Monthly Archives: January 2011

More Conservative Taxes – Internet Usage Fees

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The Conservatives cut the GST a couple of points and transfer the political cost of implementing the HST to the provinces.

They raise Employment Insurance premiums.

They cancel the benefits of Income Trusts.

They create the largest deficit in Canadian history, generating hundreds of millions in new interest payments.

And, as of last week, Tony Clement and the rest of the crew decided to allow their friends with communications giants Bell and Rogers to hike internet usage fees.

These hikes will drastically increase the cost of communications in Canada and every day use and access to the Internet.  It will stifle innovation, kill businesses that rely on the Internet and put us in the ‘digital dark ages’ for a long time to come.

It’s gone too far.  These ‘backdoor’ tax increases are unacceptable and our opposition leaders must call for an election.

If you’re not sure about what the outcome might be, give Hosni a call.  Oh yeah … he has NO internet.

To take action against metred usage fees for the Internet, consider the following approaches (and be sure to share):

  • www.stopthemeter.ca – signing the petition will now automatically send our Minister of Industry, Tony Clement, the person politically responsible for the CRTC, an email.
  • Join the Facebook campaign http://www.facebook.com/notes/openmediaca/stop-the-meter-on-your-internet-use/455248704798
  • Pull the plug on satellite/cable.  If you’re still a TV viewer, get with it and cut out a major monthly expense.
  • Find a small ISP.  They still have to play by Bell’s rules, but at least you won’t be paying Bell directly.
  • Cancel your newspaper and magazine subscriptions.  Most of Canada’s print media are owned directly or indirectly by cable and satellite companies.  Terminating your subscription will hurt their cash flow, save a few trees and end your exposure to media lies.

The US Economy: Sinking Fast or Already Sunk?

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Where has all the money gone?

In 2008, there were a number of bailouts on many levels with a specific intent of stabilizing the US economy.

Unfortunately, foreclosures continue, States face bankruptcy and municipal governments and councilors everywhere face unsavoury choices like how many schools to close or teachers to lay off, how many police or firefighters to fire, or how many pensions to pilfer.

All of this will likely lead to a municipal bond crash somewhere in 2011, as 44 of the 50 states in the US anticipate a large shortfall in 2011 and 2012 and few of them speak about corporate tax increases in lieu of personal tax increases (which are ubiquitous) and drastic reductions in spending, particularly on social services (health, welfare, education, infrastructure).

The United States of America should now be known as the Ultimate State of Anarchy.

What’s the impact for Canada?

Well, our government is at least 20 years behind the times as they still believe that slashing sources of income from foreign nationals – ie. cutting corporate income tax – will somehow result in waves of cash coming back in the form of investment, research and jobs.

In defending their actions, they’re lying to the Canadian public.

Since the Reagan years, Conservatives everywhere have been defending corporate tax cuts as a way to encourage money to ‘trickle down’ to the masses.  If you consider getting pissed on by the world’s ruling class ‘trickle down’, then it worked.  The disparity between the wealthy and the poor – with the complete elimination of the middle class – is nearly absolute today.

All of these actions designed to ‘balance budgets’ are intentional strategies to marginalize the value of property, eradicate public say into where funds should be spent and continue the process of handing over billions of taxpayer dollars to the world’s A-list.

In New York:

  • If the governor proposes a $1 billion cut and the Legislature approves it, the mayor estimated the city would be forced to cut 15,000 teachers, most of which would be accomplished through layoffs. That’s on top of plans, outlined by the mayor in November, to cut 6,166 teachers in the fiscal year beginning July 1.
  • In total, the administration is facing the specter of losing 21,000 teachers in the coming months, most through layoffs. An aide to the mayor warned that these numbers would probably change as negotiations with lawmakers over the state and city budgets begin in earnest in the coming weeks.
  • The city’s Department of Education currently employs roughly 75,000 teachers.

