Saturday, September 05, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Jackson writes that the Cons have gone out of their way to destroy the federal government's capacity to improve the lives of Canadians:
When the Harper government took office, federal tax revenues (2006-07 fiscal year) were 13.5% of GDP, a bit shy of the 14.5% peak in 2000-01. In the most recent fiscal year, 2014-15, they are projected in the most recent federal budget to be just 11.4% of GDP, which is lower than in the mid 1960s before the creation of much of the modern welfare state.

With total GDP now just under $2 trillion, a seemingly small decline in federal tax revenues of 2.1 percentage points of GDP translates into foregone annual revenues of $41.5 billion. To put that in perspective, in 2014-15 federal transfers to the provinces for heath care and social programs combined came to almost as much, $44.7 billion.

If federal capacity were at the same level as in 2006, Canada could afford 8 national child care programs on the scale proposed by Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair. Or we could increase by 7 times the current level of federal funding of transit and municipal infrastructure.

Tax cuts have clearly been a much greater priority for the Harper government than investments in programs or services, or balancing the federal budget.
One thing is clear. A progressive alternative to the Harper government and ambitious investment plans will be possible only if some part of the massively eroded fiscal capacity of the federal government is restored.
- Meanwhile, Lana Payne comments on the Cons' economic failures. Nora Loreto examines how Canada's immediate recession and broader stagnation are affecting people in their everyday lives. And Heather Mallick notes that the Cons' fixed election date has played a significant (if less than conclusive) role in forcing Stephen Harper to answer for his broken economic promises.

- Indivar Dutta-Gupta, Peter Edelman and LaDonna Pavetti discuss new research showing how extreme poverty is on the rise in the U.S. And Deborah Orr points out how the UK's court system is creating systematic injustice for people too poor to hire a lawyer or pay a mandatory fine.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on a study finding that unionized construction workplaces are far more safe than non-union ones.

- Finally, Wendy Martin reports on just how far the Cons' vote suppression efforts have reached, as a former provincial party leader in Nova Scotia is unable to cast a ballot.

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