Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Missing variable found?

Why did Conservatives do better in rural and suburban ridings in the past federal election while the Liberal and NDP parties fared better in urban ridings, especially as population density increases in large cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal (see graphs at Political Staples)? Small Dead Animals has the simplest and most plausibly significant variable:

The inference that is most commonly drawn from correlations that show a rise in support for the liberal-left in high population density areas, is that somehow, when you have many people living together in close quarters, they become more tolerant and "progressive" in their societal views. […]

[But] there is another correlation that exists in communities of high population density - and that is the inverse ratio in home ownership. By and large, those who dwell in urban, high-rise zoning don't collect much more than furniture. Many aren't even responsible for basic chores involving maintainance and upkeep - they just call someone.

[…] When one moves into the suburbs and rural areas, however, the reverse is true - the average voter is more likely to own their own home and/or business. They gain first hand experience with the actual costs and consequences of intrusive "tax and spend" nannystate government policies so popular with the urban left. Home owners feel the direct impact in rising property taxes, and dimished private sector investment.
Renters, especially in inner cities, are traditional clients of the state for the provision of space outside their own apartments — and repay those parties that promise to continue or expand that provision with their votes. Bonus: SDA links to an old Thomas Sowell article as illustration.

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Good reads

Hey, I just realized that there's no election going on anymore! Here's a couple of things worth the read now that an unhealthy preoccupation with Canadian federal politics is no longer so urgently required.

Frank Furedi, author of Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right and a secular humanist, plumbs the zeolatry and frustrated political motivations behind the current trend of denouncing movies with a religious message in "The curious rise of anti-religious hysteria" (via Western Standard Shotgun):

The problem with politically motivated calls for the restoration of a moral dimension to public life is that they are driven by the instrumental purpose of gaining or retaining power. But a morality manufactured in response to the demands of political pragmatism is bound to lack any organic relationship to lived experience, and is thus unlikely to find resonance with the wider public. An unfocused and disconnected oligarchy is unlikely to possess sufficient sensitivity to the day-to-day problems confronting the public. That is why the pragmatic search for a ready-made moral purpose usually turns into an arbitrary exercise in picking and choosing some inoffensive values.
On a lighter note, Garrison Keillor's uncomplimentary critique of American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville, by Bernard-Henri Lévy, is without question the funniest book review I have ever read (via Paul Wells):
And what's with the flurries of rhetorical questions? Is this how the French talk or is it something they save for books about America? "What is a Republican? What distinguishes a Republican in the America of today from a Democrat?" Lévy writes, like a student padding out a term paper. "What does this experience tell us?" he writes about the Mall of America. "What do we learn about American civilization from this mausoleum of merchandise, this funeral accumulation of false goods and nondesires in this end-of-the-world setting? What is the effect on the Americans of today of this confined space, this aquarium, where only a semblance of life seems to subsist?" And what is one to make of the series of questions - 20 in a row - about Hillary Clinton, in which Lévy implies she is seeking the White House to erase the shame of the Lewinsky affair? Was Lévy aware of the game 20 Questions, commonly played on long car trips in America? Are we to read this passage as a metaphor of American restlessness? Does he understand how irritating this is? Does he? Do you? May I stop now?

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Mob rule in a political wilderness

The results are in - your $1.75 in action. From the Red Star:

Voter turnout boosts party fortunes. Mainstream parties get subsidy of $1.75 per vote

The Liberals may have lost the election, but they've managed to avoid massive financial hits to party coffers.

With voter turnout up from the last election, the Liberals will get an annual Elections Canada subsidy of about $7.8 million, which the party says is "a manageable" $1.3 million or so less than it received before.

Every vote the five mainstream political parties attract is worth about $1.75 to them each year in federal subsidies under rules that govern election financing.

The Liberals received 4,477,217 votes in Monday's election, according to unofficial results from Elections Canada.
There were fears that if support for the Liberals had disastrously collapsed on Monday, the party would be sent into financial wilderness.

"We will have a debt, but it won't be nearly as much as some people have suggested. It will be a few million dollars, I would anticipate," said party president Mike Eizenga, who added that all the spending has not yet been tallied. "We think we will be able to have it pretty much retired by the end of the year."
The debt-ridden NDP looks forward to $4.5 million per year, while the leading party is expected to receive approximately $9.4 million.

Demand the return of your diaper money and the end of gang rule! Write to your local respresentative and support Canada Post.

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Darned kids have no respect for authority these days

From the London Free Press:

A "vicious" dog was shot and five people arrested in a drug-related raid by Chatham-Kent police in Wallaceburg. Police said four men and one woman were charged in the search about 9 p.m. Friday at a home on Wallace Street. An undisclosed quantity of methamphetamine was seized. Several charges were laid, including trafficking a controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a controlled substance and improper storage of ammunition.
Officers at the scene expressed surprise at the presence of a dog appearing unfriendly after breaking down the door and bursting into the residence. More shocking, however, was the presence of improperly stored ammunition, leaving officers aghast and grateful that they had arrived in time to properly store it. The suspects were given a demonstration in the proper storage of ammunition by loading it into the dog.

The tide of anarchy rolled on into Saturday and was narrowly averted by daring OPP officers who brought down a pickup truck of four partygoers going to a stag and doe on Highway 401, in an exploit worthy of the long-lost episode of CHiPs. Also from the Free Press:
The incident occurred shortly after noon when Chatham-Kent OPP received a report from a truck driver who saw someone in a pickup truck flashing what appeared to be a handgun. The OPP's highway enforcement action team was dispatched and several cruisers with lights flashing pulled over the pickup at the ramp to a Tilbury service centre. Police with guns drawn surrounded the truck and ordered the driver and three passengers out. Each was arrested and the vehicle was searched.

Two toy pistols were found, along with some open liquor that led to a Liquor Licence Act charge. The foursome was allowed to continue to Windsor. "People just don't stand for that sort of thing anymore," said OPP Sgt. Mark Vanbuskirk.
Sgt. Vanbuskirk, reminiscing about his own Super Soaker Arctic Shock Blaster, added that he wished it weren't so, but if people won't stand for it, they just won't stand for it, and nothing more need ever be said.

In London, the dangerous influx of Americans and violent criminals, or both, that occurs downtown every summer during the Gus Macker basketball tournament hosted in Victoria Park led last year to a brutal assault on two of Coun. Ab Chahbar's sons while he was driving in a funeral procession. While the city considers a ban on sports events and violence at Victoria Park, the Free Press reported yesterday that the tournament organizer has moved this year's event to Fanshawe College.
Macker organizer Clyde Adkin said yesterday the proposed ban delayed his plans by three weeks and he couldn't risk waiting any longer.
The move is applauded as violent activity will be encouraged to remain in its natural habitat in London's East End.

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Koran Karaoke

At The Jawa Report (HT: Stop The ACLU)


Infidelicious!

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Pigs Eating from the Trough

Former Liberal MP Pat O'Brien is upset over information published a few days ago by The Canadian Taxpayers Federation on retiring and recently defeated MPs' pensions. The CTF reminds us that every dollar paid by an MP toward their pension is matched by $4.00 of taxpayer's money. Let's be sure to remember the salaries of the beasts of prey are also paid by taxpayers. Doesn't matter if you don't consent to the rule of these vultures - the government holds the monopoly on force so resistance is futile.

Pat O'Brien says the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is wrong on two counts when it complains about pensions for retired or defeated MPs: They aren't "gold-plated" and the CTF's numbers are too high.

The just-retired MP for London-Fanshawe was reacting to a news release from the lobby group in which it decried the pensions and severance payments. "Shed no tears for retiring or defeated MPs," said CTF federal director John Williamson. "They are being well looked after by Canadian taxpayers."

The CTF wants MPs and the federal government to pay into a registered retirement savings plan with matching contributions instead of the pension scheme into which taxpayers put $4 for every $1 from MPs.