In Illinois:

  • The Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) at the University of Illinois stated that it would be “hard to overstate the depth of the fiscal hole the state is in.” The current budget deficit is $13 billion, and is expected to rise to $15 billion by the time negotiations begin in the spring for fiscal year 2012. The IGPA report notes that in a December survey of state budget gaps, it was found that the deficit in Illinois “accounted for about half the total of state deficits nationally and was nearly twice as large as the deficit in California, the second largest.”
  • The Democratic-controlled Illinois General Assembly passed a tax bill early January 12 that significantly raises the individual income tax rate. A highly regressive flat tax that will weigh most heavily on the working class, the rate is to be raised 67 percent, from 3 percent to 5 percent.
  • In the FY2011 budget, Quinn planned to reduce $509 million in spending plans for a variety of state agencies, with the largest reduction, $313 million, is primarily targeted to programs that serve the mentally ill and developmentally disabled through the Department of Human Services. State employee layoffs are not part of the plan due to a deal earlier this year in which the AFSCME agreed to defer part of its scheduled pay raises in exchange for a guarantee of no layoffs or facility closures through June 30, 2011.

In Texas:

In California:

  • Possible complete sale of state parks and libraries to the private sector or to developers

California-budget-cuts

In Nevada:

  • Housing prices, and consequently property taxes, are not anticipated to rise for years because of excess stock. Gaming revenue will remain flat for the foreseeable future, and the growth of gambling in other states and online could further erode it, experts predict.
  • Meanwhile, the state’s population of children and seniors is expected to grow, resulting in higher education and health care costs. Add that to the strong anti-tax sentiment and constitutional prohibition of an income tax, and the budget outlook is grim.

The Big Organic Sellout?

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People should have certain expectations when it comes to farmers and companies that sell organic products and food.  We all seem to have this mystical image of the original concept being lead by ‘back-to-the-lander’ types with pony tails and a patch of marijuana tucked away in their back yard somewhere.

Fast-forward to the present and you’ll have to quickly acknowledge that if you did have this vision, it’s wrong.

This story (http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22449.cfm) illustrates how several companies – including Whole Foods, Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm (now owned by Danone) have surrendered to Monsanto – the anti-thesis of organic – by announcing that they will pursue a life of ‘co-existence’ with Genetically Engineered (GE) foods.

And just like that, ‘organic’ risks being seen as a big marketing scam.  The entire effort of generations of people that do not want to risk having their crops and services contaminated by Monsanto’s poisonous approach to farming is now put at risk by a single decision.

Here’s the rationale as to why it all happened:

The Organic Inc. CEOs (ie. those from Whole  Foods, Stonyfield and Organic Valley) are tired of activist pressure, boycotts, and petitions. Several of them have told me this to my face. They apparently believe that the battle against GMOs has been lost, and that it’s time to reach for the consolation prize.  The consolation prize they seek is a so-called “coexistence” between the biotech Behemoth and the organic community that will lull the public to sleep and greenwash the unpleasant fact that Monsanto’s unlabeled and unregulated genetically engineered crops are now spreading their toxic genes on 1/3 of U.S. (and 1/10 of global) crop land.

In order to eliminate any confusion about what’s in your food, the article we cited comes to a conclusion that we support:  truth-in-labeling.  It’s the only way to differentiate real food from modified food and it has to start immediately.

In the US, Dennis Kucinich (D, Ohio) has introduced a bill in Congress calling for mandatory labeling and safety testing for GMOs.  The chances of this being successful are slim.

With this in mind, the other opportunity is to keep applying the pressure:

The Organic Consumers Association, joined by our consumer, farmer, environmental, and labor allies, has just launched a nationwide Truth-in-Labeling campaign to stop Monsanto and the Biotech Bullies from force-feeding unlabeled GMOs to animals and humans.

You can also petition Whole Foods here:  http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22309.cfm

In Canada, most of the information that I’m able to find is stale, but I’m hoping you can help by providing some additional links in the comments.  I do know that there is CBAN and they are encouraging Canadians to get their MP to support Bill C-474, a requirement to assess the economic impact of GE use with food production.

More information can be found here:  http://www.cban.ca/Take-Action/Act-Now

Click here to see how your MP voted on the original submission of the Bill.

