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Egregious assertions

Perhaps the most egregious assertion in Jason Clemens' June 30 piece, Oversimplifying income inequality, is that income inequality is moderated somewhat by our progressive tax system. Clemens fails to note that this system has become markedly less progressive over recent decades, which has contributed to current revenue shortfalls now being used to justify layoffs (hurting the middle class and young people as jobs disappear), and cutbacks in benefits and services to the disadvantaged.

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Clemens also observes that some proportion of people in the bottom fifth move up to higher income levels. He does not bother to mention that growth in real income in lower and middle levels has remained flat over recent decades, while earnings at the top have soared to astronomical heights, producing the growing inequality.

And in its Tory-friendly advocacy of tough-on-crime legislation, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute marches out the hypothetical canard of under-reporting, previously of crime and now income. But no one knows whether such under-reporting is greater today than in the past, nor that it has more impact at the bottom rather than at the top, where armies of accountants and lawyers do their utmost to keep money for their well-paying clients and out of the public purse, goals soon to benefit from the Harper government layoff of 400 federal auditors.

Contrary to the misleading position of the MLI, income inequality is quite simple to understand. There has been a decrease in the percentage of GDP going to total taxes in Canada, such that taxes are now at lower levels than such healthy economies as Germany. And most of the money lost to taxes has gone into the coffers of people at the top of the income pile.

Finally, the lost revenue is being used as an excuse to take actions that further increase inequality and undermine the economic well-being of other Canadians and indeed the nation.

JIM CLARK

Winnipeg

Recycling progress

In his July 4 piece Vandal urges plastic-bottle ban, Bartley Kives writes that the City of Winnipeg's public works committee has approved St. Boniface Coun. Dan Vandal's request to have city staff prepare a report on the feasibility of banning the sale of all plastic beverage containers, including bottled water, in municipal facilities.

In October 2008, Winnipeg city council almost unanimously rejected a proposal to ban the sale of bottled water in its facilities in the face of concerns chiefly expressed by one councillor about the recycling rates for plastic beverage containers.

In April 2010, the Canadian beverage industry launched the most comprehensive public spaces recycling program in North America across your province -- the only recycling program of its kind that collects all types of beverage containers -- including plastic -- wherever Manitobans live, work and play. As of December 2011, the end of the first full year of the Recycle Everywhere program, the province's diversion rate for beverage containers jumped 6.1 per cent. Recycling rates also increased 15 per cent, on average, in most communities outside Winnipeg.

Winnipeg, which represents more than 60 per cent of the Manitoba's population, did not participate in the first phase of the program, making the overall results for the inaugural year all that more encouraging.

In June 2012, the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association (CBCRA) and the city announced a $3 million to $5 million investment in recycling bins and continuous public education for Winnipeg, which will see infrastructure placed in parks, arenas, street scapes, transit stops, government buildings and local businesses, complemented by ongoing messaging that will encourage recycling both at home and away from home. Kildonan Park is the first city-owned public space to have this new recycling infrastructure installed.

JOHN CHALLINOR

Nestlé Waters Canada

Guelph, Ont.

ñü

If this is what mostly is on the mind of Coun. Dan Vandal these days, then it's no wonder Winnipeg is in the state it's in.

Notwithstanding public works' 100-year time-line to repair city streets, what about other issues? What about a general lack of signage for something mundane as turn lanes and mergers? Or buying the cheapest paint possible for street lines?

Maybe Vandal should be more concerned about why grass and weeds have been allowed to grow a meter high in some city parks and along some roadways. Or why it takes six months for a city crew to replace a light bulb near a playground.

AL YAKIMCHUK

Winnipeg

A cut above

"Hair, hair!" to the four young men who opened the Hunter & Gunn barbershop in West Broadway (The cutting edge, July 3). Now that's the way to do business.

They are to be congratulated for their creativity and inspiration.

BONNIE GERBRANDT

Winnipeg

On the right track

Jamie Wilson proves his worth as an educator in his June 28 column, 'Cultural teaching' proves impediment to literacy. The point is not that cultural awareness is not valuable in its place. In building esteem, in individuals and cultures, it is an important corrective.

However, Wilson, Michael Borgfjord and their colleagues have proven that there are other systemic factors that affect literacy among indigenous students and they are open to objective research methods and measurable results.

What factors are negatively affecting indigenous children in Grades 4 and up? That is a wider question than can be dealt with in the Seine River program, but they are on the right track by focusing on literacy factors that are in their power to affect. I hope they will have the resources to spread their net further and to analyse other systemic factors.

FLETCHER STEWART

Winnipeg

Confusing rationale

Re: Safety must wait for signs (July 5). I don't understand the rationale for reducing the speed limits around schools. Is there any statistical data to indicate that the requirement exists, or is it a case of "everyone else does it?"

For example, what percentage of pedestrian accidents have occurred within the proposed distance of reduced speed limits of a schoolyard and involved a car at 50 km/h and faster?

Most pedestrian accidents occur on busy streets and involve adults. Most elementary schools are completely surrounded by fences.

In my opinion, those bright yellow signs and the crossing guards in red vests are doing an adequate job in alerting drivers to the presence of kids.

BOB VINCENT

Winnipeg

Scratching our heads

Re: Police confirm severed body parts all connected (July 5). Wow! How? And by whom?

LAURIE JOHNSTON

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2012 A13

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