thwong


Thaddeus Hwong

Photo of Thaddeus Hwong

School of Administrative Studies
School of Public Policy and Administration

Associate Professor

Office: McLaughlin College, 232
Phone: 416-736-2100 Ext: 20537
Email: thwong@yorku.ca
Primary website: http://www.twitter.com/policyquests

Media Requests Welcome
Accepting New Graduate Students


Leave-no-one-behind will enslave you, but everyone-for-oneself will set you free. Is that world the best of all possible worlds? With trepidation and humility, I explore the fiscal policy aspirations for the financing of a more just world for all.

Perhaps I am overly optimistic, but I still hope we will at least try to solve the political, economic and social problems we face by doing the right thing. If we don't want our lives to be dominated by those with ginormous market power, and if we don't want to be held hostage in a grim subsistence in which those who are less lucky are left behind, we would need more redistribution.

As my attempt to make a modest contribution to public discourse about redistribution in this era of disinformation, I explore the battle of ideas policy advocates wage on the costs and benefits of progressive taxation and public expenditures, the political commitment people are willing to make to level the playing field between the Haves and Have-nots and the policy options citizens can consider to hold the plutocrats, the oligarchs and the rest of the power elite accountable to democratic ideals.

More...

We live in a plutocracy that imposes the austerity of human decency on all of us. Income inequality. Wealth inequality. Income insecurity. Extreme poverty. Some see them as the results of meritocracy, even meritocracy was set up to be a satire. I see such maldistribution as the results of greed. We can do better than this. One person who suffers from any of the economic injustices is too many. You might think we all believe in such human decency. But if everyone believes in that, why will anyone be willing to act as a mercenary to empower the top 1% by waging war against those who are not as fortunate as they are?

The economic injustices showcase system-wide problems. Systemic racism. Gender discrimination. Wilful blindness of those who refuse to even acknowledge that structural problems exist. Are we standing idly by or are we trying to do something? The orthodoxy says the system-wide problems are neither about black v white nor about right v wrong. I think they are. I think deep down they are about a conflict that many don't even want to call it for what it is. I had first heard an astute York sociologist framed it as good v evil long ago. I used to think that's crazy. Now I can see it everyday in the post-truth age of Trump.

Redistribution is not only about societal resources but also about power and influence. Actually, redistribution is less about societal resources but more about power and influence than what most think. The affluence who reap the most benefits from our society should pay for what the society has given them. They should not be endowed with the veto power in agenda setting to ensure that they can reap the most benefits. Public policy making should not be of the affluence, for the affluence and by the affluence. With more redistribution, genuine shared governance of our democracy could have a fighting chance, and a better tomorrow may be in sight.

The orthodoxy says taking from the rich and then giving it to the poor is what Robin Hood does, and Robin Hood is not real so we should forget trying to tax the rich more. Even if some believe in distributive justice, they would say let's not ask for redistribution as that's not what people want to hear. Thus, the orthodoxy says let's focus on what's practical -- let's give up on reducing inequality and instead focus on reducing poverty as we should not commit to a fiscal policy revolution that will never come. Given the historic crisis we are in, can you see that doing the usual just won't cut it? The leading lights of many generations have been walking the line between doing what they think is possible, i.e. what is amenable to the establishment. Their words call for change, but their actions protect the status quo. What has that moderate stance gotten us? If a fiscal policy revolution is what it takes to get us closer to a more just world, why shouldn't we argue for one?

Degrees

PhD, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
LLB, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
MS, Columbia Journalism School, Columbia University
BA, Economics, York University

Research Interests

Law and Justice , Politics and Government, Redistribution for a More Just World

Current Research Projects

Redistribution in Civil Society

    Summary:

    Quests to advance redistributive policies in our upside-down world where bombastic stupidity won & basic decency lost.

    Description:

    Political economy -- the pursuit of distributive justice in the post-truth age of Trump.

    See more
    Role: Principal investigator

Influences of Interveners in Judicial Decision Making

    Summary:

    Explorations of the role of interveners in judicial decision making in Canada.

    Description:

    Empirical legal studies -- legal realism in Canada.

    See more
    Role: Co-investigator

    Collaborator: Professor Richard Haigh
    Collaborator Institution: Osgoode Hall Law School
    Collaborator Role: Principal Investigator

Book Chapters

Publication
Year

With Brooks, Neil. (2017) Personal Tax Expenditures in the Canadian Income Tax Act – The First 100 Years. In Jinyan Li, J. Scott Wilkie, and Larry E. Chapman (Eds.), Income Tax at 100 Years. Toronto: Canadian Tax Foundation.

