Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Monday, March 25, 2013

Budget Time - Week 99 - March 19-25

Conservatives like to compare governmental matters to personal matters.  "You don't spend more money than you make at home, why should we do it with government?"  Let's extend their analogy out to this decision to link foreign aid with the trade and security interests of Canada.  Perhaps we would only allow the food bank to give food to people who might come over and mow our lawn?  Or help out heroin addicts if they only promise to stay out of our neighbourhood.  Aid and charity aren't really aid or charity if you ask something in return, no?  And check out that awesome John Baird photo.
I'm going to call this a Freudian slip, as a government agency puts out a press release with "Harper Canada" instead of "Harper Government"  (which is ridiculous enough).  Thanks for reminding us.

Surprise, surprise.  Steve-O and his band of merry idiots are trying to push through copyright treaties.  Again.  With no discussion.  It doesn't seem to matter what Canadians say.  They keep trying to push this stuff through.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer officially pointed out the ridiculousness of Stephen Harper's spending on his tough-on-crime agenda as crime rates continue to drop.  As well, the costs of Stephen Harper's War-on-crime are landing on the Provinces.  Nice to create things that you don't have to pay for, no?

Jim Flaherty stepped in when Manulife offered a mortgage rate that was too low.  And other Conservative MP's don't like it.

Ouch.  NP Headline "Questionable fiscal credibility and health leave Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s political future in doubt".

Jason Kenney says that Turkey won't allow Syrian refugees to leave Turkey.  Turkey says Jason Kenney is full of shit.  And really needs Canada to accept some Syrian refugees.

Elizabeth May is not going to run a Green Party candidate in Labrador, and is calling on the NDP to do the same.  They refuse.  Sounds like they're acting a bit high and mighty about it too.

The Conservatives drop tariffs on hockey (and other sports) gear.  But then will jack tariffs up on just about everything else.

SNC-Lavalin made some questionable donations to Conservative candidates during the last election.  There are some suggestions that employees were compensated for donations in the form of enhanced bonuses, skirting corporate donation laws.

Patrick Brazeau insists that he is innocent.  This guy needs to go away.

The National Post suggests that the Federal Government is taking a "divide and conquer" approach to the Northern Gateway pipeline by appointing a special First Nations envoy.  Why is it the job of the government to spend boatloads of money lobbying for this pipeline?

We talked a week or so ago about how oil industry connected groups were behind creating the State Department Keystone XL report.  Well, looks like that wasn't just an oversight.  Looks like they actively worked to cover this fact up.

I feel like Obama worked a nice balance in to his Israel trip.  Not-quite-unwavering support while recognizing Palestinian rights and encouraging Israel to not do dumb things.  This seems a lot better than the Harper ostrich strategy.

I'm starting to feel lately like it's really just a question of what is going to kill us first.  Rising sea levels?  Drought?  Earthquake/Tsunami?  Rogue Asteroid?  Or maybe just all the bees dieing out.  More with the bees dieing.  It seems like they have a pretty good idea of what the problem is now though.  Aren't doing anything to stop it, but they know what it is.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

An analysis of Canadian Income Tax Numbers

Here is my analysis of the data behind this Financial Post article that suggests that the “1%” are carrying a scandalous amount of the tax burden of this country.  The key number seems to be that the top 1% of Canadians pay 21.2% of all taxes paid in this country.  Scandalous!

So, it looks to me like the writer of this article pulled primarily from this page or one like it.

I used that link as well as this one to generate the tables shown below, and throughout this analysis.
So, looking at my first table, things look a little bit less scandalous.  Yes, the top 1% pays 21.1% of all taxes (my number is a bit different somehow).  But they also make 10.6% of all of the income generated in the country.  Yes, the average 1 Percenter pays 1/3 of his income to taxes.  But the average 99 Percenter pays 14.8% of their income to taxes.  This is almost double the tax rate, but sounds far less scandalous than "Top 1% pays 21.1% of all taxes".

But some interesting things come out of this table.  For both 99 Percenters and 1 Percenters, there is a really large spread between the average and median numbers.  The median in both cases comes in far below the average, meaning that there are a few high numbers near the top that are dragging the averages up.

I combined a couple of links to create this table showing the distributions within the various income categories (mostlyfrom here).  It’s a bit funky near the top, but I wanted to break out the 1%.
Almost 25% of Canadians earn less than $25,000 per year.*  Almost 75% earn less than $50,000.  All of our numbers are pulled up by people earning vast sums of money at the top of the Food Chain.

