Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No Mr. President, the science is not certain

On November 18, 2008, President Obama said "few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than fighting climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear."

The reality is different. Many scientists disagree with the "facts," their certainty, and their interpretation. Over 100 scientists signed this statement: We, the undersigned scientists, maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated. Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now. After controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events. The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior. Mr. President, your characterization of the scientific facts regarding climate change and the degree of certainty informing the scientific debate is simply incorrect.

This appeared in the Cato Institute's newspaper ad on March 31, 2009.

Check it out at: www.cato.org

Keynes sunk the West and will do so again

The Financial Post explains why. Taxing one dollar from one person and giving it to someone else does not boost the economy 50%!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Join NoBailouts.ca!

Get on board! The Canadian Taxpayers Federation's latest campaign against corporate welfare is here: NoBailouts.ca. Sign a petition, tell your friends, and even donate. We made it easy as lemon meringue pie to tell your whole address list and/or your facebook friends. Unfortunately you can only tell 12 facebook friends per day, so it's probably wiser you not miss the email part.

It's also wise to act today, not later. March 31 is the deadline for the Big 3 to renegotiate their overgenerous, unsustainable agreements with the Canadian Auto Workers Union. GM made their deal, but Chrysler is still in negotiations. However, Ottawa has already said that the "deadline" could get extended by two weeks.

[Industry Minister Tony] Clement also sought to clarify an impression he had left that a tentative contract deal between the Canadian Auto Workers union and GM Canada, reached over the weekend, had delivered insufficient union concessions.

Some analysts have said the CAW needed to cut labour costs by about 30% to make a difference, not the reduction of about 10% that some predict it has offered, but Mr. Clement said he was not offering an opinion on whether this was enough.

"It's not a deal breaker," he told CTV television.

Too bad.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gaudet is right; Akin proves it

David Akin has vindicated Kevin Gaudet's assessment that a $15 million annual federal seniors' program is a waste. Akin, whose twitter updates from #ottawasends show what our federal government is spending money on, gives some compelling examples. Charity is not something government does well.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fiscal Child Abuse

The BC government rejected debt reduction as a way to ensure the future prosperity of the province back in 2006. The budget for 2009/10, in classic pre-election form, throws the notion of fiscal responsibility completely out the window. Big spending increases mean the debt may skyrocket to $47 billion in 2011 (from $37.5 billion now).

Too bad about the babies born that year. They will owe about $10,000 each.

Our government is so focused on leaving a legacy, it doesn't seem to notice that the legacy it's leaving to tomorrow's children is a legacy of debt.

Deficit, Debt, Devaluation, Danger!

Rex Murphy says everyone has turned into Bob Rae, a cute way to say the world's governments are hurtling themselves into debt just the way Rae did when he was premier of Ontario. There are more videos below with interesting commentary along the same lines...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

carbon tax debate

Maureen Bader successfully made the case against carbon taxes in a debate with Dr. Thomas Courchene, economics professor at Queen's University and Order of Canada holder.

Carbon taxes are new taxes on families, don't lower carbon dioxide levels where they already exist, and won't go away when the wheels of the global warming bandwagon fall off. Watch the debate here:

Bail Me

In an age of industrial nationalization, corporate welfare and increasing government encroachment, politicians are constrained not by notions of good public policy, but by the whimsical blowing of the polling wind.

Today, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation launched NoBailouts.ca, an online petition demanding that government stop throwing good money after bad with Big Auto bailouts. Please do what you can by signing it yourself, and sending to your contacts through the provided, easy instructions.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

School Property Tax Relief at Last!

A long long fight to lower school property taxes took a substantial leap forward with the recent Saskatchewan Budget. The provincial share of school funding will grow from 51 percent of the total to 63 this year, and to 66 the next. The province has also pledged to cover all future inflationary and wage hike costs, which means that that percentage will continue to increase in future years. It has also taken over setting mill rates for school boards, which means it has better and more consistant fiscal controls on school funding.

