Tuesday, December 23, 2008
PM had 'no choice' but to appoint senators: Greene Raine: "In a release, Harper said all incoming senators had promised to support eight-year term limits and other Senate-reform legislation. Harper said he made the appointments at this time to prevent a potential Liberal-NDP coalition government from getting the opportunity to fill the seats."
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Posted By SUN MEDIA
Posted 2 mins ago
The politics of protest works just fine in Ontario, especially if it's done over a keyboard.
After the announcement backing off on some restrictions planned for young drivers, we now know which way the Ontario Liberals will go when there are political tradeoffs to be made.
The decision by Transportation Minister Jim Bradley to back off on some restrictions proposed for young drivers was based on backlash, not on the merits of driver safety, which, ostensibly, was the reason for making the changes in the first place.
Not that young protesters didn't have a point, but the province didn't exactly blink on this one -- it withered."
Monday, December 15, 2008
U.S. homes are set to lose well over $2 trillion in value during 2008, according to an analysis of recent Zillow Real Estate Market Reports."
What next hyper deflation? Wake up people-the getting more for doing less as illustrated by " protected" interest groups in all sectors of the economy is over. Perform or pay the consequences - merit and economic supply and demand rules will once again rule - Pr
SMYRNA, Tenn. (UPI) -- Efforts to provide a federal bailout to U.S. automakers in Detroit have stirred resentment among non-union autoworkers in the U.S. South, observers say.
The Bush administration has indicated it may dip into the $700 billion financial industry bailout funds appropriated by the U.S. Congress to help Detroit's 'Big 3' automakers after Republican senators, mainly from the South, killed a separate, $14 billion auto industry bailout bill.
The GOP senators, led by Bob Corker of Tennessee, demanded unionized Detroit autoworkers take pay cuts to level their wages with those earned by non-union counterparts in Southern plants owned by Japanese automakers Nissan, Honda and Toyota. That position has strong support among the workers at those plants, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
'Over here, we're taking days off without pay to keep the company going, but the unions for the Big Three aren't willing to do that,' Kathy Ward, 54, who has worked 27 years at the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tenn., told the newspaper. 'Everyone has to give a little in times like these.'
Union opponents 'use the phrase, 'You don't want the Yankees telling you what to do,'' a Southern organizer told the Post."
use talent that is available-real people doing real things with their time
Monday, December 08, 2008
Dion will bow out early to clear way for successor
Last Updated: Monday, December 8, 2008 4:55 PM ET
Embattled Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion announced Monday he will step down earlier than planned, leaving his potential successors to battle over who will steer the party ahead of a possible election.Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, seen at a news conference on Oct. 20, said Monday he would step down earlier than planned. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
Dion originally planned to stay on as a caretaker leader after the party's dismal election results until his successor was chosen in early May. But he has faced growing pressure from his party to leave due to his handling of the recent political crisis and his widespread unpopularity among voters.
"I have decided to step aside as leader of the Liberal party effective as soon as my successor is duly chosen," Dion said in a release. He did not specify a date.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Tragically-when the Conservatives called for economic restraint in these acknowledged hard times - cutting special interest subsidies to poitical parties - the knives came out. The hypocrasy is blatant. The proposed political hyjacking of parliament by the coalition ,Liberals,NDP and Bloc Quebeois is a potential reality that needs the Governor General's approval. The stakes are high. We are now potentially forced to be governed by a unelected special interest group of people with questionable skills to weather the economic storm.
Governer General -Why not ask the Canadian people-in the form of a plebicsite what they wish you to do? In the public interest , a plebicsite could add clarity and direct democratic credibiity to the situation.
Tragically-when the Conservatives called for economic restraint in these acknowledged hard time - cutting special interest subsidies to poitical parties - the knives came out. The hypocrasy is blatant. We are now potentially forced to be governed by unelected special interest people with questionable skills to weather the economic storm.
Governer General -Why not ask the Canadian people-in the form of a plebicsite what they wish you to do? In the public interest , a plebicsite could add clarity and democratic credibiity to the situation.
Friday, October 24, 2008
This perfect fiscal storm has been brewing for months.
Elementary teachers have been holding out on signing a new contract. This financial statement is like a big stick to get them to sign. How popular will teachers be if they strike at a time when everyone else is feeling the financial pain?
Worse, the public service is growing out of control. It's the monster that swallows our tax dollars.
While the private sector is growing only marginally, more and more people are joining the province's not-so-exclusive club of people making $100,000 on the public purse.
If the province wants to hold the line, the first place to start is with a freeze on pay increases on civil servants making $100,000 or more.
Instead, the first cuts will come with a delay in implementation of things like a dental plan for low income families and a delay in hiring more nurses.
What a mockery Wednesday's statement made of Duncan's much-ballyhooed plan to divvy up budget surpluses among municipalities. Remember when he announced that shell game back in March?