So.  Yes.  1 Percenters pay more in income tax than the rest of Canadians.  Is it a completely unreasonable amount?  Is this the way it should be?  Those are tougher questions to answer, but the picture is less one sided than the Finacial Post paints.  Interestingly, from this link here (2009 numbers), individuals pay $190 Billion in taxes while Corporations pay $50 Billion.  Perhaps that is the discrepancy that bares more investigation?

*Update - Oops.  I got my numbers wrong from my own chart.  Over 25% of Canadians earn less than $15,000, not $25,000.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Take Some Responsibility - Week 98 - March 11-19

Sorry for the delay, folks.  I was away for a long weekend and lost touch a bit.

Starting off…This article from the Financial Post about the amount of tax money created by the 1% was forwarded to me by a friend.  It also prompted a lengthy discussion about income tax, entitlements, racism and on and on and on.  I have two points that I took away from this:

1) I tracked down where the Financial Post got their numbers.  I don't think any analysis of this was done.  I think it is ridiculous to publish a story like this without citation or links to the data.  It's easy to pull scandalous numbers from something like this without really understanding what it means.  I hope to follow up with a more thorough analysis of this later this week, because I think it is very important.
2) I think that what politics is really lacking right now is well-reasoned explanations on the impacts and reasoning behind government expenses and government programs.  My friend suggested that things would be "more fair" with a flat tax.  But what would be the impact of that?  What would that mean to society?  Nobody bothers to dig in or explain the impacts of policy proposals.  We're left to make up our minds using emotion rather than logic.

On a similar note, this NP article questions the payback of corporate income tax cuts.  Based on my preliminary analysis (mentioned above) I think they are on to something here.

Stephen Harper is expressing support for Peter Penashue.  “Best MP ever”.  Once again, it's all somebody else's fault.  "It was an inexperienced agent that did it!  Not me!"  Well why did you have an inexperienced agent running this portion of your campaign?

One would tend to look at the chart in this article and think that something is wrong.  The rate of temperature was relatively stable for thousands of years and then, bang-o, starts going crazy.  I can see the climate denialists figuring out some reason this isn’t valid.

Harper wants all government associated librarians to sign a loyalty pact, where they will promise not to criticize the government.

A strip mall owner is trying to prevent protests in front of Stephen Harper's constituency office.

Some more details on the HD Mining debacle.   Whose mine is this?  Canada’s or China’s?  Why are we allowing a company to hire miners...in Canada...using the chief requirement being that they speak Mandarin?

Remember the report from the US State Department suggesting that Keystone XL is A-OK?  Yes, much of the research was conducted by firms attached to the oil and gas industry.  Well, I guess if you're looking for expertise on pipelines, there's only a few places to go.  But still.  Maybe this is an argument for a government having it's own un-biased scientists.

Alison Redford accuses Thomas Mulcair of "trying to push his own agenda".  Nice.  Apparently it's okay to fly down to the US and state a position as long as it agrees with your own.

Great information on Bitumen here.
Investment required to create 1 Million Barrels of oil in the Middle East - $8 Billion
Investment required to create 1 Million Barrels of tar sands oil - $45 Billion.  + Refining costs
Barrels of oil used to create 1 barrel of oil in the Middle East - 0.05
Barrels of oil used to create 1 barrel of oil in the Tar Sands - 0.2

This Salon piece is incredible, and explains how Lockheed Martin forces the US Military to buy planes that it doesn't really want.  Could this explain why Harper and his buddies are so gung-ho on the F-35?

Peter McKay is expressing frustration at the inability of Government to purchase new fixed wing search and rescue aircraft.  Not his fault though.  Somebody else’s.

This Tyee article paints a very rosy picture of where Real Estate is heading and why.  I've been a doomsayer on Vancouver Real Estate the whole way through this boom cycle.  Every time I run numbers and compare renting vs. buying, it makes no sense to me.  People call me crazy (or worse), but it's coming.  Oh man, it's coming.

Speaking of doomsayers, Garth Turner used to be a Conservative MP.  He doesn't feel very good about things either.

A great visual on Canadian Housing Prices.  Boom times everywhere!

A soccer team in Israel signed a pair of muslim players.  Bad things happened.  An interesting insight into Israel via sports reporting.  No matter how often the Harper Government says it, this is not a simple and one sided issue.

