Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween Week: the Mid-Weekening

Your bump in the middle of the night...

He's probably rushing in case he crashes and burns a lot sooner than expected:

An incoming Liberal majority government will move forward with an ambitious agenda and open Parliament with a speech from the throne before the end of the year, CBC News has learned.

The new agenda will follow next week's swearing in of a new Liberal cabinet, marking the official transition of power after nearly a decade of Conservative Party rule.

The Liberal government's general program for the parliamentary session that will follow is expected to include proposed legislation to lower taxes on the middle class and a plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees, a senior Liberal source told CBC News.

That will happen after Trudeau returns from a busy travel schedule of international events including the Group of 20 summit in Turkey, the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in the Philippines and the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Before the Paris meeting he is also expected to attend the Commonwealth meeting in Malta, where he would meet the Queen, whom he first met when he was a child and his father was prime minister.

First of all, taxes: PM-Elect Trulander, who could not tell who was middle-class before the election, has decided that anyone earning over $200, 000 (as is his net worth) will be taxed more and receive fewer child benefits. According to these statistics, 338,960 individuals have an income of $200, 000 and over and 207,050 individuals have an income of $250, 000 and over making the total population of people the Liberals can squeeze for their infrastructure projects 546, 010 (assuming they have not hidden their wealth elsewhere). How much can Trudeau expect to squeeze from seniors' pensions? It will have to be a significant amount because the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) which Premier Kathleen Wynne promised to scrap before the election but now has decided not to will be expensive:

The plan hurts the middle class. Yet, many middle-class individuals will bear much higher tax rates on plan benefits, especially in the $73,000 to $90,000 range as Old Age Security payments are clawed back. ...

The plan provides a poor return to savings for low-income Canadians who will be provided little personal income tax relief for contributions, yet face a walloping personal tax on benefits with personal taxes and reductions in Guaranteed Income Supplements. This can be fixed but not easily. ...

Although it is argued by the Ontario government that the ORPP will increase savings, no doubt there will be a significant reduction in private saving, as many U.S. and Canadian economic studies have suggested in the past, including a recent one by well-respected economist, Francois Vaillancourt and his co-authors.

The timing cannot be worse for the Ontario economy, which faces a weak economy with a falling employment rate this past year (last month was an improvement). Taxes will be paid by a large part of the population with no benefits paid out for several years to come, as existing seniors will not get more money.

Businesses will face a new set of taxes on employees, much of it shifted back in lower wages over time. In the short run, companies facing international competition will face higher costs along with higher Ontario energy costs, property taxes and new levies to pay for infrastructure (the latter is most critical to achieve growth in the long run, unlike the ORPP).

Like the CPP, it siphons money from the worker for a lousy return. It doesn't help those who are self-employed and it's mandatory.

And let's not forget those carbon schemes Trudeau glowed about.

Carbon (read: carbon dioxide) is not a pollutant but it's a convenient tax grab. It raises the costs of goods and services:

But cap-and-trade is just a carbon tax by another name, or, to put it more accurately, a tax on consumption -- consumption by us.

In fact, the Liberals under former premier Dalton McGuinty introduced a carbon tax in Ontario when they imposed the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on us on July 1, 2010.

They didn’t call it a carbon tax, but the reason it was is that the HST extended the 8% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) over the much broader reach of the 5% federal Goods and Services Tax (GST).

The practical effect of this was that as of July 1, 2010, Ontarians began paying a new, additional 8% tax on gasoline, electricity (generated in part by fossil fuel energy) and on heating fuels such as natural gas and oil.

The reason this was a carbon tax, and more accurately a tax on everything, is that it increased the price of everything, not just driving one’s car, for example, but the cost of transporting goods to market.

Similarly, as the price of manufacturing goods and creating services increases because of the rising costs of electricity and transportation, companies pass along those increased costs to us, as consumers, in the form of higher prices.

This explains why cap-and-trade is a carbon tax by another name.

(Sidebar: don't be surprised if the HST goes up.)

So - with a finite number of "high-rollers" and seniors to squeeze for money, added costs and taxes here and there, how exactly is the middle-class saving money?

