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Why Infrastructure Is Really an Investment in the Middle Class – New York Magazine



This is the future liberals want.
Photo: Ziga Plahutar/Getty Images/iStockphoto

If President Biden’s massive and hugely ambitious infrastructure plan passes, it will touch every corner of the economy. On the latest episode of the Pivot podcast, Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway discuss how, beyond sprucing up some of the country’s moribund public spaces, it would help a wide swath of Americans who have often been given short shrift by government policy in recent years.

Twice weekly, Scott Galloway and Kara Swisher host Pivot, a New York Magazine podcast about business, technology, and politics.

Kara Swisher: This week, President Biden detailed his $2 trillion infrastructure plan. How many zeros is that? That’s bigger than the entire federal government budget. He calls it a once-in-a-generation investment, the largest since World War II, since we built the highway system and since the Space Race. It will require 15 years of higher taxes on corporations, raising their rates from 21 percent to 28 percent. He’s giving $50 billion to boost the domestic chip industry, a big boost to electric cars. He promises faster internet and better transit, with electric charging stations — a different energy future.

The second part of the plan invests in human infrastructure: aid to the poor, paid leave, help with child care. The plan also includes the Right to Organize Act to counter right-to-work laws. There’s also train stuff that Amtrak wants. This is long overdue. And let me just say, I did an interview with Mariana Mazzucato, who talked about the idea of government doing these important moon shots in areas like climate change or infrastructure. This is big.

Scott Galloway: I think this is wonderful. We are the apex species. The business model of our species responsible for our success is capitalism, and the ballast and the success of capitalism is a robust middle class. And slowly but surely, Kara, slowly but surely, we have increased social-security taxes and payroll taxes and individual income taxes and we have reduced corporate income taxes to the point where only $1 in $12 versus $1 in $2 of receipts from the government come from corporate taxes versus individual income taxes. So, essentially, what we’ve said is, “Corporations, you pay less, and individuals, you pay more.” And we continued one of the most dangerous trends in our society, where we’ve decided we don’t like people, but we love corporations. And what happens?

When the Trump Tax Cuts went through in 2017, I was on a board of a media company and a board of a retailer, both multibillion-dollar companies, and all of a sudden in a board meeting, we’re like, “Oh my gosh, what’s this earnings and cash flow surprise? It’s advantageous tax cuts.” And what did we do with that money? Did we hire more people? Did we invest in factories? No, we used it for share buybacks or cash on our balance sheet, which does what? It juices the stock price. And by the way, who owns 90 percent of stocks by dollar volume? The top one percent. So all we have done with increasing the tax liabilities of individuals as a percentage of our government — and by the way, as a percentage of total tax receipts, individual taxes have not gone up — we’ve just funded it with taxes on your daughter from when she’s old enough to be a taxpayer — we’ve racked up massive debt. We have said, “We want the top one percent or shareholders to work less and spend more time with their families, such that the middle-class and future generations can spend less time with their families.” It is criminal what’s gone on here.

Swisher: This is the kind of big thinking, the big LBJ, Great Society, FDR thinking — I like it. He went for broke. Interestingly, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was talking about the things they need even more, but this was as much as the Biden administration said it was going to be, which it never is.

Galloway: It’ll get clipped back. He’s starting big.

Swisher: It’ll get clipped back, but he didn’t back down first. People were, I think, surprised by the breadth of this. Go for it. And what was really interesting was how it’s going to be paid for. I think there’s nobody against taxing corporations, even though they lobby us. But I think it’s a great thing for him. It puts money in lots of really interesting places. It has an innovative element, $50 billion to boost the domestic chip industry, cars, better trains, human infrastructure, the idea of paid leave, and help with child care. We should have full child care. That’s set in stone. That should be something we should do, but whatever, we hate children and women in this country, in a lot of ways.

Galloway: Yeah. So, again, infrastructure, what is infrastructure? Infrastructure is an investment in the middle class, because when the J train is only running every two hours instead of every 15 minutes from Brooklyn into the city, who gets hurt? The assistant or the secretary. The executive gets to take an Uber or has a driver. So infrastructure is an investment in the middle class. It’s also an investment in brand-building. I remember the first time I went to China, I flew into the new Hong Kong Airport, and then I went to the Shanghai Airport and I’m like, “Jesus, these people take themselves very seriously.” And then I fly into JFK and I think, Jesus Christ, are there chickens and goats running around here?

