Here's one for all you Trekkies. Pass it on!
Friday, May 29, 2009
Premier Wall made some ambiguous comments on the possibility of a new Rider stadium. The CTF has already asked for a copy of a government-commissioned report on the topic, but it has not yet been made public. Wall says...
"We have B.C. doing about I think a $250 million renovation. They're going to have a retractable roof. (Calgary's) McMahon Stadium is getting a lot of love there, I think $30-$40 million," Wall said, adding Winnipeg is getting a new stadium.
"I think the most unlikely (option) would be 'do nothing,'" the premier told reporters at the legislature.
Renovating the current stadium probably isn't high on the list either, but "I don't think we would rule that out down the road if the feasibility of something else just doesn't seem to be there," Wall said.
The premier said he hasn't yet read the $70,000 concept review, conducted by outside experts, in detail but is familiar with the outline of the report. It will be shared with the Riders and the City of Regina before information from the report is revealed to the public, he said....
But Wall has said he wouldn't want to use money from the general revenue fund and has in the past suggested the potential of some sort of arrangement with Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation as one possibility.
As reported in today's Globe, the average cost to the taxpayer for every job "saved" in the auto sector has been $1.4-million. That is one million, four-hundred thousand dollars. Dollars, not pesos, not chickens and mules, dollars.
To those in government, the auto industry, the media and leftist think-tanks that have repeatedly said that this will be cheaper than the costs of letting failing businesses fail, eat your heart out. If ever vindication was needed to prove that this has been a historic waste of taxpayers' money, this is it.
At this point, perhaps we should just throw in the towel and send everyone with an endangered job a cheque for $1-million. It will save us more in the end than these endless bailouts which are only delaying the inevitable.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Just as the federal government admits that much of the $2.5 billion in "repayable loans" to GM has already been written off, we also discover that the federal deficit may actuallly be $50 billion this year instead of $34 billion. It's "scary" alright!
Find out the current debt figure at DebtClock.ca.
Kevin Gaudet and the CCPA debate on BNN. It starts getting fired up around the 5 minute mark when Kevin O'Leary asks if there should even be employment insurance in the first place.
Even though the Canadian Museum for Human Rights held its sod turning ceremony just five months ago, the museum has already announced that it will need more money to complete the project - $45 million from government and the private sector to be precise.
How much of the $45 million taxpayers will end up paying for remains to be seen, however, all three levels of government would be wise to protect taxpayers by heeding the CTF's advice and clearly lay out who is responsible for overruns before the project continues.
Although it's fair to assume that a good portion of Manitoba taxpayers support funding the project, it's also to fair to ask when enough is enough. Given all three levels of government have already kicked in over $160 million, ìsn't that a sufficient contribution from John and Jane taxpayer?
While the risk of taxpayers having to pick even more of the capital cost for this project is great, the greater risk is actually on the operating side.
Consider what has been happening with the amount the museum will require from the federal government each year once it's operational.
As you can see here, the Clinton Global Initiative noted in 2005 that the museum would only run an annual $15 million deficit.
However, the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights noted on page 8 of their 2005 Annual Report that the annual operating deficit would be much closer to $12 million.
In 2007, Maclean's Magazine noted the project would need $14 million in annual federal funding.
Hold on as we fast forward to 2009. According to the museum's corporate plan, the facility will need at least $21.7 million in annual federal support. Further, as noted on page 11, this figure could rise by $5-9 million if the museum is required to pay taxes just like other federal museums.
While the museum has some public support, it`s not support at any cost. As the capital and operating costs continue to soar, our elected officials need to step in and start looking out for the interests of taxpayers.
SGI paid $300,000 to sponsor a Saskatoon police plane. If the provincial government is going to do something like this, why not do it through the Ministry of Corrections and Public Safety? Note how this report closes. Maybe that's the problem!
Neil Donnelly, VP of events and entertainment at Evraz Place in Regina says a new football stadium for the sake of concerts would be foolish.
"I've said before to a few people, they're talking about $400 million for a new stadium or $300 million for a new stadium. Well, the reality is, they could put $100 million into the existing stadium or build an outdoor stadium for $100-and-some million and still have $100 (million) or $150 million to build a new 10,000- or 12,000-seat hockey rink that would likely serve the concert goers far better than a football stadium. If you look at the BC Place website, in the last three years they've had two or three concerts per year and that's it. It doesn't get used as a concert venue. If they're looking at a covered stadium to be a concert venue, that's really not the best solution."