In addition, municipalities will receive 20% of PST revenues, which amounts to 1 point out of 5 (.9 this year and 1.0 the next). This represents a 24% increase in revenues. This means that wherever one lives in the province, property taxes are going down.

Best of all, there's a $424 million surplus anticipated in this budget. Much of it rides on $1.9 billion of potash revenue. However, estimates were quite conservative on potash prices. There's strong reason to anticipate that an additional $500 million may come from potash this year. Saskatchewan is still on a roll.

Kevin Gaudet on The Hour

Kevin talked about the federal deficit budget, corporate bailouts, and wasteful spending. Host George Strombolopolos wondered if he could become a CTF director :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Orwellian pay raise for nurses in BC

When is a pay raise not a pay raise? When it's a market adjustment.

The BC government, after saying it would hold the line on public sector wages, gave a 'market adjustment' of six percent over two years. One of the reasons given for the 'not' pay increase was the difficulty the government has been having recruiting nurses.

But the average annual nurse's salary is now about $80,000. If salaries that are two times higher than average salaries are not high enough to attract workers, maybe it's not the money.

People go into nursing because they care about people, but if they see, according to the Supreme Court of Canada, people languishing and dying on waiting lists, they are not able to do their jobs.

It's time for the system to change.

Sweden, a bastion of socialism, now has private managed healthcare facilities, private health insurance, and user fees. After these reforms, not only were patients happier, nurses were happier as well.

Monday, March 16, 2009

More think global warming exaggerated

In a Gallup poll conducted March 5-8, 2009, a record-high 41% of Americans in the US now say news reporting exaggerates global warming. This represents the highest level of public skepticism about mainstream reporting on global warming seen in more than a decade of Gallup polling on the subject. http://www.gallup.com/poll/116590/Increased-Number-Think-Global-Warming-Exaggerated.aspx

Not only that, when asked to rank their concern about eight specific environmental issues, not only did global warming rank last on the basis of the total percentage concerned, but it is the only issue for which public concern dropped significantly in the past year.

Also, only 38% of Americans, similar to the 40% found in 2008, believe it will pose "a serious threat" to themselves or their own way of life.

Too bad the same can't be said of government intervention in the economy to 'do something' global warming.

Friday, March 13, 2009

CTF now on MySpace

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has launched a MySpace page at www.myspace.com/cantaxfed. Please check it out and become our friend :)

**UPDATE: When first posted, the URL wouldn't work. This one will!**

Harper's move on pay equity a good one

According to the Harper government, Canadian taxpayers have covered over $4-billion in pay equity disputes and settlements heard at the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) since the right for equal pay was introduced in 1977. The government’s proposal – known as the Public Service Equitable Compensation Act – would forbid CHRC from hearing pay equity complaints from federal public servants – a body of 400,000 workers – and instead make it an issue for negotiations during collective bargaining, claiming that both the employer and the union will be responsible for ensuring equitable compensation.
--from an article in the McGill Daily.

Once the politics is stripped away and one looks at the fine print, pay equity is a questionable concept with even more questionable implementation. Obviously a man or a woman doing the same job equally well should be paid the same. But pay equity isn't about that. It's about a nebulous concept that assumes discrimination in places it may not be there.

Here's a hypothetical example. A business pays its secretaries $30,000 and most of them are women, but it pays its managers $100,000 and most of them are men, that could be a sign of systemic discrimination.

Of course, this is not necessarily the case. But if the case goes forward, an arbitrator has to make an ARBITRARY decision about what real "fairness" should look like. How can one possibly judge this? A judgment on the inherent "value" of a certain work vs. another can never truly be done by some independent mind.

In the end, pay is not just about "fairness" but about market forces. If there's an abundance of potential hires for secretaries and very few qualified managers, obviously one could hire a secretary for lower wages but will have to pay more to get a high-quality manager. The employer himself (or herself) assesses the "value" of such work by paying people with what gives them a profitable business. Moreover, the people working for him or her have agreed to that wage. If the secretaries are paid less, it does not necessarily imply systemic discrimination.

