Canada falls behind in social, economic areas

High-tax Nordic countries score better socially and economically than low-tax anglo-American countries, especially the United States, according to a Canadian social and economic policy think-tank, reported CanWest News Service Dec. 6. Canada is falling behind a number of industrial nations in a wide range of social and economic areas, says a summary of the report being issued today by the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The study, an attack against the crusade in Canada for tax cuts, said CanWest, compares four high-tax Nordic countries and six low-tax Anglo-American countries, including Canada, on 50 social and economic measures and finds the high-tax Nordic countries score better in 42 of them. “By cutting taxes, the Conservative government is taking Canada in the wrong direction,” said economist Neil Brooks, a co-author of the study, who teaches tax law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. “It wants to make Canada more like the United States, yet our findings show that Americans bear severe social costs for living in one of the lowest taxed countries in the world.”

The US, with one of the lowest tax burdens in the industrial world, falls near the bottom of industrialized countries in a strikingly large number of social indicators, and ranks as the most dysfunctional by a considerable margin, it added. “The tax-cut lobby has it backwards,” said fellow co-author Thaddeus Hwong, who teaches tax policy at the School of Administrative Studies in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies. “Not only do government social programs create a healthier society, they also create the conditions for a vibrant – and competitive – economy.”

About local treasure

Back in the 60’s when I was an eager young student at York University I took a micro economics course, wrote Larry Seeley in a letter to Courier-Islander (Campbell River, BC) Dec. 6. One theory that has always remained foremost in my mind is the action or reaction that occurs when someone spends a dollar in the marketplace. Due to what is or was labeled as the “k” factor, this dollar spent is multiplied many times over.

If I spend one dollar at a local store this helps to pay the staff or contribute to the profit of the store, wrote Seeley. In turn the employee spends their earnings or the owner their profit and the cycle continues. The final effect is amazing as the building and renovating of our little business has resulted in a return of somewhere between $7.5 and $16 million to the community of Campbell River.

Monster in the closet

Although new Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach didn’t reveal much about his health-care plans during his Tory leadership campaign, it’s the monster in the closet he will have to open sooner or later, wrote columnist Roy Clancy in The Calgary Sun Dec. 6. With a recent Supreme Court ruling to the effect that Canadians have a right to timely treatment, Stelmach might not have any choice. Patrick Monahan, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, suggests the court decision leaves two options: Improve the current system to provide timely access, or introduce a privately funded option. But he says the choice will ultimately be made in the legislatures of the land, not the courts.

Demystifying the MBA hype

Many people play with the idea of pursuing an MBA (master of business administration), wrote The Toronto Sun Dec. 6. With dollar signs in their eyes, they weigh the heavy financial and time commitments against the return on investment. Are these initials after your name really the key to putting your career into overdrive?

Lisa Korec, a communications specialist with GS1 Canada, decided to pursue her MBA after recruiters repeatedly told her that they prefer to hire MBAs over equally or more qualified non-MBAs, the Sun wrote. Korec found her MBA degree from York University’s Schulich School of Business helped her to develop high-level decision making skills and quickly led her to greater responsibility and a higher salary.

Ontario food banks call for integrated child benefits

The Ontario Association of Food Banks is releasing three reports this morning focusing on the plight of their biggest customers: children, the disabled and the working poor, reported the Hamilton Spectator Dec. 6. But unlike their annual Hunger Count reports, which for years tracked who’s using food banks and how that use has been growing, today’s reports offer ideas on how to tackle the poverty that puts those clients in the food bank lineups.

Using a grant from Hamilton Food Share, staff time and the efforts of a York University grad student, the association combed national and international research to detail the poverty faced by Ontario’s children, disabled and working poor, and offer what they say is a carefully thought out and costed plan to lift many clients out of poverty, said the Spectator.

Gender gap in York professors’ salaries averages $9,000, says StatsCan

Female professors at the University of Toronto make more than $18,000 less than their male counterparts, making it the largest gender gap in Canadian university salaries, Statistics Canada reported, according to the National Post Dec. 6. The study looked at the wages of professors from 2004 to 2005. York University is not far behind the U of T in the salary gap between male and female professors, the study reports. Full-time female professors average salaries more than $9,000 lower than their male counterparts, the study says. The lowest gender gap in the GTA is at Ryerson University, where female professors make about $6,000 less than male professors, the study says.

Schulich team coming on strong in stock portfolio contest

The University of Victoria is holding on to first place in the Financial Post‘s MBA Portfolio Competition, but only by a whisker, reported the National Post Dec. 6. Their risk-adjusted return, using the Sharpe ratio, is just over 5. Other teams may have had stronger returns – for example, the team from the Schulich School of Business at York University leads the pack with a stellar 8.1-per-cent gain in the first two months of the competition – but their risk-adjusted returns have suffered from larger swings in the value of their holdings. With a Sharpe ratio of about 4.5, Team Schulich is in fourth place, but they’ve narrowed their distance from first. Sharpe ratios aside, Team Schulich has blown the other teams out of the water with its awesome 8.1-per-cent return.

Kenyan research is the same, without the conveniences, says alum

Old habits die hard, wrote York alumnus Jacob Kojfman (LLB/MBA ‘03) in an ongoing column about his six-month work experience in Kenya, in the National Post Dec. 6. The first few days I was here, I was still reaching for my BlackBerry, even though I disconnected the service and there are no BlackBerry service providers in Nakuru, Kenya. So do familiar notions.

My weekly salary, in Canadian dollars, pales to what I normally spend on a shirt and tie, Kojfman wrote. And there is no food court with dozens of choices, there is only one place I can eat lunch. I don’t have a Rolodex for the five business cards I’ve managed to collect, and putting them in my BlackBerry won’t do me any good. So superficially, working in Nakuru may not be like working in Toronto. But truth be told, the work itself is very similar to what I could be doing in any major city in the developed world.

On air

  • York student Ashif Jaffer’s request for a teaching assistant during exams was discussed on the Bill Carroll show on CFRB radio (Toronto) and his mother was interviewed about the story on CBC Radio Toronto’s “Here and Now” program Dec. 5.