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Political Eh-conomy: Nope, Alberta still needs to raise the minimum wage

Last night, Andrew Coyne published a column in which he champions introducing a minimum income over raising the minimum wage as a radical policy suggestion for Alberta’s new NDP government. Coyne couches the column in his typical pseudo-contrarianism. Here he is supposedly advocating socialism…gasp! In reality, however, Coyne gets it backwards: a minimum income in Alberta today would almost certainly be a dangerous neoliberal measure. It’s raising the minimum wage that can help open more space for progressive politics.

First, the basics. The $15 minimum wage was a key promise of the NDP campaign and increasingly being adopted across North America. A minimum income is a theoretical idea that’s never (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Paul Mason discusses the effect a guaranteed annual income could have on individuals’ choices about labour and employment: A true, subsistence level basic income would close to double [existing social spending in the UK]. But it is imaginable, in the short to medium term, if you factor in the benefits.

The first would be to eradicate low-paid menial work. Why slave 10 hours a day with mop and bucket for £12k when you get £6k for free? Corporations would rebalance their business models towards a high pay, stable consumption, low-ish profit world, and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Hugh Segal discusses the need for an open and honest conversation about poverty and how to end it. And to better reflect Canadians’ continued desire for a more fair society, Roderick Benns makes the case for a basic income as Canada’s next major social program.

- Matt Bruenig writes about the U.S.’ income inequality as compared to other developed countries- and it’s well worth noting that Canada’s distribution is only slightly less distorted than the U.S.’.

- Margo McDiarmid reports on the Cons’ latest steps to block any (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Joan Walsh discusses Elizabeth Warren’s work on improving wages and enhancing the strength of workers in the U.S., while Jeremy Nuttall interviews Hassan Yussuff about the labour movement’s work to elect a better government in Canada.

- Bob Hepburn argues that getting rid of the Harper Cons is a first step toward regaining some faith in our political system. And Scott Reid worries that Stephen Harper’s cynical view of government in anybody’s hands may have spread to Canada’s electorate – though while there’s plenty of work to be done in the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Nathan Schneider discusses the wide range of support for a guaranteed income, while noting that the design of any basic income system needs to reflect the needs of the people who receive it rather than the businesses who see it as an opportunity for themselves. And Art Eggleton includes a basic income and more progressive taxes as part of the solution to poverty in Canada.

- Meanwhile, Sarah Petrescu points to income supports and housing as the two most important issues in her review of poverty in Victoria. And Richard Florida highlights the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that to start your year.

- Ian Welsh comments on the challenges we face in trying to turn wealth increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few into a better world for everybody: The irony is that we have, again, produced a cornucopia.  We have the potential to create an abundance society, the world over and eventually off this world.

We have much of the technology necessary, and we could direct our research and development towards the remaining technology we need.

Instead, we rely on markets controlled by oligarchs and central banks captured by oligarchs to make (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Daniel Tencer nicely surveys how a guaranteed annual income could work in Canada, as well as the obstacles to putting one in place: Imagine the government started handing out $10,000 annually to every adult in the country, or implemented a negative income tax rate so that low earners and people out of work would receive tax money instead of paying it.…(A) growing number of economic thinkers — and not only on the left — are saying it could be the exact opposite: that it could be the policy idea of the century. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Mark Bittman discusses the connection between economic and social ills in the U.S., and offers a message which applies equally to Canada: I have spent a great deal of time talking about the food movement and its potential, because to truly change the food system you really have to change just about everything: good nutrition stems from access to good food; access to good food isn’t going to happen without economic justice; that isn’t going to happen without taxing the superrich; and so on. The same is true of other issues: (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Carter Price offers another look at how inequality damages economic development. And the Broadbent Institute examines the wealth gap in Canada – which is already recognized as a serious problem, but also far larger than most people realize:

- Paul Buchheit discusses how the U.S. is turning poor people into commodities or criminals. Chuk Plante reviews some facts about child poverty in Saskatchewan – with a particular focus on the need to measure and reduce the alarmingly high rates of child poverty among First Nations children. Suzanne Moore points out how (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, arguing that while Stephen Poloz is indeed thoroughly out of touch in suggesting that people entering the workforce should take on unpaid internships as matters stand now, we should in fact make sure that unpaid work (or study, or other activity) is a viable option for young workers.

For further reading…- The CP reports on Poloz’ comments here, while Tavia Grant expands on the story here. CBC follows up with a Saskatchewan perspective here. And Elizabeth Lane looks at the issue as one of the workers who’s been unable to find a job despite ample training (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Following up on yesterday’s column, Michael Harris offers his take on how Stephen Harper refuses to accept anything short of war as an option: Stephen Harper talks as if this is yet another of those good-versus-evil fables he is always passing off to the public as deep analysis and sound policy.