The organization says 66 retiring or defeated MPs will collect $74 million in cumulative pension payments. Aside from O'Brien, three others are from the London region: retired Liberal Rose-Marie Ur, Lambton-Kent-Middlesex; Jerry Pickard, retired Liberal from Chatham-Kent-Essex, and defeated Liberal Roger Gallaway, in Sarnia-Lambton.
As stated in the Canadian Taxpayer Federation's news release, what they provided was a "list of projected pension and severance payments." Actual pension and severance pay figures are protected under the Privacy Act although the formula for making a calculation is publically available. CTF did the math, which must have been challenging:
It's based on how many years an MP was in office before departing, multiplied by compounding interest rates that differ from one term to another, and multiplied again by annual salary, averaged over the five-year period during which the MP earned the most.
Pat remains unrepentent:
O'Brien said he makes no apologies for collecting a pension after his 12 years as an MP and he says the amount is appropriate -- but less than the $72,357 the CTF says he'll get based on his years of service and his role as a parliamentary secretary.

O'Brien said his official government printout shows he will receive $64,048.57 in annual pension payments.

"I wish the (CTF) number was right, quite frankly.

[..] He said he had to leave his teaching career to become an MP for 12 years and worked hard for his constituents. "I'm not in a financial position to decline the pension," he said. "I certainly make no apologies for accepting the pension I've earned."

He said if he had stayed in education and accepted increasing responsibilities along the way, "my pension would probably be in the same order or probably higher. So do I feel I have a gold-plated pension? No. I feel I have an appropriate pension that I've earned."
Let's not forget the $141,000 Pat made annually while ruling over the realm as an MP, nor the countless other benefits he received. Pat might quibble with me here and argue that prior to the significant raise MP's received in 2001, including many Liberal receipients, MP salaries were less, and so his salary wasn't as "gold-plated" as I am suggesting. But the tax-free allowance that MPs received prior to 2001 complicates any attempt to calculate the actual financial gains made by O'Brien. The allowance, meant as a expense allowance, was received by individual MPs whether or not they used the entire allowance for the purposes it was meant for. An article from 2000, written shortly after changes to the pension scheme, has more sordid details.

You didn't deserve a dime pal for promoting special interests and dipping into the public pot. I'm not surprised you quit your job as a teacher when so much more money was forthcoming.

A CBC article from back in September 2004, reporting on another proposed raise for MPs that thankfully did not pass, has a list of MPs' salaries throughout history.
1867: $600 + $6 per day
1901 : $1,500 + $10 per day
1920: $4,000 + $25 per day
1945: $4,000 + $25 per day + $2,000 allowance
1963 : $12,000 + $6,000 allowance
1981 : $32,700 + $14,400 allowance
1991: $64,400 + $21,300 allowance
2000 : $68,200 + $22,500 allowance
2001 : $131,400
Pat O'Brien would not be entitled to the pension he is currently looking forward to if he had worked as a teacher for a mere 12 years, nor would he have made as much annually. He "had to leave" his job because working as trough manager meant getting a lot more, for a lot less, and that was appealing no doubt, even though morally reprehensible.
In retirement, O'Brien has set up Pat O'Brien Consulting to provide political advice about Ottawa and London city hall, where he was a long-serving ward councillor before entering federal politics. He is also continuing his work with Vote Marriage Canada to push for an end to same-sex marriage legislation.
To whom is he marketing his services?? If the city hires him, we are doomed for sure.


Other recipients of massive entitlements were similarly hurt and offended and are reported to have contacted their human rights commission representative:
Ur is to receive a $68,718 pension, says the CTF.

She defended her pension after 12 years as an MP and the sacrifices she and her family had to make.

"For the taxpayer coalition it is easy to sit there and be a critic," she said. "They don't know the work that goes into that job . . . I didn't go into this for the pension."

Ur said she is upset when critics suggest MPs are "pigs at the trough" and feels that view will likely dissuade good candidates from coming forward.

Pickard said the CTF calculation of his pension at $81,890 was incorrect, but he declined to provide the correct amount. He said the CTF is also wrong on the contribution formula, because as a contributor he paid half and the government paid the other half. Pickard dismissed the taxpayer group as distorting the pension issue for its own self-serving ends.
Ur: problem is, your freely chosen 'sacrifices' force me to make certain 'sacrifices'. Contrary to your view that it's "easy" for the CTF to criticize, you're wrong: as the people who contribute to and work with the CTF are themselves taxpayers, I doubt they are laughing with glee as they read about the various schemes used to deprive them of their earnings. It is not at all easy to be on the receiving end of such banditry.

Pickard: government money is collectively stolen cash. Your contribution was paid for by unwilling serfs, twice over. There has been no 'distortion' of the pension issue. It was clearly stated by CTF that their calculations were estimates, and neither Pat O'Brien nor Ur are contesting the essential point which is that for each dollar an MP contributes to their pensions, the taxpayers are forced to match and exceed that sum.

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Thanks for your fiscal restraint and your foresight

That little matter of the 2.95 per cent increase in property taxes that council approved in its budget on Tuesday is, unsurprisingly, still up in the air. From the London Free Press:

[T]here are two outstanding issues that could push taxes up — or down. The province still hasn't issued its 2006 education tax levy and the city is waiting for provincial approval to shift some of the property tax burden from residential to commercial and industrial.

[…] That's because in 1999 the province, as part of its new market-value tax assessment system, passed a regulation that doesn't allow municipalities to shift the burden of taxes from residential to commercial or industrial. The law does, however, allow shifts from commercial and industrial to residential, which has twice occurred. But, last year, when residential assessments began to climb, the province allowed a shift to commercial and industrial.

This year, with residential assessments again climbing an average of 13.82 per cent, the city hopes to get the same approval. If it doesn't, the average tax bill will climb another 1.4 per cent, adding about $30 to the bill, now estimated at $2,149 — including a $60.90 hike approved Tuesday. The figures apply to an average home assessed at $152,000.

The average tax bill includes a levy of about $450 for education, which the city collects and transfers to the province. If the levy remains unchanged from last year, that would lower tax bills by 0.5 to 0.6 per cent, or about $10.

[…] When the city's $858-million draft operating and capital budgets were released in October, taxpayers faced an initial five-per-cent hike, an increase of $104 on the average tax bill. But that was reduced, in part because of a $9.5-million surplus and two-per-cent growth in the city's tax base.

Besides the tax increase, council has approved a 9.6-per-cent ($34) hike in sewer rates and a five-per-cent ($16) increase in water rates. Those increases will push the average annual sewer bill for a taxpayer to about $395 and the water bill to about $330.

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The politics of human rights in London

According to the London Free Press, retired Superior Court justice Jeffrey Flinn's review of London's human rights office will be delivered to council in public on February 6. Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco was reported to be almost breathless in her anticipation of the report.

"Obviously, this was a very important step for us to have Judge Flinn review our human resources practices, process and office," DeCicco said.

"We want to know if there's anything we can improve, if we're using the right process or if he has any recommendations."
In other words,
"I have no idea what to do, and I have no way of knowing whether or not Judge Flinn has anything useful to suggest, but the report's recommendations will give me a way of appearing to do something without having to be accountable for anything except following those recommendations!"
I have a recommendation — abolish the office of the phoney-baloney human rights specialist's position. Nothing any politician or bureaucrat has done to date has solved more problems than it has created. As a review of the human rights office in London, I present a slightly edited version of a post that appeared here before. It is admittedly lengthy, but relevant to the mayor's unhinging on the subject.

To date, the addition of this specialist position at city hall has yielded, in no particular order:
  • no successful resolutions of any human rights complaints that have been made public;
  • one unsuccessful complaint made by the human rights specialist herself;
  • a dismissal of that human rights complaint by a paid outside arbitrator (the human rights specialist being barred from adjudicating her own complaint);
  • the expense of paying a human rights specialist who does not even work in London, and who has not done any work that anyone can account for except for blithe assurances by the mayor;
  • two complaints made to the Ontario Human Rights Commission against city council directly related to the position of the human rights specialist;
  • Joyce Burpee, the city's second human rights specialist, has been on leave from her job since June of last year and has filed one of those complaints against the city herself with the Ontario Human Rights Commission; and,
  • more embarrassment for city council.
The human rights specialist position was created in response to city management's response to a 1999 case of sexual torture in which a municipal employee was tortured after a date with a city building inspector, Stephen Joksas. Joksas was given a two-year leave while serving his jail term, but was fired only after a public uproar.

