The Socialist Caucus publishes Turn Left for each federal and Ontario provincial convention. It is written and edited and by SC supporters but also includes articles by and interviews with progressive activists from outside the NDP as well.
Starting at the NDP federal convention in Vancouver in 2011, Turn Left was presented in a magazine format and was a huge success.
Turn Left - Summer 2011
• Saving public pensions in Canada
• Interview with NDP MP Dan Harris
• Stopping the war in the Middle East
• Defeating the Harper Agenda
• SC Resolutions to NDP Convention
• A Review of the Spirit Level
• Interview with CAW economist Jim Stanford
Turn Left - Winter 2011
• NDP Breakthrough in Nova Scotia
• Challenging the failues of capitalism
• Canada and the Honduras Coup D'Etat
• In defense of social ownership
• Public ownership of the auto industry
• Education is a right
• Capitalism and global hunger
• French language rights in Quebec
Turn Left - Winter 2009
• Michael Prue for Ontario NDP Leader
• Saving jobs in the auto sector
• The Wall Street Collapse
• Ending Discrimination in Public Schools
• Venezuela - Behind the Revolution
• No economic stimulus for education or culture
Turn Left - Fall 2006
• Rejecting the war in Afghanistan
• Drug companies profiteering from AIDS crisis
• Defending CUPE's boycott of Israel
• Military spending as "aid"
• NDP Inner Party Democracy
• Harper destroys chance for universal child care
• Canada's role in Haitian overthrow
Do corporate tax cuts produce jobs?
A succession of Liberal and Conservative governments claimed that cuts to corporate taxes are the surest way to increase capital spending and job creation.
So, what happened?
While corporate cash flow rose, capital investment as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) showed a long term decline, according to a study released by the Ottawa-based Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives.
Governments slashed the combined corporate federal-provincial tax rate from 50 per cent in the 1980s to 29.5 per cent in 2010. Before tax reforms in 1987, fixed capital spending stood at 12.7 per cent of GDP. Since then, investment actually fell to 11.7 per cent of GDP.
Thus, not only is there no proof that lower corporate taxes stimulate more investments, leading to more good jobs, it appears that the opposite is the case.
So, where did the 'excess' money go? Apparently, it went into the pockets of rich shareholders and CEOs.
What's next? During the federal election campaign the Conservative Party promised to further reduce the federal tax rate to 15 per cent in 2012. The Liberal Party, which dropped the business levy from 28 to 21 per cent between 2000 and 2004, now propose to restore the rate back to 18 per cent.
The New Democratic Party said it would keep the combined federal-provincial corporate tax rate below the U.S. federal rate, which is 35 per cent for companies with profits above $18.4 million.
The latest brutal assault on the social wage is Ottawa's reversal on the Canada Pension Plan.
Instead of enhancing the CPP, which federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty promised to do when he met with his provincial counterparts in Prince Edward Island last summer, the Tories are pushing a private sector scheme.
Leaning heavily on the capitalist economic crisis as a convenient crutch, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, "Now is not the time for CPP premium increases." Does Harper appreciate the cruel irony of asking impecunious pensioners to invest in the stock market which had three meltdowns in 15 years (1997, 2002 and 2008)?
The CPP, which provides a guaranteed benefit to all seniors, should be increased immediately. Why? Because...
1. It is impossible to live on a basic pension of $11,200 a year.
2. Sixty per cent of workers have no workplace pension.
3. One-third of Canadians between the ages of 24 and 64 have no personal retirement savings.
4. Only one in four taxpayers put any money into a Registered Retirement Savings Plan in 2008. After 25 years of stagnant or declining wages, it is hardly surprising how difficult it is for people to save on their own.
5. 1.6 million Canadian seniors today live in poverty, with incomes below $16,000 a year.
Presently, the Canadian Labour Congress is campaigning for a doubling of Canada and Quebec Pension Plan benefits, to be phased in by small premium increases over seven years. The resulting $22,400 annual pension income would be an improvement, but still woefully inadequate, especially seven years from now, and beyond.
The CPP, which hasn't been expanded since its inception 45 years ago, should be tripled, and the main burden of the contribution increase should be borne by big business and the rich. Yes, the class that has gained the most from two decades of corporate tax cuts, and that appropriated more than 30 per cent of the extra income generated during the so-called boom years (according to Linda McQuaig and Neil Brook's recent book "The Trouble with Billionaires"), should pay for this and other pressing social needs.
Naturally, any increase in CPP benefits is opposed by the banks, financial institutions and insurance companies which have profited enormously by selling RRSPs.
Enter the Conservative federal government, and their political cousins in the province of Alberta. They propose a new Pooled Registered Pension Plan - a voluntary scheme to be administered by the financial industry. Small and large firms could use this to offer private pensions to their employees, who would pay into it, but get a pension based only on market performance. It would spread a growing disease, the focus of a bitter labour struggle at Vale Inco, and now at Stelco, in which management seeks to replace “defined benefits” with “defined contributions”. The latter embodies the possibility of little or no pension for the entrapped workers.
