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Alex's Blog: Why We Hate Taxes – and why we shouldn’t

A somewhat shorter version first appeared in albertaviews January/February 2015 as Taxes: a small price to pay for civilization

About a year ago, my son Jordan, some friends and colleagues and I put together a book on taxes in Canada, Tax Is Not a Four-Letter Word. We had quite different views about how high taxes should be, what kinds of taxes are best, who ought to be taxed more and who less, but one thing we all agreed on: we in Canada, as elsewhere, were having a dangerously distorted conversation on taxes. Taxes had come to be seen as a (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: The Year Taxes Made a Comeback

A slightly shorter version of this piece written with Jordan Himelfarb appeared here in The Toronto Star.

It’s just possible that 2014 will be seen as the year that taxes made a comeback in Canada.

Not so long ago Stéphane Dion tried to put a green “tax shift” on the table but apparently we weren’t ready. This is now often cited as proof that a politician would have to be nuts to take on tax reform and beyond nuts to propose any significant tax increase. But perhaps Dion was just a few years ahead of the curve.

Certainly tax phobia (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: On the Weakening of the Collective

Summary of interviewed, June 23, by Adam Kahane as part of his Possible Canadas project and first appeared here on Possible Canadas website

Kahane: What keeps you up at night?

Himelfarb: The number one issue for me is inequality. Let’s think of the bottom, middle, and top of society. On the bottom, the situation with the poor isn’t worsening, but it also isn’t improving and certainly not at the rate that we see in many other rich countries. Against other rich countries, we’re doing badly, and on First Nations and aboriginal issues and on child poverty, unforgivably badly.

The middle (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: Tax Is More Than A Four Letter Word

http://castroller.com/podcasts/TheAgendaVideo/4043959

The Agenda – Steve Paikin interview before the Ontario Budget May 30, 2014

Alex's Blog: Tax Is More Than A Four Letter Word

“Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society”, a quote from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes on the IRS headquarter in Washington

Ontario Budget 2014: watch my interview with Steve Paikin at The Agenda HERE

Alex's Blog: Saying no to the conjuror’s trick of tax cuts

Tax is Not a Four Letter Word is a collection of essays, published by WLU Press, I co-edited with my son, Jordan, Opinion Editor of The Toronto Star.  The CCPA Ontario’s Jennifer Story recently interviewed me about the book, and our desire to get Canadians thinking differently about taxes.  (The interview first appeared on the CCPA Ontario website on December 17, 2013.)

Jennifer Story (JS): The sub-head of the book is “A different Take on Taxes in Canada”… different from what?

Alex Himelfarb (AH): Different from the predominant negative view of taxes as simply a burden from which we (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: SAYING NO TO THE CONJURERS’ TRICK OF TAX CUTS

“Tax is Not a Four Letter Word”, is a collection of essays by various authors which I co-edited with my son Jordan, Opinion Editor for the Toronto Star.

The CCPA Ontario’s Jennifer Story recently interviewed me about the book, and our desire to get Canadians thinking differently about taxes. (The interview first appeared on the CCPA Ontario website on December 17, 2013.)

Jennifer Story (JS): The sub-head of the book is “A different Take on Taxes in Canada”… different from what?

Alex Himelfarb (AH): Different from the predominant negative view of taxes as simply a burden (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: Pourquoi les Canadiens n’ont pas de temps à consacrer à la politique (L’inégalité et la méfiance qu’elle engendre nourrissent notre apathie politique)

*TRADUCTION LIBRE*

Article paru dans le Toronto Star, le 17 juillet 2013

*Why People Have No Time For Politics”

Samara a publié récemment une autre étude montrant que les Canadiens, en particulier les jeunes, sont profondément désintéressés de la politique traditionnelle. Les citoyens sont moins nombreux à voter et à participer aux activités des partis politiques, mais aussi à écrire ou à lire sur la politique partisane, voire à en discuter entre amis. Bon nombre d’entre eux continuent de donner temps et argent pour soutenir des causes, mais la chose politique leur semble sans valeur.

