Want Cheaper/Better Hip Tickets? Change The Tax Law

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Over the last few months, a significant amount of ‘ink’ has been spilled concerning the unfortunate health of Gord Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip, the band’s last Canadian tour and the subsequent resulting lack of reasonably-priced tickets for fans.

I checked our local venue and prices have been bid up anywhere from 4 to 20 times a normal price that might have been charged for the Hip just a couple of years ago.

I love the HIp, but it’s hard to stomach spending $500 or $1,000 on a night out to enjoy a band that I’ve seen at least half a dozen times.

But I know who WILL be seeing the Hip:  the corporate types with lots of tickets available for clients from box seats to front-row gawking opportunities and everything in between.

How does this happen?

The deduction of entertainment expenses for corporate tax returns.

Every year, any company can deduct 50% of any expenses related to entertainment of clients.  This includes box seats and other tickets for sporting and music events, along with other events related to entertainment (dining, wine, etc etc etc).

There’s even a suggestion that there’s a substantial amount of fraud concerning these expenses, including inflation of the costs, inclusion of additional ‘guests’ for events and so on.

Closing the loopholes themselves in this deduction would generate an estimated $400 million per year, but this doesn’t include the impact of the deduction itself.

I couldn’t find any studies that assess the impact of the tax deduction on general revenue.  That’s likely because no one wants one.  Of course, if you know of a study, please let me know.

That said, it’s safe to say that when Canada’s economy is worth $1.5 trillion per year in economic activity, even if entertainment was worth 1% of this amount, it would be worth $15 billion per year.

And a good chunk of that $15 billion per year is being written off by Lexus lawyers and Beemer punks looking for a good show.

That’s a lot of inflated value when it comes to the cost of tickets, driving them into the stratosphere.

So … if you really want to bitch about the high cost of Tragically Hip tickets, look to the cause, not the tools like Tickermaster and Stubhub.

And then do something about:  insist that our government put an end to the entertainment tax deduction.

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I am at my capacity for tolerance.

I fear that any events – pick even one – will be funneled into hatred and a message of fear for clowns like Donald Trump.

I was looking for an artist – musician, painter, anything – that would capture how I feel right now.

Someone that sends a message about what we are. What we’re doing. Why it’s important to feed love and compassion and starve hate and racism.

Of Monsters and Men come close:

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The Day America Died

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Let’s see … add 1 racist Presidential candidate

meet in a state that has ‘open gun’ laws

… allow everyone to get together in a powder keg situation

… add a few killings of good people (and some not so good people) on all sides of the political spectrum

… stir in an anxious and upset police force that just saw a number of associates get killed in Dallas

What do you get?

A recipe for disaster.

Call me alarmist, but I believe the Republican National Congress meeting in Ohio on July 16, 2016 will be remember as the day America died.


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Brexit: Intentional Corporate Fragmentation

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Nothing makes an international conglomerate more excited than fragmentation.

Companies that go beyond national boundaries will do anything to fragment the voices and politics of any state, region or province.

And this is why, after all the shouting about racism and nationalism and a whole bunch of other empty accusations, the true reason behind Brexit has just become painfully obvious.

Reductions in corporate taxes.

Companies that set up in Britain have been promised massive cuts in the taxes they’ll have to pay, giving them a free ride and access to one of the world’s largest single-country economies.

Of course, I don’t believe the Minister of Finance of Britain has the authority to do something like this, given that there are no leaders and all of those supporting Brexit have cowardly shriveled away under the rocks from which they originated.

But those latter snakes don’t have to care because they’ve done their work.  They’ve turned Britain into a lesser country that has to drop its proverbial pants for the world’s money machines.

Good luck Britain.  Your standard of living will become like all those other jurisdictions that are in the race to the bottom just to get a few low-wage call centres or sweat shops in your homeland.

Case in point:  Canada during the Harper years.  Ontario lost so much of its manufacturing sector that it’ll never recover and is now selling off public institutions like Hydro One to make a few bucks to pay a million.

Tax cutting is admission of failure with public policy.

As mentioned, next on the list will be an array of public institutions going up on the auction block for the lowest bidder.

Thatcher days will seem pleasant and bright compared to what’s coming for the average Brit.

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The National Observer: PostMedia Pawn?

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After decades of assaulting good government, supporting bad government and everything in between, all the while being owned by American hedge fund managers, Paul Godfrey of PostMedia has been very passionate in his pleas for money from the Canadian government for dollars – advertising, subsidies, grants, whatever; just give me the frickin money! – while his media empire slips into oblivion.

I say good riddance.

Anyways, it seems the National Observer has just joined the chorus of complainers.

For a while, I had some respect to the National Observer.  They covered interesting and important stories with an objective eye.

Now they’re just resorting to America bashing to try to make a buck.  What makes it worse is that they’re repeating the same meme that Paul Godfrey was using to complain about the new Canadian government.

Boo hoo.  Canadian media has had its proverbial head in the sand for the last decade while the Harper regime ripped the guts out of Canada.  Canadian media has done nothing to create Canadian media.  Yes, the National Observer was unique in its criticism of the regime, but resorting to defending PostMedia and others seems like a low blow.

The main reality is advertising is going elsewhere, both at a consumer and business level,” said Bob Cox, publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press (a Post Media subsidiary) and chair of the Canadian Newspaper Association, in an interview. “A lot of those advertising dollars have migrated.”

The government spent $3.6 million, just under 24 per cent of its digital ad budget, on news website ads in the 2013-2014 fiscal year. In the following year, that number dropped to just over $2.1 million, or 15 per cent of the annual budget.

In that same period the government more than doubled its advertising spending on services like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, spending over $4.6 million, more than a third of its ad budget.

And after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was sworn in last November, federal departments steered a number of their marketing campaigns away from Canadian media, choosing instead to spend more than $2.8 million over the next five months on social media advertising.

“If the government of Canada spends on ads on Facebook, they send money directly to Silicon Valley,” said Steve Lowry, founder of Discovery Media House, an advertising consulting firm. “It’s almost like outsourcing, in a way.”

They’re conveniently ignoring the fact that Facebook, Google and many other digital media companies employ thousands of people in a healthy, thriving business of actually delivering results and creating business opportunities.

They’re also ignoring the notion that most ‘Canadian’ ad agencies who book all of these buys are also American subsidiaries and have been for decades.

Let’s ignore these facts and let’s just do what Paul Godfrey tells us to do.

What’s next National Observer?  Should we stop buying iPhones because they’re made in China?  Maybe we should boycott China altogether? How about we just cut Canada’s internet off from the rest of the world to save a few ‘horse and buggy’ jobs?

C’mon National Observer.  You can do better than this.  You still have the opportunity to do something different than traditional media companies.  You could even build your traffic if you show Canada that you ‘get’ digital.

Drop the paywall.  Bring us in.  Be objective.  Don’t quote PostMedia.

Talk to Facebook, Google and others.  They’re now the biggest media companies in the universe.  Make them your partners, not your adversaries.

EARN the dollars being spent by our government.  Don’t expect them like media companies have in the past.

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