He told us any time there was more than an $800 million surplus, instead of paying down the province's massive $169-billion total accumulated debt as was the law, only the first $600 million would go to pay down the debt. The rest would be distributed to the province's 445 municipalities based on population. The amount to be allocated is capped at $2 billion.
Back then, Duncan estimated the minimum amount that would be allocated would be $200 million.
Oops. Now we have a $500 million deficit.
Back then, local politicians tripped over themselves to gush over Duncan's hypothetical cash windfall.
Better not hold your breath getting that pothole fixed. And better check the bridge before you drive over it, fellas.
He said the government wouldn't try to spend its way out of the recession. That's a relief. Then again, you could make a very strong argument they have pretty well spent their way into it.
He did acknowledge, though, the importance of infrastructure investments, "which create jobs and improve competitiveness for tomorrow."
Presumably that means some of the big ticket transit programs are still on the table. That's good. There's no need to panic on projects that benefit everyone.
You have to ask: Is this just the thin end of the wedge? Is this half-billion-dollar deficit truly manageable? Or is Duncan setting us up for more bad news in his budget next spring?
What we need is a little fiscal austerity here.
Duncan is fond of using the word "prudent." His budget projections are "prudent." His fiscal policy is "prudent."
Well, I had a cat called Prudence once. She met a nasty end when she carelessly -- and imprudently -- ran in front of a car.
The point is even though I called my cat Prudence, she still did foolish things.
I have a horrid feeling Duncan's economic statement is a bit like that. He can call it prudent if he wants. It won't make a lick of difference when we are all so much financial road-kill.
Christina Blizzard covers Queen's Park for Sun Media. She can be reached at christina. blizzard@tor. sunpub.com.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Earlier this month, the International Chamber of Commerce, a free trade organization founded in Paris in 1919, issued a set of comprehensive whistleblowing guidelines for anyone to use.
“Fraud remains one of the most problematic issues for business worldwide, no matter the country of operation, industry sector, or size,” Francois Vincke, Chair of ICC’s Anti-Corruption Commission, said in a statement on the organization’s website. “While whistleblowing programs are a highly effective way to flag fraud early on, many companies do not have these schemes in place due to cultural or legal differences. ICC’s guide is the first set of practical tools that takes these factors into account, no matter the jurisdiction.”
The website also noted a 2007 KPMG study fond that “25 percent of the incidents of fraud uncovered among 360 incidents analyzed came to light thanks to a whistleblowing system put into place by companies.”
The ICC recommends an eight-step plan for implementing a whistleblowing program that protects your company and your employees:
- Create a whistleblowing program as part of internal integrity practices
- Handle reports early on, in full confidentiality
- Appoint a high-level executive to manage the whistleblowing unit
- Communicate in as many languages as there are countries of operation
- Abide by external legal restrictions
- Allow reporting to be anonymous or disclosed, compulsory or voluntary
- Acknowledge, record and screen all reports
- Enable employees to report incidents without fear of retaliation, discrimination, or disciplinary action
For more, see the ICC Guidelines on Whistleblowing. Thanks to EthicsWorld for bringing this to our attention.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Article By: Elizabeth Rogers
Food crises, water shortages, pandemics and other disasters -- what do they mean for our future? More news from ideaCity 2008.
It seems the daily news is a maelstrom of new research and innovation mixed with dire warnings against impending crises. It's confusing at best, and alarming at times. Are things getting better, or are they getting worse? Can we find reasons to be happy (and hopeful) in the face of such threats as food prices spiralling out of control, water running out and pandemic illnesses potentially wiping out part of our population
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I am in the minority in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and every casino in this country. I was born in the sixties, yet I am somehow responsible for some First Nations people being screwed out of their land in the 1700's! I pay import tax on cars made in Ontario. I am allowed to skydive and smoke, but not allowed to drive without a seat belt. All the money I make until mid July must go to paying taxes. I live and work among people who believe Americans are Ignorant.... These same people cannot name this country's new territory.
On April 1st, 1999, the map of Canada changed for the first time in 50 years with the creation of Nunavut Territory. The Northwest Territories was split and approximately 2 million square kilometres of the central and eastern arctic became 'Nunavut'. Although I am sometimes forced to live on hamburgers and don't have a pot to piss in, I sleep well knowing that my taxes helped purchase a nice six figure home in Vancouver for some unskilled refugee. Although they are unpatriotic and constantly try to separate...Quebec still provides most of my nation's prime ministers.95% of my nation's international conflicts are over fish.I'm supposed to call black people African Canadians, although I'm sure none of them have ever been to Africa for that matter.
I am being told that paying a 200% tax on alcohol is fair. I am also being told that the same tax on gasoline is also fair.