Ontario Federation of Labour President Sid Ryan, who was among two dozen protesters who occupied Finance Minister Flaherty's office in Whitby, Ontario on December 19, called the Tory scheme “a gimmick to get the issue of pensions off the front pages.” Ryan was all too kind.
Actually, it is a wretched scam designed to rip off the working class and further subsidize financial Capital. It is a case of kicking workers while we're down.
The appropriate answer to the conniving Tories, and to the more subtle but equally venal Liberals, is for workers to stand up and fight back. General strikes from Portugal to Greece, powerful and unifying actions scarcely reported in the North American media, show the way to defend pensions and other threatened social gains.
The Harper majority is an artificial product of an undemocratic electoral system. We can replace Labour’s retreat of the past 30 years with mass resistance to the corporate agenda. We can prove that the most right-wing government in Canadian history is a paper tiger, that it can be blown away by a strong wave of class struggle.
Stock Market Pension Plan is a Tory Scam
"There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward democratic socialism." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."
NDP Socialist Caucus. Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved. firstname.lastname@example.org
Fall 2014 Edition of Turn Left/Virez a gauche
During the most recent elections, NDP leaders in various provinces copied the Third Way playbook and ran on so-called "moderate" campaigns to the centre, all of which were disasters, and that's putting it kindly.
Read the Fall 2014 edition of Turn Left Magazine.
Download full issue
Cuba - Continuity and Change in the Revolution
by Julius Arscott
A recent trip to Cuba was just what the doctor ordered after an active year of fighting capitalist austerity. Cuba had been on my 'to do' list for quite some time, and I finally had the opportunity to visit the country about which I had heard so much. I landed in Santiago De Cuba, the second largest city, located in the eastern part of the island. I spent a fantastic two weeks backpacking around that region.
One of the first things I noticed as we drove from the city along the southern Caribbean coast, against the backdrop of the Sierra Maestra mountains, were the vintage cars everywhere, the revolutionary slogans covering the walls in small towns and villages, and the natural beauty of the place. After spending a night at my resort, I was off, thanks to a friendly Cuban woman who spoke some English. She directed me on how to escape the bastion of retiree sun worshipers. My experience with Cuban people was amazing. I know very little Spanish, and very few Cubans know English. Yet I was helped along the way, and never felt in danger. I travelled from home to home, staying in what is referred as ‘Casas Particulars’. I spent the days on the beaches, walking around town, meeting Cubans, and seeing how they live.
Cuba is known for its good rum, cigars, and vintage American cars which are commonly still in use today. This may seem nostalgic to visitors, but you get the impression that the Cuban people are quite tired of them. Cuba conveys to a socialist a very clear idea of the impact of breaking with the most powerful imperialist power in the world, the United States. Cuba definitely suffers from a lack of manufactured goods. It was supplied by the Soviet Union for decades. But once the USSR collapsed, Cuba was on its own. Still the U.S. continued and intensified its embargo against the country. Cuba has had some help recently from friendly nations. Venezuela installed a new telephone line under the sea, which was a dramatic change that affected many Cubans. Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua jointly installed new sewage and drinking water lines throughout the country, and China is also showing much influence in the media of the country, with three of Cuba's television stations being of Chinese origin.
It is clear that the socially-owned and controlled Cuban workers' state economy is not reverting to capitalist ownership of the commanding heights. Despite 20 per cent of the work force being encouraged to shift into self-employment, everyone will still have social security, including the best free education and health care in the third world, perhaps in the whole world. The only thing taxed is private business, so most Cubans never see, let alone pay, a tax. Foreign mine operators, gas companies, and resort chains must abide by strict Cuban labour laws. They must pay a negotiated share of their profits to the workers' state - which plows the money into goods and services for all Cubans.
While Cuba may suffer from a lack of goods, it is rich and vibrant in culture and art. At any time of the day you will find Cubans enjoying themselves. Santiago De Cuba is renowned for its musical culture, much of it influenced by elements of African origin. Cubans are resilient and healthy people. Still it is clear that socialism in one country is not possible. Cuba needs help, and while it has received aid from Venezuela and other allies, the pressures of being economically isolated due to the U.S. embargo has resulted in the Cuban people making many sacrifices over five decades to defend their sovereignty and way of life. Cubans are healthy, in mind and body, and are well educated, but they lack the opportunity to prosper from their talents.
Over one million Canadians visit Cuba every year. Unfortunately, very few leave the resort grounds. It is a shame that so many have not taken the opportunity to see this amazing country and its people. Cuba has been the most intense and interesting place I have ever visited. It has also been one of the most beautiful. I could add much about my impressions of Cuba, too much to mention in a short article. So, you will just have to hit the road and experience it for yourself.
Turn Left - Spring 2012
• First Nations and Justice
• Public ownership of Canadian banks
• The Orange Wave of May 2011
• Review of Linda McQuaig's new book
• SC Resolutions to NDP Convention
• Nothing "radical" about socialism
Turn Left - Spring 2013
• Pipelines and the Environment
• Remembering Peter Kormos
• The Quebec Question
• Canadian Foreign Policy
• Capitalist Austerity
• Keeping Socialism in the NDP