In this segment, CTF Federal Director Kevin Gaudet decries the deep deficit incurred in the current federal budget. So does Peter Coleman of the National Citizens' Coalition. Ironically, Prime Minister Stephen Harper led the NCC only a few years ago.
Columnist Andrew Coyne had similar thoughts in his MacLean's column, "The End of Canadian Conservatism: How Harper Sold Out To Save Himself."
Friday, January 30, 2009
Japanese housing prices
U.S. Housing prices
U.S. Debt as a percentage of the annual output of the economy
In the 1990s, the Japanese entered a time such as the U.S. is now. Stupid monetary policy created a stock market bubble and housing boom. Then it all went bust. The Japanese had less debt and were a net exporter of goods--two advantages that the U.S. doesn't have. Yet, all the deficit spending and economic tools at Japanese government disposal could not prevent a 14 year slide in home prices. In fact, all it did was delay the recovery.
That's why the "recovery" efforts by the U.S., Canada, and most other countries in the world will all prove in vain. Governments would be better to let the inevitable occur so that market forces would allow a real recovery, and that it would come faster.
All this comes c/o James Quinn, a Financial Securities Officer who documents the case in an editorial full of illustrative charts. It's worth a look.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Boutique tax cuts are inferior to broad-based tax cuts. They complicate the tax system and have minimal impact. This said, the $1,350 limited time tax credit offered in the Federal Budget may catch some tax cheats. In 2005, CBC reported that the Federal government caught $650 million of tax cheating due to cash-only construction, adding, "Canada has 266,000 construction businesses with total annual revenues of $135 billion. Most have fewer than 10 workers."
Similar principles apply to the Active Families Benefit in Saskatchewan which credits the parents of children in sports or music programs up to $150 per child each year. Although Minister Christine Tell admitted in a TV interview in 2008 that these tax credits are too small to change behaviour, it may still mean more receipts from music teachers. It is not uncommon for such teachers to operate on a cash basis and don't declare income. Ironically, some even play for symponies that enjoy generous taxpayer funding.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Business New Brunswick Minister Greg Byrne says two northern textile mills were thoroughly vetted before the provincial government began investing almost $80 million over the last decade.
The provincial government is now on the hook for close to $80 million after Atlantic Yarns in Atholville and Atlantic Fine Yarns in Pokemouche closed and filed for bankruptcy last week...
Kevin Gaudet, the acting federal director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said the mills were a bad investment of public funds.
"This is a classic example of corporate welfare. Governments use taxpayer dollars to support private sector companies who end up competing with other private sector companies and then they aren't able to compete effectively in many cases," Gaudet said.
"Then they take taxpayers dollars down with them when they go bankrupt."
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
CTF Alberta Director Scott Hennig talks federal budget on Global Edmonton.
Hennig also spoke in a Global Edmonton report.
CTF Sask Director Lee Harding bemoans the deficit spending announced in the budget: $34 billion in fiscal 2009 and $85 billion over the next five years.
Our news release reports, "the government is increasing the basic personal exemption from $10,100 to $10,320. The first two tax brackets are also having their upper limits increased; to $40,726 at 22% and to $81,452 for 26%." Tax meaures in the budget are listed here.
Federal budget highlights at a glance (c/o CTV)
$85 billion deficit over the nest five years
Personal taxes down $20 billion over six years
Business taxes cut by $2 billion over six years
$12 billion for infrastructure spending towards roads, sewers and universities, $1 billion for "green" infrastructure, and $1 billion for clean-energy research.
$1.5 billion for job training programs
$7.8 billion for social housing and home renovation, including a one-year only Home Renovation Tax Credit of up to $1,350 per household.
$2.7 billion in short-term loans to the auto industry.
More than $1.4 billion for aboriginal schools, health, water, housing, community services and training.
About $325 million for arts and culture.
Click here for interactive charts on the budget from the CTV website and here for the latest news on the CTF.