Even if I have no idea what happened to that old rifle my Grandfather gave me when I was 14, I will be considered a criminal if I don't register it. I am being told that spending $15 billion to promote the French language in the rest of Canada is fair when the province of Quebec doesn't support or recognize the English language.
I am being told that paying $1million for 3 Stripes ("The Voice of Fire painting in Ottawa) by the National Art Gallery was a good purchase, even though 99% of this country didn't want it or will ever see it.
When I look at my pension and realize that I take home a third of what I actually make, I say "Oh well, at least we have better health care than the Americans."I must bail out farmers when their crops are too wet or too dry because I control the rain.I must bail out big corporations who drive their business into the ground and say yeah that's ok when they move all their manufacturing plants and jobs to a third world country and say no problem.
My National Anthem has versions in both official languages. Canada is the highest taxed nation in North America, the biggest military buffer for the United States, and the number one destination for fleeing terrorists.
I am not an angry white male. I am an angry taxpayer who is broke. I am Canadian !!!
Saturday, July 05, 2008
As my aunt hits her mid-eighties, she has no intention of moving from the house she and my uncle bought when he came home from World War II. She's far from alone in this wish, as an AARP poll indicates that nine out of 10 older Americans prefer to stay in their own homes for as long as possible, rather than go to an assisted living or nursing facility -- and really, who could argue? As our nation's demographic shifts upward, we need to develop more effective, affordable and widely accessible programs and services that enable older people to remain safely and comfortably at home.
I read recently about Beacon Hill Village -- which is known as an "intentional aging-in-place" organization helping people in Central Boston spend their later years at home. Local residents determined to stay in familiar surroundings with friends and family nearby created and funded a nonprofit organization that works like a virtual retirement community. Members pay an annual fee ($580 for individuals, $850 for households) for regular services such as food shopping, drivers to take them where they need to go, and a schedule of outings, exercise classes and lectures. Additional services such as home repair and in-home care are also available for an extra fee as needed. Vendors are carefully screened and discounts are negotiated for members.
This is a growing trend, with more than 100 aging-in-place communities established and more in the works. The first ones grew from grass roots efforts spearheaded by residents, and now government and social service agencies are getting involved as well. Peter Notarstefano, director of Home and Community Based Services at the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA), told me that setting up these organizations can be a lot of work, but those who do so find the rewards well worth the effort.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: AFFORDABILITY
Money, for funding an organization as well as paying individual fees, is the biggest barrier to establishing aging-in-place communities, and indeed most of the existing ones are in affluent areas populated by well-educated and well-connected professionals. However, some government and social service agencies are beginning to step up and share funds and expertise. United Jewish Communities, a national nonprofit, has used federal grant money to develop 45 "Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities" (NORCs: http://www.norcs.com/) as demonstration projects in neighborhoods or buildings where many older people live, including those who lack the means to join fee-based ones. These programs can take advantage of existing services like Meals on Wheels, and fitness classes and outings sponsored by local organizations such as senior centers and YMCAs. Then they focus on filling in identified gaps, such as providing affordable housing for those who can no longer physically or financially manage a large house but want to remain in their community... funding physical adjustments such as ramps and handrails to support mobility challenges... and providing supportive services, such as case managers.
These are steps in the right direction but the government is not focusing on solving the core problems that would reduce costs in the long-term. Notarstefano calls the government policy on spending for the elderly "short-sighted," pointing out, for example, that Medicare won't pay for fall-preventing safety measures such as inexpensive grab bars in the bathroom, but will readily pay doctor and hospital bills resulting from a fall. Medicaid picks up most of the bills for nursing home care, which costs on average $77,745 a year, according to AAHSA. Notarstefano's conclusion: Funding and coordinating more services to enable people to stay safely in their own homes is not only kinder and gentler, in the long run, it's more cost-effective.
WHAT TO DO?
Given that there is no effective oversight of medical practices, billing or program mandates, elders are on their own when it comes to seeking non-medical industry services. Whether aging in place is a goal you want to pursue on your own -- or with like-minded members of your community -- there are many resources and organizations to tap into...
AARP (www.aarp.org). This leading nonprofit offers a wealth of resources for aging in place. For example, there's a list of Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS), contractors who are specially trained in making home modifications for older people. Click on http://www.aarp.org/families/home_design/ to find CAPS in your area.
The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (www.aahsa.org). The 5,700 member organizations of this not-for-profit offer adult day services, home health care, community services, as well as senior housing, assisted living residences, continuing care retirement communities, nursing homes and more.
The Eldercare Locator (www.eldercare.gov). This national service connects older people to resources -- such as local agencies and community-based agencies that serve seniors and their caregivers -- that help them live independently in their own communities. It is administered in part by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
The National Aging In Place Council (http://www.naipc.org). NAIPC draws together experts from all areas of expertise -- including aging, health care, financial services, legal, design and building sectors -- to help make independent living possible. Click on "A Guide to Aging in Place" for a wide range of practical and helpful tips, from promoting independence to understanding your risks.
