Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Rhys Kesselman challenges the Fraser Institute's grossly distorted conception of "tax competitiveness":
Even with lower overall tax burdens, many Americans bear much heavier non-tax burdens than their Canadian counterparts. These costs can be so large as to swamp any tax-rate differentials between the countries. Private health insurance in the U.S. can cost a family US$15,000 or more per year. Inferior public schools in parts of the U.S. can impel families who can afford it to expend large sums on private schooling.

When provided by U.S. employers, health insurance constitutes a heavy cost burden to business that their Canadian counterparts don’t bear. Those costs are covered by public health care in B.C., which accounts for much of our higher tax rates, but overall doesn’t detract from our tax competitiveness.

The authors further ignore the impact of B.C.’s astronomical housing costs on the health of the economy. B.C. businesses must offer higher pay to attract and retain employees or limit their hiring and expansion. Both the B.C. Greens and NDP have taxation-based proposals to reduce home prices — aimed at foreign and speculative buyers — which would assist local business hiring while augmenting public funds.

In short, “tax competitiveness” is a catchphrase with limited meaning unless one delves more deeply. Warnings that NDP and Green tax initiatives would endanger the B.C. economy are alarmism. Rather, the added revenues could support public programs shortchanged for years by the provincial government’s dogged quest to be “tax-competitive.”
- Meanwhile, Wendy Bach examines the difference between the lucrative and effort-free tax giveaways available for the wealthy in the U.S., and the miserly and punitive benefit system for people who actually need public assistance.

- Josh Keefe and David Sirota discuss the obvious corporatist bent of Donald Trump's infrastructure scheme - including his plan to hand free money to the corporations taking over what's already been built with public funds. And Bill Curry reports on the obvious vulnerability of the Libs' planned infrastructure bank to political interference.

- Finally, Michael Harris writes that the Cons' thoroughly uninspiring leadership race has left the door wide open for the NDP to make the most compelling offer of change for the better in the next federal election campaign.

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