The sexual torture charge was dealt with as a criminal trial, altogether appropriately. The reaction of city management — giving leave to the criminal during his jail term — was negligent and contemptuous of both the victim and the city's taxpayers, as well as of sound managerial practices. The lack of good judgment — to say the least, or outright cronyism and pathological derision to speak of the most likely — by city managers would have been best dealt with by censure and dismissals.

And yet, city hall instead responded with a plan — an anti-harassment policy written by a lawyer, of which the Free Press has been unable to obtain a copy — and a human rights watchdog, as though the problem was an administrative glitch in procedure or a lack of sensitivity. It is typical of a city administration, accountable in council only to its own attempt to manufacture a lack of opprobrium — as far as that seems necessary in London — and in management to its own pecuniary and security interests, to try to solve the problems of bureaucracy by adding further layers of bureaucracy. In fact, city hall's response serves as an instance of the same problem it purports to prevent — protectionism of city employees by deflecting the issue from one of personal culpability to an appearance that there is either a shortage of procedure, the details of which are too minute to be appreciated by or even worth forwarding to the public, or a climate of insensitivity to human rights, of which the definition may remain equally vague. City management does not lack sensitivity training or procedure, it lacks accountability and judgment. So what is to be accomplished by obscuring this lack of accountability and judgment with procedures and doctrines?

It can be shown, as demonstrated above, that neither the anti-harassment policy nor the position of human rights specialist have advanced any possible conception of rights at city hall in any measurable or even qualitative sense. It cannot be demonstrated in either sense because there can be no proffered standard by which success can be determined — except for either the hope by city hall that it has effected a public perception damage control, at which it has utterly failed, or an increase in reported human rights complaints, which suggests failure in the endeavour but simultaneously strengthens apparent demand for the service. Procedural texts are substitutes for sound judgment when employment is either ephemeral or requires little aptitude — like McDonalds. When sound judgment cannot be expected to be exercised by city management, they should either be paid minimum wage and given their procedures, or they should be fired.

More misdirectional still is the suggestion that a lack of or insensitivity to human rights is the source of contention within city management and needs to be procured by a human rights specialist. Merely inapproprate behaviour is obviously counter-productive and should be dealt with by competent management. Even the case of sexual torture, cited as the antecedent of city human rights policy, was not an instance of city management violating human rights but of negligent and contemptuous practice by management in giving Joksas leave. The only violation of rights that occurred was committed by Joksas when he tortured his co-worker and which was dealt with, appropriately, as a criminal case. In fact, criminal law has been fundamentally — before and aside from extraneous politically-motivated provisions such as drug laws — the device by which rights have been protected. That is, it should be explained, rights as they were once properly understood to be absolute, inalienable and non-rivalrous — to one's life, liberty and property, protected from murder, confinement, assault, theft and fraud — before the understanding of those rights became corrupted and transitory by postmodern relativism and pliability. By suggesting that rights are procured, not by the common sense and decency of competent employees, but by the graces of a specialist whose understanding of those rights is, by definition, uncommon and specialized, egregious behaviour by city employees is excused by ignorance of that specialized education. That suggestion, of course, serves as a bureaucratic tool to protect bureaucrats in London. But, more importantly, the indefinability of modern platitudinous human rights — the relativism and pliability of the conception, the lack of objective standards by which the protection of those rights can be measured — is a tool by which bureaucrats and politicians can increase their authority, by placing the rendering of those rights in the hands of another official employee. Can anyone say what exactly these human rights are nowadays? Unlike our common understanding, they have been superceded by specialized postulates refereeing competing rights — for example, sparing hurt feelings, presumed at the discretion of the plaintiff, may trump the unprepossesed exercise of freedom of speech by the defendant. So now London not only has an additional highly-paid bureaucrat whose purpose and activities are not made clear to taxpayers, but also an official endorsement of a relative conception of human rights that may be adapted, from above, to suit the interests of those rights-competitors who may be favoured at any given moment by the referees. In no way are the interests of Londoners served — have you any more rights now than you did before?

A summary chronology of the human rights specialist fiasco at city hall, on which even simple expectations of city management may founder:
  • July 2002: Catherine Burr hired as London's first human rights specialist in response to a report on the 1999 sexual assault and torture of a female employee by city worker Stephen Joksas, later fired.
  • April 2003: Burr resigns, alleging interference by some senior managers.
  • January 2004: Joyce Burpee is hired as the city's human rights watchdog, amid allegations political pressure forced administration to abandon plans to hire a man for the job. Staff denied the allegation.
  • May 2004: Burpee files a complaint alleging the city hall chef poisoned her work environment by circulating racist hate literature and removing anti-racism posters from the cafeteria. Investigator later clears the chef of the allegations.
  • September 2004: A Toronto lawyer files a human rights complaint against the city, alleging he was overlooked for the human rights specialist's job due to gender.
  • June 2005: Burpee goes on leave from her job for unknown reasons and files a human rights complaint against the city.
And to think Jeff Fielding was suggesting getting another a human resources specialist… presumably to protect employees from the human rights specialist.

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Crocodile tiers

"First, do no harm. Second, prohibit competition."

O, the colossal con that is Canada's health care system. Ian Gillespie of LFP:

In the last few days, about 1,000 Londoners have lost their family doctor. Many of them are angry...

But yesterday, I spoke to the doctor who cut those patients loose. That doctor, who asked to have her name withheld, gave me her side of the story...

She said private clinics aren't the solution because they'll simply create a two-tier system.
The "two-tier" slogan jumps right out in this context, considering the situation of my 1,000 new brothers and sisters in health care exile. Two tiers? What doublethink is embodied in that phrase. If more than one tier is wicked, then the dreaded "two tiers" is surely less wicked than the thousands of tiers we have now in Ontario.

I can irrefutably demonstrate that there are already at least two tiers. Take my tier as a basis. Tell me, on which tier am I?
  • No family doctor
  • Not a doctor myself
  • No friends who are medical doctors to help me work the system
  • Native English speaker, can communicate with harried, overworked staff
  • Not famous in any degree; only a few other nobodies will know or care when it is my turn to die from "strategic malpractice"
  • No political pull in any degree; same
  • Live in a city
  • Not in prison
  • The price of US health care would be ruinous for me at this stage
  • Family connections on staff at distant hospital; if I already knew I were dangerously ill I could get bumped to or near the front.
Changing any one of these variables changes the quality and speed of care actually made available to a person. Everybody knows this. For example, be it ever so humble, my tier has an OK chance of pushing someone else down a queue, so that he is the one who has to suffer and die. That would be someone on a tier also lacking pull, fame, and money, but also, fatally, without family connections. Better luck next Ponzi scheme.

And we would both have to be sacrificed to the Spirit of Wan-Teer if that was what it took to cure the singer from, say, the Tragically Hip. Yes, it's the Twilight Zone, and there are few among us with enough scruples not to implicitly subject strangers and their families to pain at the price of one's own illness being lifted. Who even considers it? If you think this is harsh then tell me you wouldn't counsel the love of your life to bend the rules and jump the damn queue.

And on which tier is the doctor in the story?

So there are at least two or three tiers already, just by varying this one minor factor.

With the ten factors I've listed, quantizing each to two levels to simplify, there are at least 2^10 = 1024 different tiers. A few minutes' reflection should suggest many more aspects of life that affect health care quality and quantity from person to person. When you have thought of twenty, you have found out that Ontario has over one million tiers.

These are real tiers of privilege, that aren't necessarily surpassed by the ordinary prudent individual planning that helps us get us everything else in life via the free(r) market. These are unjust, artificial tiers imposed by a monopoly. As ever, the socialist approach, suggested by the very concept of a "tier" itself, brings about the exact phenomenon it was purportedly intended to prevent. Forget your heart of hearts. Look deep into your brain of brains. Now ask yourself, can a person really believe ">1 tier bad" and ">2 tiers good"? If not then please shed the tiers.