Monday, June 30, 2008
As Investors Worry
By JOHN D. STOLL and SERENA NG
June 27, 2008; Page B3
General Motors Corp.'s shares sank to a 53-year low Thursday on concerns about liquidity, equity dilution and a potential dividend cut, heightening speculation that the auto maker doesn't have enough cash to finance its turnaround.
GM stock fell $1.38, or 11%, to $11.43 in 4 p.m. composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange. In intraday trading, the shares slipped as low as $11.21. That was their lowest point since 1955, according to Reuters, when GM was making cars with tail fins and Dwight Eisenhower was president.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Unpaid bills and utility cutoffs increase
WASHINGTON (UPI) -- Utility companies across the United States are more often turning power off to customers who cannot pay bills, industry figures show. With gas prices rising and the unemployment rate at 5.5 percent, the shutoffs have begun to affect moderately well-off customers, USA Today reported Tuesday.
Eight percent of households with incomes between $33,500 and $55,000 have had their electricity shut off this year due to non-payment, the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association said. "It's hitting people in the suburbs with two cars and two kids," NEADA Executive Director Mark Wolfe told USA Today. Utilities also say their cutoff rates have risen. PPL Electric Utilities in Pennsylvania shut off power to 7,054 customers from January through April a cutoff rate 168 percent higher than in the same months of 2007, the newspaper reported.
Utility companies frequently restore power after a few days, when customers agree to a payment plan. A federal program, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is supposed to help, but is out of funds, having provided $2.5 billion in assistance in fiscal 2008, the report said.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Governments are thus beginning to at least consider the prospect of incentive packages for people to stay (a dramatic reversal of the mid-1990s program review era). New mechanisms, such as external audit committees (called for by the Federal Accountability Act) will also provide venues for many retired senior officials to exercise influence. It's also not completely unthinkable that many government executives may choose to stay longer as mandatory retirement becomes more the exception than the norm.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Comments and recommendations from the Brant Taxpayer Coalition
It was recently reported that Brant County power is considering an amalgamation with Brantford power. Let us examine some of the historical facts associated with Brantford power. Eleven years ago the city of Brantford took over the Public Utilities Commission. All employees of the Public Utilities Commission became employees of the city of Brantford. Despite promises of massive savings, hydro rates, water rates, and municipal taxes went up. The city of Brantford sold services back to Brantford Hydro. This is a structure that is unique in Ontario. The original structure was put in place in order to allow the city to charge what some consider bloated administration costs to the hydro customers. There is a concern in the community that any merger with Branford could be caught in this same dilemma and even more concern that the costs for Brant power and the costs for city and county consumers would rise.
The best solution, if Brant County is merger minded, is to look for a partner who can provide reduced power costs for the county and its customers. The proposal from Horizon Utilities may provide this. As such, it probably should be explored in more detail. There are also other bordering utilities that could provide a similar solution.
If the costs can be reduced and if the agreement can provide reasonable safeguards for Brant County, the hydro costs would go down and the resulting attraction for economic development would be dramatic. It would be worth an independent feasibility study to determine the best course of action. Wise, judicious visible public negotiations could provide a boon for Brant County. We recommend that an outside, local consultant be commissioned to provide immediate short term strategic input so that Brant County can make an informed and correct decision on all available energy providers and least cost alternatives prior to the October decision deadline. The city of Brantford should commission a similar study.
We, the Brant Taxpayers Coalition, support any taxpayer friendly strategy that reduces costs to the end user, and that is consumer and business friendly. We feel that this strategy would promote and stimulate positive economic activity in our area.
Sieg Holle BS MBA
Brant –Taxpayers Coalition
WASHINGTON (UPI) -- Hiring private companies to chase after modest tax debts expects to be a losing deal for the Internal Revenue Service, critics say."
When the cost to collect exceeds the revenue collected what would you do?
Three companies hired in 2006 to recover $1 billion in unpaid taxes have so far secured a little more than half of what the program costs, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. The companies, which have recovered $49 million, keep 24 percent on commissions, the Post reported. Overall, the program Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, D-N.D., calls "the hood ornament for incompetence," is expected to lose $37 million, the newspaper report said. "It makes no sense at all to be turning over these tax accounts to private tax collectors that end up costing the taxpayers money," Dorgan said. David Alito, director of collection for the IRS, said the agency "wouldn't get down to this level, not that we wouldn't have made an attempt." The IRS uses private collectors to recover uncontested tax bills to help close the gap in an estimated $345 billion in taxes owed, the report said.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Right to homeschool jeopardized by activist court
Once again, our personal freedoms are under assault. And this time, those doing the assaulting are the very people who are supposed to be protecting our rights. The issue boils down to a very simple question: who has the right to raise the children of this country? Parents or the State?
