Monday, April 30, 2012

Big time tax avoidance

In Canada your taxes are due today, or else be prepared to suffer penalties if you happen to owe money.

Avoiding tax is one of the most popular games on the planet. The more tax you are required to pay, the more incentivized you are to avoid taxation. That is true for individuals as well as corporations, and what is also true is that wealthy individuals and corporations generally find ways to pay the least amount of tax.

Apple Corporation is one of the largest (if not the largest) companies by market capitalization in the world. But Apple has found ways to avoid billions of dollars in US corporate tax legally. More ammunition to support the Laffer Curve.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Lesson for taxpayers and government

Its tax time in Canada, again. 
The fact is there is a constant stream of tax revenue that flows into the Canadian Federal government pot each and every minute of everyday. The flow of revenue increases during the waking hours as daylight marches across the country, but it reaches a torrent towards the end of April every year.

Aside from my feelings about taxation, like, its legalized theft, its immoral, I don't support this or that, but I'm forced to pay for it anyway, why can't I at least pick and choose where I want to spend my money - aside from all that, it's a pain in the ass to do.

I've talked about a flat tax form before, here and here. Yes, I know its still a tax, still coerced, but think of the hours saved and the stress avoided? One piece of paper, how much did you make? Pay 15%, or whatever, end of story.

But a flat tax would create huge distortions in the tax industry and economy in general. My Turbotax software would be unnecessary, all those people toiling to minimize the pain would need to find other employment. Thousands of accountants, lawyers, and other tax preparers have become huge businesses that depend on the stacks of arcane rules that exempt this or that, and whose primary purpose is to avoid payment. Entire lifelong careers have been created for so many. Think of the government lobbyists these guys must have? You may be assured, flat taxes are not on their agenda.

I'm not going to ignore our law makers, who sit in various legislature buildings in every provincial capital and Ottawa, dreaming up new ways to tax and of course spend. "Spend" is the real issue, isn't it? It was the spending during World War I, that created the need for a "temporary" income tax in 1917. Yes, temporary; but once the precedent was set, well, here we are 95 years later, some "temporary." You can thank Robert Borden, he's the guy on the $100 bill, the new plastic bill.

Its true, our democratic governments have never had a problem collecting money. Governments have learned to use brute force in such subtle ways that some people actually don't think they are taxed enough. But those people should be asking why not spend less? How refreshing is that? Here is an interesting spin on revenue and spending.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day "Fail"

Today is Earth Day 2012, a manufactured event allegedly celebrating nature. Nothing wrong with celebrating nature, I try to do that every day.

But Earth Day was started by well intentioned people that thought somehow Planet Earth was being exploited by humankind. The truth is, the difference between exploitation and survival is in the eye of the beholder.

If you are impoverished, cold, starving and exposed to the elements, is capturing and killing a deer for food, exploitation? Who would argue that? Some might, but they would be arguing from comfort.

I believe the person that kills for food or uses Earth's natural resources has an agenda, to survive. I also believe Earth's resources should be used responsibly, not wastefully. If used responsibly then it is justifiable, not matter what is being used or how much.

I also believe that many of the people who mindlessly support Earth Day and oppose exploitation of Earth's resources also have an agenda. Their agenda is not noble and not justifiable. It is in fact anti-human.

Scroll down this page to a logo I keep on the right hand side: "EXPLOIT THE EARTH OR DIE, It's not a threat it's a fact." I believe that is true, I believe nature is only benevolent, if it is made so by human action.

So as a tribute to justifiable exploitation of Earth's resources, watch this short video. I'm not American, but this is not an American problem, it's a global problem, it's a matter of survival. May all your days be Earth days.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Is creativity squelched by enforcing copyright?

Do copyright rules allow for greater creativity and more wealth producing jobs or does it stifle creativity and suppress job creation?

Is breaking the copyright rules the same as theft of property?

Will creative producers stop writing songs, or books, or movies, if copyright protection was limited to just 14 years?

Has internet piracy stifled creativity?

Should governments protect intellectual property in the same way that it protects (allegedly) other forms of property?

All good questions, and this copyrighted video from ReasonTV, suggests some answers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

One of the first, and the last hurrah for the Space Shuttle program

Science fiction meets science fact when the TV crew of the Starship Enterprise saw NASA’s space shuttle prototype Enterprise. From the left are then NASA Administrator James Fletcher and Star Trek cast members (several in leisure suits) DeForest Kelley (Leonard McCoy), George Takei (Hikaro Sulu), James Doohan (Montgomery Scott), Nichelle Nichols (Nyota Uhura), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), series creator Gene Roddenberry (brown suit), and on the right Walter Koenig (Pavel Chekov). 
Toronto: On an unusually hot and humid day in early June 1983, I went up to the rooftop of my workplace to see the prototype Space Shuttle Enterprise fly piggyback atop NASA's first 747 shuttle carrier aircraft as in the picture.

Why was it flying over Toronto? Canada was a stakeholder in the project, the Canadarm was designed and built in Toronto by SPAR Aerospace. The overflight was part of a trip by the Enterprise to the Paris Air Show. NASA decided this was good PR.