The other problem with pay equity is that it never brings wages down, only up. So if the managers are getting $100,000 and the secretaries $30,000, you'll never see pay equity bring managers' wages down to $90,000. You might see secretaries get up to $40,000, however. No wonder the unions love it.

A pay equity case brought forward against Canada Post in 1983 was still in the courts25 YEARS later! The complaint wound its way through human rights commissions and various court proceedings. At last in 2008, a Federal Court of Canada judge ruled there was no discrimination and lamented the waste of time and money spent over nothing.

It is the kind of case that would not have occurred had the above legislation already been in effect. This legislation will restore the amount of pay to its proper jurisdiciton: the negotiation of employees (represented by their union) and their employer--the government.

Will this save taxpayer dollars? Yes, and so it should.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Teddies 2009: the best of the worst waste

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation awarded its annual Teddy waste awards in Ottawa today. Winners include the Canada Council for the Arts, a Manitoba Child and Family Services Agency, the City of Vancouver and Big 3 Auto Subsidies. Details here. Plus, click here for media coverage of the event and here for other waste stories on this blog.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Convention Centre All Over Again?

Taking a lead from Yogi Berra, the BC government is embarking on yet another infrastructural program outside of the P3 model. The Port Mann Bridge was supposed to be a Public-Private Partnership (P3), as was the Vancouver Convention Centre expansion. In both cases, the risk, financial or otherwise, was too great for a private sector company to take on. For Olympian reasons, the government forged ahead with the convention centre. That was a mistake.

The Convention Centre wasn't the first example of government mismanagement, nor will it be the last. Why? Because previous examples have been thrown down the memory hole.

When the government built the Coquihalla Highway, it decided to “fast track” it to have it open for Expo ’86. The original $250 million cost ballooned to almost $1 billion. The massive cost overrun resulted in an inquiry that said the government’s attitude toward the public and the legislature bordered on contempt.

People tend to remember the good things - a new highway - and forget the bad things - massive outrage at the cost overruns and the legacy of debt these projects bring.

If government were a private business, it would have been forced out of the construction game a long time ago. If the private sector is unable or unwilling to take on a project, it is a signal that the project is too risky for the taxpayer as well.

Yes, BC needs a new bridge, but it doesn't need more debt. Review the Port Mann Bridge project.

Will the Modern West go the way of Rome?

The Roman Empire increasingly became a welfare state until it finally collapsed. Will history soon repeat itself? Lawrence Reed says let's hope not.

"Another Great Depression should indeed concern us. The one that followed the Roman welfare state is known as the Dark Ages and it lasted for several hundred years."

Monday, March 09, 2009

Knowledge puts global warming on ice

A debate on National Public Radio argued the question "Major reductions in carbon emissions are not worth the money. " http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97998613

The audience was asked before the debate whether they agreed. 16 percent agreed and 49 percent disagreed, with 35 percent undecided. So, most people disagreed that reducing carbon dioxide was not worth the money.

By the end of the debate, those who argued that reducing carbon emissions was not worth the cost had changed the most minds: 42 percent agreed "Major Reductions in Carbon Emissions Are Not Worth the Money," while 48 percent disagreed and 10 percent were still undecided.

When people understand the debate they agree that major reductions in carbon emissions are not worth the money.

Raising awareness of the global warming debate helps people better understand the trade offs involved in trying to stop the climate from changing.

The climate changes, it always has and always will. Spending trillions of dollars to try to stop that natural process wastes money and does virtually nothing to stop the climate from changing.

Legislature fix-up $1.5 million over-budget

Phase one of renovations on the Saskatchewan legislature was supposed to wrap up last fall. It has just finished at a cost of $5 million. Now, the Leader-Post reports, experts will spend a year doing paperwork and looking at options. Why? Because that $5 million was only to fill in some cracks on the mortar and figure out what else had to be done!

