The slippery ethics of paying grocery executives bonuses

COVID-19 has made us realize that many people whose jobs are too important to be interrupted are the ones earning the least money

The slippery ethics of paying grocery executives bonusesAlmost everyone agrees that grocery store workers should earn better wages, especially during a pandemic. In Canada, their hourly rate hovers around $15 an hour. New hires get about $13 an hour, while the highest paid earn almost $50,000 annually, or about $25 an hour. In a high-volume, low-margin world, salaries are what they are.…

Shedding the destructive legacy of the baby boomers

Someone said, ‘Greed is good’ and we repeated it. But the only thing that matters when you die is your legacy

Shedding the destructive legacy of the baby boomersI have to apologize to the youth of the world for the state we find ourselves in. Yes, great things have happened in my lifetime. We watched the fall of the Berlin Wall and we have taken some steps in the progress of human rights. But the legacy of the baby boomer generation leaves little…

Can we save humanity?

The world’s problems are many, and the solutions require abrupt shifts and great sacrifice. But change is essential

Can we save humanity?The world is in crisis. After touching on some of the problems, I’ll list possible policy responses and suggest why humanity so far has failed to implement them. Time is short but I believe that at root, our obstacles are political, not lack of scientific knowledge. Problems Global warming and related extreme weather events, rising…

Can Canada lead a global push to eradicate poverty?

First we need to deal with our own problems, starting with the huge inequities among our Indigenous peoples

Can Canada lead a global push to eradicate poverty?Despite our best efforts towards eliminating poverty and inequality, large segments of society remain left behind. Problems seem to outpace rhetoric. Worse, governments face huge challenges in meeting their obligations and commitments. We face two tragedies: our domestic challenge with poverty and inequality, and the estimated 828 million people globally living in slums (expected to…

The rise of Bernie Sanders’ ideas in the U.S. was inevitable

Corporate Democrats don’t seem to realize they’ve lost the trust of American people disillusioned by the lack of progress

The rise of Bernie Sanders’ ideas in the U.S. was inevitablePierre Trudeau once said to an American audience, “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant … one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” The United States has built one of the most powerful empires the world has ever known. The founders created an ingenious system to allow for…

CEO pay: when they deserve it and when they don’t 

CEO pay has increased over the last decade but the increase is perfectly related to the value of their skills

CEO pay: when they deserve it and when they don’t In debates about inequality, some people – including some economists – claim the salaries and compensation of chief executive officers aren’t linked to performance. Essentially, they don’t really earn their money. This claim, repeated ad nauseam in recent years, is misleading to say the least. As noted in my recent study published by the Fraser…

Is capitalism a cure for the climate crisis?

Life in an air-conditioned bunker, drinking vodka sodas and binge-watching Netflix may not be enough to stimulate the privileged climate-change survivors

Is capitalism a cure for the climate crisis?The actions of the Donald Trump presidency and the many global populist governments that follow suit (Brazil, the Philippines, and arguably Saudi Arabia and even Australia) reveal a line of thought about the climate crisis: it doesn’t really exist. Climate change is basically viewed as an externality determined by God, nature or whimsy. When it’s…

Is the rise in inequality exaggerated?

Is the rise in inequality exaggerated?The rise in economic inequality is one of the most potent 21st century memes. You could even call it pervasive. It dominates the debate in the Democratic presidential contest and has a material echo in our current federal election. The rich – particularly the notorious one per cent – must be made to “pay their…

Can we bring our disaffected youth back into the fold?

Cynicism and class divisions are leading to cultural insecurity, reducing tolerance and compassion. Something must change

Can we bring our disaffected youth back into the fold?The international landscape is in unprecedented flux, challenging assumptions of social, political and economic progress for youth everywhere. Globalization, technological advances, demographic pressures from global migration, sectarian and ideological conflicts, and economic disparities have all affected the cohesiveness of societies. Shifting unemployment patterns and doubts about the sustainability of social security systems and the environment…

Most Canadian households are better off than U.S. counterparts

U.S. households not only live with higher income inequality than in Canada but more than half are worse off in terms of purchasing power

Most Canadian households are better off than U.S. counterpartsRegardless of whether America is great, or about to be great again, a new analysis shows that Canadians outrank Americans on household income. The Economist magazine recently devoted a long section to a profile of Canada with frequent comparisons to the United States. Among the statistics highlighted were that Canadians’ life expectancy was three years…