The Enterprise never flew in space, it was used to practice landings on earth and verify the flight worthiness of the design, and it was retired in 1985.

Over the years I have had a great interest in space flight, manned and unmanned, the shuttle was an amazing achievement in many ways, and a total disaster in others. I'm sure you've heard the comment that a camel is a horse designed by a committee, well the space shuttle was obviously designed by a committee. A perfect example of how a government institution (NASA) compromises to achieve a mission that might have been done much, much cheaper, and safer. I'm not going to detail what was wrong with the design, suffice to say that two astronaut crews were killed directly because of known flaws in the design. A quick Google search will give you much more expert opinion.

The fiscal crisis in the United States, has spawned a for profit private sector space industry. It's about time.

ReasonTV has their own take on the past, the recent final flyover, and the future of manned space flight.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Let's be optimistic...

My family will tell you that I walk around with a fairly negative outlook on government, the economy in Canada, and just about everywhere else. That may be true, but deep down I'm optimistic. Why? Because history shows me that things have always improved for people.

Yes, its true their have been bad times, setbacks, and I'm certain there will be more in the future (ask my family). Nothing goes up in a straight line. So when I see a story, in this case about a book, where the author supports my long term worldview, I have to share.
Here is a book that I'm going to read, as soon as I get through all those I've already started. The author is Matt Ridley, and here he is being interviewed for ReasonTV:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Libertarian Disadvantage

If you spend some time reading my blog posts you might think that government is the source of all that ails us. Of course that's not true.
In a pluralistic, relatively free country such as Canada, governments are only reflections of our society. Society is made of individuals, families, voluntary organizations, involuntary professional organizations, businesses, unions, and corporations as well as political organizations. All of them have a role in selecting the political party or person that wins an election and governs. This is true at all levels, federal, provincial and municipal.
In modern times the person or party that is elected has managed to cobble together enough support by various means to defeat other parties and candidates. It's the "various means" that I want to address.That's interesting to me because I lead what most will call a minor political party in Ontario. One of the reasons we remain minor, is precisely why the major parties have become major.
In virtually every modern democracy, political parties have learned to cater to some of the societal groups mentioned above in some way. For example if a political party achieves power with the help of a group (help like monetary donations), that group may expect in return special privileges backed by legislation. Privileges may range from monopoly positions in certain areas of employment, or monopolies on services available to the general population, often including special bargaining privileges for salaries and benefits. While that may sound illegal, it's not, it is a reality of politics. All of the major political parties have made these kinds of alliances, that's why they are major political parties, they have tapped into economic resources that have allowed them to seek and gain power, or more precisely the potential of gaining power.
In Ontario, each of the major parties, the Liberals, the Progressive Conservatives (oxymoron?) and the New Democrats have held power in recent times, and the potential for a return to power for any of them, exists at every election.
Elections Ontario requires all registered parties to disclose their funding including sources. The PC's and Liberals get more than half of their funding from organizations in various industries. Its all been outlined here for the most recent election campaign which was Oct. 2011.
If you follow that money you can fill in your own reasons about why parties receive support from donors. One of the largest donors is the Carpenter's Union . Might that be because governments are always granting contracts for infrastructure?
Few if any of the minor parties in Ontario (or Canada) receive donations from organizations of any sort. I know the Ontario Libertarian Party receives donations from individuals only, all of them voluntary, nothing is coerced. Can that be said of Union funds collected from unionized workers for the major parties? Certainly not!
Unionized workers are often forced to join a union as a condition of employment, fees are extracted from them and a portion is spent on political contributions. As a union member you may have voted PC, but your dues were used to support the NDP, and you had no say in the matter. That is political reality in Ontario, the major parties prostitute themselves so they may get power. Libertarians would refuse to grant favours of that sort to achieve power. That is our disadvantage, of all the parties we are principled and consistent. We will not BUY your vote. When will voters understand real politics?

How libertarian politics can fix what's wrong with America.

Change is coming to America. No, not hope and change, it's clear to many that hasn't worked, and that particular lie won't be repeated. What are the changes? People are either not registering, or deregistering as Republicans and Democrats. People are realizing that there is no difference between the two.

Can that kind of change happen in Canada? Why not? How long will it take before people in Canada start to realize how similar the main parties are here? Not long, I hope.

This video is lengthy, these two are trying to sell a book, but it's an interesting view of politics and free markets in America.

Taxing people into prosperity? No way.

Economist Art Laffer says: "If you tax people who work and you pay people who don't work, don't be surprised when you get a lot of people not working."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Got you by the budget balls Dalton!

Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Ontario NDP, is threatening to bring down the McGuinty Liberal government if her demands aren't met.

Ms. Horwath wants to tax the rich even more, and has a way to magically create jobs using taxpayers money. Hmm, wasn't that trick was used for GM and Chrysler?

