Sound Economics

It’s always been my understanding that one of the big draws to the Conservatives is their supposed sound economic policies. Over the last few evenings I’ve tried to find some balanced, non-partisan overview on the Harper government’s economic performance. Overwhelmingly the information I’ve found has shown these economic policies are about as sound as a canvas covered canoe, minus the canvas.

This conservative Harvard economist thinks Harper’s energy tax policy is the opposite of correct.
Bad GST cut? Did the GST cut decrease your product pricing? There are too many examples of disagreement with the GST cut as being good economic policy, I’ll sum it up with this excerpt from a Maclean’s article:

It is, though, a move that annoys most experts on tax strategy, who tend to see value-added taxes on consumption like the GST as a much better way to fund government than taxing personal or corporate earnings. “It’s bad tax policy, bad economic policy,” said James Milway, executive director of the Toronto-based Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity.

I’ve also heard quite a bit recently about Canada’s drop in productivity.progressive-economics has an article on it, I suppose there are many other sources.
Added to the above is the deficit the Conservatives have racked up in the last 4 months. I’m not sure that is sound policy?

The one thing that Harper is good at is choosing policies that are extremely popular. If it’s simple and immediately pleasing to Canadians, then Harper will put it in his mandate. That is his economic plan. The GST cut, pretty much panned by all economists, was very popular with the voters and helped his party win a minority government. More recently the Conservatives are dishing out money leading up to the election, even though Harper insists “this is not money being thrown around on the eve of an election.”
Aside from economics, the Conservatives thrive on popular issues in all sorts of areas. Their “tough on crime” policy resonates with voters but a lot of it is doomed to failure. The USA is a prime example of how “tough on crime” doesn’t work. The Greens put it more succinctly than I.

Back to economics, the most frustrating thing about the Conservatives is that they don’t even come close to the very good record of the Liberals. As Chantal Hébert points out, despite what we think of Paul Martin the Prime Minister, there is a lot of good things to be said of Paul Martin the Finance Minister.

If you’re looking for some different viewpoints on the above issues, it’s not so easy finding them. For example, do a google search for Conservatives “tough on crime” and your first and second hits are pretty typical of what is being written on the web.

If you have any thoughts, idea, or links that are contrary to the above I’d like to hear from you….

Our little bit

For Earth Day, 24HRS (a local Vancouver newspaper) ran some articles on the environment. One piece showed 12 ways that a family can reduce their carbon footprint. I was feeling pretty good that of the 12 things mentioned, our family is doing 10 of them.
1. Use a reel mower (not electric or gas). I took that one step further and got rid of all our grass, now I just need to mow the boulevard
2. Scooter. I’ve had a scooter for almost 3 years. Still, I need to ride my bike more.
3. High Efficiency Furnace. We replaced our 45 year old furnace with a high 96% efficient model.
4. Cold Water Detergent. I don’t know if our detergent is “cold water”, but we do all are washing in cold tap water
5. Laundry Line. Nope, we don’t have one. I’m going to look into this…
6. Hot Water Timer. Nope, don’t have one. I’ll think about it, but this may not work so well with our tenants, since I don’t know or control their schedule and when they would like hot water
7. Composting. We have two composters and 1 rain barrel.
8. Farmers Market. We are 1 block from a farmers market from May through October, although I don’t think we buy much stuff from them.
9. Lighting. I replaced all of our incandescent lights with compact fluorescents.
10. Cloth Shopping Bag. We have several cloth/reusable bags, and I haven’t used a plastic bag since the beginning of February.
11. Thermostats. Our furnace and two gas fireplaces are on thermostats. The electric heaters are all connected onto one timer, but each heater has its own temperature setting. One of the fireplace’s thermostat is broken though and I’ve been reluctant to shell out $160 for a new one.
12. All purpose green cleaner. I just recently started mixing some of my own cleaners. Right now I have an all purpose cleaner that contains vinegar, washing soda, castile soap and borax. We’re still using commercial floor cleaners. I tried using baking soda + vinegar for the floors but it left a lot of residue. I also want to look into greener dishwashing soaps.

I’m not sure any of the above will actually make a difference in this world, but these are some of the only things I can do. I’d like to take some positives out of it because a lot of the news these days as it pertains to the environment, climate change and greenhouse gases really ain’t all that good…

Fraud Bastard Guys

Don’t you hate those fraud bastard guys? You know the ones, the dudes and dudettes that rip off data and scam money from credit cards, bank accounts, etc. I’m not particularly worried about them, I think the most typical scam is using a credit card information and people are usually pretty protected from the banks. I think the worst ones I’ve heard about are the full-on identity theft where bank accounts are cleaned out and there isn’t any solid evidence of crime. Anyways, the reason I bring this up is because I was recently a pseudo-victim of fraud.

