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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: Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Vineeth Sekharan debunks the myth that a job represents a reliable path out of poverty, while reminding us that there’s one policy choice which could eradicate poverty altogether: A job alone does not guarantee freedom from poverty. In fact, in 2012, at least one member of the household was employed in a staggering 44% of all poor households. Even in situations where an individual is employed, there may still be the need for income supplements, as well as educational and employment supports.

This is partially because of the monumental changes that have occurred (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Benjamin Shingler reports on the push for a basic annual income in Canada. And Christopher Blattman notes that cash serves as a valuable treatment for poverty wherever one diagnoses the disease: The poor do not waste grants. Recently, two World Bank economists looked at 19 cash transfer studies in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Almost all showed alcohol and tobacco spending fell or stayed the same. Only two showed any significant increase, and even there the evidence was mixed. You might worry handouts encourage idleness. But in most experiments, people worked more after (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your Sunday reading.

- James Greiff makes the case against the right’s faith-based reliance on costly high-end tax cuts in place of attracting people through jobs and quality of life: (T)he recent record suggests those U.S. states that cut taxes find themselves with bigger deficits and none of the economic revival that might stop the population loss plaguing the Rust and Farm belts.

Consider Ohio, where Republican Governor John Kasich is pushing to cut the top marginal tax rate to 5 per cent or less from the current 5.92 per cent. This might save the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Alyssa Battistoni writes that a universal basic income could go a long way toward solving environmental and economic problems alike by placing a focus on sustainable quality of life rather than increasing consumer consumption: If overconsumption is actually the problem, we can’t fix it by consuming more, however eco-certified the products. Indeed, the very idea that green jobs will drive economic recovery is closely tied to notions of continued American hegemony: green tech is the next big thing, the rhetoric goes, and America needs to get ahead in the global race to innovate. (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: More From Star Readers

Whenever I need a morale boost, I look to the letters’ section of The Toronto Star. There I find regular confirmation that progressive notions are far from dead in this country, despite the best efforts of the Harper regime:

Re: Underemployment reshapes Canada’s job market, Opinion March 14

During the 2008 recession, some of my well-employed friends smugly asked, “What recession?” They would probably say that the trends in today’s job market aren’t troubling at all; they indicate that we are finally realizing the “leisure society” promised log ago by improved production and technology. This view is delusional.

Last (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- John Cassidy offers ten options to reduce income inequality. And Andrew Coyne concurs with the first and most important suggestion that income supports sufficient to provide a stable living to everybody would make for the ideal solution.

- Meanwhile, Frances Russell is the latest to write that the Cons’ income-splitting scheme is only designed to exacerbate the gap between the rich and the rest of us. Miles Corak notes that even Republicans can’t avoid recognizing that equality of opportunity is fading in the U.S. – though he recognizes their inclination to avoid (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Angelina Chapin highlights the drastic impact a guaranteed annual income would have on Canadians currently living in poverty: To set and meet goals, you have to think long-term. When you’re poor, you can’t focus on the future (and Bill Gates wasn’t raised poor, by the way). You worry about finding boots, not pulling up your straps. The best way to “motivate” poor people is with programs that help lift their gaze from the ground to the horizon. A guaranteed annual income program would do that.

The idea is simple: in place of a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Reich confirms the seemingly obvious reality that poverty and inequality are in fact major obstacle facing the poor. And Paul Krugman explains why any successful progressive movement in the U.S. will need to discuss inequality and the hoarding of wealth to challenge the entrenched (and expanding) influence of those who already have the most: (J)obs and inequality are closely linked if not identical issues. There’s a pretty good although not ironclad case that soaring inequality helped set the stage for our economic crisis, and that the highly unequal distribution of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Graeme Wearden reports on Oxfam’s latest study on inequality and the outsized political influence of the wealthy few: The Oxfam report found that over the past few decades, the rich have successfully wielded political influence to skew policies in their favour on issues ranging from financial deregulation, tax havens, anti-competitive business practices to lower tax rates on high incomes and cuts in public services for the majority. Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 out of 30 countries for which data are available, said the report.

This (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Michael Katz looks back at how the U.S. abandoned its poor – and how that choice continues to affect people across the income spectrum today. And Michael Valpy discusses how Canada can and should avoid travelling any further down the same path – with his “Big Four” ideas focusing on mandatory voting, proportional representation, a guaranteed basic income and protections for vulnerable workers.

- Jeffrey Simpson describes the Cons’ narrow focus on about 10 per cent of the Canadian electorate in the lead up to the next federal election, while Andrew Jackson (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Bob Hepburn writes that more Canadians approve of the idea of a guaranteed annual income than oppose it – even as the concept is all too frequently dismissed as politically unpalatable. And Stuart Trew points out that a majority of Canadians disagree with the corporate super-rights contained in the CETA and other trade agreements.

- But of course, blind support for corporate interests and opposition to a reasonable standard of living for all are neatly clustered in the Cons’ caucus among other places. And Carol Goar writes that Con MPs used a Parliamentary (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Jim Stanford counters the myth of labour shortages by pointing out Canada’s significant – and growing – number of potential workers who lack a job. And Janet French reports on how PCS’ job cuts have affected both the workers who were laid off, and the communities who depend on their spending to support local economies.