2017

(2013) Tax Levels, Tax Mixes and Income Redistribution in Canada and Selected OECD Countries Since Carter. In Kim Brooks (Ed.) The Quest for Tax Reform Continues: The Royal Commission on Taxation Fifty Years Later. Toronto: Carswell.

2013

(2011) The Distributional Effects of Making Personal Income Tax Credits Refundable. In Lisa Philipps, Neil Brooks, and Jinyan Li (Eds.), Tax Expenditures: State of the Art. Toronto: Canadian Tax Foundation.

2011

Journal Articles

Publication
Year

With Li, Jinyan. (2020). GAAR in Action: An Empirical Study of Transaction Types and Judicial Attributes in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Canadian Tax Journal, 68(2) 539-79.

2020

With Li, Jinyan. (2013) . GAAR in Action: An Empirical Exploration of Tax Court of Canada Cases (1997-2009) and Judicial Decision Making. Canadian Tax Journal, 61(2), 321-366.

2013

With Brooks, Neil. (2010) . Tax Ratios, Tax Mixes, and Tax Reforms: Convergence and Persistence.Theoretical Inquires in Law, 11(2), 791-821.

2010

(2009) . A Quantitative Exploration of Judicial Decision Making in Supreme Court of Canada in Income Tax Cases in 1920-2003. Manitoba Law Journal, 33(1), 150-196.

2009

With Hanlon, Dean. (2008) . The Effect of External Advisors on the GST Compliance Costs of Businesses in Australia.Asia-Pacific Journal of Taxation, 12(2), 93-108.

2008

(2004) . A Review of Quantitative Studies of Decision Making in the Supreme Court of Canada. Manitoba Law Journal, 30(3), 353-382.

2004

Professional Journal Articles

Publication
Year

(Aug. 13, 2018) The Public’s Fickle Opinion About More Tax Cuts. Tax Notes, 975-981.

2018

With Mellor, Peter, & Krever, Richard. (2012) . Tax Treaty Trends in Central Asian Former Soviet Nations. Bulletin for International Taxation, 66 (10), 541-552.

2012

(March 2, 2009) . How Canada's Flat Tax Debate Played in the Press: A Case Study. Tax Notes International, 767-775.

2009

Research Reports

Publication
Year

With Brooks, Neil. (2006) . The Social Benefits and Economic Costs of Taxation: A Comparison of High- and Low-tax Countries. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Retrieved from http://www.policyalternatives.ca/documents/National_Office_Pubs/2006/Benefits_and_Costs_of_Taxation.pdf.

2006

Approach to Teaching


Maybe I am not realistic, but I still believe education is supposed to enlighten, not to indoctrinate to conform. Tackling our myopia of false necessity is a starting point to make the world better for all. Questioning the status quo is our responsibility, and asking ourselves whether we can do better for all of us is our obligation. Does it have to be this way? What do we want to do about it? What could we do about it given what we know?

Realistically, raising that line of questions is subversive even in our publicly funded classrooms. In our society, many see university studies only as a vending machine for diplomas so university graduates can go get a job, not as a catalyst for lifelong learning so university graduates can design their professional and personal lives. Students face mounting pressure from everywhere for individual "success," often in terms of money, not contributions to civil society.

Coping with the grim reality, I try to hang onto any glimmer of hope, more likely out of desperation than anything else, that education can still change lives for the better for all. If students want, education can change their lives, empowering them to become part of the solutions rather than part of the problems in our society. If students want, they can learn to realize their potential in university studies. But even if students do not want to learn much from coursework, they could still learn to think not just about their own well-being but also about the well-being of others in university studies.

Caring begins with understanding, and with that then not all is lost.

With backdrop of a historic crisis in 2020-21, my teaching would explore the misuses and abuses of metrics in portraying who we are, the tyranny of meritocracy in limiting who we could be, and the flames of a just society that we strive to keep alive. The Winter 2021 course of Business Statistics Through Applications would seek to unravel the blind faith in data analysis. The Winter 2021 course of Canada's Labour Market Policy would explore public policy responses to today's misguided push for meritocracy. The Fall-Winter 2020-21 seminar of Politics, Law and the Courts would explore the possibilities of the pursuit of justice beyond the confines of the reproduction of hierarchies and the entrenchment of the establishment.