Ms. Horwath is proposing that the 
McGuinty Liberal government redirect $250 million in planned spending on business subsidies (she has a point there, what a waste that would have been) to a new tax credit that ties government handouts to new hiring. Employers would be reimbursed for 10% of the salary paid to each new employee in the first year, up to $5,000. Genius, sheer genius. So, we get a new rule, making government even more complex than it is, and even more government intervention into the marketplace. Its win-win for the politicos!

You've got to hand it to her she has good intentions, but even the best of intentions often don't work.

Have a look at this excellent little video on minimum wage, a good intention gone awry.

Hyphenated-Libertarians - Searching for meaning.

The Facebook discussion forum that is associated with the political party (Ontario Libertarian Party) that I lead, must be one of the more active in Canadian politics. People who do not even live in Ontario join up because our discussion threads are often long and heated. If you are ever in need of an argument not unlike Monty Python, you'll get it in this group.

I mention this because one of the former members of that Facebook page, proclaimed the other day that she was a "communist-libertarian." This person was known to be one of the more opinionated on the page, often coming out with statements that are counter to the regular fare that might be expected when libertarians interact. As many people pointed out in the ensuing discussions on Facebook, communist-libertarian seems oxymoronic, I believe it is.

At, the term libertarian is defined as: (noun) "a person who advocates liberty, especially with regard to thought or conduct." And I would agree with each of the 5 definitions of "liberty."

A communist advocates communism, and communism is defined as: "a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state."

A libertarian advocates libertarianism, and interestingly, there is no analogous definition of libertarianism at Why not?

This is where the problem occurs, there does not seem to be a consensus on the meaning of libertarianism. Here is what I found in Wikipedia: "Libertarianism is variously defined by sources. There is no consensus on the definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category. There is general agreement that libertarianism refers to the group of political philosophies which emphasize freedom, individual liberty, and voluntary association. Libertarians generally advocate a society with little or no government power."

So while communism is a system of "social organization" that, by definition, removes the right to property from individuals (as stated above), libertarianism is "voluntary association" that emphasizes individual liberty. Individual liberty implies the right to property, because the most important possession one can have, is their very own life. In communism property is ascribed to the community or the state, so what is "yours" really belongs to everyone, including your life, I guess. In communism, everyone has a claim on your life, or at least the fruits of your labour, and all your possessions. If you own nothing, and have nothing, and can create nothing for yourself, well, I hope you can see where that leads. It's not liberty.

To me the differences are stark, communist-libertarian is an oxymoron. Anyone who claims to be one really has not thought it through at all.

What about other hyphenated-libertarians? Again, there are many others and all likely exist because defining libertarianism is like nailing Jello to the wall.

One of the commonly seen hyphenated-libertarians is the "conservative-libertarian." I'm not sure what that means because the meaning of conservative, liberal etc. in the political context has become so fuzzy. I've written about this before.

Then there is the Bleeding Heart-Libertarian, note the link following, because they actually exist in the blogosphere and part of their "About" is: "Bleeding Heart Libertarians is a blog about free markets and social justice. All of us who blog at this site are, broadly speaking, libertarians. In particular, we are libertarians who believe that addressing the needs of the economically vulnerable by remedying injustice, engaging in benevolence, fostering mutual aid, and encouraging the flourishing of free markets is both practically and morally important."

I have some sympathy for that one, but their very existence implies that libertarians don't care about the economically vulnerable, and somehow they are not benevolent individuals. The implication is also, that libertarians are devoid of empathy and charity, and of course that's not true. Maybe that is the point of their blog - to show it's not true, I'm not sure. But the blog is very philosophical and not easily accessible to casual readers. It seems to me they spend much of their time and space searching for who they are. Nothing wrong with that I guess.

So, what is libertarianism and does it really need to be hyphenated? For me, if the word 'libertarian' is a part of the name of a group like: Ontario Libertarian Party, and that group has defined itself (like this), then the meaning is clear for all to see. As for hyphenation, I don't like it because it always diminishes the concept of libertarianism.

As a postscript for those interested, here is one libertarian's view of the different kinds of libertarian in the US context:

"Illegal foods" - Amish urine?

I'm not even sure what "Four Loko" is. A new drink? Not that new apparently! It's sold in most of the 50 States and in Europe, but not Canada. I guess we are being protected by our various provincial alcohol regulators. In fact, it's not that easy to enter their website, try it here
I feel so much safer, don't you? Below, ReasonTV makes its point .

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sound Money for Canada & Canadian Liberty Fest

I'm happy to announce that I am one of the organizers (not affiliated with my party) of the Canadian Liberty Fest, which promises to be one of the largest gatherings of libertarians and people interested in Austrian Economics in Canada. I'm hoping it will be an annual event, so here is your chance to be at the very first one. I will post a link as soon as we have one.
We already have some excellent speakers lined up, Stefan Molyneux among them, and there will be display areas, books for sale etc. from several liberty-minded groups, all for a very low price for the day - lunch included.
It will be centrally located in the heart of Toronto and attendance will be limited. Tickets will be on sale probably in early June. Stay tuned.