Wouldn't we all be better off if our own health care didn't have to come from the deprivation of another? Monopolies inevitably cause simultaneous shortages and rising prices because there is no price system to help a monopoly do a good job allocating resources and weighing conflicting priorities. That is, to do a good job planning for the future -- the future which is now upon us as an overworked skeleton crew of doctors "fire" patients. Real businesses, which should be providing health care, must plan intelligently and provide good service, or lose money and go out of business. This threat compels real businesses in a way that a cushy monopoly never is compelled, to find the most efficient way they can with the budget they have to make their customers walk away happy.

Instead of you stepping over the sick people whose doctor your city lured away with your tax money, real companies could be stepping over each other to give you what you want at the lowest price.
"I don't know what the answer is," she said.
On Medved today, he thought to shock his American radio audience with the outlandish fact that here in Canada our winning candidate actually ran on a platform of reducing wait times. Monopolies invariably create expensive shortages. This monopoly approach will continue to leave ever more and more ordinary people without health care, and forbidden by law from getting it. It doesn't have to be like this. End health care prohibition.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Workplace motivation

“Well, we can't stand around here doing nothing, people will think we're workmen”
Spike Milligan
If you're not reading Mitchieville, you've probably got something better to do. But that clearly doesn't apply to you if you're a socialist, so why not just move one little finger and click on this link and exercise your eyeballs reading these wonderful suggestions for getting someone else to create a wonderful politically-correct, diversity-embracing workplace utopia, just for you! And just for everybody else, too! Drawn from the lessons of the history of the progressive German Vegetarian Socialist Peoples Pacifist Party in the thirties and early forties, my personal favourite workplace policy is this:
Use of Inspired Meetings to foster Political Awareness. Currently, workers only enjoy Safety Meetings. This can be improved and uplifted to a political realm by having additonal daily meetings on subjects of a necessary nature on such things as Liberal Party Doctrine, Great Leaders of the Liberal Party, Prosperity from Liberal Party Direction, and Evil Enemies of the Liberal Party. To add a multi-cultural flavor to these inspiring sessions, a diversity of iced beverages can be served, such as beer, wine, vodka, gin, rye, rum, scotch, bourbon, and whiskey. On special occasions, such as a Production Quota being Accomplished or Pay Day, fellow workers from the Prostitutes Guild can be brought in for a work skills exchange. A few Winnebago camper vehicles and an Instant-Teller equipped truck will travel with the Guild Workers. This will reduce absenteeism and hence increase the tax revenue which is so necessary for social spending.
As Fenris Badwulf always says, Think Globally, Act Locally, and Demand Handouts!

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Business vs. government on property rights

In a recent post, I argued that one of the benefits of including a textual reference to property rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as suggested all too briefly by Stephen Harper during the campaign, would be as a catalyst for placing the subject of the distinction between private property and public interest within the broader debates of the country. As a demonstration, BB&T, an American banking, insurance and financial institution announced yesterday

it will not lend to commercial developers that plan to build condominiums, shopping malls and other private projects on land taken from private citizens by government entities using eminent domain.

The commercial lending policy change comes in the wake of Kelo v. City of New London, a controversial Supreme Court decision in June that said governments can seize personal property to make room for private development projects. The court’s ruling cleared the way for an expansion of eminent domain authority historically used primarily for utilities, rights of way and other public facilities.

“The idea that a citizen’s property can be taken by the government solely for private use is extremely misguided, in fact it’s just plain wrong,” said BB&T Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Allison. “One of the most basic rights of every citizen is to keep what they own. As an institution dedicated to helping our clients achieve economic success and financial security, we won’t help any entity or company that would undermine that mission and threaten the hard-earned American dream of property ownership.”

[…] Thirty-eight states have recently passed or are considering laws that would ban the use of eminent domain for private development. A similar bill that would apply a federal ban has passed the House, and President Bush has voiced his support for such reform. The bipartisan Private Property Rights Protection Act would revoke for two fiscal years all federal economic development financing – a significantly large amount of money for most localities and states – from local governments that condemn privately owned houses and other non-blighted property so that they can transfer it to private developers.

“While we’re certainly optimistic about the pending legislation, this is something we could not wait any longer to address,” said BB&T Chief Credit Officer Ken Chalk.
Would this sort of energized discussion and corporate policy happen in Canada? Including property rights in the Charter is no guarantee that it would, but considering the passion for defending what are only privileges and immunities interpreted as rights in the Charter, a genuine right might excite a more genuine defense.

Cynics and critics of capitalism may like to suggest that BB&T's policy is no more than a marketing campaign in the expectation of profits than a statement of principles — to which I would rejoin, so what? The difference between profits and principles is ultimately rhetorical in the context of business. Businesses will not realize their potential for profit in environments where property is subject to arbitrary and poltiically-motivated expropriation. At the very least, BB&T's collateral runs the risk of being seized.

Links via Reason's Hit and Run.

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Every citizen a councillor

If we can get the OMB to issue a few more rulings, everyone will be able to be a councillor. The London Free Press reports that the recent ruling by the Ontario Municipal Board ordering London to replace its seven two-councillor wards with a redrawn fourteen ward map with a single councillor each may have unintended consequences.

Second-place finishers in London's municipal election in the fall may be legally entitled to seats on the new council, says a city lawyer and municipal law expert.

If Alan Patton and others are right, the size of council would balloon to 33 members under the new 14-ward electoral system imposed by the Ontario Municipal Board.
According to Patton and George Rust D'Eye, a Toronto lawyer hired to head the city's appeal of the OMB's ruling to the Ontario Court of Appeals, the OMB has jurisdictiion if it chooses over municipal electoral boundaries but the Ontario Municipal Act permits only council to change the number of councillors per ward.
And because council didn't make changes before the Dec. 31 deadline for the next election, two councillors must be elected for each ward, Patton said.

"The regulation is still in place — it's the law," Patton said. "If someone who finished second came to me and said they weren't given a seat on council, my advice would be to take it to court."

[…] On the face of it, it seems pretty absurd," said Sam Trosow of Imagine London. "Clearly, (the OMB's) intent was for there to be one councillor per ward and to do anything else would be an absurd result I don't think the courts would allow."
Clearly, Trosow has become accustomed to thinking that because he says it is so, it will be so.

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GUNDON: Bang, bang BANG!


The second reported shooting of the year has occured in London Ontario. Police reported 19 incidents last year, so at this rate, London will score even higher in 2006.
One man was taken to hospital and an east-end neighbourhood shut down last night as police searched for a suspect in the city's second shooting of the year.

The unidentified man, whom witnesses said was in his late 20s or early 30s, was gunned down in an alley beside the Mac's convenience store at First and Oxford streets about 8:30 p.m.

[..] Bloody snow, yellow police tape and a smashed pickup truck window marked the space between Mac's and Marvellous 2 for 1 Pizza and Wings, where witnesses said they found the man writhing in pain.

Dwayne Hurley, a bouncer at nearby Carey's Pub at 1569 Oxford St. E., was standing on the bar's patio when he heard multiple shots ring out.

"I thought it was fireworks," Hurley said. "It was like, 'Bang, bang, bang, bang' -- there were at least six of them."

[..] Last night, at least a dozen cruisers were visible as police blocked off area streets while searching for the fleeing suspect.

Two youths in a nearby shop said they were told they couldn't return to their home at First and Hartlet streets because it might be dangerous.

"They said it might not be safe and the canine unit was out, so we're stuck here," said Fanshawe student Ken Wales.

Police were holding the scene through the night, Arbing said.
Martial law kicks in as police spend the entire night looking for a suspect who more than likely, was far from the scene of the crime by the time the cops even arrived.

But there is a lot to keep the police busy these days in Gundon ... In addition to last night's shooting, yesterday morning a man threatened to blow up elderly people getting their drugs at a Pharmasave in quaint Wortley Village.
A man armed with a grenade was arrested by a London police officer during a botched drug robbery yesterday at an Old South pharmacy.