Current Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall/Winter 2020 AP/PPAS4130 6.0 A Politics, Law and the Courts SEMR


Upcoming Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Winter 2021 AP/ADMS2310 3.0 M Business Statistics Through Applications LECT
Winter 2021 AP/PPAS3762 3.0 M Canada's Labour Market Policy LECT
Fall/Winter 2020 AP/PPAS4130 6.0 A Politics, Law and the Courts SEMR


Leave-no-one-behind will enslave you, but everyone-for-oneself will set you free. Is that world the best of all possible worlds? With trepidation and humility, I explore the fiscal policy aspirations for the financing of a more just world for all.

Perhaps I am overly optimistic, but I still hope we will at least try to solve the political, economic and social problems we face by doing the right thing. If we don't want our lives to be dominated by those with ginormous market power, and if we don't want to be held hostage in a grim subsistence in which those who are less lucky are left behind, we would need more redistribution.

As my attempt to make a modest contribution to public discourse about redistribution in this era of disinformation, I explore the battle of ideas policy advocates wage on the costs and benefits of progressive taxation and public expenditures, the political commitment people are willing to make to level the playing field between the Haves and Have-nots and the policy options citizens can consider to hold the plutocrats, the oligarchs and the rest of the power elite accountable to democratic ideals.

We live in a plutocracy that imposes the austerity of human decency on all of us. Income inequality. Wealth inequality. Income insecurity. Extreme poverty. Some see them as the results of meritocracy, even meritocracy was set up to be a satire. I see such maldistribution as the results of greed. We can do better than this. One person who suffers from any of the economic injustices is too many. You might think we all believe in such human decency. But if everyone believes in that, why will anyone be willing to act as a mercenary to empower the top 1% by waging war against those who are not as fortunate as they are?

The economic injustices showcase system-wide problems. Systemic racism. Gender discrimination. Wilful blindness of those who refuse to even acknowledge that structural problems exist. Are we standing idly by or are we trying to do something? The orthodoxy says the system-wide problems are neither about black v white nor about right v wrong. I think they are. I think deep down they are about a conflict that many don't even want to call it for what it is. I had first heard an astute York sociologist framed it as good v evil long ago. I used to think that's crazy. Now I can see it everyday in the post-truth age of Trump.

Redistribution is not only about societal resources but also about power and influence. Actually, redistribution is less about societal resources but more about power and influence than what most think. The affluence who reap the most benefits from our society should pay for what the society has given them. They should not be endowed with the veto power in agenda setting to ensure that they can reap the most benefits. Public policy making should not be of the affluence, for the affluence and by the affluence. With more redistribution, genuine shared governance of our democracy could have a fighting chance, and a better tomorrow may be in sight.

The orthodoxy says taking from the rich and then giving it to the poor is what Robin Hood does, and Robin Hood is not real so we should forget trying to tax the rich more. Even if some believe in distributive justice, they would say let's not ask for redistribution as that's not what people want to hear. Thus, the orthodoxy says let's focus on what's practical -- let's give up on reducing inequality and instead focus on reducing poverty as we should not commit to a fiscal policy revolution that will never come. Given the historic crisis we are in, can you see that doing the usual just won't cut it? The leading lights of many generations have been walking the line between doing what they think is possible, i.e. what is amenable to the establishment. Their words call for change, but their actions protect the status quo. What has that moderate stance gotten us? If a fiscal policy revolution is what it takes to get us closer to a more just world, why shouldn't we argue for one?

Degrees

PhD, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
LLB, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
MS, Columbia Journalism School, Columbia University
BA, Economics, York University

Research Interests

Law and Justice , Politics and Government, Redistribution for a More Just World

Current Research Projects

Redistribution in Civil Society

    Summary:

    Quests to advance redistributive policies in our upside-down world where bombastic stupidity won & basic decency lost.

    Description:

    Political economy -- the pursuit of distributive justice in the post-truth age of Trump.

    Role: Principal investigator

Influences of Interveners in Judicial Decision Making

    Summary:

    Explorations of the role of interveners in judicial decision making in Canada.

    Description:

    Empirical legal studies -- legal realism in Canada.

    Role: Co-investigator

    Collaborator: Professor Richard Haigh
    Collaborator Institution: Osgoode Hall Law School
    Collaborator Role: Principal Investigator

All Publications


Book Chapters

Publication
Year

With Brooks, Neil. (2017) Personal Tax Expenditures in the Canadian Income Tax Act – The First 100 Years. In Jinyan Li, J. Scott Wilkie, and Larry E. Chapman (Eds.), Income Tax at 100 Years. Toronto: Canadian Tax Foundation.

2017

(2013) Tax Levels, Tax Mixes and Income Redistribution in Canada and Selected OECD Countries Since Carter. In Kim Brooks (Ed.) The Quest for Tax Reform Continues: The Royal Commission on Taxation Fifty Years Later. Toronto: Carswell.

