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How do you tell a Conservative from a Liberal? Ask an economist

Friday, September 20th, 2019

Where once the party stood for bold, broad tax reform, it now confines itself to a clutch of micro-targeted “boutique” tax credits, such as for children’s fitness or transit passes: spending programs by another name, of precisely the sort of busy-bodying, social-engineering bent that Conservatives used to disdain, and not very effective even at that.

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Why you shouldn’t expect to see populism take root in Canada

Friday, July 26th, 2019

Middle class incomes aren’t stagnating in Canada: they’re up a third after inflation from where they were 20 years ago. The share of income going to the “top 1 per cent” is falling, not rising, here, and has been for more than a decade; at 7.3 per cent, after-tax, it is at its lowest level since 1996. Poverty levels are the lowest on record.

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Why Conservatives have more at stake than Liberals in Canada’s class war

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

A society that sneers at tradespeople is a society on its way to the poorhouse… A society that sneers at “so-called experts” is a society on its way to the madhouse… Liberal “virtue-signalling” may flatter the moral vanity of the educated classes, but it is Conservatives who have played the class card more heavily, and with more destructive results. Class wars are always toxic, but class wars organized around “is education a good thing” are suicidal.

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Beware gurus with plans to reinvent conservatism

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

Protectionism, then, does not protect our workers against other countries’, nor even workers against consumers, though that is nearer the truth. In reality, it protects some Canadian workers against other Canadian workers. Which workers fall into which group is decided not by how hard either works or the quality or price of what they produce, but by which can most successfully lobby politicians… The conflict… between the interests of consumers and producers, is ultimately illusory.

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What is the problem to which creating a wealth tax is a solution?

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

The stock of wealth in a country is typically many multiples of the flow of income; its concentration in a few hands is likewise greater. The top one per cent earn roughly 20 per cent of America’s income, but control 40 per cent of its wealth. They also pay 40 per cent of the income tax, but never mind: by taxing their wealth as well, vast sums of money could ostensibly be raised from relatively few people, and at relatively low rates.

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Carbon tax smackdown: what is this argument really about?

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

… carbon taxes, so far as they raise the prices of things, impose an especially heavy burden on the poor. That would be a real concern, if the federal government were not also providing rebates covering the cost of the tax… The precedent for this was the GST tax credit, which like the carbon tax rebate more than compensates poor families for whatever it adds to the cost of living…

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Ontario tinkers with health care, and still nobody knows what anything costs

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Right now doctors are typically paid on a fee-for-service basis. Surgeries and other treatments, on the other hand, are paid for out of hospitals’ global budgets. This has it exactly backwards…. the really interesting unanswered question about these new teams is how they are to be funded… Doctors already have both the know-how and the incentive, via the Hippocratic oath, to do what’s best for their patients; giving them a budget constraint would incentivize them to do what’s best for taxpayers as well.

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Maybe now we can finally say it out loud — poverty is in decline

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

… poverty tends to fall, and incomes to rise, in periods of economic growth… If the overall rate has dropped appreciably, it has fallen even more among children — especially welcome, given the lasting effects poverty can have on life chances. At nine per cent, it is down a third from just two years ago… That’s almost certainly due, at least in part, to the Liberals’ first and most significant policy reform: the rationalization of several existing child benefits and credits into a single income-tested Canada Child Benefit, with increased amounts going to low-income families.

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Trade deficit Canada’s new economic hobgoblin

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Sep 19, 2012
While no one would mistake these for boom times, the reality is that the Canadian economy remains in relatively good shape. Unemployment is at 7.3%: a percentage point higher than it was at its pre-recession low, but lower than at almost any other time in the last 40 years… Poverty, even when measured against a moving target like Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut Off, is at its lowest level in at least 40 years, perhaps ever…

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Question isn’t where conservatism is going, but where has it gone

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Mar 10, 2012
… principles having to do with the freedom of the individual, the usefulness but not infallibility of markets, and the legitimate but limited role of the state… that is, government should only do what only government can do… It isn’t just that you failed to do the things you should have. It is that you did things you should not have. And, what is worse, you did them, not reluctantly or shamefacedly, but enthusiastically. You didn’t just sell out. You bought in.

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