More honest and experienced minds make a more rational case. In the United Kingdom, the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove said that politicians are merely taking advantage of a distortion towards Islamic extremism. That distortion was branded on the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Don Pittis makes the case for a guaranteed annual income on economic and social grounds: The young would be some of the biggest beneficiaries. Students could use the money to pay for their education, thus eliminating student loan programs. Students from poor families could afford to take courses to improve their skills.

The old age security system could disappear. So would the baby bonus itself. The demogrant would supplement government programs such as minimum wage, EI, CPP/QPP, disability allowance – all resulting in bureaucratic savings.

But going back to my original question: if (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Andrew Jackson examines the effect of a federal minimum wage – and how it would benefit both workers and employers.

- Dylan Matthews offers a primer on a basic income, featuring this on how a secure income has little impact on individuals’ willingness to work: As noted above, a real basic income has never been implemented across a whole country, which makes macroeconomic effects hard to predict. But we do have some experimental evidence on the question of work effort, drawn from the negative income tax experiments in the US and Canada (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ethan Corey and Jessica Corbett offer five lessons for progressives from Naomi Klein’s forthcoming This Changes Everything.

- Following up on this post, Andrew Jackson fact-checks the Fraser Institute on its hostility toward the CPP. And the Winnipeg Free Press goes further in challenging the motives behind the “study”: Since the authors started out believing that the Canada Pension Plan and its investment arm are a “self-serving bureaucracy,” it was predictable that they would find something objectionable about CPP administration. The surprise in the study is that the authors produced no (Read more…)

Canadian Political Viewpoints: Why We Need a Guaranteed Annual Income.

It’s been a little while since we last sat down and talked, so I’d like to take the opportunity now to correct that and try to move the conversation forward a little bit. As I mentioned when I posted that we would be re-engaging the blog, there’s a lot of issues going on in our world right now (Read more…) . . . → Read More: Canadian Political Viewpoints: Why We Need a Guaranteed Annual Income.

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- thwap nicely summarizes how we’ve allowed our economy to rely on (and feed into) the whims of a small group of insiders, rather than being harnessed for any sense of public good: (W)hat’s changed today is that the wealthy clearly have more money than they know what to do with. And it’s rendered our economies top-heavy. Financialization and financial speculation. Which does nothing for ordinary people. Tax-cuts to wealthy and the corporations just go into the banks and into speculation. Tax-increases to the wealthy and the corporations can help mitigate government deficits (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Afternoon Links

This and that to start your weekend.

- Robert Reich discusses how the increasing concentration of corporate wealth and power is undermining the U.S.’ democracy, while noting that there’s only one effective response: We entered a vicious cycle in which political power became more concentrated in monied interests that used the power to their advantage – getting tax cuts, expanding tax loopholes, benefiting from corporate welfare and free-trade agreements, slicing safety nets, enacting anti-union legislation, and reducing public investments.

These moves further concentrated economic gains at the top, while leaving out most of the rest of America.

No (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Olga Khazan writes about the connection between lower incomes and obesity in the U.S. And Truthout discusses how poverty and other stressors can directly affect individual and communal genetics for generations: (A) study by researchers at University College London’s Institute of Child Health found that, thanks to epigenetics, children whose parents and grandparents were born into poverty can, themselves, carry the scars of that past poverty with them for the rest of their lives. That’s because children born to families who’ve lived generations in poverty inherit genes configured to help them (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Rebecca Vallas, Melissa Boteach and Shawn Fremstad write about the need for a new social contract. And Drew Nelles takes a look at the role of a guaranteed basic income in ensuring a fair standard of living for everybody: Although implementing basic income would undoubtedly require a reorganization of social assistance provision, with some programs being eliminated or absorbed, it cannot be used as an excuse to dismantle what’s left of the welfare state. Instead, it’s a hopeful idea because it could act as just the opposite: the beginning of a turn away (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Trish Garner highlights the futility of trying to answer poverty, equality and other social issues with the empty promise of low-paying “jobs! jobs! jobs!”: The central “solution” in the government’s action plan is jobs. The little money dedicated to this initiative is all directed to employment inclusion and skills training. It’s not surprising. It’s the same answer we receive when our supporters throughout the province advocate for a poverty reduction plan for B.C.  There are two important points to make in response. First, many people with disabilities are unable to (Read more…)

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…)