Monthly Archives: August 2015

A Balanced Budget Isn’t A ‘Left’ or ‘Right’ Thing, Part II

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Yesterday, I posted this article showing how NDP governments have been the most effective with respect to balancing budgets over the last 40 years, relying heavily on this article from the Progressive Economic Forum (PEF).

Unfortunately, another article on the PEF, inflates the fears of neocons and voters everywhere that all people on the left seem to want to do is create ballooning budget deficits.

Ugh.  This is SOOOO WRONG.

Wanting a balanced budget is NOT a neocon promise.

I will repeat and paraphrase:  a balanced budget is not a concept owned by the Conservatives.

It’s a lie they spread, yes, but it has CONSISTENTLY been something they are incapable of delivering.  Look at Canada, the US and pretty much any other country around the world.

Budgets explode into deficit when Cons are in control and are restrained when more progressive parties are driving the bus.

The facts show us time and again that those right of centre are completely inept when it comes to maintaining fiscal stability.

deficittogdppctwoevents_001

na0323-surplus-deficit2

Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail agrees with these facts.

Lefties should feel proud of their ability to conquer and quell budget deficits.

Why then, are we lead to believe that Conservatives are the only ones who are entitled to promising such a thing?

Let’s Dial Back the Rhetoric …

I consider myself a ‘leftie’.  I also consider myself to be fiscally responsible.

The two traits do NOT run in conflict with each other.

I will repeat that I simply believe in different options.

One way to appreciate why ‘lefties’ don’t want deficits:  because we’re mortgaging our financial independence to capitalist entities.  The less we borrow, the less we enrich the 1%.

If we borrow, we should borrow as a financial tool to invest in long-term projects, much like corporations treat debt vs equity.

For the record, I’m also a big believer in funding activities from TWO budgets:

  1. A current account budget, which operates on an annual basis and which (by legislation) can never go into deficit (not a ‘rightie’ perspective, but more one of ‘prudent person / keeping your house in order’ perspective).  This might be called the ‘grocery’ budget.
    2. A capital account budget that is financed by borrowing and which is repaid over the life-time of those capital investments.  For example, borrowing $100 billion to finance infrastructure projects that are funded by fares, tolls and other levies or possibly even not funded at all with a reminder that some public projects result in vastly expanded efficiencies (ie. more people working or getting to work on time or more tourists to a national park, etc etc etc).  This is like the ‘mortgage’ budget.

This latter budget concept is something unique to financial planners and probably finance ministers, but it’s something we have to embrace if we’re to emerge from the bickering about financial largesse vs ruin as a ‘left-vs-right’ concept.

Funding long-term projects cannot happen when we look at our books on a weekly or quarterly basis.  We have to account for different components, their payouts and their impact on society at large.

A great example is a National Daycare Program.

Challenge the Conservative Memes …

During this election, it’s critically important that we challenge ALL of the Conservative lies and memes:

  1. They do not represent financial stability for Canada.
  2. The Conservatives are not the best managers of the economy
  3. Stephen Harper is NOT someone you want in charge of the collective private rights of every citizen in Canada
  4. Security is an obsession of the Conservatives because it is racism thinly veiled as protection of all things, white, old and male in Canada.

If you’re left-of-centre or even moderate in politics, you are doing the NDP a great disservice by spreading the myth and confirming the worst fears of neocons that all lefties want to create budget deficits.

Balanced Budgets Are About Priorities …

Paying down debt is the first step towards financial independence from these corporate lenders and it’s time we had an NDP leader – ie. Mulcair – that wants to invest in Canada’s people rather than interest.

Why would the left want to borrow more money from the world’s money lenders and financial elite?

A balanced budget is easy when you consider the options in front of you.  Ending Harper boondoggles like the Economic Action Plan and investing in proper infrastructure, eliminating tax credits for the 1%, curbing military spending, etc and then investing in long-term programs like National Day Care are all possible and just a few OPTIONS a leader has when creating a budget.

I know this has been a long rant, but remember that everyone has to balance their own books, regardless of political position, so why should we have different expectations for our political leaders and their finance ministers?

Category: Uncategorized

A Balanced Budget Isn’t A ‘Left’ or ‘Right’ Thing

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Individuals, regardless of political bent, rarely incur deficits in their home on an annual basis.

Yes, it’s more of a challenge for people who are poor or who have financial restraints to balance their budgets compared to those who have much deeper resources, but ultimately, they must balance their budgets.

These days, it seems someone’s life is measured by how well they’ve managed to control their financial impulses, regardless of what political stripe they wear.

We all have to make choices, some painful and awkward, that send us on the proper path towards financial independence.  To fail in this means surrendering our lives to bankers, pay-day loan companies and credit card usury.

Which makes the whole discussion about deficits in Canada at the federal level very confusing for the average Canadian.

