Why a universal basic income falls short

And what we can do instead

Why a universal basic income falls shortIn a country as rich as Canada, no one should have to go cold or hungry. But is universal basic income the answer? Income assistance and other programs provide for almost all of the poorest among us, although some always slip between the cracks. No one would describe the level of support as generous, nor…

How to create more affordable housing to meet rising demand

Housing regulations often limit people to Tesla-level homes or nothing

How to create more affordable housing to meet rising demandI’m an economist, so I’m not flattered by those who say you could teach a parrot to be an economist. The bird would need to know only two words, the joke goes: supply and demand. When the supply of any good or service increases, its price goes down. If the supply decreases or is less…

Questions you need to ask before you cast your ballot

We accept that the world intervenes in any plans for the future but we must still decide who gets our vote

Questions you need to ask before you cast your ballotThe 2021 federal election is upon us. In Canada, we’re blessed to have fair elections, the results of which are peacefully implemented – so don’t forget to vote. There are many nations where people can’t vote. There are many more where their vote doesn’t matter because tyrants have predetermined the results or will use violence…

Three things you only learn as an entrepreneur

It’s up to you to bring in clients. The buck stops with you if your employees fail to perform

Three things you only learn as an entrepreneurStarting your own business teaches you things you’ll never learn in a job. Here are three of them: Where the money comes from As an employee, you can expect your paycheque to arrive every week or two without fail, even if you’re sick or on vacation. At one level, you realize the money comes from…

Can we afford $10-a-day childcare?

The simple answer is no

Can we afford $10-a-day childcare?Providing quality care for preschool children is a good thing. Children learn to socialize in groups beyond their family. They acquire the skills and readiness that will allow them to succeed in elementary school and later in life. With children well looked after, all parents are free to take jobs or pursue careers contributing to…

Creating better universities for a vibrant economy

Universities have become scary places for any student who doesn’t share the views of the minority

Creating better universities for a vibrant economyUniversities have changed drastically since the beginning of the 20th century. And more change is needed. Universities had already evolved from their role as places where sons (not daughters) of the wealthy and noble could acquire some of the traditional culture needed to retain their status in the leadership positions they were destined for. Practical…

Damned if you do: the thorny decision to remove hydro dams

Dealing with only one side of an issue – whether it’s migrating fish or electric cars – can generate more problems than it solves

Damned if you do: the thorny decision to remove hydro damsEconomists often talk about over-constrained problems. These are situations where there are so many goals to be reached and/or so many limitations that it’s impossible to find a solution that meets all requirements. Contrast this with advice often given to politicians to never talk about anything that can’t be fully described on a bumper sticker.…

Why I chose to celebrate Canada Day

Let’s fix what needs fixing but appreciate what we have

Why I chose to celebrate Canada DayI celebrated Canada Day. I took the day off from work. I wore red and white. I enjoyed a barbecue with friends. I’m very glad I live in Canada. Sad, tragic things have happened in Canada. A catastrophic event has been defined as one where little children die and we’re uncovering evidence of such catastrophes…

It’s not easy being green but we can get there

Wind and solar power won't magically eliminate the threats to our environment

It’s not easy being green but we can get thereBaruch Spinoza, a 17th-century philosopher, said the future and anything we can say about it is imaginary. He was right. Despite our best efforts to foresee what the future will bring, we really don’t know what is forthcoming until the future becomes the present. The challenge of climate change has focused our attention on what…

How to manage the post-lockdown search for workers

Available workers are rarer than openings now. Smart business people will start making adjustments so we can all enjoy some prosperity

How to manage the post-lockdown search for workersAt last we’re beginning to see beyond the pandemic to a return to more normal times. Businesses are reopening. Corporations have capital to invest and are starting to do so. Thanks to government support during the pandemic, many people have savings to spend. The combination of a liberation from lockdown and all these available funds…

Why do city planners put bicycles ahead of people?

