Hop Aboard the Free Transit Movement

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Our contemporary financial approach to moving people around a city subsidizes individual automobile use, which leads to more car use and worse mobility for everyone. An easy solution to this problem that’s gaining popularity is to change what mode of transportation get subsidies. The most direct way to stop subsidizing cars is to make public transit truly public by not directly charging for it (and instead charge selfish transport solutions).

We’ve previously looked at how free transit also improves the economy (unlike cars).

The fare-free movement turns that funding model on its head. Advocates believe public transit, like other essential services, should have never been a user-pay system in the first place. After all, we aren’t charged a fee to drive down a city street, walk down a city sidewalk or sit in a city park. Our property taxes pay for those basic amenities.

As Montreal urban planner and social economy expert Jason Price, co-editor of the 2018 book Free Public Transit wrote: “We don’t pay for elevators, do we? And rightly so. The very idea is preposterous. Yet the public transit system plays the same role in the city, only sideways.”

Read more.

Thanks to Mike!

Radical Idea: Libraries

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If the idea of a library was purposed today it simply would be laughed out of existence because a library embodies an idea that is often ignored: that people, no matter their status, should be given a chance at no cost. In fact, libraries are free for all and generate no profit. What’s more they let people use the same shared resource over and over again – anathema in a post-Napster internet. Take a moment and marvel in the fact that despite the commodification and finalization of all aspects of our life that the simple library still stands.

The majesty of library buildings is matched only by the nobility of their purpose. The public library does not make anyone money; it does not understand its patrons as mere consumers, or as a revenue base. Instead, it aspires to encounter people as minds. The public library exists to grant access to information, to facilitate curiosity, education, and inquiry for their own sake. It is a place where the people can go to pursue their aspirations and their whims, to uncover histories or investigate new scientific discoveries.

And it is available, crucially, to everyone. It costs nothing to enter, nothing to borrow – in New York, and in many other cities, the public library system has even eliminated late fees. All the knowledge and artistry of its collection is available to the public at will, and it is a privilege made available, without prejudice, to rich and poor alike.

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Taxing the Ultra Wealthy Can Save the Planet

A wealth tax could be a way to not only address inequality, it’s also a way to reduce the damage done to the planet by greedy billionaires. Oxfam looked into the investments that the ultra rich hold and found that their investments alone do more damage to the planet than the entire nation of France. By introducing a wealth tax it would force the ultra wealthy to streamline their holdings and force them to think better about where they put their money. Let’s tax their obscene wealth and ban their private jets!

Researchers made the calculations by starting with a list of the 220 richest people in the world, according to the Bloomberg billionaire list from August 2022. They worked with a data provider to identify what percentage of each company was held by the billionaires and the scope 1 and 2 emissions of these corporations. The researchers used analysis by Bloomberg for detailed breakdowns of the sources of billionaire wealth to calculate what percentage of each company was owned by the billionaires. They excluded billionaires with less than a 10% share in a business. The research was limited because it was reliant on data that companies publish themselves, which is often not externally verified.

“Each of these billionaires would each have to circumnavigate the world almost 16m times in a private jet to create the same emissions,” the report said – adding that almost four million people would have to go vegan to offset the emissions of each of the billionaires.

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Living Wage Canada Releases New Rates, Annual Calculations

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It’s one thing to have a job, it’s another thing to have a job that pays you enough to participate in society. Canada’s minimum wage, like most places, doesn’t match the reality of what a person needs to earn to make a living (thus people say minimum wage deserves minimum effort). Despite this unfortunate starting point, Living Wage Canada has found a way to streamline for both employers and employees what to expect an hourly minimum rate should be. As a result, the organization makes it easier for employers to be a certified living wage employer and will make it simpler for workers to know what to ask for.

The living wage movement in Canada stemmed from conversations around child poverty in the early 2010s. One major contribution to child poverty is parents who are working but still not able to make ends meet. Because of this focus on children the living wage was originally calculated for a family of four with two working parents. At the time, testing showed that the living wage rate for single parents with one child and single adults were fairly close to that of the reference family of four. However, over time, the living wage rates for these different household types have grown. The introduction of the Canada Child Benefit in 2016 by the federal government lowered living wage rates across the country. In 2019, the provincial government in Ontario introduced the CARE credit, which offers additional support to households with children.

Read more (PDF).

Thanks to Delaney!

Protests Work: Ontario to Repeal Anti-Worker Legislation

Last week the Conservative Ontario government did what was previously unthinkable in Canada: take away charter rights from people who work. This unprecedented act was met with widespread opposition from unions coast to coast as the Conservatives made it clear that collective bargaining (like NHL and MLB players have) will no longer be respected. People said no and launched massive protests defending worker’s rights and now the weak Conservatives admitted they were wrong and will repeal their legislation.

Protesting works and don’t let anybody try to convince you otherwise.

“(Workers) took on the Ford government and the government blinked,” said CUPE national president Mark Hancock.

Opposition to the law had been gathering steam over the past several days and the unions used the press conference to give Ford a glimpse of what he faced had he not promised Monday morning to repeal the law.

Read more.

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