Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy Saskatoon issues official statement

Occupy Saskatoon issues official statement

In addition to economic inequality and corporate influence on politics, the statement acknowledged the struggle of First Nations people.

They forgot to mention "union influence on politics", but then again, maybe it was an omission on purpose.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Privatizing potash was a costly mistake

Privatizing potash was a costly mistake |

In researching provincial debt in Saskatchewan during the Devine days, I came across the above article on

While I wouldn't normally send readers to rabble, nor would I view rabble as a place to receive good economic information, it interested me as to what the author's reasons were that privatizing Potash Corp was a mistake.

After sifting through her reasoning, it comes down to one fact:

PCS was privatized for $630 million in the 80's. BHP Billiton offered $38 Billion last year for PCS.

Now granted, this is typical socialist thinking - assuming that the difference between the two numbers means that the people should have got more for PCS back then, and if not, then it's a subsidy or a handout.

The problem with this line of thinking is that PCS ran for over 2 decades post-privatization as a private company. It purged its operations of political appointees. It adopted a growth strategy that didn't depend on taking the most risk adverse approach possible. In short, it made sound investments, and the management of the company did so with the best interests of the shareholders in mind, not necessarily the government of Saskatchewan or the individual's job. She also missed the point that because the privatization was made via an IPO open only to residents of Saskatchewan, there could be residents of Saskatchewan still holding their shares from that time. If that's the case, then those people most assuredly would have reaped the benefit of the company's growth in the takeover bid. One thing I know for sure though, because of that privatization, the province reaped more in taxes and royalties over the past 2 decades than they would have had the government kept it as a Crown corporation - even taking a dividend to the province into account.

This is especially fitting considering one of the major themes of this campaign (and the NDP's biggest plank) is that they would pay for all their promised expenditures by messing with Potash Corp and the potash industry and taking more money out of the companies - money that would otherwise be used to expand operations and provide immediate and future benefits to the province.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The 90%ers are laughing at you

Some strong language at the end. Viewer discretion is advised. H/T Charles Adler on Facebook.

Monday, October 24, 2011

FSIN calls for Ottenbreit ousting

FSIN calls for Ottenbreit ousting

Better yet - here's another idea.

Why don't we let the voters decide who they will or will not support?

After all, there's a reason why Jim Pankiw hasn't held office for almost a decade (and 4 Federal elections).

With all due respect to the FSIN, resource revenues belong to ALL of the people of the province, not just a small percentage of it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Occupy Movement summary

The most coherent summary of the Occupy movement I've seen to date.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 | Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Wondered what the cost of all those promises would be if each party were elected? Wonder no more.

This is a link to the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation post that tallies each party's promises as they are announced.

It will be interesting to see what the end tally will be. The Liberal Party's platform is intriguing in that it promises a decrease in spending of $1 billion per year, however, it is silent on what happens when surpluses surpass the 50% of the royalty revenue going to the sovereign fund. Do the resource companies get a cut in their royalty rates? Do the taxpayers get tax cuts? Do corporations get tax cuts? Also, why, when the budget is balanced currently, are there no tax cuts despite a concerted effort to cut spending? Why give future governments the opportunity to reverse those spending cuts without expending a huge amount of political capital to do so.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Weekend roundup

I didn't post over the weekend for various reasons.  I was away from home.  I had commitments to make, in short, I had life.  Turns out that I didn't need to post, because the announcement on Friday made me okay "Oop, there it is.  THERE is the NDP everyone knows and most hate".

The NDP promised rent control on Friday.  Then they promised a Tuition freeze for post-secondary students and more money for more training spaces.  Then they promised more money for all seniors except those that are in subsidized housing.  Today, they promised 10000 subsidized day care spaces, capping fees.

The Saskatchewan Party countered by... uhhhh.... adding to the subsidy for seniors in personal care homes, adding to the allowance for disabled persons and extending that allowance to those living on their own.  Today they announced a plan to forgive student loans for doctors and nurse practitioners who live and work in rural and northern communities.

The whole campaign is shaping up to be a campaign of big spender vs "I'm not going to buy your votes".  If you believe the Sask Party, the NDP has racked up $2.4 Billion in new spending.  I guess we'll have to wait and see what their costed platform looks like, but one thing I do know... the NDP can't continue to make these big announcements - at some point, even the average person won't believe that royalties will cover off all that spending.

The other question to ask the NDP is what they're going to do when the royalties dry up.  It should come as no surprise that prices rise and fall, and at some point, there will be a shortfall.  Will they retract all those promises, or will they just spend us into oblivion?  I guess it remains to be seen.

Saskatoon's United cabs and Blueline taxis accused of breaking law

Saskatoon's United cabs and Blueline taxis accused of breaking law

On November 15 the CAW will press the issue further by collecting the names of all the non-unionized drivers, putting their name in a hat and randomly drawing 10 names.

The union will notify the cab companies of those names and offer them a choice, obey the Trade Union Act or face termination.
If you have to resort to extortion to get your way, chances are you're on the wrong side of the issue.