Stephen Harper hasn’t been able to create a surplus in nearly all the years that he’s run Canada and yet claims he’s the only one capable of running the country from a sound fiscal perspective.  This is like claiming it’s OK to run to the credit card company to finance your mortgage.

Under Stephen Harper the fiscal deficit has EXPLODED and he’s asking us to allow him to continue?

(And white-collar rich and old white men that should know better continue to believe this horse shit?)

Justin Trudeau says it’s OK to run up deficits in the wake of the election because, well, we may have to.  The only ‘positive’ legacy the Liberals have are the years when Paul Martin was finance minister and Canada had half a chance of emerging from the financial restraints imposed by mafia-like organizations like the Moody’s or Dominion Bond Rating Service.

Tom Mulcair and the NDP are the only main party promising to control themselves when elected to office and maintain a balanced budget.  If you don’t believe the promise, look to the records of provincial NDP management:

Let the numbers speak for themselves …

I won’t bore you with my own bias.  Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves:

Fiscal-Record-balance-yrs1

More importantly, consider the share of GDP compared to fiscal deficits:

Fiscal-Record-GDP-jpg

My sentiments?

I personally believe that every financial house should be in order.  We should encourage saving, reward investment in our community and our peers and grow from our own pool of financial resources.

It must start at the federal level and the federal government needs to HELP all other levels of government and even households get their budgets in order.  But they MUST END passing the buck to lower levels that are not in a position to finance projects and services for all Canadians like the Harper government has for the last decade.

We can’t afford it.

Ultimately, those in charge of the federal budget should be able to balance the budget any time, regardless of the market circumstance, by making sure they ‘pull the right levers’ and make prudent investment choices with the money provided by hard working Canadians.

Balancing a 2015/2016 budget will be quite easy when you consider the Harper giveaways to the rich and elite in this country:

  • Tax Free Savings Accounts
  • Harper’s ‘RRSP home loan’
  • The hundreds of billions proposed for military expenses like the failed F-35, Canada’s involvement with crimes against humanity via Saudi Arabia and General Dynamics, etc.
  • Extensive (and expensive) tax cuts to the highest echlons of corporate elite
  • Elimination of the spousal tax plan in favour of something more equitable for ALL Canadian families
  • Cancellation of the billions in subsidies to Canada’s resource and extraction companies (especially oil) in favour of more universal programs for any entrepreneur or small business.
  • Termination of tax deductions that only benefit the elite (eg. sports and music programs for kids) or carbon wasters (eg. gas write-offs come tax time).
  • Endless armies of cabinet ministers and their volumes of staffers created by Stephen Harper over the last decade, costly taxpayers millions on needless bureaucracy.

And so on.

See, a balanced budget is just about setting different priorities and attacking those expenses or programs that make no sense to the AVERAGE Canadian.

Do you want a Canada that only looks out for the 1% or one that balances support for all industries with support for individuals?

Do you want a Canada that supports all individuals, regardless of their ‘status’ as a Canadian, be it rich, poor, etc?

When politicians get into fisticuffs about who can run up the bigger deficit, just ask them what largesse Stephen Harper has created and how quickly they’ll be able to take it down.

Stephen Harper Breaches Economic & Political Etiquette

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Sadly, there’s no opportunity to blame Stevie ‘I can’t manage the economy’ Harper for the economic ills in China or the slide in oil.

(Even though I would love to blame him …).

BUT … we can blame him for a substantial breach in political etiquette.

Stephen Harper engaged in a private conversation with the Bank of Canada Governor.

No one knows what was discussed in this call.  There were no other staffers on the call (to our knowledge).  There was no script of the call taken (again, to our knowledge).  We don’t know, maybe, if Stephen Harper instructed the BoC Governor to modify monetary policy so it would help steer the Canadian economy away from recession status.  We also know that Poloz refuses to use the word ‘recession’ even though we are in one.  Was he being told to continue to avoid that dreaded word, lest he wind up in the salt mines of Harper’s political naysayers?

It’s going to open questions.

Now, I’m not a lawyer or expert with public policy, but Stephen Harper should act quickly to disclose what was discussed before the Bank take any action because if the Bank does take action under his guidance, this could compound into a VERY serious issue that all Canadians should be concerned about.

Realistically, there should be no interference with monetary policy, nor should monetary policy be used for political gain, as Jim Stanford with the Progressive Economics Forum suggests.

As he is technically no longer the Prime Minister of Canada (Parliament is dissolved and the writ has been dropped), the candidate for Prime Minister has obtained access that all other candidates for Prime Minister should have.  Understandably, there should still be discussions, but there should also be RECORDS of these discussions.

In the past, when other political candidates and leaders have suggested discussions with the Bank of Canada Governor, they were pressured to issue an apology.

Stephen Harper’s act of political interference with Bank of Canada policy could very well become the next political scandal.