Then there's those pesky 25, 000 unvetted "refugees" PM-Elect Trulander wants to let in (because prioritising proven Syrian Christian refugees is "disgusting"):

During the election campaign, Liberals said they'd accept 25,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq by the end of the year.

But is that even possible? And how would it work?

Refugee settlement groups in Canada aren't sure it's wise. While they applaud the goal and the good intentions, they fear it's too much, too fast. And they're saying so, as the government consults with representatives of major refugee agencies on how to proceed, based on their current capabilities.

Oh, dear.

But he campaigned on it!

These "refugees" would have to not undergo any scrutiny and municipalities will not only have to pick up several tabs but will be flooded with people they might not be able to help.

I'm sure those who voted for Trudeau thought this through carefully when they cast their ballots.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's handpicked parliamentary secretary says the Conservative Party's focus on identity issues — the niqab, stripping citizenship from dual nationals and launching a barbaric cultural practices hot line — was a mistake that cost the party votes among new Canadians.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is facing more questions Monday over revelations that her government paid education unions nearly $4 million to help cover negotiating costs that are usually paid for with union dues in recent years.

Education Minister Liz Sandals said last week the multi-million-dollar payouts to unions were to cover costs such as meeting rooms and food during negotiations for new teachers contracts. When pressed for a detailed list of expenses, Sandals said unions weren't asked to provide receipts for the expenses.

"We know what the meeting rooms cost. We know what the food costs. We know what 100 pizzas costs," she said.

In Question Period this morning, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said Sandals's statement falls short of explaining the expenditure.

"I'm not sure where the minister buys her pizza, but the pepperoni must be gold-plated," he said.

Wynne said this year's $2.5-million payments to teachers unions is a special case. Sandals told Brown in Question Period that the Mike Harris government similarly supported unions during bargaining processes when his government was in power. 

"There hasn't been a provincial bargaining system in place before, this is the first time," she said.

Sandals is calling the payouts a "rather large investment" to get them to the bargaining table.

Guaran-damn-tee Ontario Liberal voters will vote for Sandals and Wynne tomorrow if they could.

Let's withdraw from the UN today:

The United States on Tuesday voted against a U.N. resolution condemning its embargo on Cuba, even though President Barack Obama has called on Congress to lift the trade restrictions.

The vote was the first since the U.S. and Cuban leaders agreed to restore diplomatic ties last December, and the U.S. had considered taking the unprecedented step of abstaining.

The General Assembly voted 191-2 to condemn the commercial, economic and financial embargo against Cuba, the highest number of votes ever for the measure. Only Israel joined the United States in opposing the resolution, and when the vote lit up on the screen many diplomats jumped to their feet in a standing ovation.

General Assembly resolutions are nonbinding and unenforceable but the annual exercise — now in its 24th year — has given Cuba a global stage to demonstrate America's isolation on the embargo and its Cuba policy.

(Sidebar: everything is non-binding yet a demonstration with the UN, like "Food for Oil" and the Rwandan genocide.)

This must be embarrassing for Obama. Not only did the US still support the embargo against a country that brutalises dissidents but Israel (which the UN hates with a passion) supported the embargo, too.

What a world.

Well, it's not like the US is ever going to mount a serious challenge to China or anything:
China is not afraid of fighting a war with the US in the South China Sea, a newspaper with close links to the government said on Wednesday, after Washington sent a warship near artificial islands built by Beijing.

An American soldier killed during the Korean War is returned home:

The remains of a formerly missing U.S. soldier have been returned to California nearly 65 years after he is thought to have died, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.The remains of Army Cpl. Robert V. Witt, a 20-year-old Bellflower man missing since the Korean War, were returned earlier this week to his sister Laverne Minnick, 82 ...

Minnick, who lives in Huntington Beach, told the newspaper: "I am so happy. He's going to be home, where he belongs, with his family."

Witt will be buried with full military honors at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier on Friday.

And now, the horrifying ways in which cakes can go wrong:


And the awesome ways they can go right: 

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