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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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Posted in Governance Policy Context | 1 Comment »


It’s time the provinces were brought to account on health-care wait times

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Jul 13, 2012
… if wait times were unacceptable in 2005, they are no less so today… In only two provinces, Ontario and B.C., are wait times shorter now than they were at the time of Chaoulli. (In Quebec, they are almost a week longer.) In every province, they are substantially longer than they were in the mid-1990s… the solution… is to make room for competition within the single-payer system — allowing private clinics, for example, so long as they are paid for out of public funds — before we start looking at parallel private insurance systems, with all the potential for gaming they entail.

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Stealth and misdirection are constants of Harper’s majority

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

May 3, 2012
The recent budget… signals “the crushing of the progressive state,” conjuring images of “the ’20s and ’30s, a time of massive inequality and personal vulnerability which presaged the Great Depression… The policy direction has firmed up, perceptibly… What has not changed is the refusal to explain what it is doing, still less why. All is stealth and indirection, surprise and ambiguity, as before. Big changes, when they happen, are done suddenly, casually, without warning or justification, as if they were of no importance: buried deep in an omnibus bill

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Bill C-38 shows us how far Parliament has fallen

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Apr 30, 2012
The bill runs to more than 420 pages. It amends some 60 different acts, repeals half a dozen, and adds three more, including a completely rewritten Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It ranges far beyond the traditional budget concerns of taxing and spending, making changes in policy across a number of fields from immigration… to telecommunications… to land codes on native reservations… It is what is known as an omnibus bill. If you want to know how far Parliament has fallen, how little real oversight it now exercises over government, this should give you a clue.

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Students should pay for the entire cost of education — later

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Apr 20, 2012
… it’s cash flow that’s the issue, not the amount. So: What if, instead of paying tuition now, students could pay it later? That is, what if they were staked all or most of the money up front, and repaid it over the course of their working life? Only what if, instead of repaying principal plus interest in fixed amounts, as with conventional loans, they paid a share of their earnings? As they earned more, they’d pay more; as they earned less, they’d pay less. The model is not new. It’s sometimes called an income contingent loan, or a graduate tax. But in reality, it’s not a loan or a tax. It’s an investment.

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