The man entered Pharmasave at 190 Wortley Rd. at about 11:45 a.m., showed the grenade and demanded prescription drugs, said Staff Sgt. Paul Kerkhof of London police.

[..] The grenade was determined to be "inert," said Const. Amanda Pfeffer.

The Pharmasave robbery was similar to one at a Money Mart store Tuesday, she said, and police were investigating whether they were connected.

On Tuesday, a man claiming to have a grenade entered the store at Wharncliffe Road and Duchess Avenue shortly after 9 a.m. and demanded cash, Pfeffer said.

He fled after the incident.
Madness hits the region! The reign of terror doesn't stop there. Also yesterday, in nearby St. Thomas, a man was shot and killed in a downtown pub:
One minute yesterday morning, Robert Thorpe Jr. was sitting in a downtown bar here with an acquaintance.

The next, he was dead of gunshot wounds and the man suspected in his shooting was himself shot by police.

"It (the shooting) was over nothing,'' a grieving Carol Thorpe said of the fatal shooting of her 40-year-old son, Robert, in the Manx Arms Restaurant and Pub on Talbot Street, a lunchtime hangout for the city's downtown business crowd.

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Cindy does Venezuela


Back in the news, because unfortunately, she never left:
Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan, mother of a US soldier killed in Iraq, joined more than 10,000 anti-globalization activists in Caracas, where she hailed Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez.

"I admire him for his resolve against my government and its meddling," said Sheehan, who gained notoriety when she camped outside US President George W. Bush's ranch last year to protest the Iraq war. She said she hoped to meet Chavez later in the week.

Sheehan was among more than 10,000 people from across the Americas who took to the streets of the Venezuelan capital Tuesday in an anti-war protest that launched the six-day Caracas World Social Forum (WSF).

My government should not meddle anywhere, the "peace mom" told AFP during the march, which was marked by anti-Bush slogans.

[..] She said Venezuela's foreign ministry sponsored her visit.
I wasn't invited to the World Social Forum, although I reside within the universe, but then I don't cuddle up to dictators either.

More from Cindy:
And about Bill Clinton . . . . You know, I really think he should have been impeached, but not for a blow job. His policies are responsible for killing more Iraqis that George Bush. I don't understand why to rise to the level of being president of my country one has to be a monster. I used to say that George Bush was defiling the Oval Office, but it's been held by a long line of monsters.
HT: Dust my Broom

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

It's going to get more expensive to live in London… again

The London Free Press reports that council has approved a 2006 budget that raises residential property taxes by 2.95 per cent. After two years of 5.9 and 5.3 per cent increases, this year's hike may appear to be a relief — such are the reduced expectations of Londoners. Property taxes get the big press, but Londoners will be paying 9.6 and 5 per cent increases in sewer and water rates respectively. Moreover, the average homeowner in London will still be on the hook for an additional $60 in property taxes, and the apparently reasonable increase owes much more to the shifting of the tax burden to commercial properties than to fiscal restraint. This shift — and the Free Press article makes no mention of whether the province has approved the city's request — is no more than a populist strategy during an election year. Homeowners and free riders make up a substantially larger percentage of the electorate than business owners, and the various effects of higher prices, lower payrolls or reduced investment by implementing higher business taxes are at a sufficient remove in time and ordinary perception to seem harmless enough.

Council was also able to use funds from an anticipated $9.5 million "surplus" — in reality, none other than taxes paid to the city above what it needed to cover its obligations — to camouflage some of this year's spending. Responding as usual to no other initiative than adminstration's advice, council used only $650,000 to reduce this year's tax burden, while council approved some last minute spending additions:

  • $750,000 was added to the North London Optimist Centre construction project that was already slated to cost $2.2 million;
  • Orchestra London gets an extra $77,000 to reflect higher revenue that hadn't been finalized when the budget was drafted. In all, the orchestra and the Grand Theatre will each receive $465,000;
  • Council will spend $100,000 to enable its chambers, offices and committee rooms to be set up for wireless technology, such as laptop computers;
  • Two areas that had been slated for money got more, but not as much as some had sought -- for splash pads and a program to light walkways.
This year's budget is no more than an effective subterfuge for fiscal restraint — by which council means no more than whatever might sound reasonable to taxpayers who have had property tax rate increases of 5.9 and 6.6 per cent in the last two years. In practice, fiscal restraint to this administration means capping new municipal debt at $30 million a year, annual increases in property taxes as well as sewer and water charges, overtaxing Londoners in the previous year to compensate for extravagant budgeting, shifting the tax burden onto a smaller constituency, and relying on provincial and federal funds. The current adminstration clearly has no idea what fiscal restraint actually means — Londoners will not have good governance until it removes this adminstration.

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Bono: 'Global Expert on Everything' because a bunch of teenagers bought records

Wearing rose coloured glasses, once again Bono rears his ugly head at the World Economic Forum. Children in Africa are starving to death yet a multitude of celebrities are enjoying themselves at luxury resorts in Switzerland looking for extra publicity. It's all about record sales, man, because that's what paying for the trip. Clearly, you weren't invited due to any stunning insights into economics - quite the opposite, despite reports by Reuters in the entertainment section that Bono was "courted" by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Bono, a self-styled champion of the world's poor, in turn said he was "delighted" with her keynote speech to the World Economic Forum of global business leaders and policy makers.

He said he was honoured newly elected Merkel saw him immediately after her address -- before Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Their meeting was short and Merkel was heard promising to meet the U2 singer, wearing a cowboy hat and rose-tinted glasses, at greater length later in the year.

In particular, Bono welcomed Merkel's repetition of Germany's commitment, despite financial pressures, to spend 0.7 of its national income on development by 2015, a goal of the United Nations, and more recently, the European Union.

"It is a signal to all other European leaders that this is still a topic people care about," Bono told Reuters.

"The Europeans know the Germans keep their word. So she has kept Germany's word in the world ...," he said.

In addition to Bono, other notables in attendance looking to influence the redistribution of private funds are Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone and Angelina Jolie.
The British royals might hit the slopes in the sleepy resort of Klosters each year, but neighboring Davos, the traditional host of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, has become the hot spot for celebrity watching,

Never mind Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Microsoft's Bill Gates, or former U.S. president Bill Clinton -- drawing the most attention at the summit are the likes of Bono, Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone and Angelina Jolie who troop to the Alpine gathering to gain support for their favorite causes.

The glamorous Stone caused a mini stampede at a queue outside the forum's welcome reception when it was rumored the Hollywood star was taking off her Moon boots and slipping into Manolos further down the security line. Camera men abandoned their post; CEOs craned their necks. Even the Swiss guard in charge of checking participants' badges lost his cool for a few seconds.

Sadly, it turned out to be a false alert.
Moonbats sporting moon boots. How appropriate. I wanted to attend the event, but I couldn't afford to go, and with security so tight, I doubt I am glamorous enough to gain admittance.

Appropriately, this year's theme is "The Creative Imperative":
Business leaders from around the world are in Davos, Switzerland this week for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. As in past years, the challenges of an increasingly global world economy are on the agenda. The theme of this year's conference is the role of "The Creative Imperative" in addressing those challenges.

The annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is an occasion for business and political leaders to examine global trends in economics and development. Security is tight due to concerns that anti-globalization advocates could try to disrupt the meetings. But in recent years organizers have attempted to address opposing views. And this year, participants will be discussing creativity and innovation as critical components of sustainable development.

[..] Economists and business leaders typically deal with issues involving competition for finite resources. That is why it is unusual that this week in Davos they are discussing the role of creativity - a resource that really has no limits.
Hate also has no limits. Via The Last Amazon, from Ynet news:
The few Israelis who arrived Tuesday at the Swiss ski-resort town of Davos to attend the World Economic Forum, an annual meeting of approximately 2,500 business leaders, were in for a bitter surprise: A scathing and malicious article blasting Israel was included in a special booklet handed out to all the conference's attendees.

