Showing posts from November 5, 2015

Whose interests will new finance minister Bill Morneau serve?

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[Some lessons on how the 1% can evade the tax-man and ways they can chisel in on money meant for the poor, by our new Finance Minister. *RON*]
By Daniel James Wright,, 5 November 2015

Minister of Finance is widely acknowledged to be the second most important position in any Canadian government, and Justin Trudeau's selection of Bill Morneau for that role should give progressive-minded citizens considerable pause.

Yes, he's rich, having grown the business founded by his own father and married into the McCain Foods family. And yes, a stint as Chair of the CD Howe Institute can only have cemented his pro-business credentials. But we don't have to stop there; there's a very useful paper trail.

Let's begin with The Real Retirement, a book he co-authored with Fred Vettese in 2013. Subtitled "Why you could be better off than you think, and how to make that happen," the book aims to lessen the retirement anxiety of t…

Taxing Canada’s top 1 per cent raises questions about tackling inequality

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[Will token change be the Liberal Way? It's been plainly demonstrated that issue of income inequality (which can be ameliorated by changing the income tax) is of decidedly secondary importance compared with the issue of wealth inequality (which is more or less unaffected by changing the income tax). This change will be of small assistance, but nothing significant. As one comment on the Globe & Mail put it, "Those students in Vancouver driving Lamborghinis and buying $3 million houses claim little income, so won't be considered the 1%." *RON*]

Bill Curry, Globe and Mail, 3 November 2015
The new Liberal government is counting on the 264,030 taxpayers who make up Canada’s top 1 per cent to help fund billions in campaign promises, but policy experts say taxing the rich raises complex issues.
A new report from Statistics Canada released on the eve of Wednesday’s swearing-in of the Liberal cabinet provides a detailed look at the co…

Pacific trade pact to ease foreign takeover scrutiny in Canada

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[Speeding up the abdication of sovereignty to multinational corporations. Canada's economy has been sputtering to a near-halt under a broad array of existing 'free trade' agreements. Where is the evidence that this is in the interests of the Canadian public? *RON*]
By Euan Rocha, Reuters, 5 November 2015

TORONTO (Reuters) - Regulatory scrutiny of foreign takeovers of Canadian companies would ease once the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal takes effect, according to terms of the deal released on Thursday.
Those details showed investments of less than C$1.5 billion ($1.14 billion) in Canadian businesses would not be subject to a review under the Investment Canada Act if the investing company is based in one of the 12 original signatory countries that are part of the trade deal.

Currently any deal over the C$600 million mark is subject to a review by the Canadian government. That review threshold is set to rise gradually to C$1 billion …

Liberals to restore mandatory long-form census

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[It's great that it's quickly being made mandatory again, but without any enforcement mechanism? Truly, how hard would it have been to re-instate the $500 fine for non-compliance? *RON*]

Gloria Galloway, The Globe and Mail, 5 November 2015
The new Liberal government is bringing back the mandatory long-form census that was cancelled by the Conservatives in 2010 – but there may be no penalties for those who refuse to complete the survey.
In a symbolic first gesture of the incoming government of Justin Trudeau, who has been trying to emphasize his openness and interest in evidence-based decision making, two cabinet ministers were dispatched Thursday morning to announce that the long-form census would once again be mandatory.

Navdeep Bains, the new Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Jean-Yves Duclos, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, told reporters that the Liberal plan for “open and fair” gov…

New study finds 45,000 deaths annually linked to lack of health coverage

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[This in the richest, most powerful nation on earth. Uninsured, working-age Americans have 40 percent higher death risk than privately insured counterparts. *RON*]
By David Cecere, Harvard Gazette, 19 September 2015

Nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance, according to a new study published online today by theAmerican Journal of Public Health. That figure is about two and a half times higher than an estimate from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2002.

The study, conducted at Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance, found that uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993.

“The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors, and baseline health,” said lead author Andrew Wilper, M.D., who cu…

The Puerto Rican Debt Crisis: Tax Breaks Offered to Rich While Austerity Measures Imposed on Poor

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[Plutocratic corporatocracy, Latin style. " have an economy that does not grow, does not create employment, does not create sufficient government revenue, and at the same time it’s very profitable for certain corporate interests. I mean, it’s about $35 billion in profits that are generated or declared in Puerto Rico every year and that leave the island." *RON*]
Amy Goodman and Rafael Bernabe, Democracy Now!, 3 November 2015

The Obama administration recently warned Puerto Rico faces a humanitarian crisis unless Congress takes steps to address its crushing debt. The White House wants lawmakers to approve bankruptcy protection for the U.S. territory, expand Medicaid and impose a control board to oversee Puerto Rico’s finances.

We speak to Rafael Bernabe, a professor, sociologist, historian, politician and a leading voice of the left in Puerto Rico. He ran for governor in 2012, representing the emerging Working People’s Party in Puerto…

My slowly disintegrating computer

[I pick my new computer up in about five hours. The one I'm using now runs sporadically but freezes up at unpredictable intervals. I assume it will take a while to get the new one up and running, with all software re-installed and everything re-configured. Disruptions here are a near certainty. I'll do the best I can to post something every day! Cheers, *RON*]

Austerity and the rise of poverty in Britain

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[Austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity, and it is having devastating consequences. "It is a neoliberal strategy, set firmly in motion in the 1980’s under Margaret Thatcher. It was characterized, Oxfam explains, by 'financial liberalisation, the erosion of social security and deregulation of the labour market.' By 2008, this approach, continued with New Labour under Blair, had 'led to a dramatic increase in the number of people living in poverty, which almost doubled, from 7.3 million people in 1979 to 13.5 million in 2008.'" *RON*]

Graham Peeble, Open Democracy, 4 November 2015
Poverty and social hardship in the UK

With Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at US $2.94 trillion (2014), the UK has the fifth largest economy in the world after Germany and Japan. It also suffers from acute income and wealth inequality and, according to Oxfam, “one in five [or 20%] of the population live below our official poverty …