Monday, January 26, 2009
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation emerged as the winner of CBC's Dragon's Den. Five groups presented to the panel suggesting why they should get a share of $20 billion dollars. The CTF said the best way the federal government could dish out $20 billion is to keep it in taxpayers' pockets. In the final tally, the panel allocated more money in this direction than any other: $5 billion.
The January 23 video can be viewed here. The panel's response to the CTF starts at 2:20. Don't miss Kevin O' Leary's comments slamming auto subsidies at 8:00.
People in the US (and Canada too) are drifting away from the so-called consensus that man-made carbon dioxide is causing catastrophic global warming.
44% of U.S. voters now say long-term planetary trends are the cause of global warming, compared to 41% who blame it on human activity.
In July 2006, 46% of voters said global warming is caused primarily by human activities, while 35% said it is due to long-term planetary trends.
We need to remember that there has never been any evidence that man-made carbon dioxide was leading to global warming Armageddon. In fact, the globe has experienced no warming since 2002, while carbon dioxide levels continue to rise.
Maybe, just maybe, the global warming alarmists are wrong.
Here's ironic news from the Canadian Press.
The head of Canada's aid agency and two senior staff spent almost $40,000 on first-class airfare alone to attend a conference on aid effectiveness in west Africa.
Participants at the international forum in Accra, Ghana discussed how to get the "best bang for the buck," says a related press release.
But a review of travel and hospitality records filed by the Canadian International Development Agency shows staff routinely pay many times the cost of flying economy in favour of business class.
Canada's Employment Insurance Fraud is $150 million, reports CanWest.
As the Harper government faces pressure to expand the Employment Insurance program in the upcoming budget, the department that manages the initiative has racked up a loss of nearly $150 million on EI fraud.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) recorded a loss of $147.9 million on fraudulent claims for EI benefits in 2007-08. The department estimates it eventually will recover all but $58,924 -- but if recent efforts are any indication, that could take years.
Although some are persuaded that deficit spending is okay in the short term, a sizeable 40% of Canadians don't. A Nick Nanos poll shows 38% oppose deficits and only 3 in 10 support industry
bailouts. Yet, no political party represents them. Strangely, the government that calls itself "Conservative" is the one introducing a massive deficit budget only months after an election campaign where it pledged anything but.
Ipsos-Reid found parallel results in its own poll. Despite an endless media bombardment to the contrary, 41% of Canadians still say that a major deficit is a 'waste of money' that will do little to get Canada out of a recession.
More specifically, 6 in 10 Sask/MB respondents oppose deficits. Rural are less supportive than urban. BC, ONT and Atlantic Canadians are the most supportive of deficits. Males are less supportive than females, and younger less supportive than older. No wonder. Without a dramatic turnaround in fiscal policy, the young generation will be paying for this federal debt the rest of their life.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
How awesome is this?! In 1995, taxes threatened to rise again and deficit spending was a given. But, thanks in part to 19 "No More Taxes" rallies held by the CTF across Canada, taxes didn't increase any further. Then, 27 straight years of deficit budgets gave way to the first balanced one in 1997. So historic were the protests, they received mention in the world history of tax revolts.
Unfortunately, Canada seems to be headed for deficit spending once more, undoing 11 straight years of debt reduction.
Friday, January 23, 2009
In a fantastic feature article in Macleans, Andrew Coyne explains why all this deficit spending won't do any good, as well as the shenanigans that got us here. Instead, he says a true stimulus would include "Tax cuts, sales tax harmonization, a national secruities regulator, health care reform, the works."
But, it seems not to be--yet. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has warned Canada could have $64 billion of deficit spending over the next two years. After 11 straight years of balanced budgets and debt repayment, the clock is needlessly being turned back--and the debt clock back on.
Coyne also acknowledges "Dissent, at least in public, has been confined to free-market think tanks, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and the odd crankish columnist."
Northlands - Edmonton's non-profit operator of Rexall Place (the old Northlands Coliseum), CapitalEx (Edmonton's smaller version of Calgary's Stampede- well kind of...), and the Rexall Edmonton Indy race, is taking a beating over some of their numbers.