Call for equal pay for women for equal play falls flat

Let's face it: women's sports are second-tier entertainment, which even most women don't support

Call for equal pay for women for equal play falls flatThe men’s final at Wimbledon on Sunday took five immortal sets of tennis over four hours 57 minutes before Novak Djokovic finally outlasted Roger Federer in a stirring contest that ended in a fifth-set tiebreaker at 13-12. Saturday’s women’s final lasted just 56 minutes in two quick sets for Simona Halep to upset Serena Williams.…

Overstated poverty claims paint false picture

Using multiple sources of data can bring circumstances into sharper focus. That will allow us to concentrate on helping only those people who are truly in need

Overstated poverty claims paint false pictureClaims of rising inequality are rampant in the media, mainly because many pundits confuse inequality with poverty and assume that the poor are enjoying lower living standards than before. But there’s no reason to expect poverty to move in the same direction as inequality – incomes rising at an uneven pace will reduce problems of…

Financial illiteracy on the campaign trail won’t serve Sanders

The U.S. senator is using baseball to decry the inequalities that crop up in capitalism. That’s just nonsense

Financial illiteracy on the campaign trail won’t serve SandersSomewhere in heaven, baseball pioneer Curt Flood is smacking his forehead with his palm. The reason for Flood’s exasperation? Comments from avowed socialist and Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. On the stump, the Vermont senator is using baseball to decry the inequalities that crop up in capitalism. “If we are a nation that can…

Budget deficits can increase social inequality

The burden of the debt financing falls on the whole population, and low-income Canadians can least afford to contribute

Budget deficits can increase social inequalityThere’s been much talk about the federal government’s attempts to enact redistributive policies to reduce income inequality in Canada. But the way these measures are funded could increase inequality. One think-tank in Quebec surveyed a panel of 70 policy experts who noted that the latest federal budget would, on the whole, reduce inequality. I contributed…

We’re winning the war on poverty

The proportion of households below the LICO has been falling for two decades and is now at its lowest level ever at 7.8%

We’re winning the war on povertyDonald Trump isn't the only American president to say dumb things. Lyndon Johnson, expressing his concern for the well-being of the American people, said that he thought it was a shame that half the U.S. population lived at a below-average income. As anyone who ever stayed awake in math class knows, an average is a…

Women control about $2.2 trillion in Canadian assets: CIBC

By 2028, women will control just under $3.8 trillion or more than one-third of total financial assets

Women control about $2.2 trillion in Canadian assets: CIBCWomen in Canada currently control about $2.2 trillion of Canadian assets, a rising amount of wealth and increasing influence on the overall economy, says a new report released on Monday by CIBC Capital Markets. “More needs to be done in order to fully utilize women's economic might, but the direction is clear,” said the report,…

Gender pay gap has little to do with discrimination

Discrepancies are more often the result of different choices men and women make, on and off the job

Gender pay gap has little to do with discriminationFor decades, politicians, pundits and activists have clamoured about a gender pay gap and have cited statistics purporting to show that the economy is unfair to women. Women, after all, get paid only around 70 to 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. However, for just as long, studies have shown that this discrepancy…

Closing the gap on global inequality by every measure

From income to health to education, the metrics show improving conditions around the world

Closing the gap on global inequality by every measureAccording to recent news reports, economic inequality is on the rise. Since inequality is the gloomy backdrop for many policy discussions, it’s unsurprising that many people in the world’s wealthiest countries worry about the issue. However, very few are aware that this increase in inequality (the magnitude and causes of which are hotly debated) is…

Washington Consensus lit the fuse blowing apart the modern world

We’ve allowed market forces to replace a host of political-economic goals and considerations, and we’re far worse for it

Washington Consensus lit the fuse blowing apart the modern worldPax Americana, the long-standing U.S.-inspired post-war world order, is unravelling like a cheap carpet. Apart from catastrophes like Venezuela, Britain's chaotic retreat from the European Union, or the threat from President Donald Trump to pull the United States out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, there’s the shocking rise of anti-western authoritarian regimes in Iran,…

Legislation to ensure pay equity for work of equal value falls flat

Only a free market will balance out pay inequities. If a company fails to compensate fairly, employees will simply move on

Legislation to ensure pay equity for work of equal value falls flatFrom conception to implementation, pay equity is a sham. It’s obscured in double speak, packaged in seemingly laudable goals and promises great results. However, it can’t deliver them because it’s based on false premises. Any good that comes of it is far outweighed by the harm. That’s why Canadians should be wary of any legislation…

