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Accidental Deliberations: Dollar for dollar

Thomas Mulcair’s Progress Summit commitment that an NDP government will redirect the value of a stock option tax loophole toward families in need will surely make for one of the most important moments of a summit directed at developing exactly those types of ideas.

So it’s unquestionably important that Mulcair is willing to take Canada in the direction of redirecting corporate giveaways toward people with a genuine need. That said, it’s worth taking a look at the numbers as to how far today’s announcement will go.

Canadians for Tax Fairness estimates the stock option loophole at a cost of $1 (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- In advance of this weekend’s Progress Summit, Robin Sears comments on the significance of the Broadbent Institute and other think tanks in shaping policy options: The Center for American Progress was the wakeup call for progressives around the world. Independent-minded, massively funded, deeply professional, it was created to develop winning agendas for a new Democratic president. Key Obamites trained there. Core strategies and goals were polished there. Their success helped to spawn a third generation of think tanks who understood that to have real impact, good ideas had to be married (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Branko Milanovic on inequality and the new global plutocracy

Last week I interviewed Branko Milanovic, one of the world’s foremost authorities on inequality. Our conversation moved freely from global trends in inequality over the past quarter-century to the rise of a new plutocracy and the threat it poses to democratic governance. I thought it worthwhile to transcribe our chat in full.

A bit more about Branko: he is currently a professor at the CUNY Graduate Centre, where he also heads the Luxembourg Income Study Centre. His most recent book is The Haves and the Have-nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality and he has a great blog worth reading. Here is (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Dennis Howlett reminds us that we can raise enough money to strengthen our social safety net merely by ensuring that a relatively small group of privileged people pays its fair share. And Seth Stephens-Davidowitz examines the glaring nepotism which festers in the absence of some policy counterweights.

- But Robert Kuttner offers seven reasons why the 99% keeps losing on policy grounds despite having the obvious theoretical ability to ensure reasonable political outcomes. In a similar vein, Sean McElwee discusses the connection between racism and poverty politics in the U.S.

- Meanwhile, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Ryan Meili reminds us of the harmful health impacts of inequality. And Susan Perry discusses the effect of inequality on health in the workplace in particular: The rise in income inequality over the past three decades or so is taking a major toll on the general health of American workers — and not just because stagnant or falling wages have made it increasingly difficult for many workers to afford high-quality health care.

For, as a commentary published recently in the American Journal of Public Health points out, income inequality has also been (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Taking Stock

Most of us just don’t want to know.  Most of the rest are coming to feel the same way a lot of the time.

Interesting op-ed by Quincy Saul, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”  It deserves a read.

Ecology: The global climate is officially destabilized. Major tipping points have passed, and while the struggle to remain within others must continue, we have already lost the battle to preserve life on earth as we know it. Rising seas will reshape continents and spreading deserts will drive mass migrations. Climate change will redraw the world map and will (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Michael Babad writes that we should be glad to see jobs being created in the public sector since the private sector is doing nothing to offer opportunities for Canadians. And Andrew Jackson discusses how Quebec’s progressive economic model has served it well, while offering an example which other provinces should be eager to follow.

- Konrad Yakabuski weighs in on the need for pharmacare to make an essential element of health care universally accessible. But while Brent Patterson agrees that we should be pursuing pharmacare, he also warns that ill-advised trade agreements may (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: The Three Eras of Canada’s Democracy or How We Got to Where We Are Today.

I first voted in the 60s and I’ve watched Canadian democracy evolve, not always in a good way, ever since.

I’ve witnessed three political eras in my lifetime.

There was an era of rights and freedoms, the years of Diefenbaker, Pearson and Trudeau.  Some might not realize it but Diefenbaker was a true champion of human rights.  Pearson brought Canada to the world stage as honest broker and peacekeeper.  Trudeau, of course, patriated the constitution and left us with perhaps the most important legislative enactment in our country’s history, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  That was the zenith of (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Podcast: Inequality, global and Canadian

https://politicalehconomy.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/podcast150320-inequality.mp3

 

I have two guests to talking about inequality today. First up is Branko Milanovic, who speaks with me about global inequality as well as the rise of a global plutocracy. One of the world’s foremost experts on inequality, Branko is professor at the CUNY Graduate Centre, where he also heads the local affiliate of the Luxembourg Income Study Centre, former chief economist at the World Bank’s research unit and author of the The Haves and the Have-nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality. He blogs regularly; it’s always interesting.

