In 2018, British Columbia’s NDP government established an Expert Panel to explore the idea of a basic income guarantee in the province. One of the experts on the panel was Jonathan Rhys Kesselman, who four years earlier had written a major article critical of basic income in Inroads. The panel issued its report in late 2020, finding that poverty could be reduced more effectively through a series of reforms to existing programs.
Meanwhile, Ontario’s Liberal government established a Basic Income Pilot in 2017; it was cancelled after Doug Ford’s Conservatives won the 2018 provincial election. The newly published book The Case for Basic Income by Kingston writers Elaine Power and Jamie Swift is largely based on the experience of the Ontario pilot (full disclosure: I was one of the book’s copy editors). The cash transfers to individuals that have been a significant part of Ottawa’s efforts to relieve pandemic-related economic hardship have also stimulated interest in a basic income.
Click to read Is Basic Income an Idea Whose Time has Come? by Bob Chodos.
The time was ripe for a debate on basic income in Inroads. Power and Swift agreed to present some of the material in their book in an article supporting the idea, in Work, Idleness and Basic Income. Inroads co-publisher John Richards, a colleague of Kesselman’s at Simon Fraser University and a close and sympathetic observer of the B.C. Expert Panel’s work, took up the case against in Basic Income Provides Dubious Benefit at a High Cost. Each supplemented their initial presentation with a brief rebuttal. Inroads editorial board member Dominic Cardy, whose day job as New Brunswick’s Minister of Education gives him the perspective of a practical politician, rounds out the section with a plea for more evidence in An Enormous Risk, a Fearsome Opportunity.
This issue also contains follow-up articles to two major essays that appeared in Inroads 48. Anne Michèle Meggs continues her deep dive into Canadian immigration policy. Focusing on temporary workers who make the transition to permanent residence, she finds that Canada’s programs are characterized by improvisation, jurisdictional mismatch and absence of a coherent strategy. We are pleased to welcome Anne to the Inroads editorial board, where she is already making a valuable contribution.
Click to read How Immigration Really Works in Canada by Anne Michèle Meggs.
Derek Shearer, who in the last issue offered a sweeping account of race and politics in the United States from the 1950s to the election of Donald Trump, now brings the story up to date with an assessment of where things stand in the early days of the Biden Administration. He finds much evidence of progress, from athletic playing fields to corporate executive offices and the Biden cabinet. But inequality persists in policing, environmental conditions, the impact of the pandemic and other areas. In the Biden Administration’s efforts to promote change in the face of intransigent Republican opposition, Shearer concludes, “the soul of the nation is truly at stake.”
Click to read Race and Politics in a Diverse Nation by Derek Shearer.
Henry Milner and Reg Whitaker also address aspects of the American political scene, and both see the return of Trumpism as a distinct danger. Whitaker is concerned that Weimar Germany in the years leading up to Hitler’s takeover may represent a relevant precedent to what is currently happening in Washington, while in his editorial, Milner suggests that “counterinoculation” against political extremism, along with institutional reform, may avert the danger.
Meanwhile in Resistance Versus Terrorism, Arthur Milner argues that in the struggle for Palestinian justice, Hamas’s tactic of launching rockets from Gaza is counterproductive.
At the time of writing, the COVID-19 pandemic drags on in most of Canada, but the Atlantic provinces have fared comparatively well. Patrick Webber examines why in Splendid Isolation. Public health–related restrictions on gatherings have led to clashes between public authorities and religious groups, and two articles address the thorny questions these conflicts raise. A number of such conflicts have ended up in court, and Gareth Morley explores these cases in Canada and the United States, in Rights and Religion. In Israel, the pandemic has exacerbated tensions between ultra-Orthodox Jews and the rest of society, as Martin Lockshin explains in Holy or Irresponsible.
And we offer a third selection of Philip Resnick’s pandemic poetry in Pandemic Poems – Year II.
Four articles take us on a quick tour of Europe and Asia:
In the UK, Eric Shaw looks at why the Labour Party’s new leader, Keir Starmer, has had such a hard time making a dent in Boris Johnson’s popularity in Keir Starmer’s Labour Seeks a Way Ahead.
In Sweden, Richard Murray offers a personal reflection on the career of his late mentor, the noted economist Assar Lindbeck. Click to read The Public Intellectual who Helped Shape Sweden’s Welfare State, and Assar Lindbeck 1930–2020: A Personal Reflection.
In Japan, as Mark Crawford explains, the post–Shinzo Abe government faces looming problems for which “Womenomics” may be the answer. Click to read Covid Lays Bare Japan’s Vulnerabilities.
In Pakistan, Sumbal Naveed asks why reading for pleasure has become a lost art among young Pakistanis in Why Young Pakistanis Don’t Read. A photo essay on Pakistani schoolchildren accompanies her article, in In School, But Are They Learning?
Click to read In South Asia, Literacy is Crucial by John Richards.
In the books section, Arthur Milner sympathetically reviews Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay’s critical account of the rise of postmodern social justice Theory. Click to read You’re Privileged, so Shut Up.
And in The Convenient Assumptions Lurking in Ronald Beiner’s Review, Benjamin R. Teitelbaum takes issue with Ronald Beiner’s review of his book in Inroads 48. Beiner responds.