How a wealth tax could help Canadians


Jagmeet Singh reaches out to delegates as he leaves an NDP convention stage with Gurkiran Kaur on Feb. 17, 2018 in Ottawa. File photo by Alex Tétreault

Canada’s NDP has proposed a one per cent tax on wealth over $20 million as part of its election platform. The party doesn’t include much detail yet but estimates it could generate several billion dollars a year.

Pundits have been quick to pounce on a wealth tax as too extreme, difficult or costly. A National Post column last month asked: “What is the problem to which creating a wealth tax is a solution?”

Growing inequality is the problem.

The richest families in Canada are now more than 4,400 times wealthier than the average family, according to a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

This widening gap has gone hand-in-hand with declining social and economic mobility. The CCPA found that family dynasties are more likely to keep their money in the family than they were two decades ago thanks to light taxes and loopholes that primarily benefit the wealthy, while Statistics Canada recently reported that family income mobility has declined since the 1980s.

The idea of a wealth tax sparked more interest earlier this year after Democratic leadership contender and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposed a two per cent tax on those with more than US$50 million in assets, with the rate rising to three per cent for fortunes over US$1 billion.

“The Ultra-Millionaire Tax” would target all assets, from closely held businesses to residences outside the country. Warren estimates it would bring in US$2.7 trillion over a decade ⁠— revenue she would use to reverse staggering inequality in the country through measures such as universal child care and free tuition at public colleges.

Rising disparity is a global problem, and it’s not just progressive politicians who are pointing out the need for increased taxes on wealth.

Both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) — hardly left-wing organizations — have highlighted growing inequality of wealth as a problem and suggested that countries increase taxes on wealth and capital.

Some argue that wealth taxes would lead to a mass exodus of wealthy entrepreneurs, hurting Canadian investment. Yet, an OECD study found that wealth taxes led to little in the way of real declines in investment and aren’t necessarily bad for the economy. MORE

RELATED:

Canadian dynasties richer than ever as wealth gap continues to widen: study

Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez pressure Congress to declare climate change a national emergency

(CNN)Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont teamed up with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Oregon’s Rep. Earl Blumenauer on Tuesday to unveil a new resolution that would declare climate change a national emergency.

“There is a climate emergency which demands a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address its consequences and causes,” the bill’s authors wrote. While it does not call for specific action, the legislation states in sharp terms that climate change is a human-made problem that threatens the fortunes of millions of Americans and demands immediate political action.”
The largely symbolic legislation has little chance of making any headway in the Republican-held Senate, but it provides Sanders — who has proposed radical steps to effectively wipe out the fossil fuel industry — with a tangible example of his efforts to take on major problems of particular concern to young voters.
While the Senate resolution originates out of Sanders’ Capitol Hill office, it has obvious implications in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. The Vermont independent has found himself lagging behind former Vice President Joe Biden, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a progressive ally who recently rolled out a preview of her vision for the Green New Deal, is surging. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, too, is enjoying a post-debate bump. Sanders and his team have projected confidence despite the bouncing poll numbers, plowing ahead with policy rollouts and proposals designed to highlight his progressive credentials and priorities. MORE
RELATED:
Warren kicks off Midwest swing with plan for what ‘Green New Deal’ might look like

Sorry, Critics Tell Warren, Greening US Empire’s “Powerful War Machine” No Answer to Climate Crisis

“…trying to “green” the Pentagon without addressing the destructive impacts of its bloated budget and American imperialism is a misguided way to combat the emergency of global warming.”

“Fighting the climate crisis is not about enabling the largest and most powerful military in human history to be more efficient in its destructive missions.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Wednesday unveiled a climate plan for the U.S. military that was quickly criticized by progressives. (Photo: Elizabeth Warren/Facebook)

Anti-war critics are responding to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s new climate “resiliency and readiness” proposal to reform the U.S. military with warnings that trying to “green” the Pentagon without addressing the destructive impacts of its bloated budget and American imperialism is a misguided way to combat the emergency of global warming.

The most powerful war machine on the planet is never going to be ‘green.'” —Naomi Klein, author and activist

Warren is an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution that was introduced in February, just two days before the Massachusetts Democrat officially kicked off her 2020 presidential campaign.