Calgary summit to focus on aligning wealth with social change

Nov. 16 event to bring together leading experts on a variety of issues around impact investing

Calgary summit to focus on aligning wealth with social changeThe time is ripe for aligning wealth with social change, according to the upcoming fourth annual Capital for Cause Impact Investing summit in Calgary on Nov. 16. Organizers of the event say the summit brings together leading experts on a variety of issues around impact investing. The purpose is to provide relevant and accurate information…

Key piece of international basic income analysis has been eliminated

An open letter to Premier Doug Ford and Minister Lisa MacLeod concerning the cancellation of the Ontario basic income pilot

Key piece of international basic income analysis has been eliminatedDear Premier Doug Ford and Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod, We, collectively, represent the principal investigators, research teams and stakeholder groups behind several distinct basic income experiments underway in Finland, Scotland, the Netherlands, the United States, Spain, Kenya and India. We profoundly regret that you chose to cancel the Ontario Basic Income…

How to address social inequality without an inheritance tax

Ideas about taxing, restricting or abolishing your inheritance have been floated by western social thinkers for centuries

How to address social inequality without an inheritance taxShould Canadians be taxed on inheritance? The question is increasingly being asked, but the answer is not straight-forward. This discussion is inherently linked to maintaining inequality from one generation to another – and basically to a skewing of the playing field of life from the start. Such debates aren’t new. In fact, they centre on…

Why we shouldn’t worry about wealth inequality in Canada

Age and accumulated wealth account for much of the discrepancy. And that's just normal life-cycle economics

Why we shouldn’t worry about wealth inequality in CanadaMuch ado about nothing. The title of the Shakespearean comedy comes to mind when I think about the attention devoted to wealth inequality in recent years. The left's (and much of the major media's) preoccupation with economic inequality is fundamentally misplaced and has diverted attention away from the real problems we face. For example, take…

Why the workforce gender gap matters to business

Reducing barriers to adding women to the workforce in Canada could add $150 billion to $420 billion in GDP over 10 years

Why the workforce gender gap matters to businessBy Denise Mullen and Kristine St.-Laurent Business Council of British Columbia In British Columbia and Canada more broadly, the proportion of females aged 15 and over who participate in the labour force remains nine percentage points below that of males. And it has stayed this way since the early 1990s. Why does this matter? Sometimes,…

We need to measure basic-needs poverty, not inequality

The fundamental problem with relative measures of poverty is that they often give us results that border on absurd

We need to measure basic-needs poverty, not inequalityDoes Canada need a new measure of poverty? That’s what Michael Wolfson, member of the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa, recently argued. According to Wolfson, poverty (in the Canadian context) is hard to measure because it’s connected to issues such as disability, literacy, food insecurity and the like.…

Time for #MeToo to shift to the #IRegret movement

The focus on consent has made men all over the world stop and think. Am I one of those men?

Time for #MeToo to shift to the #IRegret movementStrangely, this weird moment in history is a good time to be alive. I've been a feminist most of my adult life, at least since I realized power imbalances were rampant in present and past societies. After dedicating most of the 1990s and 2000s to fighting the good fight in the trenches, I burned out and left…

Quest for equality must first address poverty, childcare

Too many people are one job loss, one illness, one retirement or one calamity away from disaster. We need income security

Quest for equality must first address poverty, childcareWhen I was an economics student years ago, the last living student of John Maynard Keynes, noted economist Joan Robinson, gave a lecture to a packed hall. During the question period, one smart aleck student asked, “Why should anyone study economics?” After a prolonged pause, her answer was simple, “So you know when economists are…

Pay equity laws alone won’t close the gap

Canadian families need affordable, accessible child care to effectively address gender equity issues

Pay equity laws alone won’t close the gapThere were a lot of old ghosts haunting the Liberal government when it tabled its budget on Feb. 27. But have these spectres brought change to women’s lives in the wake of the recent International Women’s Day? Not likely. The budget announced proactive pay equity for workers in federally regulated sectors (banking, communication, transportation, Crown…

Sharing the spoils in a world ruled by the few

In a future ruled by titans, plebs lose opportunities to innovate. Advancement depends on idea generation in the hands of the many rather than the few

Sharing the spoils in a world ruled by the fewLast week’s announcement that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase are forming a new health-care company to cover their employees is an interesting case study in creating haves and have nots. It’s an intriguing concept because of how fractured the United States health-care system is. No doubt other companies will join suit and pool their…