Tackling yet another serious issue, the Conservatives are re-inserting the word "armed" into "Canadian Armed Forces".

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Flying High - Week 97 - March 4-11

The F-35?  Great plane.  It won't fly at night though.  And you might suffer an "increased risk of being shot down".  It won't fly through clouds either.

Nanos suggests the Conservatives support is dwindling.

In other poll news, the National Post conducted a doozie about immigration.  It's hard to know what it all means, as what exactly does "limits" to immigration mean?  Sure brought the racists out of the woodwork in the comments section though.

Compared to the official remarks from the US, it actually sounds like our statement on Hugo Chavez wasn't too bad.

In the last 10 years, there has been a huge spike in the aboriginal prison population.  Jesus.  Aboriginals account for:
- 25% of all males in prison
- 1/3 of all females in prison
- Up to 65% of the total prison population in some Western Canadian prisons

Sooooo....the richest Province in Canada has no money?  They keep pulling oil out of the ground but there is no revenue in it?  So why keep pulling it out of the ground?  I know, I know.  Jobs.  So, we essentially have a subsidized oil industy in Alberta now then, right (charging them next to nothing to profit off of pulling our oil out of the ground)?  I mean...the government isn't making the money that they should off of the extraction of the oil.  Sounds like a subsidy to me.  But the government (and government employees) in Alberta are lazy bloodsuckers.  And the oil patch workers are hard working "wealth creators".

Stephen Harper likes to bring along his own personal gun lobbyist to international arms control discussions.

The Feds are going to pay a shipbuilder $288 million to design out next batch of Northern Patrol Boats.  Two things.  First, no actual boats are included for the 288 million.  Second, the shipyard doesn't actually have the design capability, so they are subcontracting to a European design firm.  Seems a bit fishy.

A former journalist and Harper PR flunky has been appointed as a "Citizenship Judge".  I don't know what that is.  He doesn't sound qualified though.  I love it when people retire from jobs to "take it easy" and then take government appointments.  "Don't worry.  This job is eeeeeeeaaaaaaasssssssyyyyyyyy."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Angry John Baird Returns - Week 96.5 - Mar 4-6

What an awesome Angry John Baird picture, as he continues his "All Israel, All the time" policy with an announcement that nobody should dare question anything that they've ever done, as he threatens Palestine for daring to approach the International Criminal Court with complaints about Israel.
More on Israel.   I follow Stephen Harper on Twitter.  I just saw this tweet: "Our gov't stands against the reckless and overheated rhetoric associated with anti-Israel activities. http://ow.ly/ip58B"  That link goes to a Facebook photo.  Digging a bit further is this link http://ow.ly/ilyc3 to a comment from Jason Kenney.  I don't know much about Israel Apartheid Week.  I find it really odd that so many official statements would be released about a University protest event.  It does look like there is a lot of official Israeli and Jewish lobby pressure to stop this.  Is criticism of the Government of Israel anti-Semitic?  I criticize the Canadian government all the time and that doesn't mean I'm anti-Canadian.  Well.  It probably does in Harper's eyes.

The NDP has put forward a motion to disband the Senate.  But this is not good enough for the Conservatives.  Apparently, even though they put forward a motion, they don't really mean it, and this is all just a ploy to win the next election and start appointing their own Senators.  I guess that when everything that you do as a government has nefarious undertones, it's difficult to not speculate that the actions of others have nefarious undertones.

Oh good god.  What is wrong with these people?  Another Conservative Senator in trouble.  This time, for "dating" a member of his staff.

Joe Oliver - "We definitely don't need this pipeline that we're lobbying our asses off to get approved."  Not an actual quote.

Peter McKay is suggesting that the F-35 purchase may be delayed by Sequestration.  But I thought they were revisiting this whole purchase?  So how is he certain that Sequestration will cause a delay if he isn't certain we are buying the F-35?

Two former finance dept. workers are taking Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to task for excessive secrecy, amongst other things.

This response from Jason Kenney about Christy Clark's troubles is very insightful.  Every single question and comment made by the Conservatives seems to have some sort of political undertones.  Can they not answer a question without explaining how great they are and how terrible all the other parties are?

Even the National Post has a story about the potential backdooring of ACTA.  After all this bullshit about "fair and balanced copyright", these guys (music companies, film companies, etc) just keep their hands out and demand more, more, more.  It's crazy.  This shit has to stop.

