10 ways to make tax fairer

The Trudeau government says it wants to make the tax system fairer. Here are some alternatives to their current, unpopular plan

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Good morning! Here’s what’s on our radar at the moment:

10 ways to make tax fairer

The Trudeau government’s stated goal with its proposed tax reforms is to make the system fairer. A large constituency of small business owners remains unconvinced, and have kept the Liberals on the defensive all summer and into the autumn. No one is arguing against fairness, per se; it’s more that fair is in the eye of the beholder. In the interest of proposing practical alternatives, financial advisor educator Evelyn Jacks has 10 suggestions to increase the fairness of the tax system, including:

Collect only the right amount of tax, but no more. It was not so many years ago that the average tax refund was under $500. But today, it’s over $1,700 per person per year. That’s $3,400 per household, assuming two adult workers. By reducing the amount of taxes taken at the source, the government would accomplish something remarkable: more milk money would flow through to middle class wallets every two weeks. There would also be more after-tax cash flow to fund RRSPs, which, in turn, would increase available tax credits.

Link: Canadian Business

Minimum wage hikes are political winners

Ontario’s minimum wage officially rose from $11.40 to $11.60 on October 1, and is going to rapidly rise over the next year and a bit to reach $15. Businesses have been sounding the alarm for some time, warning that higher labour costs will lead to price increases, layoffs and reduced hours for the people who can least afford it. But governments have pressed on in spite of the outcry, and the reason is likely that, while industry might hate it, the measure is popular with voters:

One poll suggests the wage issue is a political winner, and not just in Ontario. Forum Research found last year that 65 percent of Ontario respondents approve of a C$15 minimum wage, mirroring the national figure of 63 percent. Alberta is getting C$15 an hour in October of next year, but that’s in a province where just 1.7 percent of workers earn that paycheck. British Columbia’s new government sent its campaign promise for C$15 by 2021 to a committee for study.

Link: Bloomberg

Don’t blame us, blame the algorithm

As we turn more and more tasks over to computers, algorithms are dictating what we see with unprecedented frequency. Digital technology has made it practical to do things—like, say, customizing search engine results for you—that would never have been possible when humans had to classify information by hand. But there’s been a troubling accompanying trend in which individuals and companies are disclaiming responsibility for the algorithms they operate. It’s not us, they say; the computer did it:

Blaming the algorithm has gotten pretty common. In April, the popular photo filter app Faceapp released a feature that was supposed to make users look “hot” but blatantly gave them white features like lighter skin and rounded eyes. The company behind the app called it “an unfortunate side-effect” of the algorithm and “not intended behavior.” After ProPublica reported that Facebook allowed advertisers to target “Jew haters,” the New York Timeschalked it up to a “faulty algorithm.” […] A truly faulty algorithm would be like a computer program that does not compile or catches itself in an infinite loop. These algorithms are executing; they are doing what they were designed to do. The problem is that they are not designed to exclude misinformation or account for bias.

Link: The Outline

The iPhone at 20

We only just marked the 10th anniversary of Apple’s iPhone, but the future waits for no one: Designer Mike Rundle has put together an essay laying out what the iPhone unveiled in 2027 will look like, drawing on visible technology trends today, as well as patents that Apple has filed in recent years. For instance, he predicts that the “forehead”—the black bar that intrudes into the top of the screen on the iPhone X, where all the cameras and sensors go—is an evolutionary detour on the way to a phone that is all screen, with cameras built right in at the microscopic level. it’s just one of several intriguing predictions:

Patent #7535468 describes a fantastical technology where in-between the thousands of pixels that comprise the display, there are thousands of tiny cameras lenses that can take photos and stitch together the result. In 2004, this technology didn’t exist, this was Apple planting a stake in the ground. […] Since then, many additional Apple patents on sophisticated under-display cameras and sensors have been filed, all referencing and building on this initial patent that started it all.

Link: Medium

WATCH: The oldest pubs in England

The public house is a British institution, but each individual pub has its own partisans. One of the things they argue over is which is the oldest pub in England. This quick video runs down the top four candidates, each of which stakes a somewhat plausible claim. Our contestants are: The Trip to Jerusalem, which has a basement dating to 1070; The Old Ferry Boat Inn, which can credibly point to its origins in 1050 but claims to be 500 years older; The Old Man & Scythe, documented as far back as 1251; and Seans Bar, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as originating circa 900 AD. One was built over a girl’s grave and says she haunts the place; another tops that by claiming to be haunted by 53 different ghosts. It must get quite crowded on a Friday night.

Link: YouTube

Earnings reports today

Canadian publicly traded companies of note scheduled to report quarterly earnings today:

iShares Gold Bullion ETF (CGL), Chalice Gold Mines (CXN), NovaGold Resources (NG), Perseus Mining (PRU)

Thanks for reading! Have a truly excellent day.