People who don’t have yards or nearby open spaces should come before bicyclists

Why do city planners put bicycles ahead of people?Vancouver city council is considering a motion this week to turn sections of Granville Street and Commercial Drive into European-style pedestrian-friendly malls by reducing or eliminating automobile access. This is described as putting people over cars. Reducing car traffic leads to cleaner air and quieter neighbourhoods – good things. Some local businesses will benefit. But…

Why basic income is not the best way to tackle poverty

What we need are carefully targeted programs specifically aimed at dealing with the issues that keeps people in poverty

Why basic income is not the best way to tackle povertyIn a country as rich as Canada, no one should have to be hungry or homeless. We do have people who can’t provide for themselves and we rely on the government to provide a floor below which Canadians can’t fall. We have to remember that this support comes from us, the taxpayers, so we need…

Can the federal budget put real economic building blocks in place?

But don’t bet on seeing a balanced budget, let alone one in surplus

Can the federal budget put real economic building blocks in place?For the first time in more than two years, the federal government is bringing down a budget today (April 19). So let’s look at what the budget should do to best serve Canada, its people and our economy. The first function of any budget is to compare expected income and expenditures. In a balanced budget,…

Alaskan campaign could kill B.C. cruise industry

The state wants non-U.S. cruise ships to be allowed to go straight from continental U.S. ports to Alaska, cutting out B.C. entirely

Alaskan campaign could kill B.C. cruise industryYou may think British Columbia has a cruise ship industry because of our great location, marvellous climate and amazing attractions, natural or otherwise. You would be wrong. We have a cruise industry here because of actions by the United States 100 years ago to put America first. The U.S. wanted to ensure that it had…

How to safely – and gainfully – prepare for the end of the pandemic

We'll likely be able to celebrate a more normal December holiday season in 2021. The hard part's getting there

How to safely – and gainfully – prepare for the end of the pandemicWe’ve just marked (I won’t say celebrated) the first anniversary of the pandemic. And we have a long way to go – but we need to stay diligent. A year ago, when it was just starting, most of us expected that the resulting fear, uncertainties and restrictions would be over in a few weeks. As…

Why a federal election doesn’t make sense right now

In calling an election, the Liberal government would be putting politics before the well-being of voters

Why a federal election doesn’t make sense right nowHere are some good reasons why we shouldn’t be considering a federal election now. I offer them with some trepidation. Just prior to the last British Columbia provincial election call, I was writing down some reasons why I thought a B.C. election wasn’t a good idea at the time. Alas, the writ was dropped even…

Put Canadian doctor shortages to rest once and for all

Here’s what needs to be done

Put Canadian doctor shortages to rest once and for allThe pandemic has presented us with many new difficulties that we’re struggling to manage. It has also pushed to the forefront some long-standing challenges that we’ve not dealt with in the past and have become even more problematic in the time of COVID-19. One ongoing problem that the pandemic has made much more serious and…

Market diversity will save Canada from international bullying

Reducing our dependence on any one particular market or supplier makes us much less vulnerable to arbitrary and unfair treatment

Market diversity will save Canada from international bullying“It’s not fair!” How often have parents heard this loud, angry declaration from young children at any real or perceived injustice? Children have an innate sense of fairness that demands to be respected. Hence the practice of asking one child to divide a piece of cake and the other to choose first. Fairness has become…

How to tone down the rhetoric and improve understanding

All political parties major contributors to the current situation of confrontation and violence

How to tone down the rhetoric and improve understandingPolitics and the COVID-19 pandemic have led to continuing confrontations and unprecedented uncertainties in the United States. The U.S. is still important enough that these events are reflected beyond its borders, leaving many longing for a return to a more stable situation and for the peace, order and good government, which are Canada’s ideals. Demonstrations,…

What Canadians can expect in the coming year

The good news? Pandemic under control. The bad news? Very slow growth, high debt, higher taxes, high unemployment

What Canadians can expect in the coming yearThe future is imaginary, said philosopher Baruch Spinoza. We don’t and can’t know what will happen in the future and last year certainly demonstrated that. Nevertheless, the desire to see what the new year will bring always overcomes the future’s inherent mystery. We peer into our crystal balls and bravely prognosticate, knowing full well that…

The congested logic behind congestion taxes

Vancouver is considering a tax on vehicles entering the downtown. It may well reduce pollution, but at what cost?

