Generation Squeeze Responds

About a week ago I wrote a critique of Generation Squeeze’s Code Red Policy proposals.  Today, they have taken the time to respond in detail to the points that I raised.  I pass on their remarks without editorial comment (I”m sure I’ll have some of those later when I have digested this more):

“Thanks for taking the time to review our 2016 report so thoroughly and deeply, and for taking the time to constructively review it. I find some your critiques fair and warranted, and others less so. Quickly:

  • The absence of foreign capital discussion in the paper.  Totally fair. It took us a while to build up a knowledge base and some expertise there, e.g. I spent a lot of time last year reviewing the provincial data. Check out this and this for more (the latter information was used to open up an event where we brought Josh Gordon in to present to CRD-area leaders). The GS team in Victoria spent a lot of time last year pressuring politicians to have the FBT extended, here.
    We’re happy to see the FBT increased and expanded, and on principle, we support going further/replacing it with a New Zealand-esque ban, as the Green Party suggests. Though we don’t have internal expertise on how that has worked, there.
  • Capital gains tax refinements. Fair, a longer time frame is probably wise. We’re refining our capital gains tax recommendations this summer.
  • Housing wealth tax critique. Fair. The Code Red paper really was a list of “propositions,” not firm, modeled recommendations. My colleague Dr. Kershaw is currently finishing a paper with a clearer, simpler proposal for a housing wealth tax.
  • Blatant ageism. This is unfair. Though you’re not the only one to think so. In fact, this perception of our work as ageist is one of our core challenges. For more background, check out our latest paper, but perhaps more usefullythis blog I wrote tackling this perception directly.
  • The 40’s age threshold for mortgage deductions. Ya. Fair. We’ve moved away from that.
  • Supplyist group. This is unfair. I honestly don’t understand why any group would ever pretend that we can achieve affordability by only addressing one side of the equation. Our materials, our publications, our innumerable public statements, op-eds, and media interviews, public events, our entire track record of work all directly dispel any notion of GS as “supplyist.” So, if you truly have exposed yourself to that holistic body of work and still see us as that way I honestly don’t know what more to say. I could only surmise that an emotional reaction to our partnership with UDI and Wesgroup, which on one level I could understand, nevertheless precludes one from imagining a world where diverse interests can pursue the highest principled common ground, vs. the lowest common denominator.
  • Affordability definition. Fair. The goal is to bring things to the range of 30% of income (standard definition), but we don’t want to get too hung up on specific numbers within that range. The public dialogue tension here is this: as an advocacy group our job is to change what is politically possible. We need prices to drop. A lot. BUT, that drop will have very real consequences, both for longtime homeowners who are better able to absorb that drop AND to many new, young homeowners who are very vulnerable to a correction. If we’re to successfully create political space to do more, to be bolder, we need to have a good idea of policy mitigations for those most vulnerable and messaging that isn’t unnecessarily triggering. This is one of my main priorities right now. We need to blunt but empathetic. Future materials and actions will do a better job than that 2016 paper.
  • Housing wealth of seniors. Frankly, as a cohort, indisputable. And in a self-evident fashion means homeowning seniors can afford to pay more for social services. Mechanistically, these new taxes can come out of the estate (via deferrals), and need not place an additional annual income burden.

More to discuss, but running out of time for today.  Again, thanks so much for your thoughtfulness and engagement. I enjoyed reflecting on your critiques! Many of them are helpful.”

I want to thank them for their detailed clarifications. They are, in this regard, a welcome relief from some parties and advocacy groups that seem to think silence is golden.

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