Wednesday , April 21 2021
Home / Tag Archives: Frances Woolley

Tag Archives: Frances Woolley

Do the self-employed opt out of the Canada Pension Plan?

In 2017, anyone with earnings was required to pay $4.95 in Canada Pension Plan contributions for every $100 of earnings (up to a maximum earnings threshold of $51,800 - rates here). For the employed, their $4.95 CPP/QPP contribution was matched by an equal contribution by their employer. However self-employed individuals are required to pay the entire employer+employee contribution themselves, amounting to $9.90 for every $100 of earnings. Now the self-employed have an out. They can...

Read More »

Presidents: do you get what you pay for?

In 1915, Woodrow Wilson earned $75,000 per year, or $1.9 million in 2018 dollars, for serving as President of the United States. The current incumbent of that office receives only a fraction of that amount: $400,000 annually. Congress has increased the presidential salary three times in the past 100 years: raising it to $100,000 in 1949, to $200,000 in 1979, and to $400,000 in 2001. These rises appear as sharp spikes in the graph below. After each one of these increases, the real value of...

Read More »

Can the Great Barrington proposal save the economy?

The Great Barrington Declaration argues against universal lock-downs: Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home....

Read More »

Pain, brioche, and the language of taxation

Ireland's Supreme Court recently ruled that the buns Subway uses in its sandwiches contain too much sugar to be considered "bread", and are thus subject to Value Added Tax (VAT). The decision lead to headlines and discussion along the lines of "Irish High Court Rules Subway’s Sandwich Bread Is Not Legally Bread" or "Ireland declares that Subway’s bread is basically cake". The emphasis was on how "confused" and "bizarre" the entire debate was, and the cost and arbitrary nature of...

Read More »

Inequality and competition in a digital economy: a case study

Pokémon Go is an economy in miniature. There is exchange: players trade Pokémons and swap gifts. There is scarcity: the balls required to catch Pokémons are scarce, as is Pokémon storage capacity and other items in the game. There is production: through various activities, such as walking a Pokémon egg, or leaving a Pokémon in a gym, players can produce new Pokémon, or earn tokens. There is status seeking and signaling: high rank players parade their skill by wearing special clothing, and...

Read More »

Men, women, and the end of mandatory retirement

Back in 2014, I wrote a blog post on the end of mandatory retirement for university professors. I quoted a number of men who argued that having a standard retirement age hurts women. Here's an extract from that original post: Thomas Klassen and David Macgregor, writing in the CAUT (Canadian Association of University Teachers) Bulletin, challenged ageism in academy on the grounds that "Mandatory retirement at an arbitrary age is devastating for female faculty who often began their careers...

Read More »

Can you be confident about an economy you can’t see?

Canada's economy may be on life support, but it is still hanging on. Even on streets that seem empty and shuttered, there are a few businesses getting by, or even thriving. The bookstore on Beechwood Avenue looks closed, but every so often a customer pops by to pick up an order from the bookrack hidden in the vestibule. At Life of Pie, the neighbourhood bakery/restaurant, the tables are stacked up, and the lights dimmed - but in the back the kitchen is humming, as the staff works hard to...

Read More »

The behavioural economics of the Marie Kondo method

Marie Kondo is the guru behind the best-selling Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy. For some people, like me, her method works. One possible reason for its success is that, underneath it all, there are some sound behavioural economics principles. 1. Shift the reference point Marie Kondo recommends dividing one's possessions into five categories and tidying them a category at a time: first clothes, then books, papers, miscellaneous and finally sentimental items. Within each...

Read More »

Reading Amartya Sen on Poverty and Famines

The shut down of entire sectors of the economy in response a pandemic is akin to a crop failure. Both represent a sudden, large and unexpected decline in production. Both leave people without resources, without the wherewithall to command the necessities of life. So I am revisiting Amartya Sen's 1981 monograph Poverty and Famines (ungated), to see if his entitlement approach has relevance for today's crisis. Sen begins with the crucial distinction between there being enough and people...

Read More »

This is no virus for old men

Statistics Canada has just released a dataset with detailed anonymized information on all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada, available for download here. Unlike many of the available trackers, the Statistics Canada data reports cases by date of onset, defined as "earliest date available from the following series: Symptom Onset Date, Specimen Collection Date, Laboratory Testing Date, Date reported to the province/territory or Date reported to Public Health Agency of Canada." Defined that...

Read More »