Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Erika Beauchesne discusses the benefits of a wealth tax as both a means of reducing inequality, and a source of revenue for public priorities:
Canada’s NDP has proposed a one per cent tax on wealth over $20 million as part of its election platform. The party doesn’t include much detail yet but estimates it could generate several billion dollars a year.

Pundits have been quick to pounce on a wealth tax as too extreme, difficult or costly. A National Post column last month asked: “What is the problem to which creating a wealth tax is a solution?”

Growing inequality is the problem.

The richest families in Canada are now more than 4,400 times wealthier than the average family, according to a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

This widening gap has gone hand-in-hand with declining social and economic mobility. The CCPA found that family dynasties are more likely to keep their money in the family than they were two decades ago thanks to light taxes and loopholes that primarily benefit the wealthy, while Statistics Canada recently reported that family income mobility has declined since the 1980s.
There’s debate among economists about the pros and cons of annual wealth taxes, and whether inheritance taxes and other taxes on capital and wealth would work better. Canadians for Tax Fairness, an organization that advocates for fair and progressive taxation, has called for restoring an inheritance tax on high-wealth estates to narrow Canada’s widening wealth gap, make our tax system fairer and generate funds to pay for public services. Democratic leadership contender and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed a similar plan to expand the estate tax for inheritances over US$3.5 million.

The question and debate should no longer be whether we have increased taxes on wealth and capital, but what form they should take. We should thank the NDP for getting this debate going in Canada, and look forward to seeing what other federal political parties propose.
- And Douglas Todd notes that a failure to adequately tax wealth as opposed to income has left British Columbia in the position of subsidizing foreign ownership of desperately scarce housing.

- Melanie Green offers some important background information as a British Columbia inquiry begins analyzing the cause of soaring gas prices being used by right-wing politicians to attach carbon pricing. Paul Cowley reports on another estimate showing that Alberta faces tens of billions of dollars in well reclamation liabilities left unfunded by the corporations who have extracted oil and gas. And Andrea Palframan reports on the work of the Heiltsuk Nation in documenting the lack of any effective oil spill response along B.C.'s coastline.

- Paul Wells writes that Andrew Scheer's anti-Canada Food Guide bombast can only be the product of a politician taking voters for idiots. And the Star's editorial board argues that we shouldn't allow anybody to play political with health and nutrition.

- Finally, Rick Salutin points out the sheer folly of Doug Ford's insistence that Ontario students earn online credits rather than receiving a full education at school.

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