I sincerely hope that these cab drivers take this to court, and would gladly pay into a defense fund to have them take it to the Supreme Court. The right to associate should always include the inverse - the right not to associate, and I believe that this right is being taken away by forced participation in unions.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 3: Tax cuts and tax credits

The big news on Day 3 was the announcement from the NDP that if elected, they would drop the small business tax rate to 9%.  They also announced that they would do a deal with First Nations to give them a portion of resource revenues.

The SaskParty countered by offering a tax credit for first time homebuyers and resoundingly rejecting a special deal for anyone on resource royalties.

With respect to the NDP's tax cut proposal, I really have no problems with it.  As a small business owner, I would benefit from it - assuming they actually do what they say they would do.  From that perspective, I would welcome it.  In fact, I would encourage Mr. Wall to make it happen if he wins the election anyways.

With respect to the First Nations Resource deal, I would agree with the Sask Party position - resource royalties are for the benefit of ALL of the residents of the province, regardless of the colour of your skin or how your ancestors got to Saskatchewan.  First Nations benefit in a variety of ways from the royalties flowing into the provincial coffers, not the least of which is through the building of roads and infrastructure, jobs in the sectors devoted to extracting the resources, and extra resources for schooling and social work.  Why should they take a larger piece of the pie just because of their ancestry?

The SaskParty's proposal just piggy backs on the federal credit introduced 2 years ago to encourage home ownership.  I don't necessarily agree that the government has a role in encouraging one form of shelter over another, but this proposal will not be costly, and so it continues their week of making it look like they aren't trying to compete with the NDP on a vote buy.

All in all, the big winners of the day seem to be taxpayers.

There are no real losers other than the people left paying for the NDP's proposals.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Choose not to be part of the 99%

I have a mortgage, consumer debt and 2 investment loans.  My total debt roughly equals my total assets.  I have a career job that I bought, and I will be at that job for life.

I have made some good choices in life.  I've made some bad choices in life.  The fact of the matter is that I choose not to be part of the 99% not because I'm exceedingly wealthy or privileged, it's because I knew what I was getting into when I made all of those choices.  I weighed the risks and the rewards, and I understand that if even 80% of those decisions come out as good, I will be immensely successful in life.  I also am not part of the 99% because I don't believe in protesting or making someone else pay for the choices I've made in my life.  It's about personal responsibility and owning my decisions, good or bad.

In essence folks, it's about growing up.  This is my story.  I'm not putting it in a picture, because that's lame and it's being done to death.

Spend Spend Spend

The NDP promises a suite of Health care goodies, including opening a bunch of "community health clinics" across the province and staffing them with nurses and nurse practitioners.  They also promise "access" to dental care for kids between 5 to 12.

The SaskParty's announcement was to extend the Active Families benefit to 18 year olds from it's existing 16(ish) and also to extend the PST exemption on clothing to the same.

The Sask Party's proposal is very affordable, and simplifies life in that I don't have to try to remember the different ages when things kick in or kick out.  The NDP's proposal is attempting to reverse cuts that were made in the past, but only half-assing it.  It would appear that the NDP are proposing to bring back the in school dentist in elementary school - a proposal that Devine cut in the mid 80s.  It would also appear that the NDP is trying to reverse all their rural hospital closures from the 90s, an austerity measure at the time.  All I know is that the NDP proposals are going to add some serious money to the health care budget of the province in order to make sure that there is a "hospital" accessible to everyone.  The problem is that in 20 years, we'll be complaining that there aren't enough Nurse Practitioners that want to practice in rural Saskatchewan, and the cycle will perpetuate itself.

Kudos to the NDP for putting forth a proposal to solve a problem though.

Winners: Health Care Bureaucracy, Unions
Losers: Taxpayers that actually have to fund the NDPs proposal.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 1: Bright Futures and buying off the electorate

The first real day of the campaign, and we have two distinct policy announcements.

The SK Party started off their campaign with something of a noodle scratcher, while the NDP decided that the electorate likes being overtaxed and promises to guarantee it.

The SK Party's promise on Day 1 was $500 per year for high school graduates who go on to post-secondary.  You know, to help with tuition or some such.  While this was met with puzzlement by reporters and students, wanting all the details right away, what is clear is one thing: The SK Party thinks that by doing this, by putting money into the hands of the student (or their parent, is there really a difference) they can shut up the whining about tuition increases.  My thought on tuition increases has been well documented throughout the years, but the refresher is that they should happen, they should be regular, in fact, universities should be charging full cost to students - no subsidies from the province.  This is a loser proposal because the students are still going to whine, and that lets the NDP whine.