Northlands announced on Wednesday that their 2008 Rexall Indy race lost $5.3-million dollars. It was also announced on Wednesday that Edmonton's city council agreed to cover the full shortfall.
Second, Northlands also announced on Wednesday that the total economic impact of the Edmonton Indy was in excess of $80-million (2nd page of 5-page report).
While city council was defending the expenditure of $5.3-million for a car race, others were picking apart Northlands' numbers and credibility.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation took the first shot, issuing a news release on Thursday pointing out that the $5.3-million shortfall was over 400% higher than originally predicted by Northlands ($1-$1.3-million) in May.
The CTF also suggested the $80-million estimate of economic impact was likely overstated (likely because Northlands won't return our calls to explain how it was calculated), because it included both local attendees expenditures and those expenditure of visitors from out of town.
Dr. Brad Humphreys, the internationally acclaimed economist and expert on economic impacts of sporting events, took the next shot suggesting that Northlands must be pulling their economic impact numbers out of thin air. Click HERE to watch his reaction.
For those not hip to video, here's what Dr. Humphreys had to say:
"They're basically numbers they're pulling out of thin air."630 CHED/iNews880 were next up, citing two unnamed insiders suggest that the $80-million estimate is bogus.
"It's very doubtful that this event had any tangible economic impact on Edmonton's economy."
Friday saw both the Edmonton Sun and the Edmonton Journal take a swipe at Northlands for their unbelievable numbers.
Graham Hicks of Hicks on Six said flatly that he didn't believe the impact numbers and did a bit of calculating on his own:
I don't buy multimillion-dollar "economic impact" numbers.
Real numbers, please.
Here's (speculative) numbers a hospitality expert and I came up with.
* Spending by out-of-towners, here for the Indy, staying in hotels: The bump in downtown hotel occupancy for those July days was an extra 1,200 hotel rooms a night. We guessed another 600 hotel rooms outside downtown.
Hotel revenues from the Indy: 1,800 rooms for three nights at $150 a room, or around $800,000.
Per diem spending by hotel guests: $50 a day for 3,600 people (two per room) times four days, or $720,000.
Air fares: We guessed half the hotel guests flew in, $400 each on air fare, so 1,800 times $400, or $720,000.
* Spending by those who came for the Indy but stayed with friends or relatives: We generously guessed that half the attendees, say 16,000, were out-of-towners staying with friends.
They're not big spenders, $30 a day each, over four days for $1.9 million, say $2 million.
So, in cold, hard, guessed-at numbers, a total of $4.2 million. Round it off to $5 million.
Five million "out" in a tax-dollar subsidy. Five million "in," dollars not otherwise spent in Edmonton.
The Edmonton Journal was next up to the plate whacking Northlands twice for being so far off their original loss estimates.
From the Editorial Page (not online):
"The current projection for the 2009 Indy Racing League race at the Muni is a $1.5-million deficit. But as we head into an unpredictable economic downturn, it's worth remembering that after a deficit projection of $1.3-million for 2008, last July's event actually devoured $5.3-million of your money - four times what was expected."
Journal Sports Columnist Dan Barnes also had this to say in his column entitled "400 per cent off":
"In Edmonton, the thrill was gone the moment Northlands made its event summary public on Wednesday afternoon. Or rather, after a reader made it through two pages of glowing reviews and a hard-to-believe $80 million economic impact estimate to reach page three of the four-page report, which detailed the massive loss."
"In the heady days following the signing of that IRL contract, city councillors were told the race might lose $1 million in 2008 and they unanimously agreed to cover the loss (or share in the profits) as it was so optimistically stated in the event summary. Council jumped into the passenger seat without bothering to place a cap on their financial support.
That's either blind faith, stupidity or -- what did Knowles call it -- oh yes, an investment. Fast forward to Wednesday and we find out the Northlands budget estimate was off by a mere 400 per cent."
