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AltAusterity Digest #46 May 3-9, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

May 14, 2018

In the aftermath of the May Day protests and violent police repression in Puerto Rico, three groups have emerged as players in the island’s power struggle: the citizens, the government, and the managers of PROMESA – the financial oversight board tasked with solving Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. The financial oversight board, or “La Junta,” as it has become popularly known, has spurred protests due to its proposals to reform the labour market to favour business, freeze and reduce public sector pensions and plans to privatize the island’s publicly-owned power company. Opposition groups have begun to form coalitions to resist the austerity programs, but a new set of storms in the future could present even more problems.

Australia’s Treasurer Scott Morrison is asking parliament to pass $140bn of personal income tax cuts. The proposal seeks to flatten Australia’s progressive income tax scales, reducing the income tax brackets from five to four. In the legislation the plan would cost $13.4bn over the next four years, and unofficial government estimates say the cost would be $140bn over the next 10 years. However, when asked why year-by-year costings for the plan were not contained in the legislation, Morrison said they were omitted “over the medium term because they’re not reliable.” The bill is being presented as a tax cut to middle- and low-income workers, but the majority of savings will go to high-income earners.

Over a ten-year period support for a universal basic income (UBI) in the USA has grown from 12% to 48%. Research thus far has shown that a basic income can improve mental and physical health and can encourage people to pursue employment in more meaningful work. However, while support for UBI has risen drastically, 52% of the population do not support the initiative. Price estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have placed the cost of providing everyone with $10,000 annually at $3 trillion a year. While government spending is an unavoidable topic in the debate, 80% of UBI supporters believe that companies making profits off automation should pay higher taxes to fund the redistribution.

The Ontario Liberals have introduced legislation that would end a two-month strike at York University. The legislation would send any outstanding issues to binding mediation-arbitration. The legislation is unlikely to pass before the provincial election, especially without the support of the Ontario New Democrats. The Liberals have been under increasing pressure to intervene in the strike as close to 40,000 students have seen at least one of their courses affected. CUPE 3903, the local representing the precariously employed teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate research assistants has accused York University of stalling bargaining following the administration’s loss of forced ratification vote on April 9th. 

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!