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Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig discusses how a burgeoning wealth gap is particularly obvious when it comes to retirement security: Quaint as it now seems, not long ago this was considered a good basic plan: Work hard all your life and then retire with a comfortable pension.

In recent times, a new plan has replaced it: Work hard all your life and then all bets are off.

The notion of retirement security in exchange for a lifetime of hard work — a central element in the implicit social contract between capital and labour in the (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: Canada Revenue Agency snubs Parliamentary Budget Officer

It may be hard to believe, but Canadians don’t know the difference between what the government is owed in taxes and what it collects. And we aren’t going to find out. That is the decision by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in response to a request from the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) for information that would allow calculation of the tax gap.

Apparently the Commissioner of Revenue had

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Deirdre Fulton discusses the UN’s 2014 Human Development Report, featuring recognition that precarious jobs and vulnerable workers are all too often the norm regardless of a country’s level of development or high-end wealth. And as Dylan Matthews points out (h/t to David Atkins), the lack of worker benefits from increased corporate wealth figures to make a guaranteed annual income into a logical solution: So here’s my takeaway: a negative income tax or basic income of sufficient size would, by definition, eliminate poverty. We still don’t know if there’d be much of a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Nicholas Kristof offers a primer on inequality in the U.S., while the Washington Post reports that a think tank looking to fund research into the issue couldn’t find a single conservative willing to discuss it. And PressProgress highlights the OECD’s finding that the prosperity gap stands to get a lot worse in the U.S. and Canada alike absent some significant change in course to improve the lot of the 99%: Increasing levels of economic inequality are the “new normal” and we can expect them to get worse, not better.

That’s (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: You could drive one of those tar sands heavy haulers through the gaping holes in the latest Fraser Institute ‘study’ of Alberta’s finances

A worker in Fort McMurray prepares to drive this truck through the holes in the Fraser Institute’s “report,” which claims Alberta’s finances are in worse shape than those of places like Texas, North Dakota and Louisiana. Below: The Norwegian oil port of Stavanger, which, according to the Fraser Institute, doesn’t exist!

Alberta should adopt a sales tax, according to the latest press release from the Fraser Institute.

But don’t worry, the latest piece of far-right puffery from the market-fundamentalist “think tank” – which prefers to refer to this bumpf as a “study” or a “report” – only advocates a consumption (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Sarah Jaffe examines the “bad business fee” proposal which would require employers who pay wages below public assistance levels – receiving work while forcing the public to subsidize their employees’ livelihood – to at least make up the difference: As inequality has become a hot-button issue, the solutions on offer tend to focus either on taxing the extremely wealthy or on raising workers’ wages. What makes the bad business fee particularly attractive is that it does both of those things. It makes the connection conceptually between the low wages at the bottom (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paul Boothe responds to the C.D. Howe Institute’s unwarranted bias against public-sector investment: Is the public sector holding back provincial growth rates by crowding out private sector investment?  That’s the contention of a recent C.D. Howe paper by Philip Cross.  The paper provides a great case study of the danger of confusing correlation with causality.

Let’s begin with the simple arithmetic.  Gross domestic product (GDP) is the sum of spending on consumption, investment, government services and net exports.  Whether the investment spending is initiated by the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that to end your weekend.

- PressProgress takes a look at the OECD’s long-term economic projections – which feature a combination of increasing inequality and slow growth across the developed world, with Canada do worse than almost anybody else on the inequality front unless we see a shift toward more progressive policies when it comes to unions, employment protections and fair taxes.

- Meanwhile, Derek Leahy discusses how much we have to lose by relying on the tar sands as our sole economic engine.

- David Cay Johnston points out that several of the largest forms of consumer (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Linda McQuaig discusses how a renewed push for austerity runs directly contrary to the actual values of Canadians, who want to see their governments accomplish more rather than forcing the public to settle for less: Their formula for achieving small, disabled government is simple: slash taxes (particularly on corporations and upper-income folk), leaving government with no choice but to cut spending — or risk deficits and the wrath of Moody’s, Ivison, the National Post, etc.

The Harper government, deeply committed to this ideology, has followed the formula closely. It has slashed taxes (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer respond to Joseph Stiglitz by pointing out that some of the inequality arising out of capitalism has nothing to do with rules further rigged in favour of the wealthy: Although there is certainly significant substance to Stiglitz’s argument – policy decisions can have profound impacts on economic outcomes – nevertheless capitalism is far more responsible for economic inequality because of its inherent nature and its extended reach in the area of policy decisions than Stiglitz is willing to concede. To begin with, in capitalist society it is (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: Support the tax gap motion

That governments are robbed of billions of dollars by the rich and by corporations exploiting tax havens is a well-known national and international scandal. It is now standard practice for corporations to exploit a variety of often opaque schemes to shift profits into low or no-tax jurisdictions.

The corporate tax rate in Canada, including federal and provincial taxes, averages 25 per cent. This

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

This and that for your mid-week reading.

- Erin Weir posts the statement of a 70-strong (and growing) list of Canadian economists opposed to austerity. Heather Mallick frames the latest Con budget as yet another example of their using personal cruelty as a governing philosophy, while the Star’s editorial board goes into detail about the dangers of yet another round of politically-motivated attacks on environmental and public interest charities.

- Meanwhile, Frances Russell slams the Cons’ efforts to rig the 2015 election. And Jordon Cooper discusses how voting is already too difficult for marginalized people without the Cons going out (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Pride flags over Alberta: for real, or a cynical commitment of convenience that’s a mile wide and an inch deep?

A rainbow banner flies alongside the city, Alberta and Canadian flags at the city hall of St. Albert, Alberta, last weekend. Below: A really great pride banner spotted during a recent Pride Week in Vancouver.