2013

(2011) The Distributional Effects of Making Personal Income Tax Credits Refundable. In Lisa Philipps, Neil Brooks, and Jinyan Li (Eds.), Tax Expenditures: State of the Art. Toronto: Canadian Tax Foundation.

2011

Journal Articles

Publication
Year

With Li, Jinyan. (2020). GAAR in Action: An Empirical Study of Transaction Types and Judicial Attributes in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Canadian Tax Journal, 68(2) 539-79.

2020

With Li, Jinyan. (2013) . GAAR in Action: An Empirical Exploration of Tax Court of Canada Cases (1997-2009) and Judicial Decision Making. Canadian Tax Journal, 61(2), 321-366.

2013

With Brooks, Neil. (2010) . Tax Ratios, Tax Mixes, and Tax Reforms: Convergence and Persistence.Theoretical Inquires in Law, 11(2), 791-821.

2010

(2009) . A Quantitative Exploration of Judicial Decision Making in Supreme Court of Canada in Income Tax Cases in 1920-2003. Manitoba Law Journal, 33(1), 150-196.

2009

With Hanlon, Dean. (2008) . The Effect of External Advisors on the GST Compliance Costs of Businesses in Australia.Asia-Pacific Journal of Taxation, 12(2), 93-108.

2008

(2004) . A Review of Quantitative Studies of Decision Making in the Supreme Court of Canada. Manitoba Law Journal, 30(3), 353-382.

2004

Professional Journal Articles

Publication
Year

(Aug. 13, 2018) The Public’s Fickle Opinion About More Tax Cuts. Tax Notes, 975-981.

2018

With Mellor, Peter, & Krever, Richard. (2012) . Tax Treaty Trends in Central Asian Former Soviet Nations. Bulletin for International Taxation, 66 (10), 541-552.

2012

(March 2, 2009) . How Canada's Flat Tax Debate Played in the Press: A Case Study. Tax Notes International, 767-775.

2009

Research Reports

Publication
Year

With Brooks, Neil. (2006) . The Social Benefits and Economic Costs of Taxation: A Comparison of High- and Low-tax Countries. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Retrieved from http://www.policyalternatives.ca/documents/National_Office_Pubs/2006/Benefits_and_Costs_of_Taxation.pdf.

2006

Approach to Teaching


Maybe I am not realistic, but I still believe education is supposed to enlighten, not to indoctrinate to conform. Tackling our myopia of false necessity is a starting point to make the world better for all. Questioning the status quo is our responsibility, and asking ourselves whether we can do better for all of us is our obligation. Does it have to be this way? What do we want to do about it? What could we do about it given what we know?

Realistically, raising that line of questions is subversive even in our publicly funded classrooms. In our society, many see university studies only as a vending machine for diplomas so university graduates can go get a job, not as a catalyst for lifelong learning so university graduates can design their professional and personal lives. Students face mounting pressure from everywhere for individual "success," often in terms of money, not contributions to civil society.

Coping with the grim reality, I try to hang onto any glimmer of hope, more likely out of desperation than anything else, that education can still change lives for the better for all. If students want, education can change their lives, empowering them to become part of the solutions rather than part of the problems in our society. If students want, they can learn to realize their potential in university studies. But even if students do not want to learn much from coursework, they could still learn to think not just about their own well-being but also about the well-being of others in university studies.

Caring begins with understanding, and with that then not all is lost.

With backdrop of a historic crisis in 2020-21, my teaching would explore the misuses and abuses of metrics in portraying who we are, the tyranny of meritocracy in limiting who we could be, and the flames of a just society that we strive to keep alive. The Winter 2021 course of Business Statistics Through Applications would seek to unravel the blind faith in data analysis. The Winter 2021 course of Canada's Labour Market Policy would explore public policy responses to today's misguided push for meritocracy. The Fall-Winter 2020-21 seminar of Politics, Law and the Courts would explore the possibilities of the pursuit of justice beyond the confines of the reproduction of hierarchies and the entrenchment of the establishment.


Current Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall/Winter 2020 AP/PPAS4130 6.0 A Politics, Law and the Courts SEMR


Upcoming Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Winter 2021 AP/ADMS2310 3.0 M Business Statistics Through Applications LECT
Winter 2021 AP/PPAS3762 3.0 M Canada's Labour Market Policy LECT
Fall/Winter 2020 AP/PPAS4130 6.0 A Politics, Law and the Courts SEMR