The National Taxpayers Federation awards the "Teddy" award for government waste to a Saskatchewan Chief.  It does sound like this guy is pretty over the top.  He governs a tiny band, takes home a huge salary and doesn't seem to care what his people think.  I think that unfortunately a (potentially) corrupt chief is really going to paint things bad for an entire group here.

The loss of the Kits Coast Guard Base was put to the test.  It worked out okay this time, as everybody lived.  But, it took 23 minutes for the Coast Guard to respond from Richmond.  Is this an acceptable amount of time?  I'm not sure.  Kits base would have been closer.  Seeing as this is one of, if not the busiest port in Canada, more incidents are going to happen.  Add 10 minutes to the response time of each of these incidents and you are asking for trouble.

The Conservatives are tackling another issue critical to the welfare of the country: Contraband tobacco.

I'm a little bit sad that we won't have a politician in office whose nickname is "Shithead".

I read a lot of stupid things in the National Post.  In their defense, most of the really stupid comes in the form of readers comments.  But this opinion piece suggesting that Canadians need to be getting in debt now while the debting is good is just the most insane thing I've ever read.  Perhaps an argument could be made for taking out a loan right now to invest in bonds or the stock market, but the average investor would get smoked with that strategy.  And an argument could be made about locking in a low rate mortgage.  But this article doesn't really do that.  It just blindly suggests that debt is low, so we should load up.  New jetski?  Sure!  Hey, let's all buy cars!  Or, how about some Real Estate!  Bubble, schmubble.

Another stupid article from the National Post.  This one suggesting that once the Canadian Dollar hits 94 cents US, it will be a "great time to buy".  Ummm...So...a 94 cent dollar will be a great time for Canadians to buy Canadian Dollars with their Canadian Dollars?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Thieves in the Night - Week 96 - Feb 25 - Mar 4

Our Week 95.5 post covered a lot of ground.  The second half of the week seemed a bit slower.

Like thieves in the night...The Kits Coast Guard base is already being dismantled, to ensure that nobody can ever change the decision made by the Conservatives.  Do you know how much planning it would take to organize a Construction crew to take on a job of this magnitude?  It certainly wouldn't happen in a matter of days.  So, somehow, a closing of a Coast Guard base 3 months from now has turned into an immediate closer with decommissioning starting 3-4 days later.  Somebody had a very specific plan a while back.  It's pretty disingenuous that they shared one plan while fabricating another.

On a more personal note, Tony Clement is now following my Twitter feed (which followed shortly after two tweets making fun of Vic Toews and Jason Kenney.  Perhaps he's a bit disgruntled).  I searched for something amazing to engage him with, but he doesn't appear to have been up to much lately.

Speaking of Vic Toews!  Back with a vengeance!  This time, he's suggesting that the opposition parties didn't work hard enough to challenge the government in 2008 when they appointed Arthur Porter as the CSIS watchdog.  Amazing!  Basically "If you had worked harder to overrule our terrible appointment we wouldn't be in this predicament."

The NP is painting Jason Kenney as some sort of all-seeing, immigration god.  They actually congratulate him on "eliminating a backlog of 280,000 would-be immigrants".  Ya.  I guess if you decide to just cancel the applications, that is one way of eliminating a backlog.

Canada feels that the Keystone pipeline is critical to our oil sands development.  I mean, it has to be, right?  Why else would everybody be so worked up about it?  Yet the State Department claims it won't have an impact on Oil Sands development?  Something doesn't add up here.

Oh.  This is beautiful.  Jonathan Kay over on the National Post has come to the defense of Tom Flanagan.  I see his point (that we shouldn't destroy an individual over a few poorly worded sentences in response to a question).  But his justification is awesome.  He suggests that anybody could make a similar mistake when faced with the prospect of answering questions in front of a group of people without adequate time to prepare.  And then he uses himself as an example. "During public speaking events, I myself have several times mistaken “Osama” with the last name of the current U.S. president, and once held forth on the need to 'kill Obama.'"

Quebec Senators don't take the train (for free) either.  Their ride is only 2 hours though.  So, ya, maybe they should be taking the train.

The Senate is trying to get in front of the scandal and have announced changes to their housing allowance policy.

An interesting take on why Wall Street is fucked.  Nothing new here, but it lays out nicely how traders are incentivized to take massive risks.