Bien sûr, ce n’est pas (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: Pourquoi les Canadiens n’ont pas de temps à consacrer à la politique (L’inégalité et la méfiance qu’elle engendre nourrissent notre apathie politique)

Traduction libre de Why People Have No Time For Politics, un article paru en anglais dans le Toronto Star du 17 juillet 2013.

Samara a publié récemment une autre étude montrant que les Canadiens, en particulier les jeunes, sont profondément désintéressés de la politique traditionnelle. Les citoyens sont moins nombreux à voter et à participer aux activités des partis politiques, mais aussi à écrire ou à lire sur la politique partisane, voire à en discuter entre amis. Bon nombre d’entre eux continuent de donner temps et argent pour soutenir des causes, mais la chose politique leur semble sans valeur.

(Read more…)

Alex's Blog: Canada’s Dangerously Distorted Tax Conversation

“(In)visible Dialogue”. Installation by Wang King Road. 2011. Wikipedia Commons.

(This post was written by Alex and Jordan Himelfarb; an abridged version appeared in the Star here.)

We don’t like paying taxes. This is not big news: we don’t much like paying any bills, and there’s probably never been a time when we didn’t grumble in particular about taxes. But somehow “tax” has gone from irritant to four-letter word, not to be uttered in public and certainly not to be discussed favourably in politics. It seems the Canadian political consensus is that you’d have to be nuts to talk (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: Canada’s Dangerously Distorted Tax Conversation

“(In)visible Dialogue”. Installation by Wang King Road. 2011. Wikipedia Commons.

(This post was written by Alex and Jordan Himelfarb; an abridged version appeared in the Star here.)

We don’t like paying taxes. This is not big news: we don’t much like paying any bills, and there’s probably never been a time when we didn’t grumble in particular about taxes. But somehow “tax” has gone from irritant to four-letter word, not to be uttered in public and certainly not to be discussed favourably in politics. It seems the Canadian political consensus is that you’d have to be nuts to talk (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: Austeria

Mad scientist selling his utopian project to the master of Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)

“Austeria”. An informal talk to OMSSA’s 2013 Learning Symposium, held in Ottawa, Ontario from June 16 to 19, 2013.

Alex's Blog: Austeria

Informal talk to OMSSA’s 2013 Learning Symposium, held in Ottawa, Ontario from June 16 to 19, 2013.

Alex's Blog: Why we have no time for politics

Edward Hicks, c. 1824, “Peaceable Kingdom”, National Gallery of Art, Wikipedia Commons.

Samara recently published yet another study showing that Canadians, especially young Canadians, are profoundly disengaged from formal politics. Not only are citizens voting less and participating less in political parties, they are not writing, reading or even talking with friends about party politics. While many are still donating money and time to causes, they don’t have much use for politics.

Of course this is not the first such study. With every passing year, we get more evidence that trust in politicians, government and our democratic institutions is (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: Why we have no time for politics

Samara recently published yet another study showing that Canadians, especially young Canadians, are profoundly disengaged from formal politics. Not only are citizens voting less and participating less in political parties, they are not writing, reading or even talking with friends about party politics. While many are still donating money and time to causes, they don’t have much use for politics.

Of course this is not the first such study. With every passing year, we get more evidence that trust in politicians, government and our democratic institutions is in sharp decline. Every election seems to bring a new low in (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: Celebrating Public Service

Public servants celebrating the enrolment of 5 million citizens in the Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan (1959, Archives of Ontario)

Notes for talk at Public Policy Forum Dinner, April 11, 2013

I am delighted to be here with family, friends and colleagues this evening – an evening that can only be understood as a celebration of Canada’s public service. Such celebrations are pretty rare these days though the public service is an institution that deserves celebrating, and may need it now more than ever.