The article calls on its readers to boycott Israel and compares Zionism to the most radical forms of racism.

The booklet, titled "Global Agenda," bears the logo of the World Economic Forum and includes an introduction written by the conference organizers. It appears to be an official publication of the World Economic Forum and is included in every file handed out to conference participants. It is also distributed at the Zurich Airport and at Swiss hotels.

The booklet includes an unusually harsh article written by Mazin Qumsiyeh, a lecturer at a number of American universities, titled "Boycott Israel."

The article includes an unequivocal call to establish a global movement against Zionism and a global movement against the "Israeli apartheid", as well as anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic remarks and threats, the likes of which are usually published in marginal magazines in the West or by radical Islamists.

[..] The same booklet contains dozens of articles by state leaders, economists, philosophers and CEO's with an international reputation, including articles by Russia's president, Pakistan's president and dozens of Jewish public figures, who were apparently unaware of the fact that they appear on Qumsiyeh's list.

Although the booklet notes that the articles reflect the opinions and views of their writers and not necessarily those of the publishers, none of the conference's participants were under the impression the forum did not give its approval and blessing to the publication.

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Civilization, or what passes for it these days

From Owls Aren't Wise:

There was a time when civilisation was recognised as an enormous benefit, an unquestionable 'good', something that could never be doubted.

Anyway, thirty or so years ago there was a bit of a mess, a bit of a scandal, and our good friend 'civilisation' disappeared into obscurity and retirement, presummably leading a quiet life of pained silence and genteel poverty.

What was the essence of the scandal?

Well, after the second Great War, when we were finally sold via state penury into slavery, civilisation was reduced from the state of 'being civilised', ie describing a society worldwide that respected its constituent individuals, to merely being a referent to a degree of non-murderousness that distinguished us from Pol Pot or Ho Chi Min or Mao Tse Tung or Stalin or Hitler.
… and more, the two types of people in charge of postmodern civilization, and the people who choose between them.

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Election night grub

According to the authorities, I lied in an earlier post concerning the quality of food consumed during election night. I repent by reproducing the actual menu:

Bug and Bark Delight

2 Handfuls Pine Bark Beetles
4 Handfuls Pine Bark

Mix in a bowl, and try to eat the bugs before they crawl out the bowl.

This meal is an excellent dietary source of cellulose and chitin, both essential for your athletic colon. The natives of Tasmania who live on this stuff, have never reported a death caused by old age.

Mush

2 Cups Oatmeal
1 gallon water
2 Cups Canadian Bran
1 bag frozen peas

Boil until foamy. Stir in bran and peas. Let cool into a slurry and serve in an old boot and have everyone eat with a communal spoon.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

London federal election results

London North Centre:

London West:

London Fanshawe:


Thanks…

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Understanding Joe Fontana

The Specs:

Joe Fontana Liberal

Age: 56

Occupation: Five-term MP, former insurance broker and 10-year city hall politician.

Campaign: Federal labour minister, he went on the offensive for much of the campaign, defending his party's scandal-ridden government and focused on his own work for the riding as a 17-year MP.
Canadian Taxpayers Federation reports:
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) today released a list of projected pension and severance payments to be paid to 66 MPs who were either defeated in the January 23rd general election or resigned prior to the vote. Defeated or retiring MPs will collect a grand total of over $74-million in cumulative pension payments. (Annual pension payments total approximately $3.3-million in today’s dollars.) In addition, another $2.6-million in severance cheques will be issued to former MPs. The pension and severance calculations for individual MPs are available at www.taxpayer.com.

“Defeated and retiring members will win financially thanks to a gold-plated pension plan and rich severance payments for parliamentarians,” said CTF federal director John Williamson. “Shed no tears for retiring or defeated MPs. They are being well looked after by Canadian taxpayers.”

The biggest annual pension winners – the $100,000-plus club – include Liberal MPs Ethel Blondin-Andrew at $137,820; Don Boudria at $135,906; David Anderson at $114,600; Marlene Catterall at $109,408; Beth Phinney at $102,308; and Anne McLellan at $100,132. Independent David Kilgour rings in at $128,228. Cumulative pensions that will exceed $3-million will be paid to Liberals Ethel Blondin-Andrew, Don Boudria, Tony Valeri, and Paddy Torsney. Please see CTF calculations for the list of those MPs that will receive cumulative pensions in excess of $2-million and $1-million.

[..] Defeated or retiring MPs are eligible to collect a pension at age 55 if they have served at least 6 years in the House of Commons. MPs who have not served the minimum years and receive no pension collect a severance equal to 50 per cent of 2005 member indemnity. Former MPs who are eligible for a pension but have not reached the age of 55 are also entitled to a severance. If a member turns 55 years old within 6 months of being eligible for a pension, a reduced severance cheque is paid to them. Lump sum severance payments range from a low of $34,012 and a high of $106,750.
Reminder to voters contributing $1.75 to registered parties receiving 2% or more of the vote: Joe Fontana won his riding.

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CBC breaks the publication ban

Via Nealenews, the gag order in effect last night was broken by none other than the CBC.

A media blackout that makes it illegal to publish early election tallies wasn't enough to stop the CBC from broadcasting results for all the world to hear more than two hours before all polls were closed.

Anyone who tuned into the Radio Canada International radio feed last night got a sneak peek at election results from Atlantic Canada. It didn't take long for bloggers, who were busy trolling the Internet as they waited for the ban to be lifted, to figure out that it was possible to get an early play-by-play of the election results.

"It appears the CBC is breaking its own election ban," wrote a blogger called Londoner at www.smalldeadanimals.com.

By 7:30 p.m. ET, a full two hours before it was legal to publish results, the CBC declared four Liberals had been re-elected and three Conservatives were in the lead.

[..] The hosts interviewed a jubilant Liberal Gerry Byrne, who was re-elected in Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte.

"I'm feeling great; I've got the energy of a great group of volunteers," Mr. Byrne declared at about 7:40 p.m. "I'm tired, but I'm pumped."

The broadcast feed stopped suddenly just before 8 p.m. ET.
No, I regret to say it was not a member of the London Fog who exposed the CBC. How will Elections Canada deal with this corrupt public corporation? Who should be arrested and who jailed? Public ownership implies collective responsibility, so all should pay the price for such deviance. Paul Martin should stick around to investigate.

If Elections Canada were really interested in enforcing this archaic law, why not suspend the release of the poll results locally? I suppose internet filters like they have in China are more appealing.

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And that little matter of the budget…

In another development reported in the London Free Press, it turns out that council's much-ballyhooed plans to deliver a property tax increase of three per cent in an election year are predicated on shifting the tax burden to businesses and the unguaranteed approval of the provincial government:

Plans by London council to deliver a tax hike below three per cent could be dashed unless Queen's Park allows the shifting of taxes from homeowners to business, Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell warns. Without provincial intervention the city is seeking, a tax hike projected at 3.2 per cent for homeowners would rise an extra 1.43 per cent. The reason for the added whammy is this: city homes have increased in value the last two years by more than twice as much as commercial and industrial properties.

"That extra 1.43 per cent is worrisome," Gosnell said. The deputy mayor is one of several council members who have called for a tax hike below three per cent, which they believe would keep an increase in line with the inflationary cost of living.

That goal will be difficult to achieve if the projected tax rises to more than 4.6 per cent.
Before this article appeared, the average Londoner may have been gulled into thinking that an increase in the property tax rate of three per cent after two years of 5.9 and 5.3 per cent was the result of a trifling of fiscal restraint. Not so, as it happens — a smaller tax increase would be the result of redistributing the burden of increased spending to businesses, as though businesses do not pass along those costs through higher prices, lower wages, or reduced investment. In an election year, however, the strategy is compelling because many voters fail to recognize the impact on their own financial expectations or the association with increased business taxes. That extra 1.43 per cent is worrisome — to re-election prospects!
City treasurer Mike St. Amant said he's hopeful, but not entirely confident the province would allow the tax shift. Without the change, this is how much more or less property classes would pay:
  • Homeowners would pay 1.43 per cent more.
  • Owners of multi-residential buildings would pay 5.1 per cent more.
  • Owners of office buildings would pay 16.3 per cent less and those of shopping centres 11.8 per cent less.
  • Large industry would pay 10.1 per cent less; other industry would pay 2.1 per cent less.
  • Commercial owners would pay 1.8 per cent less.

