden of public debt. But it also erodes the savings of the less well off. A tax on vast fortunes seems preferable.

A global wealth tax would require international co-operation. This is difficult but feasible. The US and the EU each account for one-quarter of world output. If they could speak with one voice, a global registry of financial assets would be within reach. Sanctions could be imposed on tax havens that refused co-operation. Short of that, many may turn against globalisation. If, one day, they found a common voice, it would speak the disremembered mantras of nationalism and economic isolation.
- Jim Bronskill reports on CSIS' involvement in monitoring peaceful protests long before the Cons' terror bill is pushed through Parliament. Brent Patterson discusses the connection between that existing attitude and C-51. And Pete Dolack writes about Stephen Harper's contempt for any citizen activism.

- Finally, John Schwartz writes that for the first time, 2014 saw economic expansion without an increase in greenhouse gases caused by energy production - signalling that we're not limited to assuming a correlation between the two.

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