I’m also happy (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Vognar argues that we should push for a guaranteed annual income not only as a matter of social equity, but also as a means of building human capital.

- Mike Benusic, Chantel Lutchman, Najib Safieddine and Andrew Pinto make the case for stronger sick leave policies across Canadian workplaces: Canada’s current sick leave policies are not supporting the health of individuals and communities. First, employees are forced to choose between staying home when ill (losing income and potentially placing their job at risk) or to go to work (worsening their health (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Minimum wage workers not the only ones getting screwed

I have a populist piece in The Tyee this morning on how last week’s paltry $0.20 minimum wage increase in British Columbia actually reflects stagnant wages across the economy and why the Fight for 15 is everyone’s fight. Here it is in full.

Last week, the B.C. government reacted to the increasing push for a higher minimum wage… by giving minimum wage workers a 20 cent raise. Even Business in Vancouver magazine quoted UBC labour economist David Green calling the new higher wage “laughably low.” What perhaps hasn’t received enough attention is that the two-dime bump in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Harvey Kaye discusses how the rich’s class warfare against everybody else has warped the U.S. politically and economically. And PressProgress observes that the Cons’ reactionary politics have produced miserable results for Canadian workers.

- Which isn’t to say the Cons plan to learn any lessons anytime soon, as James Fitz-Morris reports on the PBO’s report showing how little anybody stands to gain from the massive cost of income-splitting. And Frances Woolley points out the utter frivolity of other vote-buying tax baubles, while also lamenting how much time is being spent studying (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jon Talton discusses how the increased automation of our economy stands to disempower workers and exacerbate inequality if it’s not combined with some serious countervailing public policy moves. Peter Gosselin and Jennifer Oldham comment on the broken link between productivity and wages. And Conor Dougherty and Quentin Hardy expose how employers are cheating employment laws by using game-style rewards for employees who overwork themselves.

- Meanwhile, Amien Essif points to Germany’s paid internship model as one way of ensuring people aren’t squeezed at their most vulnerable point while entering the workforce.

- Lucy (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Lydia DePillis and Jim Tankersley write that U.S. Democrats are recognizing the need for concerted pushback against the Republican’s attacks on organized labour – and rightly framing the role of unions in terms of reducing the inequality the right is so keen to exacerbate.

- And another obvious advantage to greater labour power would be a stronger push against the extractivist ideology that’s turning pensions and public utilities into corporate cash cows at our expense. 

- Sean McElwee and Catherine Ruetschlin discuss the multi-generational impact of systemic discrimination – while (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Kendra Coulter discusses the connection between human treatment of animals and humans: Close to home and around the world, working class and poor people are really struggling. In countries like Canada, unemployment and underemployment persist. We have been told that corporate tax cuts would create jobs, yet many of the few positions now available provide only poverty wages and part-time hours. Globally, over two billion people try to live on less than two dollars a day. In much of the global south, people face a “choice” between poverty wages in factories, or poverty (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Following up on last week’s column, Frances Ryan laments the UK Conservatives’ choice to inflict needless suffering on anybody receiving public benefits: During seven weeks of undercover work at a universal credit contact centre in Bolton, Channel 4 journalists witnessed a farcical mess of centralised IT failure. But what really stood out were the underhand tactics DWP staff were found to use against claimants: from deliberately withholding hardship payments from people struggling after having their benefits sanctioned, to hiding the flexible fund put in place to pay for clothes or a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Emily Badger discusses Robert Putnam’s work on the many facets of increasing inequality in the U.S.: For the past three years, Putnam has been nursing an outlandish ambition. He wants inequality of opportunity for kids to be the central issue in the 2016 presidential election. Not how big government should be or what the “fair share” is for the wealthy, but what’s happening to children boxed out of the American dream.