Why Corporate Tax Cuts Don’t Matter to Me

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And Shouldn’t Matter to Most Canadians

Corporate tax cuts border on the theoretical.  Will cuts to the world’s largest corporations generate more jobs here or enrich the treasury of the countries that they’re home to?  Does Wal-Mart really “invest” more in Canada when they pay lower taxes?  Does GM do more R&D research here simply because we’re making it easier for them to have a fatter bottom line?

Do corporations generate more jobs than the local resources that they use?

The short answer is no, but I’m sure all of these and more questions merit additional research.  In fact, the Progressive Economics Forum argues that corporate income tax cuts can actually lead to a reduction in employment.

With all that said, I’ll tell you one thing:  corporate tax cuts mean jack shit to me.

Here’s why.

Like millions of other Canadians, I run and own my small business.  It’s a sole proprietorship and like all sole proprietorships, 100% of the income that I generate goes to my personal income so I’m taxes at the personal income rate, not the corporate rate.  Yes, as far as the CRA is concerned, I submit a business filing every year, but the filing reflects my personal income and not a business income.

In most provinces of Canada, the number of small businesses that employ 1-4 people (ie. usually 1 + a family member) almost always exceed 50%, in many cases 60%.

By the end of 2009, the number of small businesses was approximately 2.4 million.  I’m guessing that today that number is closer to 2.5 million.

In other words, a significant portion of the population of this country is dependent on small business income.

To put it another way, slashing corporate income taxes is nothing more than posturing and a platform for ripping off the average guy or girl that works 16 hours a day to make their business work while the ‘Fortune 500′ make more fortunes.

If any party in this country wants to win a majority in this country, all they have to do is stop dropping their pants for the bigwigs and start fulfilling on promises to support small business in this country.  Here are some ideas related to this kind of platform:

  • Allow a $100,000 business income exemption for any qualifying small business (to be defined).
  • Alternatively, promote a tax exemption for qualifying small businesses to the tune of $250,000 or three years, whichever comes first.
  • Allow RRSP investments in your own small business, subject to approval (similar to the popular ‘Home-Buyers Plan of the 1980s/1990s).
  • Consider alternative models for small business and economic activity, including co-ops, non-profits, charities and so on.  Then consider tax breaks for these organizations as well.
  • Stop wasting money on mega-budget programs like defence and prison systems.  Use saved money for digital and physical infrastructure.

Getting 2.5 million small business owners on your side will translate to influence.  They’ll make donations, but more importantly, they’ll hang your sign in their window, they’ll influence their family members and they’ll maybe even volunteer some of their precious time to support your team.

What are your suggestions?  I’d like to know, as I’d like to expand on ideas for generating good platform from the small business angle.

Submit Your Complaint re the Conservative Party Attack Ads

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The new Conservative Party attack ads represent an all-time low for Canadian politics.  Here’s the “Do we really need an election?” and the “Does it make sense to raise taxes?” ad.

Taking someone’s comments and ‘exuberant’ pep rally comments and splicing these comments with outrageous claims should not only be deemed illegal, but should also be banned in this country.

This has nothing to do with freedom of speech.  It has everything to do with credibility.

The Conservatives now have none.

Submit your complaint to the following and demand that these ads be pulled immediately AND that a retraction and apology be submitted in equal air time during the same time slots that the original ads were aired:

Advertising Standards Canada

Also, I’m not 100% sure where the ads might have run, but you should at least follow the recommendations of the CRTC by following up with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC).  These broadcasters have profited by airing this garbage and they should be punished for it.

Here are the contact details for the CBSC:

  • online: www.cbsc.ca
  • email: complaints@cbsc.ca
  • mail: P.O. Box 3265, Station D Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6H8
  • fax: 613-233-4826
  • telephone: 613-233-4607
  • toll-free telephone: 1-866-696-4718

If you did see an ad on a specific network or show, be sure to note the date, time and approximate number of times you saw the ad.

To submit complaints to the individual networks, consider the following:

CTV Complaints

Global Complaints

CBC Complaints

Aside from suing the Conservative Party of Canada, it’s the quickest and most logical recourse.   People this corrupt should not be able to get away with this kind of chicanery.