Swisher: It’s true.

Galloway: You go, “Okay, what happened?”

Swisher: Oh my God, you’re right.

Galloway: What happened to us and the infrastructure?

Swisher: Same thing with train stations. They’re making a big deal about this new New York one. I’m like, “Penn Station has been a pit my entire life,” and now that they have a train station that reaches basic levels with Europe, they’re going, “Yay!” Basic — not even as nice as Europe’s ones, still. Truly pathetic.

Galloway: Penn Station is supposedly one of the great architectural crimes in history. Supposedly, it was beautiful and then they tore it down to make this just disgusting architectural eyesore.

Swisher: It’s not even charming in its grossness. Some things that are old and broken down are charming.

Galloway: Are you talking about me again? Are you talking about me again? Do you know I do CrossFit? I do CrossFit.

Swisher: Penn Station is the worst place on Earth.

Galloway: Yeah.

Swisher: I’m surprised I’m not dead, having been in there 900 times. Anyway, sorry. Keep going. I had a little side train rant there.

Galloway: Yeah, anyone who’s been to Europe loves trains, even though they make no economic sense whatsoever. But look, infrastructure is an investment in the country and it’s an investment in the middle class, because the people who really need roads and public transportation are the middle class.

Swisher: And internet access.

Galloway: And oh my gosh, broadband. I think a bridge too far here is they’re now claiming that social programs that feel very UBI-like are infrastructure investments.

But I love this, and the swing back to protecting and loving Americans as opposed to American corporations is long overdue.

Pivot is produced by Rebecca Sananes. 

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

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Federal budget spending bookended by extended-care, child-care investments –



The Trudeau Liberal government delivered a federal budget Monday aimed at finishing the fight against COVID-19 and investing in a broken economy while providing much-anticipated good news for Nova Scotians young and old.

Introducing the first federal budget in more than two years, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the pandemic has preyed on Canadian seniors “mercilessly,” ending thousands of lives and forcing all seniors into fearful isolation.

“We have failed so many of those living in long-term care facilities,” Freeland said. “To them, and to their families, let me say this: I am so sorry. We owe you so much better than this.”

The “so much better” is expected to come from a budget announcement of a $3-billion investment over five years, starting in 2022-23, to ensure that provinces and territories provide a standard of care in their long-term care facilities.

Freeland said the pandemic has shed a light on systemic issues affecting long-term care facilities across the country, a light that was focused on Nova Scotia last week when Premier Iain Rankin was bombarded with opposition questions about pandemic failures at the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax that resulted in 53 virus deaths.

Michelle Lowe, the executive director of Nursing Homes of Nova Scotia Association, an umbrella group that represents 85 per cent of the province’s 97 nursing homes, said her association has had recent discussion about the push for national standards.

Lowe said the Nova Scotia system is not perfect but “we have a very good system when it comes to standards and outcomes that are required.”

Lowe said the concern is that when the federal government focuses on developing national standards, “it then starts to take the focus off the really critical things that require investment.”

“The immediate issue is (staff) recruitment,” Lowe said. “Standards are important but I would say the standards that many of our facilities here in Nova Scotia abide by are exceptional.”

The Northwood extended care home in Halifax. The federal budget included funding that would create national standards in extended-care homes across Canada.- Tim Krochak

Lowe said Nova Scotia could set standards that would meet and likely exceed national benchmarks and said a variety of government bodies, like Accreditation Canada, audit long-term-care facilities to make sure practices meet national and international standards. 

Lowe said federal government funds would be better invested in paying the sometimes unattainable fees for those governing bodies to audit facilities. 

“The number one issue that’s facing long-term care in this country is recruitment,” Lowe said. “For so long, the emphasis has been on recruiting acute-care staff, recruiting doctors, recruiting nurses, to come into the primary care setting and what’s fallen off the radar and what’s fallen off efforts by government is this whole area of recruiting for continuing care, not only in Nova Scotia, but across the country.”