His manifesto, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” will be published Tuesday. It places brain science, sociology (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Cam Dearlove writes a must-read column on the role of housing in building a healthy society: For housing advocates and researchers, our nation’s inability to make headway on homelessness and housing instability is not only a moral failure, but also a financial one. Studies have consistently shown a positive return on investing in ending homelessness – one program in Waterloo Region, which combats persistent homelessness, has estimated returns of $9.45 in value for every dollar spent.

Housing for each of us is about so much more than shelter, as the quality (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Doubling Contributions To The Tax Free Savings Account: Even Nastier Than Income Splitting

The Harper government gives five reasons why Canadians ought to be happy with its proposal to double the maximum contribution to the Tax-Free Savings Account. Examine each of its points more closely, however, and it’s clear that the TFSA carries far higher risks than rewards — for individual Canadians as well as for the economy as a whole.

Let’s unpack the government’s arguments one by one:

1. The TFSA helps people save

The evidence certainly doesn’t support this statement. TFSAs first saw the light of day in January 2009 at a time when the savings rate had already been climbing (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Janine Berg writes about the need for strong public policy to counter the trend of growing inequality. And Gillian White traces the ever-increasing divergence between worker productivity and wages in an interview with Jan Rivkin: White: Some say that the decrease of collective bargaining has played a role in creating the gap, how true do you think that is?

Rivkin: There are a number of causes, one is the underlying shift in technology and globalization. Another is systematic underinvestment in the commons, which is a set of shared resources that every business needs (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Bryce Covert weighs in on the IMF’s latest study showing a connection between stronger trade unions and greater income equality: While it can be hard to say for sure whether the decline in unionization is a direct cause of growing income inequality, they found that it is a “key contributor” to steep increases in income at the top, which holds true even after they controlled for other factors such as shifts in political power, labor market trends like the growing power of Wall Street and deindustrialization, and top marginal tax rates.

The authors (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson link inequality and climate change as massive problems which are generated by political choices (and thus amenable to correction through the political system): Rising inequality is no more natural than global warming. And just as with global warming, our biggest fear should be that it becomes increasingly self-reinforcing — not because of some “natural” economic process, but because economic power begets political power, which can be used to further increase economic advantage. Look around, and the evidence that this is a real threat abounds. To cite just (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Stagnant wages for over 80% of Canadian workers

Are wages in Canada stagnant or growing? The short answer is another question: do you live in an oil boom province? There’s a fairly common meme that while Canada, like the US, saw wages stagnate, this is no longer true. Indeed, overall wage growth has picked up since the last crisis.

“Stagnant real wages” is yet another US talking point imported into Canada without checking the data pic.twitter.com/Z6fg2G4uMZ

— Stephen Gordon (@stephenfgordon) December 29, 2014

The baggage that comes with this meme is that we here in reasonable, responsible Canada shouldn’t care about all those things that the US and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Lee-Anne Goodman reports on studies from both the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PDF) and the Broadbent Institute (PDF) showing that enlarged tax-free savings accounts stand to blow a massive hole in the federal budget while exacerbating inequality. And PressProgress documents and refutes the pitiful response from the right.

- But then, I suppose we shouldn’t expect the Cons’ actions on TFSA to differ from their usual mismanagement. And Scott Clark and Peter DeVries write that the Cons’ tax baubles in general have accomplished nothing useful, while Ricarda Acuna notes that Alberta (as the exemplar (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Nora Loreto rightly challenges the instinct to respond to tragedy with blame in the name of “responsibility”, rather than compassion in the interest of making matters better: Blame is the projection of grief, sadness or fear. It is the projection of our own inadequacies; of our own feelings of, “oh god, that could be my kid” wrapped up in “thank god I’m a better parent than that.” It pretends that all things are equal, that all family situations are equal and all children are essentially the same.

But it’s malicious. Blame, (Read more…)