Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Vanessa Houlder reports on the OECD's call for countries to make far more of an effort to ensure tax compliance among their wealthiest individuals.

- Scott Gilmore discovers the abusiveness of the payday loan industry by accident due to a lender's confusion between him and an actual borrower:
Regulations vary. Manitoba limits prices at $17 for every $100 borrowed. In Ontario it is $21. It sounds reasonable, but that is an annual percentage rate of over 540%, twice the traditional vig charged by loan sharks. Stan Keyes, the former federal cabinet minister and now the president of the Canadian Payday Loan Association, argues that it is unfair to calculate the interest rate this way, since the loans are typically for only two weeks. However, he concedes that many borrowers take out multiple loans over the course of the year.

It gets worse. A quarter of the loans initially default. Lenders actually want this. For an additional fee they happily extend the loan for another two weeks. Week after week, borrowers are slowly bled dry, often paying back several times more than they borrowed. What other business profits from keeping their customers down and out? Is there a more morally bankrupt industry?

The impact is immense. When people fall behind in their payments, the fees add up creating a painful financial drain for those who can least afford it. The stress this creates is immense. A recent study by St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto found a relationship between the number of payday lenders in a neighbourhoods, and premature mortality.
- Meanwhile, Thomas Walkom reminds us of Stephen Harper's efforts to undermine pensions of any kind (other than his own).

- Warren Bell lays bare the Cons' attempt to make myths overpower facts in Canada's election campaign. And Jeff Sallot writes that Canadians are rightly rejecting the Cons' steady diet of fearmongering.

- Finally, Zi-Ann Lum reports that if the Cons are pretending not to enforce a gag order on people attending their campaign events, they're certainly going out of their way to eliminate any opportunity to share their opinions by expelling anybody who dares to air them. And Tim Harper discusses how Mike Duffy's trial is showing us just how obsessed the Cons are with political calculation at the expense of competent governance.

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