Monday, May 25, 2009
TransLink, the B.C. Lower Mainland transportation authority, is experiencing just how the market works.
TransLink forces university students, or more rightly, their parents, to buy a transit pass, or Upass. They get the transit pass whether they use it or not. So, if they drive to school, they have a pass they don't use.
No doubt the TransLink braintrust had good intentions, not to mention forced purchases help it look like the demand for passes is increasing, but like most well-intentioned policies, there was an unintended consequence.
Some of the kids are selling their Upasses to anyone willing to buy them, on Craigslist.
This is a classic example of the market working to successfully arbitrage a product that is one price in one market (the student market) and another price in a different market (the everyone else market). It is just the same as sports game ticket scalpers - they sell the ticket at a higher price to someone who values it more.
The government has no right to force people to buy something they don't want. The upass program was poorly thought out and should be scrapped.
No wonder this and this came out on a Friday. Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming is giving $1.5 million to horse racing.
That's $986,000 to Saskatoon for thoroughbreds, $32,000 to horse racing in Melville, another $165,000 for standardbred racing in Saskatoon, and also $259,000 for standardbred racing in Yorkton. Amazing: that's $1.50 per capita from taxpayers for an industry that can't make it on its own.
Oh, what would we ever do without government helping us place our bets? Maybe keep our money in our pocket and let someone else gamble it?
The Globe and Mail headline says it all: "Taxpayers fork out billions for GM pension aid". The federal government says that Ontario tax dollars will go to the pension plan, but federal ones will not.
That distinction is “hair splitting,” said Kevin Gaudet, federal director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a conservative lobby group.
“No level of government, no taxpayer should be bailing out the pension plan, or anything of the company. It's ridiculous,” he said. “And their hairsplitting won't matter a whit to those taxpayers who have no pension plan.”
Mr. Gaudet was particularly critical of Mr. Harper, who started his political career as a Reform Party MP and served as the head of the right-wing National Citizens Coalition in Calgary before becoming Conservative Party leader.
“Mr. Harper may left his balls out West when it comes to taking a principle stand against bailing out this industry like he used believe in,” he said.
Friday, May 22, 2009
More bad news with the Canada Pension Plan. The pension plan lost $23 billion in fiscal 2008, though this was partially offset by $6 billion in contributions. In essence, four years of CPP contributions by Canadians have vanished.
More interesting news for public pensions in Saskatchewan. The provincial government has had a "proof of existence" project to make sure that pensions are being sent to the right people. They found everyone but 15 and now their pensions are being suspended. Unfortunately, it turns out that a Saskatchewan teacher got $220,000 worth of pensions until it was discovered he had been dead for six years.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table
At which he's fed.
Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.
Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for peanuts
Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.
Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.
Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.
Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.
Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.
Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won't be done
Till he has no dough.
When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He's good and sore.
Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he's laid.
Put these words
Upon his tomb,
'Taxes drove me
to my doom...'
When he's gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.
Posted by Derek Fildebrandt at 9:21 AM
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
According to the City of Winnipeg's web site, the "operators" in the photo radar vehicles "observe and make notes on each violation". See the answer to question 19 in the frequently asked questions about photo radar section on the City of Winnipeg's web site.
(photo credit: www.trafficticketguru.com)
Sounds like lip service given just about every Winnipegger has seen one of these guys reading a book, sleeping in the back seat or doing something else. Will that be the next way someone gets out of paying a ticket - proving than an operator was sleeping during the 'infraction' and thus unable to serve as a witness?
The case for scrapping this cash grab of a program builds everyday...
Friday, May 15, 2009
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation's 11th annual Gas Tax Honesty Day was marked on May 14, getting widespread coverage as usual.
- Gas tax 31 cents on every dollar at pump, taxpaper group says: Winnipeg Free Press
- Group pushes for gas tax accountability: Winnipeg Free Press
- The Tax On Gasoline; Perhaps More Than You Think: CJOB 680
- Gas Going Up Again In Time For Long Weekend: Toronto, CityNews.ca
- Lower Gas Taxes, Gov't Urged: Fredericton, Times and Transcript
In British Columbia, Maureen Bader also made big news on another issue: severance pay for MLAs who won't be back following the recent provincial election.
As for the oft-asked question about whether gas companies are gouging, this CBC article provides some context and insight: What goes into the price of gasoline?. Elsewhere Quebec Premier Jean Charest praised the Harper government for increasing and extending the federal gas tax transfer to Quebec.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Three British scientists skiing to the North Pole ended their mission a bit early to ensure they'd get off the ice before the annual summer melt.