My hunch is that I can speak for all the former clerks here this evening that for

. . . → Read More: Alex’s Blog: Celebrating Public Service

Alex's Blog: Celebrating Public Service

Public servants celebrating the enrolment of 5 million citizens in the Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan (1959, Archives of Ontario)

Notes for talk at Public Policy Forum Dinner, April 11, 2013

I am delighted to be here with family, friends and colleagues this evening – an evening that can only be understood as a celebration of Canada’s public service. Such celebrations are pretty rare these days though the public service is an institution that deserves celebrating, and may need it now more than ever.

My hunch is that I can speak for all the former clerks here this evening that for (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: The Trouble With Austerity: Economics as Ideology

A somewhat abridged version of this post first appeared in The Toronto Star here

Governments here and elsewhere are increasingly preoccupied with cutting even as evidence piles up of its harmful consequences on people and the economy. Austerity is not even delivering the balanced budgets its advocates promise. Even the IMF is now preaching balance rather than a single-minded focus on cuts. Yet, austerity’s adherents hold fast, deny the evidence or double down. Why is that?

Of course a few at the top benefit from austerity, at least in the short term, and though few, they exert considerable influence. And

. . . → Read More: Alex’s Blog: The Trouble With Austerity: Economics as Ideology

Alex's Blog: The Trouble With Austerity: Economics as Ideology

A somewhat abridged version of this post first appeared in The Toronto Star here

Governments here and elsewhere are increasingly preoccupied with cutting even as evidence piles up of its harmful consequences on people and the economy. Austerity is not even delivering the balanced budgets its advocates promise. Even the IMF is now preaching balance rather than a single-minded focus on cuts. Yet, austerity’s adherents hold fast, deny the evidence or double down. Why is that?

Of course a few at the top benefit from austerity, at least in the short term, and though few, they exert considerable influence. And (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: The Age of Austerity

Notes: Keynote talk, CCPA Post-Austerity session, Toronto, January 9, 2013

We are living in the “Age of Austerity” or at least so says David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister. He made this announcement in 2009 at the Conservative convention just before becoming prime minister. This meant, he explained, that he would have to fix the errors, the folly of previous governments. He would restore the economy by cutting spending, reducing the size of government, and shifting resources from public to private.

In 2010, the G20 met in Toronto and, apart from arresting citizens, they were also talking austerity. Canada led

. . . → Read More: Alex’s Blog: The Age of Austerity

Alex's Blog: The Age of Austerity

Notes: Keynote talk, CCPA Post-Austerity session, Toronto, January 9, 2013

We are living in the “Age of Austerity” or at least so says David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister. He made this announcement in 2009 at the Conservative convention just before becoming prime minister. This meant, he explained, that he would have to fix the errors, the folly of previous governments. He would restore the economy by cutting spending, reducing the size of government, and shifting resources from public to private.

In 2010, the G20 met in Toronto and, apart from arresting citizens, they were also talking austerity. Canada led (Read more…)

Alex's Blog: The mean test: how we measure success

Chief Theresa Spence (by Regina Southwind, Rabble, December 17)

As we enter 2013, how is Canada doing? How do we stack up against other rich countries? Emerging from the year of the 50th anniversary of medicare, the 30th anniversary of the Charter, are we making progress? Do we even have any shared notion of what progress would look like?

How we measure our success as a country matters. It tells us a lot about what we value most. It shapes what we ask of our politicians and how we judge the performance of our governments. It shapes

. . . → Read More: Alex’s Blog: The mean test: how we measure success

Alex's Blog: The mean test: how we measure success

Chief Theresa Spence (by Regina Southwind, Rabble, December 17)

As we enter 2013, how is Canada doing? How do we stack up against other rich countries? Emerging from the year of the 50th anniversary of medicare, the 30th anniversary of the Charter, are we making progress? Do we even have any shared notion of what progress would look like?

How we measure our success as a country matters. It tells us a lot about what we value most. It shapes what we ask of our politicians and how we judge the performance of our governments. It shapes (Read more…)