In the eyes of the 2nd Appellate Court of Los Angeles, parental rights are ceded to the State right after one's offspring leaves the womb. This California appeals court recently ruled that the parents of a staggering 166,000 students in the state could face criminal sanctions for – are you ready for this – homeschooling their children.
As unbelievable as it sounds, this ruling reversed an earlier decision by a California Superior Court judge stating that "parents have a constitutional right to school children in their own home."
The homeschooling issue has, unfortunately, become something of a political football as the movement has gathered momentum over the past decade or so. A small but growing band of parents has opted out of the public school education system, often for a variety of reasons from the religious to the moral to the purely educational. Regardless of the reasons for the shift, one look at the news stories about the sex and violence in our schools (let alone the severe dip nationwide in the public schools' basic skills test scores), and it's a wonder that there aren't more families that are homeschooling.
But now, thanks to an amazingly wrong-headed decision by irresponsible (and, I suspect, activist) judges, homeschooling could be removed from the equation for parents, forcing them to send their children to public school – or face criminal charges.
Who do you attack first? The alleged "child advocates" or this idiot Croskey? Either way, it's apparent that what's primarily on their mind is the reinforcement of their agenda – NOT the interest of the Long children.
How can ANYONE with the gall to call themselves a "child advocate" possibly endorse taking children out of a homeschooling program and tossing them back into the cesspool of the Los Angeles public school system? What "child advocate" would prefer to put children in an environment of schools that need armed security and metal detectors, and that have low test scores, and even lower graduation rates?
And as for "Justice" Croskey, you won't believe the unmitigated gall of the ruling! The ruling affirmed that the original trial court had found evidence that "keeping children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the chidrens' lives, and (3) they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents' "cloistered" setting.
Read that again and see if you don't want to drive out to L.A. and give this Croskey character a piece of your mind. Since when has it EVER been the business of the state to be sure that MY children interact with people outside of MY family!? Since when has it EVER been the business of the state to determine what is or is not a "cloistered" environment? And when has the emotional development of MY children EVER been the business of some government bureaucrat?
It's truly a mind-boggling ruling. It's one of the biggest assaults on our personal rights and freedoms that I've come across in years. And it could only come from the mind of a liberal activist judge – because only a liberal could possibly believe that it's better to take a child out of a loving home with involved parents (and you won't find any parent more involved in their child's life than a homeschooling parent), and put them into the nation's questionable public schools.
Of course, liberals want kids in the public schools, because it's the liberals that set the agenda of those schools – and they don't want to miss out on the ability to brainwash our kids with their left-wing, politically correct nonsense.
The only good thing about this ruling is that it is so wildly unconstitutional that it's almost guaranteed to be kicked up to the next highest court. And even if it has to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, I'd be stunned if this ruling wasn't eventually overturned at some level. But in the meantime, please help spread the rage.
Schooling you on outrageous court decisions, William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Learning from a Social Entrepreneur: "Learning from a Social Entrepreneur
To improve access to quality education, a real estate developer aims to puts public schools in commercial buildings—and convince investors her for-profit model works"
"Since most problems boiled down to real estate, I decided to marry my vision of improving access to quality education with my newfound belief in the power of real estate development. "The caveat? I'd become an entrepreneur who did well by doing good, not just while doing good.
Too Good to Be True?
I had my first pivotal idea for how to execute this vision in 2000, after working for the New York City Mayor's Office. During that time I had seen plenty of desirable office space left vacant from the dot-com bust while urban schools continued to struggle to find quality locations. I became convinced schools could be built faster and cheaper if integrated into private commercial buildings. In turn, schools could pay market rents and make great, creditworthy tenants, especially when markets went soft—as they were in 2000 and are again today. Also, it seemed any kid or teacher would far prefer to go to school in a swanky office building than in most traditional schools, which to me often resemble prisons.
At first, investors and government officials thought the concept sounded too good to be true, and assumed the catch was either that schools would drive out surrounding commercial demand or that such facilities would compromise the integrity of school environments.
But I thought I had a win-win scenario for all stakeholders. I just needed to show them it could actually work. In 2003, I received a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. It was a perfect fit because it brought me the credibility to go from being a commercial developer to an education policy reformer, and allowed me to prove my idea was both possible and scalable. After a year of intense research, I had strong evidence that my concept could indeed create enormous benefits to student achievement, including enhanced teacher retention and increased access to professional role models. During that time, I also co-founded my first urban development company, the Christie Wareck Co., returning to New Haven to begin several downtown redevelopment projects with the hopes of bringing schools into them.