- CPJ’s infographic makes the case for a guaranteed livable income in Canada:

- CBC reports on the misleading statistics underlying claims that there’s no need to discuss rail safety in Canada – featuring cases of runaway trains (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Stuart Trew fleshes out the Cons’ new(-ly explicit) Corporate Cronies Action Plan – and it goes even further in entrenching corporate control over policy than one might have expected at first glance: – The makeup of the advisory panel that consulted with Trade Minister Fast skews the new Action Plan in favour energy- and water-intensive agricultural export sectors, multinational business represented by the CCCE, and the energy sector. There was no worker representation on the advisory committee. And the involvement of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is arguably more of a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Josh Eidelson and John Schmitt take a look at the guaranteed annual income which will be voted on in Switzerland – and the sole barrier to a similar discussion in the U.S. (and likely in Canada): What is a universal basic income, and why are we hearing more about it now?

The proposals that are floating around the world vary a lot. But the basic idea is, no matter what you do, if you’re a resident — or in some cases, a citizen — you get a certain amount of money each (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Thomas Walkom sees Stephen Harper’s approval of dove hunting as an ideal metaphor for the gratuitous violence of his government: The wildlife service also estimates that new hunting rules will result in about 18,000 Ontario doves being shot each year. But, say hunt aficionadas, so what? There are plenty more.

As the Conservatives would tell you: This is our world. Other species are born into it at their own risk.

To Canada’s governing party, killing doves is a metaphor for sound thinking, fiscal sobriety and doughnut-shop values. It is where the Harperites want (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Saturday reading.

- Rick Salutin writes about the need for the labour movement to better promote its contribution to the general public – and my only quibble is that I’d prefer to see a focus on what still can be (and needs to be) done rather than past victories: (W)hy don’t (unions) contest the battle for the public mind? I don’t know why but they don’t, or rarely do. They seem to have lost track of that tactic. It went missing in the Ontario teachers conflict this year, too. The unions made little or no effort (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Bill Gardner discusses the effect of inequality and poverty starting at birth: There are three important facts packed into this slide. First, the lines stack up in order of increasing age, meaning that older people reported worse health than younger people. Second, all the lines slope downward, meaning that the poorer you were, the more likely you had poor health.

These facts are unsurprising, until you notice how powerful the income effect is. The leftmost point of the youngest (turquoise) line is above the rightmost point of the oldest (purple) line. This means that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- George Monbiot rightly challenges the attempt of corporate interests and their political sock-puppets to demonize anybody concerned about our planet’s future: Exotic invasive species are a straightforward ecological problem, wearily familiar to anyone trying to protect biodiversity. Some introduced creatures – such as brown hare, little owl, field poppy, corncockle and pheasant’s eye in Britain – do no harm to their new homes, and are cherished and defended by nature lovers. Others, such as cane toads, mink, rats, rhododendron, kudzu vine or tree-killing fungi, can quickly simplify a complex ecosystem, wiping (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Paul Krugman points out that workers are receiving less and less benefit from technological advancements – and offers a simple policy prescription to ensure workers of all skill levels don’t suffer unduly based on forces far beyond their control: I’ve noted before that the nature of rising inequality in America changed around 2000. Until then, it was all about worker versus worker; the distribution of income between labor and capital — between wages and profits, if you like — had been stable for decades. Since then, however, labor’s share of the pie has (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ed Broadbent takes a look at how our tax system can combat inequality in more ways than one: The Broadbent Institute is presenting proposals Tuesday to the Finance Committee of the House of Commons. Our primary recommendation is that Canada establish as a goal the provision of a basic income-tested guarantee to all citizens through a fairer personal income tax system.

The tax/transfer system equalizes income in two important ways. First, progressive income taxes mean that the affluent pay a higher percentage of income than middle and low income earners. Second, these (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: #mtlqc13 Priority Resolutions – Social Policy

Not surprisingly, the social policy resolutions up for discussion this weekend include a wide range of issues – and I’ll avoid highlighting the resolutions dealing with either familiar topics of discussion like gun control, marijuana decriminalization/legalization and housing.

Instead, I’ll point out three resolutions which look to deserve particular attention: 3-39-13Resolution on the Impact of Economic, Social, and Environmental Factors on Individual Health Care Submitted by the Quebec SectionBE IT RESOLVED that the following clauses be added to Subsection 3.1(r) of the Policy Book:• Acknowledging that economic, social, and environmental factors impact individual, public, and community

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: #mtlqc13 Priority Resolutions – Social Policy

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- George Monbiot proposes a basic income as one of the great ideas needed to challenge corporatist orthodoxy: A basic income (also known as a citizen’s income) gives everyone, rich and poor, without means-testing or conditions, a guaranteed sum every week. It replaces some but not all benefits (there would, for instance, be extra payments for pensioners and people with disabilities). It banishes the fear and insecurity now stalking the poorer half of the population. Economic survival becomes a right, not a privilege.

A basic income removes the stigma of benefits while also

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

The Progressive Economics Forum: Fairness by design: a framework for tax reform in Canada

A new CCPA (National) report by Marc Lee and myself argues that Canada’s tax system needs a “fairness” overhaul and presents a framework for progressive tax reform. Those of you who have been following our tax work so far will find this study a great complement to the BC Tax Options Paper.

Tax policy is an important lever for governments to tackle income inequality, which is why it is particularly important to strengthen tax fairness now, given the increased concentration of income and wealth we’re seeing in Canada. We also call for a comprehensive tax review of the entire system

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Fairness by design: a framework for tax reform in Canada

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Barbara Yaffe lets Hugh Segal make the case for a guaranteed annual income to end poverty in Canada: (Hugh Segal) says it could be arranged by way of a tax credit through the income tax system, to top up income of anyone falling below Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cutoff (LICO).

LICO for a single person is about $22,200; for a family with three children, roughly $47,000.

“In other words,” writes Segal, “being poor would become a problem we all buffered in the same way as we buffer all Canadians relative to health

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links