What you can’t see will hurt you.

The Ontario provincial government wants to increase sales taxes and hide them from you:

The Liberal government is struggling over whether to bury Premier Dalton McGuinty’s new 13 per cent harmonized sales tax in the price tags of goods and services, sources told the Toronto Star.

The government wants to switch to a harmonized sales tax consisting of a combined 8% PST and a 5% GST, which will make like easier for businesses.However, 67% of people polled have a negative view of the tax, given that it essentially amounts to an additional 8% tax slapped on pretty much everything than wasn’t previously subject to provincial sales tax, from legal services to automotive repair.

Sadly, it seems that the goverment wants to overcome these negative views by hiding the tax from people.


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And that Buick is as good as your BMW.

Apologies to Don Dodge, but this isn’t exactly going to shift customers from Google to Live Search:

This experience matches what I have been seeing for the past 6 to 12 months when comparing search results. Live Search is as good as Google, and in some cases better.

Microsoft has been working on this for years, and "in some cases better" just isn’t going to make people switch. The change would have to be incredible – like an order of magnitude better – to make people give up an entrenched tool like Google.

Just as surveys may show that the Buick is every bit as good as a BMW, perception still leads people to choose the BMW.

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Fraud and Theft come to mind.

Why are politicians treated differently from regular citizens?

Expense claims filed by lawmakers for chandeliers, horse manure, pornography and moat maintenance on country estates, among other items, have enraged voters, many of whom have lost jobs and homes during Britain’s deepening recession.

The police and prosecutors have been meeting to decide what action, if any, should be taken against lawmakers who misused parliamentary expenses. No charges had been filed.

This doesn’t seem that complex. What action, if any? Fraud and theft immediately come to mind. Why do police even have to discuss this. An intentional crime has been committed. Why does it matter that the perpetrator was a politician? Shouldn’t that make the crime all the worse

And by the way, where was the oversight on all of these filed expenses? Shouldn’t the person(s) who signed them off be fired immediately for negligence?

These are supposed to be "honourable" people.


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The real motivation behind Cap and Trade.

The New York Times nails it:

Cap and trade, by contrast, is almost perfectly designed for the buying and selling of political support through the granting of valuable emissions permits to favor specific industries and even specific Congressional districts. That is precisely what is taking place now in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has used such concessions to patch together a Democratic majority to pass a far-reaching bill to regulate carbon emissions through a cap-and-trade plan. [emphasis mine]


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Good news, but remain very afraid.

It seems that the predicted sea level rise from melting Antarctic ice was vastly overestimated:

According to a study by a team of researchers from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, the much-feared collapse of the WAIS could cause a 9-ft. rise in the planet’s seas and oceans, laying waste to coastal lands and immersing some nations entirely. That’s a doomsday scenario by most measures — until you consider that the prevailing theories had put the increase at a staggering 15 ft. to 35 ft.

Quite the pleasant difference, and good news, but we are still warned to be very afraid. That’s because all of that water from the melting ice in Antarctica is apparently going to miss Africa, South America, and Australia, and head straight for the US:

The complicated workings of planetary physics would cause seas to rise unevenly, and the Atlantic and Pacific shorelines of North America would be harder hit by an Antarctic thaw than perhaps any other place in the world.

Hmmm. The rise has been scaled back to about a quarter of so of the original estimate. Could there be any chance that the new estimate to too high? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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A $1.3 billion monument to arrogance.

According to the local paper today, the Region of Waterloo is now proposing to spend $790 million on rapid transit across Kitchener and Waterloo. Hidden in the article is a more complete price tag of $1.3 billion to include Cambridge. We’re talking about an area that is home to about 500,000 people, where pretty much everyone drives. Strangely, the price tag was only about $306 million a year ago.

And that doesn’t include the $11 million annual subsidy that will be required to operate the rapid transit system.

They are using the standard justifications:

[…planners contend trains deliver much higher benefits and do a better job meeting planning goals. They also claim rapid buses would reach capacity by 2030 in the north of the region.


Planners convened a panel of outside experts who have endorsed the proposal. They include urban planners, scholars and planning consultants from around Ontario.

But this is pie in the sky thinking at best, by a council that seems determined to spend tax dollars at an ever increasing rate. But from their point of view it’s no problem because the money is coming from the federal and provincial government.

Perhaps for once they could concentrate on taking care of the existing infrastructure in the region instead of finding ever newer ways to pick the pockets of taxpayers.


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Spending good money after bad?

The Canadian government has pledged almost $3.8 billion dollars to save Chrysler now that it has declared bankruptcy:

Industry sources said there would be no filing for creditor protection in Canada. Instead, Ontario and Ottawa will together spend $1.45-billion in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing to keep Chrysler running, mirroring a proportionate move by U.S. Treasury authorities. Another $1.116-billion is an "exit loan" for when the new parent company emerges from Chapter 11 in the U.S., the sources said.

Combined with the $1.21-billion in bridge loans pledged in December, of which more than $700-million has already flowed, Canada and Ontario will have handed the company $3.775-billion in financial support.

Chrysler employs about 9,400 people in Canada. At that rate, Canadian taxpayers are shelling out over $404,000 per employee.With no guarantee that the company will survive in the long run. Maybe it would just be more efficient to hand the money directly to each employee and save waste in the middle. Some of them might actually make good use of it.

The thing that I found most disconcerting is the way that bankruptcy protection is now being used as a tool to threaten investors, by the President of the United States no less:

President Obama said he fully supports Chrysler’s decision to also file for bankruptcy protection as a way to wring concessions from a "small group" of rogue creditors who refused to reduce the company’s debt burden.

After praising Chrysler’s unions, management and big lenders for agreeing to sacrifices, President Obama heaped scorn on a "group of investment firms and hedge funds" that were holding out in the hopes of benefiting from a new infusion of U.S. and Canadian taxpayer aid.

I don’t know anything about these creditors except that they were trying to make a profit on their investment just like everybody else. And they owe a fiduciary duty to their customers – many average citizens – who were also trying to make a profit. But the President basically paints them as greedy capitalists, so they must be bad.

Out of curiosity, what sacrifices did Chrysler’s management make? I guess we won’t know until CEO Bob Nardelli gets his golden handshake.


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