Like several other proposals since then, Warren unveiled the Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act in a Medium post Wednesday. But unlike many of her other proposals—from breaking up big tech and wiping out student debt to establishing universal childcare—this latest one was met with deep concern, not praise, from progressives.


Naomi Klein @NaomiAKlein

<@ewarren is running a great campaign but when it comes to climate breakdown, this is *not* a plan for that. The most powerful war machine on the planet is never going to be “green.” The outrageous military budget needs to be slashed to help pay for a Global Green New Deal. https://t.co/LWQO74g2pP

— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) May 15, 2019


Klein’s comments were echoed by other critics of Warren’s proposal, who instead called for curbing the Pentagon’s massive carbon footprint “through shrinking the military and ending empire.” Some pointed out that, by contrast, another 2020 candidate and backer of the Green New Deal, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), aims to “meaningfully [confront] imperialism.” MORE

RELATED:

The Interlocking Crises: War and Climate Chaos

POLL: Over two-thirds of Canadians back a wealth tax

Rising inequality is often ignored by neoliberal politicians focusing on profit and growth while social concerns are often not on the political radar.

Support is steady across demographic, regional and even party lines

Image result for ricochet POLL: Over two-thirds of Canadians back a wealth tax

A new poll conducted by Abacus Data on behalf of advocacy group North 99, and provided exclusively to Ricochet Media, shows that the newfound appetite for a wealth tax in the United States has spread north of the border.

A wealth tax, championed by U.S. politicians like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, would levy an additional tax on the assets of the super rich. Unlike policies such as a new top marginal tax rate that have also been floated by Ocasio-Cortez and others, a wealth tax would apply not only to income but to all assets.

67 per cent of all Canadians support or somewhat support a wealth tax

The poll of 2,000 Canadians was weighted to reflect census data and tested the proposal of a two per cent wealth tax on individuals with assets over $50 million, payable annually.

It found a staggering 67 per cent of all Canadians support or somewhat support the proposal. Only 14 per cent were opposed or somewhat opposed, while 17 per cent were unsure or felt they didn’t have enough information to respond.

“There is a real appetite, a real demand among voters across the political spectrum for bold, progressive policies”

What we see here,” explained Taylor Scollon, co-director of North 99, “is that policies that politicians are not necessarily talking about, that we don’t hear a lot about, to address rising inequality and lack of opportunity for workers, for the middle class, are quite popular. But they are just not present in the discourse right now.

These ideas are being talked about a lot more in the U.S., Elizabeth Warren has put out a similar proposal, but these are policies that Canadians support too.” MORE

Outrageous Fortune: Documenting Canada’s Wealth Gap

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren: My plan for public lands

Elizabeth Warren has just promised to end Arctic drilling if elected!This is really good news for the climate. If elected her environmental leadership will set a new standard for politicians globally. We need to demand that our MPs show leadership to achieve the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change’s targets

Bruce and I love to hike. We’ve been all over, from Bryce Canyon in Utah to Alaska to the Cape Cod National Seashore in our backyard. America’s public lands are one of our greatest treasures. They provide us with clean air and water, sustain our fish and wildlife, and offer a place where millions of Americans go every year to experience the beauty of our natural environment. At 25% of America’s total land, they are also an irreplaceable resource.

But today, those lands are under threat. The Trump administration is busy selling off our public lands to the oil, gas and coal industries for pennies on the dollar — expanding fossil fuel extraction that destroys pristine sites across the country while pouring an accelerant on our climate crisis.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We must not allow corporations to pillage our public lands and leave taxpayers to clean up the mess. All of us — local communities and tribes, hunters and anglers, ranchers and weekend backpackers — must work together to manage and protect our shared heritage. That’s why today I’m rolling out my plan to protect our public lands and preserve wild, natural places for future generations.

Making our public lands part of the climate solution — not the problem.

It is wrong to prioritize corporate profits over the health and safety of our local communities. That’s why on my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that says no more drilling — a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases, including for drilling offshore and on public lands. I’d also reinstate the methane pollution rule to limit existing oil and gas projects from releasing harmful gases that poison our air, and reinstitute the clean water rule to protect our lakes, rivers, and streams, and the drinking water they provide.