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There is news in London after a federal election

In a glass-half-full development, the London Free Press reports that, after an unusual second public hearing contrived to seek spurious objections to a proposed Home Depot near Clarke Rd. and Dundas St., the planning committee has approved construction — presumably for good this time, as long as the city indulges the pretence that investors might perceive a line between arbitrary political obstruction and disinterested arbitration. Why the city has such authority over private property and private interests in the first place is the relevant question.

In a less equivocally positive development, the same article reports that a motion for council to reconsider a legal appeal — of the Ontario Municipal Board's recent order to replace London's seven two-councillor wards with fourteen smaller single-councillor wards — was defeated without discussion. Whether a court would be inclined to overturn an OMB ruling is debatable, especially when the argument against it is substantially not much more than the OMB's appalling bad judgment, but I applaud every possible action against it.

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A nation of proletariats

After watching several hours of election night coverage with the London Fog and friends, I can now honestly say I have reached my political tolerance limit. I've said this before no doubt, but there were so many commies on display last night, that I've had my fill for a while and so I'll postpone my planned reading of "The Black Book of Communism" for at least a week. Although many of us gathered together last night declined to vote, for various reasons, the general hope was that the Conservatives would win the election, preferably with a majority. A pessimist by nature, but resigned to the reality that one of the parties had to win, I too hoped that a Conservative government might mean further exposure of Liberal corruption and jail time for prominent Liberal crooks. I was also fantasizing about a parliament free of Jack Layton and Paul Martin, the Social Champions of Families and Minorities.

The smokers all left the room to have a cigarette during Belinda Stronach's speech - as Mike so eloquently put it, I'd rather lose ten minutes off my life than listen to this broad - but returned shortly in order to see Paul Martin's losing speech. The unbelievable statement by Martin that the Liberals "turned around the nation's finances and restored confidence to a country that was nearly broken" was hard enough to endure, even if the Party did lose, but the following utterance had me leaving the room for another smoke.

Martin said these words in French, so I'm quoting from the CBC translator that sounded almost exactly like Vincent Price:

"We should be proud of everything that we've achieved together. We have given Canadians the best economic performance in its history.

[stupid Liberal baton things waving around and much clapping]

We have inherited a country in difficultly and we've turned it around.

We set up the necessary social foundations to ensure that the collective wealth be fairly distributed."

Good riddance to bad trash.

Having had too many cigarettes at this point, and another glass of wine in my system, I did watch Jack Layton's entire speech. As he doesn't vary the rhetoric too often, there is nothing really memorable about Jack Layton's promises to working families and children, except for the resounding chorus of boos from the NDP room upon mention of Stephen Harper. Even the Liberals were gracious enough to clap when Paul Martin expressed his obligatory thank you to the other leaders. Apparently, I am not the only one who finds this troubling.

And on the subject of trash and theft, did anyone else wonder why Svend Robinson's riding was the very last riding in BC reporting any polls? Maybe someone got stressed out and started stealing ballot boxes?

On the other hand, this guy might be fun to watch:
Outspoken Quebec City radio personality André Arthur has been elected as the single Independent MP, representing the riding of Pontneuf-Jacques-Cartier.

[..] Arthur told CBC News that he is ready to be a "common-sense" voice for his constituents in Ottawa.

"I think it's quite a challenge, and I think that all things considered, this is quite fun," the 62-year-old said.

During the campaign, he said, members of the public told him "how fed up they are with rotten politics, and the disrespect they get from the political parties."

Throughout his radio career, Arthur had been the target of several defamation lawsuits, as well as reprimands from the country's broadcast regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

In 2004, he was included in the reasoning for the CRTC's decision to deny the licence renewal of radio station CHOI-FM. The CRTC cited offensive on-air remarks, including Arthur's statement that international students at Laval University were the children of wealthy "plunderers" and "cannibals" from the Third World.

After the results were announced Monday evening, the federalist Arthur told reporters he would not censor himself just because he was headed to the House of Commons.

"At 62, you don't change," he said, according to the Montreal Gazette.

In addition to his duties as an MP, Arthur said he also plans to keep his job as a part-time bus driver and may even look for another gig in radio.

"I think that any member of Parliament should have a real job," he told CBC News. "Maybe if they all had a real job, they would less sound like Martians when we listen to them."
Update: Jay Jardine has a keen eye. More on the delay in Svend's riding:
"There was a massive turnout," said Vancouver Centre Liberal MP Hedy Fry, appearing on CTV's Canada AM Tuesday.

Her riding was the last in the country to report its results due to an influx of voters that lasted well beyond polling times.

"People were waiting outside the polling station long after the polling station was supposed to be closed," she said. "The station had to remain open to allow them to vote."

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Critical post-election analysis…

… from Damian Penny, Top 10 reasons the Marijuana Party of Canada didn't win any seats:

10. Spent the entire campaign budget on Doritos
9. Candidates couldn't stop giggling when they realized how much "election" sounds like "erection"
8. Supporters wasted all of election day watching the Chappelle Show marathon on the Comedy network
7. Actually, it turned out to be the Home Shopping Channel, but by the time they realized their mistake the polls had closed
6. Didn't spend enough time campaigning in Toronto
5. Spent too much time campaigning in Amsterdam
4. Most leading economists felt that their position on the so-called federal-provincial "fiscal imbalance" relied on outdated data and dubious macroeconomic theories, and was simply a blatant bid to bribe voters in key Quebec ridings, dude
3. I don't know, but I'm sure George W. Bush had something to do with it
2. Voters confused "Marijuana Party of Canada" for "Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada", which explains the massive Marxist-Leninist tide that swept the country yesterday
1. Most Canadians whose brains and common sense had been completely destroyed by mind-altering drugs voted Liberal

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Graphic by Paul Canniff, via Andrew Coyne

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Don't vote -- stand up for social programs!

I'm with Map and Lisa. I didn't vote. Here in Canada, a vote is equivalent to a cash donation to the Socialist Party of $1.75 per vote per annum. That's right -- if you vote in Canada, the Party gets an involuntary donation from taxpayers.

Well, I'd rather burn it, or let someone of my own choice send it up in smoke.

Why should criminals and gangsters have to wait for my $1.75 to be filtered through the hands of the bureaucracy and their Party? And why should those criminals and gangsters be of a class chosen exclusively by the Party?

So, instead of tossing another $1.75 into Al Gretzky's begging bowl, I'll be carrying around an extra buck-and-three-fourths for the next downtown London drug addict or alcoholic who asks me for change.

Let the people decide on the services that best satisfy their own needs. Some will choose crack, some crystal methamphetamine, some alcohol. Some may choose tobacco, LSD, or cannabis, or perhaps the services of a prostitute. Some will tuck it away, saving it for a rainy day heroin-fest.

When the choice is between the ravages of socialized medicine with "equalization" payments, versus hard drugs, a good citizen will promote hard drug use every time. Putting our collective resources towards grass roots methamphetamine binges is among the least harmful social programs imaginable for our communities and our children.

I plan to continue this non-voting policy until the Party leader promises that my $1.75 will be left free to go towards the hard drug needs of the homeless and jobless instead of being wasted on the promotion of a destructive socialist agenda.

The most important thing is choice.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Another day at the ballot box

The deciding factor in my vote today was not policies, personalities or preferences. I am guardedly optimistic about the prospect of a Conservative government in Canada, although the sentiment derives at least as much as anything by comparison with the alternatives. May they, should they form the government, restore to Canadians some of the means by which people can govern their own future. Nevertheless, I cast a ballot for "none of the above" simply because I will not be an accomplice to the expropriation of other citizens' funds to subsidize the expression of political viewpoints thay they may not hold — by means of a $1.75 per vote "allowance" to political parties. As repugnant as the suppression of free speech is compelled speech by which people are forced to support ideas with which they disagree. It may seem a small matter, but I cannot claim, nor ever will, the conviction that my partisan preferences are worthy of obliging anyone or everyone else to bankroll them. By such devices do the unprincipled govern the principled. By such devices the principled are disarmed.

