Crawl Across the Ocean

Monday, October 29, 2007

Back, kind of

It's the same old tune, fiddle and guitar
Where do we take it from here?
Rhinestone suits and new shiny cars
We've been the same way for years
We need to change

Well, I don't really feel like writing about politics, but I sure am sick of looking at the same few posts sitting at the top of the page. Things are pretty busy at work and I'll be out of town for a couple of weeks again in (late) November, so I wouldn't have much time to post anyways, but even if that wasn't the case, I'm not sure how much I'd be posting over the next couple of months.

My anti-politics mood will probably change at some point, but until it does, things will probably stay fairly quiet here. I guess we'll see how it goes. Costa Rica was nice.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

One Last Thing...

...If you want more recent commentary on electoral reform, Andrew Coyne takes on the topic here, here, here and here.

Good stuff from one of the country's best pundits.

Even Lighter Blogging Notice

I'll be away for the next two and a half weeks, likely not posting at all, so here are three things you can do to help pass those lonesome days that will inevitably ensue:

1) Support the pro-MMP vote in Ontario. I said most of what I have to say on the topic of electoral reform (including why MMP is a vast improvement over the existing winner-take-all system) in this old post.

2) Tilt at a Big Windmill: Via Sacha, go tell the B.C. government what you think they should do in the upcoming budget. As Sacha notes, they seem to be focussing (in the consultation, at any rate) on tax measures relating to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. If I ever have more free time (January?) I'll follow up on this in more detail.

Here is what I submitted (pretty rough as it is off the top of my head, with no time to stop and think about it):

Q.1 What budget choices would you make to help reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gases by at least 33 percent below current levels by 2020?

1) Fund the Site C dam and close the Burrard Thermal plant / reduce electricity imports from the U.S.
2) Provide the funding to cut methane emissions from landfill sites
3) Earmark money for improved mass transit links in B.C.
4) Provide funding to support green power research in areas such as tidal and geothermal power.

Q.2 The Province currently provides tax incentives to encourage the purchase of hybrid vehicles, the production of wind power and the use of bio-fuel. What tax changes would you make to encourage environmentally responsible choices?

1) Implement a revenue neutral carbon tax (this would lower the cost of activities that don't produce a lot of CO2)
2) Create tax breaks for companies based on percentage of employees who telecommute
3) Extend the existing tax incentives.
4) Reduce the sales tax on appliances meeting certain efficiency standards

Q.3 What tax changes would you make to discourage British Columbians from activities that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions?

1) Increase the green surcharge on electricity bills
2) Increase the gas tax / and or implement a carbon tax (as noted, this should be offset by tax reductions in other areas).
3) Implement a sliding tax on vehicles based on weight or fuel efficiency.

Q.4 Public health care is an important priority but growing costs and demand are a challenge. Since 2001, health care spending has increased 49 percent, from $8.8 billion to $13.1 billion. As a share of government ministry spending, health costs continue to crowd out other spending options. It increased from 28 percent of the budget in 1985, to 34 percent in 1995, and now stands at more than 44 percent.

What budget choices would you make to sustain health care while balancing the need to invest in other areas like education and community programs?

It's not that health costs are crowding out other options, it's that cuts to everything except health spending have made health a higher percentage of the total spending. If you really want health spending to make up a smaller percentage of provincial spending, stop cutting taxes and spend more money on housing (note: a tax cut is not money spent on housing), poverty reduction, and education.

Also, a 49% increase in 7 years sounds like a lot but in terms of nominal growth, I imagine it's only slightly ahead of the GDP growth in B.C. over this time.

Note: I think that a certain percentage of the population, myself included, finds all this rhetorical sleight of hand insulting and it makes them want to vote for someone else. Try dumping the deceptive language for a change.

Q.5 Last year, Balanced Budget 2007 provided an additional $476 million over four years towards housing supports for everyone from the homeless to homeowners. Are there other housing initiatives you would like us to consider?

First of all, learn some microeconomics. If you want to make housing more affordable for people, you need to increase supply, not demand. Spend the money to directly build more social housing and provide adequate care for the mentally ill and the down and out.

3. Listen to/Watch one of the best songs/videos of the 80's. This alone should keep you entertained until I return.

Sigh, I should be finished packing by now, not just starting...