Fourteen years ago, the Alberta provincial government led by Progressive Conservative premier Ralph Klein was convulsed with controversy at the thought of same-sex marriage.

In the ensuing weeks, Mr. Klein threatened to employ the Notwithstanding Clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to prevent legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Only in 2005, did Mr. Klein give up this particular fight, and reluctantly (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: Is the CRA reacting to political pressure?

Not being a conspiracy theorist and having great faith in the integrity of our civil servants, I find it hard to believe that the current spate of audits of environmental organizations by the Canada Revenue Agency is a result of pressure from the Harper government. Yet the pressure is substantial.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty recently warned, “If I were an environmental charity using

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Ryan Meili highlights the need for a plan to address poverty – rather than the customary bromides about a rising tide lifting all boats: Elimination of poverty requires more than a growing economy; it requires a dedicated plan. When more jobs are available, some people’s living conditions improve quickly. However, the accompanied increase in cost of living can send some families into deeper poverty than before, a rising tide that swamps the smaller craft. And that continued and deepening poverty costs us all dearly.

As most provinces have realized (all but BC and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Miscellanous material for your Sunday reading.

- Sean McElwee highlights the fact that inequality is an avoidable result caused by policies oriented toward rewarding greed: The problem, then, is not machines, which are doing a great deal to boost productivity; the problem is that the benefits from increased productivity no longer accrue to workers. In a provocative paper earlier this year, Josh Bivens and Mishel argued that the gains for the richest 1 percent were due to “rent-seeking” behavior by CEOs and financial professions, not competitive markets. As John Kenneth Galbraith said, “The sense of responsibility in the financial (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Carol Goar points out why Canada’s EI system is running surpluses (contrary to all parties’ intentions) – and notes that the result has nothing to do with the best interests of the workers who pay into the system: Flaherty’s explanation was true as far as it went. Employment has edged up this year. EI claims have declined. But the real story lies in what he left out.

A large proportion of jobs that have come on-stream in 2013 have been part-time, temporary, short-term, casual or intermittent. Last month, for instance, 41,800 of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Blacklocks reports (PDF) on the abuse of a corporate tax credit which served as an “open bar” allowing businesses to have the public fund their basic operations. And it’s surely worth noting that after that abuse was identified, the Cons’ reaction was to cover up the resulting report in order to keep the bar open (with slightly watered-down drinks).

- Meanwhile, David Martin highlights the Cons’ attempts to break longstanding promises to public employees by slashing pension benefits after they’ve long since retired.

- And the Star’s editorial board laments the Cons’ (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Alan Pyke observes that instead of reflecting any particular merit, massive payouts to CEOs are all too often made despite (or because of) executive incompetence and illegality: The best-paid CEOs in American business have overseen companies that were bailed out, been fired, and been caught committing fraud at alarming rates over the past 20 years, a new report finds. Out of the spots on an annual list of the highest-paid CEOs, nearly four in ten have gone to individuals who were eventually “Bailed Out, Booted, Busted,” according to the 2013 (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Paul Krugman writes that the only real difference between the latest global crisis and past depressions is that we’ve moved further and further toward a rent-based economy – meaning that aggregated growth doesn’t necessarily result in any benefit for the vast majority of people: (T)here is at least one important respect in which the 21st-century economy is different in a way that ought to have a significant effect on macroeconomics: the much larger role of rents on intangible assets. This isn’t an original insight, but I haven’t been finding systematic analyses of (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Pro-business Harper Conservatives coddling tax havens, tax cheats

By: Obert Madondo Twitter: @Obiemad

An Alberta businessman is included in a massive online database of secret tax-haven names released to the public on Friday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. David Ghermezian, the president of the West Edmonton Mall, is linked to a British Virgin Islands-registered company called Regal Mega Malls Development Corp, the CBC News reports.

Ghermezian’s inclusion on this list got me thinking about the pro-business Harper Conservatives and their undisguised determination to coddle tax havens and tax cheats.

The database, first leaked by the CBC and ICIJ in April, indicates that at least 130,000 people globally are (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Mike Fancie offers this year’s definitive response to the the misguided concept of “tax freedom”: The Fraser Institute’s math on income and taxation has been roundly criticized, including by a former Assistant Chief Statistician and by our Andrew Jackson for skewing numbers to make a point. But while we take issue with the Fraser Institute’s numbers, and setting aside the bias inherent in their tax calculator’s $150,000 income ceiling, the more important discussion lies in appreciating why we pay taxes in the first place. Our tax dollars, far from disappearing into a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jason Fekete reports that the Harper Cons are taking the side of international tax evaders against other G8 leaders trying to implement an effective enforcement system. And CBC reports that the Canada Revenue Agency has repeatedly turned down the opportunity to access information about tax cheats based on a policy of not offering enforcement rewards.

- In the wake of revelations about the U.S.’ PRISM surveillance system (summarized by Mathew Ingram), Michael Geist warned that Canadians should be equally concerned about their privacy. And that observation looks particularly apt in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Michael Babad takes a look at Bureau of Labor Statistics data on wages and employment levels – reaching the conclusion that the corporatist effort to drive wages down does nothing to improve employment prospects. But the absence of any remotely plausible policy justification hasn’t stopped the Sask Party from “modernizing” the province’s rules governing work by setting them back upwards of half a century.

- Meanwhile, Pat Atkinson rightly notes that the most important problem with the Cons’ push for temporary foreign workers is the “temporary” part. And Nicholas Keung and Dana Flavelle (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: $170 billion: Canadian money in foreign tax havens, an all-time high

By: Canadians for Tax Fairness May 10, 2013: Canadian money stashed in the top 12 global tax havens has topped $170 Billion, according to data on foreign direct investment released yesterday by Statistics Canada. This amounts to a quarter of all Canadian money going abroad. This figure is also equivalent [...]

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