Ultimately, this all means exactly what the Edmonton Journal wrote in their editorial today - you can't trust Northlands when it comes to numbers. This is bad news considering taxpayers are already on the hook for their deficits for 2009 and 2010.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
It was a tough panel, but the dragons still liked what the Canadian Taxpayers Federation had to say. Kevin Gaudet made the case for $20 billion in tax relief on a special version of CBC's Dragon's Den. Click the image on the left to see the CTF presentation in full (7 minutes) and on the right for the televised version (20 minutes) that aired on CBC January 21. The written version of our submission is here.
Interestingly, Buzz Hargrove, former head of the Canadian Auto Workers union, started his statement by telling the panel NOT to listen to the CTF! Stay tuned for the Dragons' sequel on January 23 on the last half of CBC's The National.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
CTF Manitoba Director Colin Craig explains why in this segment of Business News Network. His comments are based on a CTF report, "Life is Better in the Cities" backed up by StatsCan data. Another CTF report, "Apartheid: Canada's Ugly Secret" explains why the reserve system should be abolished.
In the segment following BNN speaks to Albert Howard, author of "Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry" and Clint Davis, president and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
If Greenpeace stole my trash, I'd feel pretty important, until I found out they steal a lot of people's trash.
In Chris Horner's new book, Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep you Misinformed, he talks about how alarmists go about 'outing' deniers. Alarmists use threats and misinformation to push for bigger government, more spending, more regulation - and of course higher taxes to pay for all it all.
Check it out here
Chris is a best-selling author who also wrote The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation was recently invited by the CBC to appear as a presenter on a special edition of their hit television show – The Dragons’ Den.
Normally the “Dragons” dole out their own cash to purchase portions of companies after hearing pitches from wannabe inventors and entrepreneurs. But, for this special edition, the Dragons are hearing pitches from select groups on how best to “stimulate” the economy. Each of the five Dragons was given $4-billion in phony stimulus cash to dole out.
After making clear that your CTF would in no way endorse stimulus if it meant running up a deficit, we took the tax cut message into the Dragons’ Den.
Other groups pitching the Dragons for “stimulus” cash included the auto sector (represented by former CAW union head Buzz Hargrove), post-secondary students, manufacturers and municipalities for infrastructure funding, and the Suzuki Foundation for “green” spending.
Watch the CTF in action pitching the Dragons on EI premium harmonization, a higher Basic Personal Exemption, and lower, flatter income taxes for Canadians.
This special edition of the Dragons’ Den will air in two-parts on Wednesday, January 21st and Friday, January 23rd during the second half of CBC’s The National News.
This major national television appearance demonstrates how your CTF is one of the only organizations opposing “spending stimulus.” We know taxpayers can better decide how to stimulate the economy than politicians and bureaucrats.
Click here to make your suggestions to the Dragons. Then tune in to see who gets the Dragons' fictitious $20 billion!
Money manager Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital, warned of the housing bubble years ago. He has even made money playing the downside. What does he think of deficit spending and stimulus packages? That it's more harm than good. Whether north or south of the 49th parallel, Schiff says it would be better to cut goverment spending.
He's not alone. William Robson, president of the C.D. Howe Institute agrees, as does the Fraser Institute.
Monday, January 19, 2009
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation uncovered $39 million spent on "negotiations" with an Aboriginal band to have a hydroelectric dam be built. This has caused a stir, with residents crying foul over the waste. A referendum will be held regarding the dam on January 29. Click here for more from CTV, and here for the CTF press release.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
William Tufts is doing Canadians a huge favour. The employee benefits specialist recently created a new blog, Fair Pensions For All. Barely out of the gate, Tufts already has an informative blog on the problem of public pension liabilities in Canada. It's all at http://fairpensionsforall.blogspot.com/.
Pension liabilities are part of what pushed Nortel over the edge, and we will soon discover how bad it is in our governments. Frankly, they can't afford to bail out corporations. They are so indebted by the pensions they owe their employees that they're already in deep trouble. It's no better south of the border, leaving some to ask, "Who will bail out Uncle Sam?"