Alberta government spends $60,000 on leisure survey

Turns out Albertans like golf. Did you know the deficit will be $1.4 billion this year?

Cap-and-trade: working-class losers, high-income winners

The Wall Street journal reports that Obama's proposed cap-and-trade plan will redistribute wealth from working class middle America to upscale Americans in a big way. Similar things could be said about cap-and-trade consequences in Canada.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Sick Days in Sun Country

A Saskatchewan Health Region admits that sick days are being abused. Thank for being honest.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Klein supports high-spending Stelmach

So, how does Ralph Klein feel abut Ed Stelmach running a $1.4 billion deficit? Apparently just fine. We don't. Alberta's per-capita government spending is highest in Canada.

The Bailout Game

Now this is funny--someone has created an online board game called "The Bailout Game." You, yes you, can "save" the global economy by dumping money on Wall Street to save banks. "But be careful," the game makers warn, "some banks only want to spend taxpayer dollars!"

If only this actually worked. Can anyone save an economy by turning private debt into public debt?

Air Canada vs Government of Manitoba - We're Taking Bets...

Many eyes rolled last October when the provincial government announced it was taking Air Canada to court over the firm's decision to close down a flight attendant base in Winnipeg.

The province argued that the move contravened a law passed by the federal government that requires Air Canada to maintain an "operational centre" in Winnipeg.

As Steve Lambert from the Canadian press notes, flight attendant bases are not physical buildings, but places where attendants start their shifts. Further, Air Canada still maintains a call centre in Winnipeg, a maintenance centre and other facilities.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation recently discovered through the Freedom of Information Act that over $10,900 has been spent by the government on this case. To view the response, click here.

In the mean time, we're taking bets on who you think will win. ;)

Native governance to change: leaked documents

The Globe and Mail says that "secret documents" reveal that Canada's federal government plans to introduce changes to native governance. These changes are similar to ones the Liberals introduced in 2002 and include such basic things as ensuring secret ballot elections and allowing all off-reserve members to vote. The Globe and Mail credits the Canadian Taxpayers Federation as having pushed for such changes.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Global Warming DoubleThink

In a Frontier Centre for Public Policy article, Dr. Tim Ball described something straight out of science fiction:

# Warming is causing global cooling.
# The sun has virtually nothing to do with global temperature change.
# Carbon dioxide, a harmless gas essential to life on Earth is labeled a toxic
substance and a pollutant and must be reduced.

# Rewarding failures will reduce the number of failures.
# Punishing success will encourage more success.
# You can have more freedom by letting the government control more of your life.
# You get out of debt by going further into debt.
# The best people to get you out of trouble are the ones who got you there.

In George Orwell's frighteningly prescient book, 1984, doublethink was
the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them....To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

If we don't wake up, we'll all end up in Room 101.

When will prohibition end?

Prohibition ended in Saskatchewan in 1925, but not for private liquor retailers to cannot compete with the government to this day. It's interesting to read in a a Leader-Post article that the head of the union representing public liquor employees (SGEU) uses 1920s gangster language by saying that private liquor retailers want "a piece of the action". For its part, the provincial government says the SGEU is "stuck in the past" and resistant to change, given its response to the introduction of privately-run wine stores in Regina and Saskatoon.

SGEU responded by running ads supporting the public liquor monopoly, one that has drawn sharp criticism from newspaper editors and citizens alike.

The CTF's commentary, "End Prohibition of Private Liquor" can be read here. It's getting plenty of feedback in Saskatoon. The 2004 report, "Embracing Competition" can be read here.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Alberta Deficit: $1.4 billion

All the government has to do is take an eraser to its balanced budget law, and VOILA! The province can run a deficit. Meanwhile, the green spending goes on, and Alberta's version of fiscal restraint is to restrict spending growth to something less than double digits. "It absolutely blows my mind," says CTF Alberta Director Scott Hennig.

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