 

So … should Stephen Harper issue an apology, like candidates and politicians before him?  If so, when will this happen?

He won’t.  Because he won’t.

If that doesn’t make sense to you, you don’t understand why Stephen Harper and his cabal has to be voted out of office in October.

Let’s talk about the lies that Stephen Harper tells every time he opens his mouth.

Failure to do would so translate to even more political positioning and erosion of important separations of institutions from the ever-growing power grab from the PMO.

Category: Uncategorized

Stephen Harper Has Offered the Opposite of Good Economic Management

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Stephen Harper has clearly put all of his eggs in one basket.

Any good economist, portfolio manager or leader knows that you diversify in order to moderate risk.

Stephen Harper came to power by pitting parts of Canada against each other.  He has spent decades leveraging Western frustration and reliance on resources with Eastern manufacturing and slightly more progressive attitudes.

He has built a political career on leaning on the oil industry to elevate his regions of choice and it has been at the expense of a diversified economy.

This recent story from Canadian Dimension paints the true story about how obsessed he truly is with the Tar Sands and how he’ll piss away tens of millions of dollars on PR and lobbying for a single industry as opposed to working to promote Canada on a whole.

And once oil hit the skids and tanked to nearly $40 per barrel (while Joe Oliver and Stephen Harper delivered a budget based on $75 per barrel), we’ve all been caught with our collective pants down and our dollar depressed to unprecedented levels.

A proper audit of Stephen Harper’s budget will clearly demonstrate that they have delivered a deficit YET AGAIN and are lying about this reality.

This kind of economic volatility is exactly the opposite of what Stephen Harper has been promising to Canadians.  His last decade of leadership has been a complete nightmare for both importers and exporters that rely on a stable exchange rate.  Those that believe Stephen Harper is ‘stable’ and helps stay the course are idiots.

It’s very clear that Canada needs leadership that will play up the value of our resources but at the same time, will proactively work on balancing our ‘economic basket’ so that we’re not exposed to any single change in global attitude towards something as unstable as the Tar Sands.

I think most will agree that Canada has a LOT to offer.  We have vast environmental, natural, intellectual, mechanical and other resources that the world wants.  We just have to pull our heads out of the (Tar) Sands in order to see this.

The ONLY party that I and other Canadians should support will be that party which talks about moving forward.  I agree that we need to leave the Tar Sands in the ground.  I agree that Canada has for FAR TOO LONG been a resource supplier for those that control us.

Canada will only truly become Canada when we stop relying so much on the demands of other countries.

Who’s willing to bring us forward?

Category: economics, Steve

On Harper’s War on (the Wrong) Drugs

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Stephen Harper has promised to get tough on drug crime in Canada.

He will put an end to the Constitutionally upheld right to drug treatment centres in Vancouver.

He will make everyone who tokes on a bong or joint a criminal.

He will vastly expand the ridiculously expensive incarceration infrastructure – all at the expense of average Canadians – just to be the ‘tough on drugs’ guy.

Honestly, I don’t know what he’s smoking, but he’s insanely out of step with the rest of Canada.

Prescription drugs account for just as many deaths (if not more) in Canada than ‘illegal’ drugs.

And yes, I’m making that up because Statistics Canada no longer tracks these numbers and gives sociologists and lawmakers something to work with.

But here are some of the facts that I’ve been able to collect after a quick Google search:

  • The harm associated with psychoactive prescription drugs has emerged as one of the leading public health and safety concerns across North America.
  • Canada is now the second-largest per capita consumer of prescription opioids (exceeded only by the United States), according to the International Narcotics Control Board (2013). Globally, North America consumes approximately 80% of the world’s opioids.
  • Deaths related to prescription opioid use doubled in just over 10 years in Ontario, from 13.7 deaths per million people in 1991 to 27.2 deaths per million people in 2004 (Dhalla, et al., 2009).
  • Some First Nations in Canada have declared a community crisis owing to the prevalence of the harms associated with prescription drugs (Dell, et al., 2012).
  • Between 2005 and 2011, there was a 250% increase in the number of emergency room visits related to overdose, psychosis, etc related to prescription drugs.
  • Problematic opioid use is the leading cause of demand for methadone clinics in Canada.
  • Illegal use of Fentynal is one of the fastest growing markets and causes of gang violence and crime.
  • Prescription drugs are now one of the leading causes of vehicle-related accidents and deaths.
  • Legal substances (tobacco and alcohol) account for nearly 80% of the total cost of substance abuse (roughly $32 billion) compared to $8 billion for illegal drugs.

The ‘tough of drugs’ stance is a complete smoke and mirror tactic used by the Cons to play to their base that’s probably fucked up on ‘Hillbilly Heroin’ (ie. Fentynal, Oxydodone).

Stephen Harper has to get with the 20th century and understand that the drug companies that are lining his pockets are the culprits here.

Category: health, Steve, Uncategorized