"visiting friends who were struggling to make a measurable impact through the traditional NGO [nongovernmental organization] paths. It was then, witnessing their frustration, that I began to see how well-suited my business strategy was to developing countries under pressure to increase access to quality education with extremely limited financial resources. "
When I raise capital, I live the challenge we social entrepreneurs often face of not being easily categorized by philanthropists and investors. Social venture funds assume we're exploiting students or targeting privileged families, neither of which is the case. Conversely, I struggle to convince mainstream investors, distracted by the compelling social outcomes, that they're investing in a commercial real estate deal, not a philanthropic venture. Luckily, some sophisticated investors familiar with emerging markets do indeed get the point. After all, many of them made a killing through microfinance using similar principles.
Still, several investors have asked if I'd set up a nonprofit to accept a donation for a tax shelter rather than make an investment that could yield robust returns. This is disheartening. It shows how many still assume social and economic returns are mutually exclusive.
The silver lining is that the skepticism of others creates my first-mover advantage to seize fringe opportunities they can't yet see. But I suppose that's what all risk-taking entrepreneurs do—arrive unfashionably early to the party and warm up the dance floor for all those watching but too afraid to get their groove on.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
'Since I was treasurer and did the (Ontario) budget in 2001-2002, spending has gone up in the past six years by more than 50 per cent,' he said."
Monday, March 24, 2008
Why Your Government Wants You to Smoke Cigarettes
By Dan Ferris, editor, Extreme ValueMarch 22, 2008
The largest civil settlement in history totaled $246 billion, paid out over 25 years.
The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement was signed in 1998 by four tobacco companies, and it details payouts to all 50 states and six U.S. territories.
In addition to the huge financial burden, the master settlement also prohibits tobacco companies from targeting young people, bans cartoons from tobacco advertising, restricts brand sponsorship of teams and events, eliminates outdoor and public-transit advertising, restricts lobbying, and requires tobacco companies to disclose internal documents to the public.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the sale of tobacco products to minors. Idaho and Washington prohibit the distribution of samples to the general public at little or no cost. At least 10 states have imposed bans on smoking in bars (!) and restaurants. In Baltimore's Inner Harbor area, you're not allowed to smoke anywhere, inside or out.
It all sounds like more than enough reason to stay away from tobacco stocks.
On the other hand, there's an important detail that most people don't know about the 1998 agreement: The master settlement payments rise and fall with cigarette shipments.
If cigarette volumes go down, the payments go down. But if the volumes go up... payments go up even more. It's a perverse paradox: Your state government hopes you smoke like a chimney, and it – not Big Tobacco – is going to gouge you for the privilege.
Big Tobacco's payments to politicians and lawmakers don't end with the master settlement. Federal and state excise taxes kick the payoff up another notch. The federal excise tax is $19.50 per thousand cigarettes, or about $0.39 a pack. In 2007, combined state and municipal excise taxes ranged from $0.07 (South Carolina) to $3.66 (Chicago) per pack of cigarettes. Last year, 10 states increased taxes, adding another $0.20 to $1 per pack.
Between high state excise taxes and the master settlement, tobacco companies have become a bizarre sort of utility company. Let me explain...
A public utility is really just a good business into whose pockets and affairs the government has permanently intruded, but whose survival is thereby assured. State governments make more money off each pack of cigarettes than anybody. If Big Tobacco fails, municipalities all over the United States fail.
That's no phantom idea, either. There's real leverage here... Back in 2003, an Illinois judge told a Big Tobacco company it had to post a $12 billion bond before it could appeal a defeat in a class-action lawsuit. The company said the move could force it into bankruptcy court and prevent it from making a master settlement payment.
Washington state's attorney general flew to the company's side – seven years after suing it for billions – telling the court, the bond "could deal a significant, unnecessary financial blow to the states." Virginia, California, New York, and Kansas put more than $7 billion in bond issues on hold until the matter was cleared up. The company didn't go bankrupt. On the contrary. It's made more than $50 billion in net profit since then.
Over the years, I've discovered different types of competitive advantages a business can have. One type of competitive advantage stems from "rules and regulations." The SEC's rules and regulations keep Standard & Poor's and Moody's entrenched as national ratings organizations. The Food and Drug Administration and its rules for new drugs keep big pharmaceutical companies entrenched, making it difficult for smaller companies to fund new drug development. Without intellectual property law, Microsoft would be a much smaller company... if it still existed.
Big Tobacco is benefiting from the onerous taxes only it can afford, the master settlement. States demand such high payments, they've put small manufacturers of bargain-priced cigarettes out of business. That's one reason the cigarette business is so profitable. U.S. cigarette sales totaled $70 billion last year. The total profit: $8.8 billion – an impressive after-tax profit margin of about 13%.
The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, is less delicate even than I am about Big Tobacco's competitive position post-settlement. In a 2000 report, Cato's Thomas O'Brien wrote, "Tobacco companies have purchased, with smokers' money, permission to raise prices collusively and suppress competition."