Thursday, January 15, 2009
There is a 'crappy' story on the front page of the National Post today about a ridiculous waste of taxpayers' money. An artist received $30,000 to build a machine that simulates the creation of and freeze-dries human waste.
Yes, truth is stranger than fiction.
Sure enough, the National Post reports that the federal department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council of the Arts coughed up hard-earned tax dollars for this and to send it on a road show.
This is exactly why arts funding should come more from private and personal contributions and not tax dollars.
Clearly, too often when the govenment funds art decisions taxpayers get crap back.
Posted by Kevin Gaudet at 9:10 AM
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Bill Casey has announced he won't run again. He has said he may even retire some time in 2009.
The CTF has calculated his MP pension entitlement should he serve out all of 2009.
He would be immediately entitled to receive $97,743.40 in his first year of pension entitlement.
Yikes! MP pensions sure are lucrative. Serve for six years, accrue 3% a year based on the average of the highest five years of earnings and be entitled to get it at age 55.
Not many private sector or even public sector plans come close to this kind of generosity. No wonder so many people clamour to win nominations to win a seat in Parliament.
Talk about the need for MP pension reform!
Posted by Kevin Gaudet at 4:28 PM
Friday, January 09, 2009
The CBC's French-language broadcaster says it "got the message loud and clear" after more than 1,300 people complained about a New Year's Eve show that told racial jokes about Barack Obama and labelled Stephen Harper a "lobotomy on legs."...More from the Ottawa Sun.
CBC and Radio-Canada are subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of about $1.1 billion annually. Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said it is a challenge for a publicly funded broadcaster to stay on the right side of the line with satirical programs, because it does not answer to shareholders.
FREDERICTON - What do the children of the province's health minister have in common with a slew of Liberal insiders and comedy king Lorne Michaels?Click here to read more from the Telegraph Journal.
They all got a chance in 2008 to dip a line at Larry's Gulch Lodge, the province's exclusive salmon fishing retreat on the Restigouche River, on the taxpayers' tab.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
It's too bad current G20 leaders don't know about a study by UCLA on the United States' response to the Great Depression. The 1933 "New Deal" by President Franklin Roosevelt is often hailed as the reason the nation emerged out of its economic slump. In fact, the UCLA study showed that the New Deal actually extended the depression by seven years.
Recovery came only after the Department of Justice dramatically stepped enforcement of antitrust cases nearly four-fold and organized labor suffered a string of setbacks, the economists found.Meanwhile, Canadian taxpayers are bracing themselves for federal intervention in the next fiscal year rumoured to be $20-billion to $30-billion. Will it take Canada seven years to recover?
"The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes," Cole said. "Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened."
Jan 19 update: this article agrees, with confessions from the New Deal architects themselves.
The Western Standard has issued its first annual top 100 liberty rankings. Directors for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation earned honours from 49-53 and 69.
The Western Standard also reports that the U.S. porn industry is asking for a $5 billion bailout and that "The Canadian Union of Public Employees' (CUPE) Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee is attempting to push through a proposal to ban Israeli academics from teaching or lecturing in Ontario universities."
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
The CTF was at the table as the federal government consulted with various groups to get ideas on the federal budget. CTV dedicated much of one article to our ideas.
Click here to see video of acting Federal Director Kevin Gaudet speak to CTV Newsnet on January 6. On January 7, Gaudet told Canada AM that Canadians were in favor of a balanced budget and lower taxes, while the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives proposed deep deficits.
The owner of Sonshine Car Wash and Gas shares his plight.
CTF Director Lee Harding explains that Regina's first urban reserve means lost revenue for school boards.
A Canadian Taxpayers Federation news release has shed light on an emerging issue. In Saskatchewan, more than $329 million provincial tobacco and fuel tax dollars have been rebated to on-reserve businesses since 2000. The rebates have grown from $6.7 million that year to $67 million today as tobacco taxes for off-reserve businesses has risen and urban reserves have spread. Given that provincial taxes on fuel are 15 cents per Litre, federal excise taxes are 10 cents/L, GST is applied, and provincial tobacco taxes are 18.6 cents per cigarette, off-reserve businesses have been locked out of any chance to meaningfully compete for Status Indian customers. Tax-free input costs mean cheaper overhead and lower costs for non-Aboriginal customers as well.