The congested logic behind congestion taxesOne definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Another definition might be to do something different and not expect any changes. We all have a tendency to do this. For example, we get married and wonder why we no longer have the same services we had in our…

Getting through a COVID-19 winter, one joke at a time

Hugs would be best, but we’re not there yet. So make someone smile

Getting through a COVID-19 winter, one joke at a timeHope is on the horizon. Soon at least one anti-COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be available and we can start to put the pandemic and its problems behind us. However, between then and now, we face an isolated holiday season and a locked down winter. In the face of that, what can we do to…

Investing in human capital will pay huge dividends

Investing in human capital will pay huge dividendsHuman capital enables us to develop or make use of all other forms of capital. There are several kinds of capital. Mentioned most often are investments in buildings, machinery, equipment and infrastructure that enable us to be productive, and the financial assets that represent them. Natural capital is now getting more attention – that’s the…

Getting through a COVID-19 winter

A better future awaits if we use this period of uncertainty to work on our mental, physical and career well-being

Getting through a COVID-19 winterDread isn’t too strong a word to describe the feelings many have about the winter about to start. The COVID-19 virus is reason enough to worry. There’s not much individuals can do about that except follow all the good advice about staying safe. However, there are two other major depressing impacts of COVID-19 that we…

It’s time Canada stopped protecting its dairy industry

Governments tend to forget about consumers when managing supply. Open trade to more cheese and challenge our farmers

It’s time Canada stopped protecting its dairy industryCheese heads – it’s what Canadians are called in many of the United States border regions. It’s because when many Canadians visit their American neighbours, they head straight to the nearest supermarket and buy cheese – and milk and eggs. Dairy and eggs are much more expensive in Canada than in the U.S., even when…

Creation of a common market first step to economic recovery

If the European Union with 27 very diverse countries and several languages can do it, why can't Canada?

Creation of a common market first step to economic recoveryCOVID-19 is still running rampant in many countries, is accelerating in Quebec and Ontario and has recently hospitalized the president of the United States. But in British Columbia, we’re hoping we can avoid a second wave this winter. We’re starting to turn our attention from immediate medical issues to the longer term challenge that the…

We don’t need elections now, we need leadership

Elections will turn us away from dealing with the real issues. And we don't seem to have the means to conduct safe voting

We don’t need elections now, we need leadershipWe would really like to have many things right now, even though the prospect of getting them any time soon is rather low. A vaccine against COVID-19 is likely at the top of the list. A bit more certainty about our work and social prospects is probably a close second. Instead of dealing with the…

Spotting and tackling prejudice

Move away from false statements and over-generalizations and recognize everyone as individuals

Spotting and tackling prejudiceRacism exists in Vancouver. How much, how bad and how widespread it is we can debate. That there are other places where the situation is much worse we can agree. But we still have room to improve here. In case there’s any doubt, Fairchild TV has produced two videos (here and here) documenting expressions of…

Finding work in a pandemic

Offer to do what needs to be done on a contract basis. Since there’s no long-term commitment, it’s easier for the employer to agree

Finding work in a pandemicSummer ends, September approaches. Schools may be opening or closing or something in between – even though the ads for back-to-school sales have been conspicuously fewer than usual. As the days shorten, our thoughts reluctantly turn from beaches, picnics and holidays to getting back to work. Perhaps you, like so many others, are out of…

We can’t dodge deficits and debt forever

A government deficit is sometimes necessary but we need plans in place to eliminate it and reduce the debt

We can’t dodge deficits and debt foreverDeficits have become emotive hot buttons. A deficit arises when governments spend more than their income, which consists mainly of taxes. If the deficiency is not immediately covered, current deficits turn into long-term government debt. No one seems to be neutral about deficits and the resulting debt. Traditional economists argue against them, saying that spending…
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