Lowe said funding for new or renovated facilities is important “but if we don’t have the staff to support that, none of it will matter.”

“If we don’t have some significant investment in recruitment, particularly from what we are seeing here in Nova Scotia … I’m crossing my fingers and hoping this doesn’t happen, you are going to see facilities closing beds for summer vacations because they just don’t have enough staff to provide the care.”

Lowe said providing private rooms for every senior in long-term care is not realistic, based on projections that suggest 199,000 new beds would be needed over the next 15 years to support the baby boomers as they go through the system. 

The federal budget also provides $90 million over three years to look at ways to support an age well at home initiative to support seniors to stay at home, in their home communities as long as possible.. The funding would provide practical support to help low-income and otherwise vulnerable seniors, including matching seniors with volunteers who can help with meal preparations, home maintenance, daily errands, yard work, and transportation. 

“That’s fantastic,” Lowe said of caring for more seniors at home.

The federal government has also promised to increase old age security for Canadians 75 and older.

It means providing support where COVID has struck hardest – to women, to young people, to low-wage workers, and to small and medium-sized businesses, especially in hospitality and tourism. 

At the other end of the spectrum from seniors measures is a federal commitment to invest $30 billion over the next five years in a Canada-wide child-care and early learning program. By the end of next year, the federal government aims to reduce average fees for regulated early learning and child care by 50 per cent that would bring fees for 4egulated child care down to $10 per day on average within the next five years. 

Combined with previous investments announced since 2015, a minimum of $9.2 billion per year will be invested annually in child care, including Indigenous early learning and child care, starting in 2025-26.

“Long overdue,” said Alec Stratford, chairman of the steering committee for the Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 

“It’s been 50 years since the Commission on the Status of Women recommended a national child-care program,” Stratford said. “It is finally nice to see words come to fruition with a meaningful investment.”

Stratford said the program will work the same as health care, with the federal government providing funding with federal standards and the provinces figuring out the best way to deliver it.

Stratford said child care is particularly important at this current moment as “we look at the statistics on women in the labour force and the impact that the pandemic has had.”

Stratford said child care is one of the most effective economic policies that we can put into play with every dollar spent returning two dollars to the economy, a policy that creates equity among genders in the workplace.

“As women are able to feel safe in having their kids cared for, they re-enter the labour market, go back to school and find the education and tools that we all need.”

The federal budget comes with a 354.2-billion deficit for the fiscal year just completed and a projected $154.7-billion deficit for the 2021-22 fiscal cycle.

The federal budget plan is to create one million new jobs by year’s end, extended funding through the fall to bridge Canadians and Canadian businesses through the pandemic crisis toward recovery and support 500,000 new training and work opportunities, almost half of which will be opportunities for youth.

“These are the programs that are needed,” Stratford said. “That, with pharmacare, increased health-care spending, all of those programs and services work to lower the cost of living for Canadians, so that they can live a more quality life, which is a markedly different approach that we’ve seen in past governments where austerity is the policy decision-maker.”


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British Columbia tackles innovation investment gap – The Globe and Mail



Lt.- Gov. Janet Austin delivers the Throne Speech at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., April 12, 2021.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

The B.C. government will create its own investment fund to help promising B.C. companies scale up and keep jobs here at home, as part of its post-pandemic recovery plan.

The InBC strategic investment fund, announced in Monday’s Throne Speech, will be administered by a new Crown corporation. The initiative is designed to respond to concerns that the province’s world-leading innovations in sectors such as life sciences are consistently flowing to other jurisdictions with better investment climates.

The Throne Speech, read by Lieutenant-Governor Janet Austin, offers a self-congratulatory account of the government’s response to the health and economic challenges brought by COVID-19 over the past year, and acknowledges that the province is still in the grips of the pandemic. But it also focuses on plans to rebuild the economy.

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“We open this sitting of the legislature at a turning point in our fight to end the pandemic,” she read. “The threat of new variants means we cannot relax, even as your government accelerates the largest mass-immunization program in B.C.’s history.”

Ms. Austin cited the province’s contributions to the global effort to fight COVID-19, noting that its life-sciences companies have helped develop a vaccine and a treatment for the virus, as well as the development of an ICU ventilator for use in Canadian hospitals.