The future bodes worse for the province as Regina has its first urban reserve, with more in the process of receiving such status. The first, now the land of Piapot First Nation, is a site for the Cree Land Mini Mart. Its many competitive advantages have brought predictable results for nearby off-reserve businesses. One claims a 70 percent loss in customers and three employees let go since the Cree Land Mini Mart opened. This was reported on a CBC French report (This page is translated with video at the top of this post.)
On January 6, CTF Saskatchewan Director Lee Harding did 45 minutes of live radio on CKRM Regina on the topic. The audio is available here.
And there's more. Many weighed in on the issue after a Saskatoon radio station publicized the CTF release. A CTF report "Apartheid: Canada's Ugly Secret" authored by Tanis Fiss, a Metis lawyer, explains problems with current Aboriginal policy.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Ford has a state-of-the art auto plant in Brazil as this brief but interesting video shows. They'd love to build another one in North America, but the United Auto workers won't allow it. Canadian taxpayers once again must wonder why they should bail out a multinational company based in Detroit that has to get its own affairs in order.
Municipalities across the country have been calling for one percent of provincial sales taxes to be dedicated to them, including the City of Toronto. In Saskatchewan, this would increase municipal grants from $140 million annually up to about $200 million. Of course, Regina and Saskatoon mayors are excited about this prospect.
The arrangement would help municipalities plan for the future, as they could reasonably predict what revenues they would receive. They could also reduce property taxes, although they could blow the money by overspending. The video above from CBC French features comments in English from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and CTF Sask Director Lee Harding.
Global warming fears are starting to...chill. Saskatoon has had 24 straight days of -25C weather, the longest streak since record-keeping began in 1892. The previous record was 21 days set in January 1950. The current streak began December 13, but may end today as the expected high is a balmy -23.
The temperature lows have nothing to do with C02 fluctuations, but is reflective of what is always a more important factor in global temperatures: sunspot activity. Even believers in C02-induced warming acknowledge that in past centuries, long periods of cooling coincided with times of fewer sunspots.
Currently, sunspot activity is at the lowest it's been since 1913.
Monday, January 05, 2009
Some new tough questions are being asked about Black Lake Golf Club, the luxury golf course owned by the United Auto Workers union in Cheboygan County, Michigan. Along with the multi-million dollar golf resort, the UAW also funds what it calls an “education center” with the funding connected to the resort....Click here to read more.
Research by Laborpains.org and Zarko Research and Consulting is raising several vexing questions of the UAW’s resort golf project. Large amounts of money seems to be unaccounted for and it even seems to show that pension benefits are being paid to “shadow employees” that do not seem to exist.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Friday, January 02, 2009
The Saskatchewan government is setting up a new secretariat to oversee private-public partnerships (P3s). The goal is to get the private sector engaged with capital projects for roads, schools, and health care facilities. The threshold for the size of capital projects under consideration is $25 million.
This is welcome news. Partnerships BC has overseen similar projects in British Columbia for years and saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. It's something the CTF has recommended for years that Saskatchewan do.
Saskatchewan judges, currently paid $204,552, are in for a big raise. As of April 1, the pay of provincial court judges will rise 8 percent to 220,916. Thereafter, it will rise four percent in each of the next two years. By April 1, 2011, judges' pay will be $238,943. The decision was made by the Provincial Court Commission, an independent body.
While most wages in Saskatchewan have grown 20% from 2002-2008, judges' pay had already grown by 43%, a hike only rivalled by that of nurses (46.3%). With another 16 percent raise to come over the next three years, one may wonder if this is truly just. It would have been better to see what the provincial government had recommended: a four percent increase in the first year, plus a raise equal to inflation for the next two.