After facing -70 degree temperatures (with the wind chill), equipment failures because it was too cold, ration shortages because bad weather kept supply planes away, and a frostbitten toe, the team still insisted global warming was causing rapid ice melt.
They noticed less open water than expected, and yet, these scientists insist on sticking to the global warming story.
But even NASA agrees, Arctic sea ice melt has other causes.
A recent NASA JPL (http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/quikscat-20071001.html) study shows that winds pushed the sea ice to lower latitudes where it melted. The NASA statement says:
Nghiem said the rapid decline in winter perennial ice the past two years was caused by unusual winds. “Unusual atmospheric conditions set up wind patterns that compressed the sea ice, loaded it into the Transpolar Drift Stream and then sped its flow out of the Arctic,” he said. When that sea ice reached lower latitudes, it rapidly melted in the warmer waters.
It's time to stop the spin.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The return of gold-plated pensions and generous severance perks in 2007 gave golden handshakes to 17 MLAs, paid for by taxpayers, after the May 12th elections in B.C. This is the same type of gold-plated pension scheme abolished 13 years ago because according to the recently re-elected premier - it was too rich.
Over the past three years, all MLAs have contributed $2.9 million into the pension fund. Taxpayers will fund $7 million for the ousted ten who are eligible for pension benefits. As a result, taxpayers will cough up $2.4 for every $1 paid by MLAs.
Taxpayers, many of whom do not even have an RRSP, let alone a pension, are on the hook to fund big pension benefits for politicians. Politicians have put their own interests ahead of the people they purport to serve and will leave taxpayers to burden under a legacy of higher taxes.
It's not a wonder voter turnout was less than 50% in B.C. during the provincial election yesterday.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The Saskatchewan government abandoned its target of reducing emissions by 32 percent by 2020 and instead adopted a 20 percent goal. More here.
Apparently, most Canadian policy makers have never read Loehle's report correlating the sample data from all sources that exclude tree rings. Approximate temperatures for the past 2000 years follow below. The small lines are the high and low ranges, and the thick line is the median. It's clearly apparent that temperatures were much higher circa 1000 A.D.--long before the industrial era began.
Monday, May 11, 2009
"Are Record Temperatures Abnormal?" a blogger asks. The answer is no. Statistically, even with stable temperatures, one would expect to see a record high in at least 10 of the world's 1000 weather stations on any given day. This is because record-keeping hasn't been going on that long. If media outlets and global warming advocates want to find record temperatures, they can. But it doesn't mean much.
If one wanted to note the trends of such records, it would actually be an argument against global warming (albeit a weak one). There haven't been any continental record highs in recent decades. Antarctica reached a record high of 15C (59F) in 1974. Asia reached a high of 54 (129F) in 1942.
There have, however, been some continental record lows following 1942. Namely, the world record low temperature in Antarctica of -89C (-129F) in 1983, -66C (-87F) in North America in 1954, -22C (-9F) in Australia in 1994.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Posted by Derek Fildebrandt at 4:59 PM
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) sent six questions to five political parties running in BC's May 12 election. You can see the questions and the responses at www.taxpayer.com
Neither the Liberals nor the NDP support a lower, simpler, and flatter income tax system, legislated debt reduction, eliminating the health care tax or eliminating corporate welfare.
CTF supporters have indicated in the past their support for the provincial Conservative party, which showed its support in the questionnaire for a lower, simpler, and flatter income tax system, legislated debt reduction, eliminating the health care tax and eliminating the carbon tax.
The door is open in BC for a fiscally conservative party. This result also highlights the need for electoral reform in BC.
Friday, May 01, 2009
B.C. politicians justified their huge pay increase and brought back gold-plated pensions in 2007 declaring those recommendations were from an independent panel, had nothing to do with them, were out of their hands, but when one of the panel's recommendations didn't suite them, the politicians changed it and gave themselves a benefit that few taxpayers, the people on the hook for the bill, can get.
The panel recommended a time limit on pension contributions if a politician went on long-term disability while in office and gave one-term politicians a small pension, still more than what most other people get, but the politicians said they deserved better and passed, with no debate, sneaking in on the last line of the pay-hike legislation, a change that forces the taxpayer to contribute to politician's gold-plated pension for as long as the politician is on long-term disability.
This means instead of a pension of about $28,000 per year at age 65, politicians could get a pension of $70,000 per year at age 65.
No one begrudges a person a disability pension, but politicians have left taxpayers on the hook to pick up what could become a massive tab over time.