For investors, this means simply big cigarette companies have an enduring competitive advantage.
Remember, too, cigarettes are not a cyclical business. The economy is bad right now, but smokers will continue to smoke. Cigarettes remind me of what the late, great Lee Garfield, creator of the Baltimore landmark, Lee's Ice Cream Factory, once told me about his business. He said, "I never worry about the economy. When people can't afford to go to the beach or buy a new car, they can still afford to shell out a buck or two for some ice cream."
Cigarettes are like that, too – a cheap, readily available form of daily escape. What's a smoke break but a chance to get away from it all without spending $15,000 and flying to Hawaii?
Given their government-backed advantages, unrelenting global demand, and cheap valuations, buying shares in Big Tobacco will turn out to be one of the best investment decisions you can possibly make right now.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
$6M Lawsuit; Discovery 'taken beyond reasonable limits'
Shannon Kari, National Post Published: Saturday, March 08, 2008
In their attempt to show that Joanna Gualtieri was not the victim of harassment and reprisals when she made claims of misspending and waste in the 1990s at the Department of Foreign Affairs, federal government lawyers have already required her to answer 10,579 questions in court.
The former realty portfolio manager at Foreign Affairs has been "examined for discovery" for 31 days over the past several years by Justice Department lawyers defending a $6-million lawsuit she filed against the federal government and eight employees in 1998.
Ms. Gualtieri, a 46-year-old lawyer and mother of two boys aged four and two, first came forward in the early 1990s to suggest that millions of dollars of public money were being wasted by Foreign Affairs at several Canadian embassies.
She alleged that she was ignored or thwarted by her superiors and then shunned, harassed and ultimately moved into a position with no assigned duties.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Dear Friend, from douglas MD
Vaccines are the most dangerous "accepted" practice in all of medicine. The latest vaccination outrage occurred in Prince George's County, Maryland where – believe it or not – parents were actually told to appear in court and subject their children to on-the- spot, state-mandated vaccines of UP TO 17 DOSES … OR FACE IMPRISONMENT!! What's more, parents who ignored the court's demands were subject to a $50 fine for each day their child was "out of compliance" (i.e., not surrendering their Constitutional rights to the state), or up to 10 days in jail.
Which is more sickening? That this kind of outrage can occur without national outcry, or that it can happen about a 30-minute drive from the front steps of the rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.? How is it possible that the schools allow this sort of thing to go on? Why is an education system party to such a gross violation of personal rights?
Maybe this next bit of information will clue you in.
The Prince George's County school system is allocated $11,325 per student, per year. This sum comes from a variety of sources, and roughly breaks down this way: About 7 percent ($780) comes from the federal government; 46 percent comes from the state of Maryland ($5,246); and 47 percent comes from local monies such as city budgets ($5,298).
In order for the schools to receive that money, a child must be enrolled in the school. Simple enough, right? Well, according to the state regulations on vaccinations, a kid CAN'T be enrolled if he doesn't have his vaccinations up to date. In fact, he could be expelled.
According to the news report, there were as many as 2,300 hundred kids being barred from school due to their non-compliance with the vaccination policy. If those kids were tossed from school due to state regulations, that would mean the PG County school district would suddenly be out an astounding $26 million in revenue from the state and the city! No wonder they wanted to threaten the parents with jail!
Don't let them suck you in with all that "it's for the safety of the children" nonsense. As always, it's about the almighty dollar.
This is just the kind of issue that gets me going, because it's not only about good health, it's also about the protection of your personal freedoms. And the sad truth is, when it comes to vaccinations, the choice is very rarely yours. Your body – and the bodies of your children – are the property of the government when it comes to vaccines. It's not only un-constitutional; it's downright scary.
Friday, February 08, 2008
QUESNEL, British Columbia, Feb. 6 Canadian teacher Chris Kempling is battling suspension of his teaching license after he wrote to a local newspaper in 2003 outlining Christian teachings on homosexuality. The College of Teachers cited him for professional misconduct and suspended his teaching license for a month, LifeSiteNews.com reported Wednesday. He appealed that decision all the way to Canada's Supreme Court, spending "well over" a $100oo dollars in legal fees, he said. After the Supreme Court denied his appeal, he faces yet another citation from the College that might lose him his teaching license permanently. In an e-mail Wednesday, Kempling told supporters he received a letter informing him that he is being cited on numerous counts for conduct "unbecoming" of a teacher, among them being the local representative of the Christian Heritage Party, the nation's sixth largest political party.
"I'm dismayed," Kempling told LifeSiteNews Wednesday. "I'm dismayed that activities entirely outside of the scope of my job and which have engendered no reaction or complaint would result in an additional citation...I'm dismayed that their reach is extending so far into my private life, and overriding the very clear provisions in the Charter for political freedom and for freedom of speech."