Several months ago there was a reasonably large news item with regards to the store “Winners” having their customer information hacked, and that they kept all sorts of credit card information on their servers. Apparently my credit card was one of the cards compromised. I found out about this last Friday when I was having problems accessing my card information online. I phoned the CC company and they asked me if I had recently got a new card. I said “no,” and then I was put on hold for a few minutes. I was then told about the Winners thing, that my card was flagged as being compromised, and that I was being issued a new card eventhough the card hadn’t been misused up until now.

When I first heard the story about Winners, it pissed me off not so much because of the fraud but because Winners had all of this information on file. Everyone was asking why a store would keep credit card information stored. The logical question that was asked was, “why doesn’t the government legislate that companies cannot keep credit card info on file?” Surprisingly, the government response wasn’t to restrict this behavior, but to legislate that if a company stores credit card information and if this information is compromised, then the company is legally required to report the compromise. Why Winners feels compelled to keep any information about me is beyond my comprehension. The other thing that pisses me off is why the hell I ever shopped at that POS store in the first place. I think I’ve only been there once, and come to think about it, they asked for my postal code at the checkout. Now why the hell would a store need my freakin’ postal code? I think I gave them a fake code. So now I have to go through all of my automatic withdrawal companies and tell them about my new card # (this includes phone, internet, gas, electricity, etc).

So here’s a big “up yours” to the fraud bastard guys, and another “up yours” to Winners, you bastard guy store.

Even losers can win

Leading up to the 2006 Federal Election, I wrote this post on Canadian Values which discussed what many consider to be a darker aspect of the Conservative Party. Luckily for Canadians (at the time), Darrel Reid lost in the election. But even losers can win. Environment minister Rona Ambrose recently appointed Reid as her chief of staff.

I can’t say for sure, but I bet Reid is one of those guys that thinks that the earth is 8000 years old. I don’t find a lot of comfort that a person like Reid is in a position of power when it comes to Canada’s environmental policies. I can only imagine the disregard he has for certain accepted scientific theories in favour of his Christian beliefs.

Rick Mercer summed it up in his “Rick’s Rant of the Week” from October 10.

Rick gave another scathing assessment of the Conservative’s environmental policy in his October 17 Rant of the Week.
You sure get the feeling that Harper appointed Reid as the chief of staff and that Rona is just doing his bidding.

In contrast to these two rants, check out Rick’s Skinny Dipping With Bob Rae. Rae certainly echoes values that are much closer to my heart.

The Plan: How The Conservatives Fooled Canadians

That’s the kind of title you may expect to see in a few years. At least, that is what some people think. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem all that unrealistic.

I was speaking with my neighbour the other day and we got around to talking about Stephen Harper. Joe referred to Harper as “scarey guy.” I guess that’s not that unusual really. Many of my friends would consider that to be a compliment. The basic premise behind this thinking is that Harper is going to do his best to not rock the boat in an attempt to win a majority government. That’s why issues such as gay marriage are not even being talked about. Those sticky social conservative agenda issues are off the table for the time being and it seems to be working. Harper is showing himself to be very shrewd by avoiding all controvercy and improving upon our previous PM’s shortcomings. It’s all adding up to a majority government. Heck, the Conservatives are doing everything that Canadians want: less taxes, no scandals, no stealing, tough on crime, etc. Sounds peachy, doesn’t it?

What happens after the next election if the Conservatives get a majority is less peachy. Issues such as gay marriage will be front and center, and they’ll get rammed through. It’s reasonable to predict that the Conservatives will pull a Republic/GWB, only they’ll get their asses handed to them faster than Bush will (Bush will last 8 years, I doubt Canada will stand for 8 years of Harper). The reason for this will be because it is likely the Conservatives will push hard for changes that majority of Canadians will not like. It’s just so happens that the majority of Canadians are too apathetic about government right now, and that’s how this whole process will get started.

Why Could The Conservatives Do That Would Be So Bad?
I’m not entirely sure just yet. However, these guys are the same people that think the Earth is only 8,000 years old. For crying out loud, I don’t want to trust this country to people that are that far out of touch with reality. If you have ever heard any of the right-wing Conservatives speak at public functions (I’ve seen a few videos on the web), you’ll know what I’m talking about. They’re crazy, and they have agendas. They say shit that is so far out in left field, but has far-reaching consequences socially. To list a few:
ban gay marriage
ban abortions
continue the war on drugs (shut the door on legalization of pot and other drugs)
So if you like lower taxes and think banning gay marriage isn’t such a bad idea, hold on tight because it could be you that causes the mess we’re going to get into.

Canadian Values

I was reading in the paper the other day an article about “Canadian Values”. Specifically, the Fraser Institute was suggesting that new immigrants to Canada should should swear an oath to uplod Canadian Values when they apply for Canadian citizenship. Read the rest of this entry »