“Their work will not only help bring us out of the pandemic, it will position our province for success in the years ahead,” she said.

The speech predicts the province will find continued growth in trade. “Global markets are changing in ways that offer significant opportunities for B.C.’s goods and services. Prices are expected to continue to reflect environmental, social and governance aspects of production,” it states. “British Columbia firms will be able to take advantage of a premium paid for inclusive and sustainable products.”

But leaders in health sciences and the high-tech sectors have noted that B.C., while it excels in research and development, fails to foster a business environment where those innovations can stay and grow.

Quebec and Ontario have helped secure life sciences investments by partnering with Ottawa to offer incentives. Most recently, the global pharmaceutical giant Sanofi unveiled its plans to build an influenza vaccine manufacturing facility in Toronto, after the federal government and the province of Ontario committed to invest close to half a billion dollars in the project.

The B.C. government provided no detail on the new investment fund on Monday, and it is unclear how the new agency will assist. “This new strategic fund will help promising B.C. companies scale up, anchor talent – keeping jobs and investment at home in British Columbia,” it reads.

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It also promises additional funding to address the challenges that COVID-19 has exposed for the homeless, for health care and for seniors in long-term care. “In the year ahead, your government will continue to improve care for seniors by hiring thousands of new workers for long-term care and fixing the cracks COVID-19 has exposed.”

The Throne Speech also promises initiatives to assist British Columbians who struggle with the cost of living. The budget, which will be introduced on April 20, will include funds to help get thousands of rental homes built throughout the province, and will expand access to the province’s $10-a-day daycare spaces.

The government is also promising changes to its vehicle insurance rates through the Insurance Corporation of B.C. ICBC will deliver a 20-per-cent cut to car insurance rates, in addition to the COVID-19 rebate that was issued earlier this year.

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

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eBay Is Helping Gen-Y and Gen-Z Get Their Investment Kicks



At a time when Sotheby’s is auctioning off rare sneakers, you know the nature of investing has changed. Those changes are coming as Generations Y and Z are looking to invest in what they love, while changing the nature of what investment-grade goods look like.

eBay, for one has been leading the charge and looks to remain the go-to agent for its monetization. And, to combat counterfeiting while supporting the segment’s growth, the online marketplace is innovating. eBay has begun a series of pop-up authentication events, intended to give their collectors and sellers a new source to both authenticate and value their rare kicks, as well as high-end watches, and collector cards.

Sneakers and watches are two of eBays most popular luxury categories. There are more than a half-million sneaker listings on eBay, and over 165,00 luxury watches listed on any given day. And over the past year the marketplace saw a 10 percent increase for high-end time pieces like Rolex, whose sales have jumped 60 percent since 2019.

Authentication Station

The on-site authentication events are an extension of the recently expanded “Authentication Guarantee” services that eBay offers, utilizing an independent team of industry experts. It’s the same group that authenticated a $1 million pair of 1985 Air Jordon 1’s, signed by non-other than the “Air-apparent” himself.

The program first launched in LA’s Koreatown, back in November 2020 in a vintage, fifties-looking converted gas station. Participants handed the goods off to an attendant, who brought the items in to the inspection teams. The process was in full view via large outside screens, and successful assessments earned an eBay Authentication Guarantee. Participants were able to receive “on the spot” offers or elected to list the items themselves.

The East-Hollywood, LA experiment was successful enough to replicate. And pop-up authentication events took place this past Friday and Saturday in Atlanta. They are expected to again be replicated in Las Vegas, Seattle, Nashville, and Austin in coming weeks. Admissions to the events are free, without an appointment.

Playing A New Card

In a parallel effort, by late April eBay will add an imaging listing tool to its mobile app, designed to facilitate more efficient listings of trading cards. This is another category that has evolved from mere collecting to high-buck investing.

Beginning in late April 2021, eBay plans to launch an image listing tool in its mobile app to initially support Magic the Gathering cards and ultimately Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! as well.  Users will point their camera at the card and hold to scan. A list of possible matches will pop-up, along with details on game name, title, card set, number and rarity. After tapping the closest match, the user can add their details and pricing to post. eBay plans to add other collectable and trading cards to the offering later in 2021.

Source: – Forbes

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