The NDP promise on Day 1 was a Bright Futures fund, fully funded by your tax dollars.  The details are simple - the government will put away and invest $100 million per year into a fund that can't be touched for at least 20 years.  The "Dividends" from the fund can be used for capital projects starting after year 10.  Mr. Lingenfelter tells us that it should grow to $10 Billion by 2050 or so.  First the math: In order for it to get to that magical $10 Billion, it has to average 4.25% over the next 40 years or so, and that's assuming no future governments will raid the investment income for their pet projects.  Second, the morals: Some reporters on the radio were liking this idea, likening it to the normal household which has and makes debt repayments, but also has money in savings for the future.  The problem with that line of thinking is that governments AREN'T A NORMAL HOUSEHOLD.  "Savings" for a government is overtaxation, pure and simple.  This proposal creates a big ol' slush fund that all future governments can raid at will to fund their big expansive projects that they have no business funding.  No Thanks.  Want my vote Dwain?  Promise to legislate a payment on the debt of $100 million per year and then give me my money back so that I can invest it for my own Bright Future.

You will notice that I'm not going to cover the Liberals too much this election.  The reasoning is simple - they're running about as many candidates as the Progressive Conservatives, and it will come to virtually the same effect.  I'd love to see a true free enterprise party compete (and a fellow blogger tells me that that's what the Liberals are), but in reality the Liberals became toxic when they joined the minority NDP in '99.  I'll still review their platform and add it to the future roundup, but for all intents and purposes, this is a two horse race in Saskatchewan.

Winner for the day:  Students
Loser for the day: Taxpayers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Teaching Basic Economics to Fifth Graders - Arthur Foulkes - Mises Daily

Teaching Basic Economics to Fifth Graders - Arthur Foulkes - Mises Daily

"But when are you going to get to the economics?"

It was the end of my first day volunteering to teach "basic economics" to a group of fifth graders. The teacher looked bemused as she asked the question.

"That's what I'm doing," I whispered a little curtly in reply.

Realizing her offense, she quickly explained her meaning: "You know, with all the graphs and big words and stuff."

I realized this teacher was under the common misperception (perpetuated by most economics professors) that economics is about math, models, and strange lands where a complete lack of real competition is called "perfect competition" and it is possible to visualize (and measure) human happiness using "utility curves."

But I had no intention of subjecting these students to economics of this sort. My goal was far more ambitious. I wanted to show them that economics stems from ordinary human behavior in the real world we face every day. So here is what we did.

My approach was painfully modest. I simply introduced the students to one economic concept per week.

A little something to help the NDP over the next month or so... Read it all.

BTW - it also helps those in the OccupyPlaces movement... at least I think it might...

Saskatchewan politicians hit campaign trail;

Saskatchewan politicians hit campaign trail; public to vote Nov. 7

And now, a word from a legend in his field...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Will Conservatives make liberal cuts to the CBC?

Will Conservatives make liberal cuts to the CBC?

CBC by the numbers

- $1.16 billion — Federal funding for 2010/2011

- $650 million — Advertising and other revenues

- 64 % — Percentage of CBC revenues from taxpayers

- 7,285 — Full-time employees, CBC and Radio-Canada

- "At least 5%" and "at least 10 %" — two budget cut scenarios being prepared by CBC

- 7.5 million — Number of unique visitors, per month, to CBC and Radio-Canada websites

- 1 million — CBC audio podcasts downloaded per month

- 82 % — proportion of Canadian content on CBC and Radio-Canada prime-time schedule

- 9.3 % — CBC prime-time audience share, English Canada

- 20 % — Radio-Canada prime-time audience share, French Canada

- 75 — number of years, in 2011, since the creation of the CBC in 1936

- 14.7 % — CBC radio audience share (Radio 1 plus Radio 2)

- 19.5 % — Radio-Canada radio audience share (Premiere Chaine plus Espace musique)

Source: CBC

My only question when seeing these CBC provided stats, is why aren't they showing 100% Canadian Content on a government funded broadcaster?

Why is the Canadian public paying over $1 billion for a broadcaster that doesn't solely show Canadian Content?

Advice for the 99% movement

Just a taste of the absurdity of the OccupyWallSt movement.

I'm a college senior with $40K of debt. There are no jobs in my feild. My toughest decision now is whether to sell drugs or my body. I am the 99 percent.

Read it all here

Happy Thanksgiving everyone

h/t SDA

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pasta processing plant coming to Regina

CTV Saskatchewan - Pasta processing plant coming to Regina - CTV News

It never fails to amaze me how quickly the free market moves to fill in gaps when needless regulations are removed. It never failed to amaze me how the province(s) that produce the best milling durum in the world didn't have a processing plant to turn that durum into pasta.

There was a movement about a decade or more ago to put a pasta plant in southern Saskatchewan. The movement even went so far as to get thousands of farmers to pay a couple hundred dollars each to become members of a New Generation co-op. That movement had met with a pasta producer across the line in North Dakota and had formed agreements to build a plant on the prairies.

That movement was shut down by the Wheat Board for no other reason than to protect the poor farmers from themselves and those greedy industrialists. I'm happy that at the end of the day, common sense won out and some of that durum is being processed where it's produced. Let's hope this is the start of many more announcements like this.