Economics

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Long Work Hours Don't Work For People (Or The Planet)

Beyond helping break the cycle of constant consumption and allowing people to focus on things that matter -- like friends, family and time in nature -- a shorter work week would also reduce rush-hour traffic and gridlock, which contribute to pollution and climate change. It could help reduce stress and the health problems that come from modern work practices, such as sitting for long hours at computers. And it would give people more options for family care.
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Explaining The Concept Of Consumer Surplus

A large majority of people do not smoke, or no longer smoke, and tend to accept certain bits of conventional wisdom without question. Smoking tobacco being harmful to one's health, smokers therefore need to be protected--even those who would choose to, say, patronize their own smoking restaurants and bars. And we can count on government to enforce regulations and bans to this effect. But what if smokers get something from their "vice," and that this can be explained in economic terms? The answer could be found in the concept of consumer surplus.
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We Need To Work Less To Live Better

It's absurd that so many people still work eight hours a day, five days a week -- or more -- with only a few weeks' vacation a year, often needing two incomes to support a household. Our economic system was developed when resources seemed plentiful if not inexhaustible, and physical infrastructure was lacking. We need an overhaul to meet today's conditions rather than those that existed decades ago when we were unaware of many of the potential negative consequences of our actions.
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Why Big Box Retailers Cost Communities More

What were once staples of daily living in our communities -- butchers, bakers, fishmongers, and greengrocers -- are now seen as inefficient when large chain grocery stores deliver all-in-one convenience. But "fast and convenient" has weakened our communities. As the African proverb says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
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Liberals' 2016 Budget Opts For Big Spending Over Restraint

We've seen this story before in the mid-1990s, when out-of-control deficits and an impending sovereign debt crisis led to painful spending cuts and tax increases. The government is wrong to make the return to budget balance conditional on strong economic growth. Population aging is already taking its toll on long-term projections, and too many unforeseen events can derail the fiscal path. Only tight fiscal discipline can balance the budget within a reasonable timeframe, protecting Canadians' standards of living from future large tax increases and cuts to government services.
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The TPP Hands Control Over Trade To The World's Wealthiest

The world's top one per cent own more than 50 per cent of the world's wealth. The ability to make policy and to enforce it at the national level is essential to combat the slide towards plutocracy, under which society is controlled by the wealthiest citizens. Mr. Obama and Ms. Freeland, please listen to your own rhetoric. Pull the plug on the TPP and CETA.
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Why Newly Constructed Homes Remain Unsold In Alberta

I recently wrote an edition presenting a statistic that isn't covered very often and it garnered some attention and debate. The statistic I'm referring to is the number of completed but unabsorbed houses. These are houses (single and semi-detached) that are freshly built that don't have a binding, non-conditional agreement made to buy or rent the house.
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It's Time for a Tough Conversation About Economic Growth

As an economist who has focused on environmental challenges, I've long recognized that in my field it often takes a major crisis before cherished but unsatisfactory theories finally give way to new thinking. So it is with how economists think about growth and the environment. The tragic irony is that all this growth in the past few decades has done little to improve happiness in the 'developed' world. Meanwhile, their growing economies consume the ecological space desperately needed by poorer countries where growth still promises real gains in well-being.
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The World Needs a Better Way to Measure the Well-Being of Nations

Simon Kuzents, the economist who developed the GDP measurement, warned it was not a good meter stick for national well-being. Still, that's exactly how the GDP has been used globally since the 1940s. GDP is the total value of all the goods and services a country produces in a year. So, creating jobs and producing equipment to clean up an oil spill, for example, adds to the GDP. As does producing guns and bombs for war. GDP is blind to factors like unemployment, living conditions and environmental degradation. Make sense? Not really. Whether it's genuine progress, national happiness, or a system that blends the best of both, the global community must agree on a more holistic way to measure our nations' progress that doesn't just count the money we make.
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The Economic Case Against Leg Room Being a 'Human Right'

I almost spit out my coffee the other morning when I stumbled upon this piece by a fellow named Christopher Elliott. In it, he argued that having enough room for your legs on an airplane should be a "human right." One has to be willfully ignorant to not understand that this type of regulation, if adopted, would raise the cost of airline tickets everywhere.
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It's Time to Talk About a New Vision for Canada's Economy

The federal leaders' debate on the economy focused on important issues but no one talked about a different vision for Canada's economy. A better economic vision would support the right of all Canadians to live in a healthy environment, with access to clean air and water and healthy food. It would respect planetary boundaries and provide the moral imperative to decrease growing income disparities. Businesses would be required to pay for environmental damage they inflict, capital would be more widely distributed and ideas, such as employee shareholder programs with ethically invested stocks, would be the norm.
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Canadians Need to Know the Truth About the TPP

This week, ministers from 12 countries representing 40 per cent of the world's economy will meet to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the largest trade agreements ever. As talks are rushed to conclusion, Canada is still fighting to have its supply management system excluded from the deal. We wish the government well in its quest to protect supply management, but we wish it would go to bat for other core Canadian values and industries. Unlike our European and even American counterparts, Canadian discussion on the TPP has been limited to chickens, eggs and milk.
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Canada Must Put a Price on Carbon Emissions

Whenever I meet a Hummer, tension rises in my chest, unkind thoughts develop in my head and my hands tighten and tremble, as if they want to signal something. I've long wondered why that happens, and I think I've finally figured it out. It has something to do with a song, economics and the courteous way to walk your dog.
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Why Canadian Hospitals Outperform U.S. Hospitals

The dismal record of for-profit hospitals illustrates the problem with running hospitals as businesses. The for-profits have higher death rates and employ fewer clinical personnel like nurses than their non-profit counterparts. But care at for-profits actually costs more, and they spend much more on the bureaucracy, a reflection of the high cost of implementing shrewd financial strategies. Canadian hospital administrators don't have to play financial games to assure their survival.
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Let's Get as Angry About Political Wrongdoings as We Do About Political Correctness

Why hasn't my Facebook feed filled with at least the same level of indignation about our government's disgraceful treatment of our Veterans as it was about the a tobogganing hill? We must learn to calibrate our anger so it's proportional to the injustice or slight. Let's fight for the things that make life fun for us like tobogganing while also fighting the things that make life miserable such as payday loan companies, multinational corporations, venture capitalists, a failed War on Terrorism and the self-serving hacks in the media and government who enable it all.

Dredging Up the Dreaded Economic "D-Word"

You thought it was dead for good. So did I. It's a proven misfit in an ever-globalizing world. But the 'D' word is back. The U.S. economy is on the move, but Europe is stuck in the mud. Suddenly, there's lots of talk -- once again -- about decoupling.
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Yes, Climate Change Will Hurt Your Bottom Line

Those who don't outright deny the existence of human-caused global warming often argue we can't or shouldn't do anything about it because it would be too costly. Take Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who recently said, "No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country." But in failing to act on global warming, many leaders are putting jobs and economic prosperity at risk, according to recent studies.