Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Political Gang Warfare

Whenever unpopular political decisions need to be made its best to overwhelm opponents, thats another rule of politics. Also, make sure you get some bipartisan support and the sheeple will think this is the ONLY way.

Take a look at that logo, any clue what it means?

It's the logo of the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance. In any political fight, another rule is: make sure your public face gives no clue to what you are really about. So, just looking at the name, its impossible to discern what these people are being active about. And the logo, well it's a freaking mystery.

Here is what its about. An agency of the Ontario government called METROLINX, has been tasked to build and run  an integrated a transit system in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, the GTHA. All they need is $50 billion over 25 years - $2 billion per year, or about 1.6% of Ontario's current budget, chicken feed in government lingo.

Oh, the 32, what's it about? Well, currently the average commute time in the GTHA is 82 minutes per day, among the longest in North America. The Metrolinx experts say that will rise to 109 minutes in 25 years, but if you spend $50 billion, you will shave off 32 minutes, down to just 77 minutes. Yes, just 5 minutes less than we have now. Whoop-dee-doo!

Another part of the gang of political elites involved in railroading this idea through can be found here. That is their press release from the other day, explaining the "investment" strategy. Here is their video, which features some of the political elites and shows everyone just how bipartisan and diverse they are.

I hope after that you are ready to fork over the money. It should only cost the average family of four with two cars about $20,000 in fees and taxes over the next twenty years or so. You don't need the money anyway. Remember, in 2038 you will be saving 32 minutes off your commute, if you can afford a car by then.   

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Big Move Tax Grab

One of the first rules of politics is to try to minimize or at least obfuscate unpopular events or decisions.

Today, an agency of the Ontario government - Metrolinx - came out with their bag of "revenue tools" - taxes by any other name, to pay for a massive 25 year plan that will cost $50 Billion (at least).

So this could become one of the largest single tax grabs in Ontario, since Dalton McGuinty said he would not raise taxes, but instead created the Health Premium, a new "tax" in the 2004 budget.

What I find interesting and funny is this, in the week or so before the Metrolinx revenue tools announcement, the two most consistent opponents of these revenue tools - the Ford brothers Rob and Doug - were attacked by two of the largest newspapers in the country, and accused of various drug offences: smoking crack and pushing dope. Not only did those allegations create local headlines with daily ramifications, but Toronto politics became a joke on North American late night TV shows. So, I'll ask, is there a connection? Is this a smoke screen (pun intended) for Metrolinx?    

Metrolinx is supposed to alleviate the gridlock in the Greater Toronto - Hamilton Region. The average commute time in the area is now 82 minutes. When (and if) the plan gets done, that commute time will be 77 minutes - 5 minutes saved! Of course, the CEO of Metrolinx says that if it isn't done, his crystal ball says the average commute will be 109 minutes. Could it possibly be 108 or maybe 100 minutes? How can this guy predict what things will be like in 2038? Maybe we'll get those flying cars I've been waiting for. But with even more taxes piled up onto poor Ontario, who will be able to afford a flying car?

Political Scandals

The mayor of my hometown, the largest city in Canada, is alleged to be in a video where he is smoking a crack pipe. Neither the video (which only a very few have witnessed) nor the owners of the video can now be found. The mayor's brother, an elected councilman of that city, is accused of pushing dope in the 1980's, but none of the ten or so people who were accusers would step forward and make the charge.

Several Senators in Ottawa (not the hockey players) have been accused of being less than forthright (lying) about their principal residence and as a result they received large sums of public money, which they now must repay. Two of them were once prominent respected journalists and the scandal has reached into the office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

Former Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty accepts the blame for moving two Gas Power Stations in order to save two Liberal political seats in the 2011 election. He didn’t know it would cost in excess of $600 million – which the province had to borrow. He resigned and closed the Ontario Legislature for four months to let things cool off.

If you “Google” the phrase “political scandal,” you would get about 257 million results – even more than the phrase “political corruption.”

Political scandals seem to be what politics is about. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that less than half the eligible voters of Ontario bothered to vote in the 2011 Election.

Apple Computer has been accused of dodging taxes for years, another type of scandal.

William Watson, in a column in the Financial Post has a great suggestion on how to reduce scandals here, I recommend it.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cheesed off yet?

I'm fairly certain it was not my blog posting of Sept. 26, 2012 that prompted the Canadian Dairy Commission, a legal and government approved cartel in Canada, to lower their mozzarella prices.

Back then I wrote about "Why American Pizza tastes better." My theory was it's because of the cheese, mozzarella prices in the United States are about half what they are in Canada, so American pizza makers are more generous with their cheese. More cheese, tastier and less pricey pizza, it's not rocket science.

About four-fifths of the price of Canadian pizza is because of the cheese. Who knew?

That blog post also pointed out that members of the Niagara Regional Police Department (no less) were caught smuggling cheese across the border. Yes, cheese, mozzarella cheese, not drugs!

Yesterday, Terence Corcoran in the National Post wrote about this dramatic price drop. He pointed out that the price of a kilo block of mozzarella cheese at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (not that far from Niagara) is about $4.20. In the Niagara area of Ontario (and the rest of the country) it's $8.50 a kilo!

After you've exclaimed WTF!, your next question is why, isn't it? Now you're asking the right question, unfortunately the answer requires you to wade through some government gobbledygook on Supply Management. Good luck with that.

The short answer is, you remember supply and demand, where demand usually determines the price of a scare commodity? Well, in this case dairy farmers and the government are in cahoots controlling the supply and setting a quota for the production of all milk products while at the same time, screwing over all consumers in the country. Milk products are probably one of the most common items in the kitchens of the country - so this is a big screw over.

Corcoran's article is worth the read, even funny in spots, he pulls no punches. The National Post saw fit to make this topic (by Chris Selley) their editorial today here.

Oh, by the way, the price drop of mozzarella cheese in Canada, all the way down to $7.80 a kilo, whoop-dee-do.