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Just in time for Election Day!

Arrived in my mailbox today:

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Political Parties' Hidden Agendas

Mondo Politico today announces the 2006 Guide to Canada's Federal Political Parties, available online, in pdf format here.

"This guide is designed for those Canadians who are looking for a single, convenient summary of what each political party is like", says the guide's author, Paul McKeever. "I say like because this guide is not a summary of each political party’s 2006 election platform.

"Sometimes, the messenger is the real message. The intent of this guide is to pull away some of the packaging in which political parties might try to conceal their true nature and agendas for public consumption during election periods. You will here find out more about the character and ideologies of the parties than about their current election promises."

Mondo Politico's guide is free. "Free is $1.75 less than the annual cost of a ballot in Canadian federal elections" adds McKeever, who says he wishes those prices were the other way around. "To say the least, these are strange days indeed. It now costs more to vote than to find out about what you are voting for."

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

I vote for none of the above on January 23rd

I'm not voting on Monday. I meant to go to the advance polls to express my scorn, but it was cold and so I couldn't be bothered to leave my home. However, I'll join the cattle this Monday so my vote for "none of the above" is taken into consideration by voting clerks with instructions to file dissident opinions under g.

Disaffected and angry voters, take note: spoiling your ballot is a crime.

There's no legal way to express disgust for politics via the ballot, whether by scribbling on it, writing obscenities, or drawing pictures.

According to section 167(2)(a) of the Canada Elections Act, "no person shall wilfully alter, deface or destroy a ballot." Conviction could bring a $500 fine or three months in jail -- even though the chances of getting caught are effectively nil.

Nil, that is, unless the spoiler wants to make a show of the protest -- by eating the ballot, for example.
I might almost have been persuaded to compromise my principles and vote this time around, as it would give me great pleasure to see the Liberal swine kicked out of parliament completely, if only there were a federal party willing to Stand up for the Rights of Individuals. Not so and not possible.

From the Conservative Party's Platform:
The plan

A Conservative government will:

• End house arrests and ensure mandatory minimum prison sentences and large monetary fines for serious drug offenders, including marijuana grow operators and producers and dealers of crystal meth and crack.

• Prevent the decriminalization of marijuana.

• Make precursor chemicals of crystal meth, such as pseudoephedrine, harder to get.

• Introduce a national drug strategy with particular emphasis on youth. This strategy will encompass all drugs, not just marijuana, in implementing a nationwide awareness campaign to dissuade young people from using drugs.

• Expedite deportation of non-citizens convicted of drug trafficking, drug importation, or running grow operations.
Pot smokers in Canada are the reason for the gun firing season, according to statists combating statists. A common problem with those on the 'right' who might otherwise advocate personal liberty is a failure to understand that the government has no right breaking down the doors of those who engage in behaviours classified as 'harmful' unless those individuals are actually violating the rights of others. Because 'society' apparently disapproves of somebody smoking a joint, the state keeps filling the jails with 'social deviants' while the real criminals, that is, those violating the property rights of other people, run free.

I do hope the views of Sam Goldstein, Conservative candidate for the riding of Trinity-Spadina in Toronto, are not strongly held throughout the party. At a local candidates debate, Goldstein has this to say about the legalization of marijuana:
Pointing a menacing finger at the crowd, he chastised them for wanting candidates to control gun crime in their city, while wanting to legalize a drug that was causing the gang warfare on their streets.
"You are supporting gang violence in this city!" he roared. The crowd erupted in anger, shaking their fists as he continued to vent his disgust.
It cannot be repeated enough times: if the use and distribution of marijuana was legal and unregulated, the crime now associated with the plant would sharply decrease. If people were allowed to grow marijuana legally, the 'dangerous' grow houses would no longer be a problem - people could grow it in their backyard or purchase it from a producer no longer forced to confine the operation to a house not designed for such an undertaking. The state has NO business banning personal lifestyle choices. If someone commits a crime, who happens to be on drugs, they should be charged, but only for the crime they have committed. Crime won't go away with or without drug laws, but if the police spent more time protecting people's essential rights rather than violating them, my bet is the streets would be a bit safer.

The Liberal government's plan to decriminalize marijuana is is a thinly disguised revenue raiser, and would likely lead to other state programs, like maybe RIDE programs designed to catch stoned drivers. Toni Ianno, from the same debate attended by Stan Goldstein, and on the same subject:
He mentioned his support for his party's proposed decriminalization of marijuana, then added something about how pot would obviously become an alternative to drinking, so we'd have to figure out "how to ensure if people are smoking that they're driving safely."
Regretably, many pot activists these days are an embarrasment and a hindrance to those trying to fight governmental interference into the lives of peaceful individuals. Throwing support to the 'George Bush is Evil' crowd that promise they'll fight for your right to smoke weed will come only with a whole bunch more social programs and property violations designed to MAKE you and KEEP you healthy.

I cannot cast a vote for a party that promises to maintain the current system of entitlements and infringements. Nanny laws affect us all. For example, the crystal meth scare invented by the media is also affecting people not at all interested in making meth. Allergy and cold sufferers now face restricted access to medications containing ingredients that can be used to make crystal meth. Individuals desiring fast food in the future will have to pass the weight test before they are permitted to enter the restaurant and place their order.
Corner stores and grocery stores without pharmacies across Canada have been ordered to stop selling a wide range of cold and allergy medications because they contain active ingredients that can be used to make the street drug crystal meth.

The ban, which takes effect on April 10, does not apply to pharmacies. But some of the strongest cold and allergy medications -- those most in demand by clandestine drug labs -- will be moved behind the counter and not be available without consulting a pharmacist.

"The idea is to balance the availability of these products with the risk of retail diversion for illicit purposes," said Ken Potvin, executive director of the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities, a group that effectively decides where prescription and non-prescription drugs can be sold.

"We think the public will understand this small inconvenience."

[..] In the United States, where commercial supplies have been choked off, it is much more common to find home labs that make speed in small quantities using cold and allergy medications bought or stolen from retail stores.

Mr. Harrington said that only three dozen home meth labs were found in Canada in the past five years. The number for the United States in that period is 10,000.

"This is a knee-jerk response to an American problem," he said. But he said what was most concerning was the precedent of NAPRA -- a group whose primary concern is supposed to be the pharmacological safety of drugs -- wading into law enforcement and losing sight of the fact that the vast majority of consumers use these drugs responsibly and legitimately.
Why not at least allow a free vote Mr. Harper?

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Oblique pre-election quote

Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
— C.S. Lewis, 1952, Mere Christianity
From Quotes to Vote By at Celestial Junk.

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Publius sings Barry McGuire's greatest hits

[Ed. note: In response to spurious complaints that one Publius has been overrepresented on the London Fog, the editors have decided to indulge the other Publius at the expense of five minutes of html coding.]

Publius at Gods of the Copybook Headings reviews the regional redistribution of political power in Canada in the past few years leading up to his cautious anticipation of a Conservative government after the crumbling of Mulroney's regional coalition-building in another of his excellent historical analyses.

It looks good people. We got here in a round about way, as usually, and unfortunately, happens in history. Maybe this time we can get past the regional bickering, OK maybe not, but a little less this time around. The West wants in, now it is in, if only at the threshold and by no means comfortable in its new role or with its history in Canada. One word to our Albertan friends, beware what Talleyrand is suppose to have said about the Bourbons when they were restored after Napoleon's fall, they forget nothing and learned nothing. If you behave as Ontario behaved in the past this process will merely repeat itself, and trust me ladies and gentlemen, Ontario only looks boring and placid. We can be quite vicious and they're are still more of us than there are of you. In the not so distant future Ontario might have half the population of Canada. Do remember that. No one here will forget it, be sure.
Read the whole thing here…

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