Thursday, February 07, 2008
by Kevin D. Annett / Eagle Strong Voice
'No-one can rule guiltlessly'
Rulers of Church and State have known for centuries how to continually rewrite history in order to conceal their bloody deeds and make their obvious crimes appear virtuous. In Canada, such rulers have had ample opportunity to practice this occupational skill in relation to their bloodiest act: the extermination of non-Christian Indians."
" this shows how the special interest groups nd righteous can abuse and cover up their mistakes- srary" PR
A former United Church minister says a longtime residential school in Brantford may hold evidence of "genocide" against young natives. Kevin Annett wants burial sites at the former Mohawk Institute investigated as part of a campaign to expose the hidden history of residential schools across Canada.
The Mohawk Institute operated for 140 years until it closed in 1970. The site later became the Woodland Cultural Centre. The institute's purpose was to instill in its pupils English-Canadian language, culture and the Anglican religion.
Survivors long have talked about beatings, poor food and clothing and other serious physical and sexual abuse. Annett takes these facts a step further. He claims the government of Canada and the Roman Catholic, Anglican and United churches, which ran residential schools, engaged in genocide, deliberately "culling" native children through occasional murder and intentionally exposing children to fatal diseases.
Annett elaborates on these claims in a book, Hidden from History, and a documentary, Unrepentant, part of which he presented to Laurier Brantford students on Tuesday.
Annett plays hard ball to back his demands for, among many things, an international tribunal into genocide in Canada. His website - www.hiddenfromhistory.org - urges his supporters to boycott "genocidal institutions," the Catholic, Anglican and United Church, to withhold tax payments to the government of Canada and to support an international boycott of Canadian tourism and goods.
Big is not beautiful -pr
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
OTTAWA - Canadian governments' boy scout approach in failing to enact Canada-first policies on major infrastructure and mass transit projects is costing the country dearly in lost jobs and business opportunities, says a new industry study.
In a position paper being released Thursday, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association is calling on all governments to act quickly on the issue to help out the beleaguered manufacturing sector.
The report, which says Canada is among very few countries without buy domestic rules on tax-funded projects, says there is urgency to address the matter because of the massive amounts - $33 billion in seven years from Ottawa alone-governments have committed to infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges, and mass transit expansion.
"This is not protectionism," said CME president Jayson Myers. "This is levelling the playing field.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Much like characters in a role-playing game, everyone on a successful team plays a unique part. When certain challenges arise, you need to know whose strengths will best match the task. Here are a few key personality types to look for.
Strength: Questions the status quo, outspoken
Weakness: Abrasive, needs prodding to work well with others
Battle cry: “What I cannot create, I do not understand.” — Richard Feynman, physicist
The Agitator is the flint that sparks innovation within the team. An unwillingness to accept things as they are and propensity for speaking out can often trigger real and important change.
Hero: Virgin founder and CEO Richard Branson
The Wild Card
Strength: Skill and dedication, if you can find the key to motivating him
Weakness: Lackluster performance if you can’t
Weapon: Latent energy
Battle cry: “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I’ll remember. Involve me and I’ll understand.” — Confucius
The Wild Card has a moment of clarity when he realizes the importance of the company vision and feels invested in its success. After that, you might mistake him for the Workhorse — or even the Expert.
Hero: Director Quentin Tarantino
Strength: Execution, ability to get team on board and invested in new ideas
Weakness: Often gets all the credit for the Agitator’s ideas, can be subject to swollen ego
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?” — Steve Jobs
Any opportunity to address the troops. An ability to inspire the rest of the team with a clear and dramatic vision puts momentum behind ideas.
Hero: Jack Welch
Strength: Focus, work ethic, dogged determination
Weakness: Can sometimes be slow to adapt to new ways, resistant to change
Battle cry: “Victory belongs to the most persevering.” — Napoleon Bonaparte
Reliable and determined, the Workhorse is the finisher and will ensure that the job gets done.
Hero: Baseball’s ultimate everyday player, Cal Ripken, Jr.
Strength: Communication — the glue that brings the team together, especially in difficult times
Weakness: More effective in times of crisis than when things are running smoothly
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic but creatures of emotion.” — Dale Carnegie
When rifts appear in the team or progress has stalled, the Glue smoothes things over or suggests who might be able to get the wheels turning again.
Hero: eBay CEO Meg Whitman
Strength: Vast knowledge of a subject area, its major players, and its most useful sources of information
Weakness: Information doesn’t always translate to innovation
Weapon: Encyclopedic brain
“The desire of knowledge, like the thirst for riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it.” — Irish writer Laurence Sterne
When an intellectual or informational snag is slowing the process, the Expert has the solution. However, team members often need to approach him, since his active mind is frequently occupied.
Hero: Java engineer James Gosling
Monday, January 28, 2008
By Declan McCullagh, News.com"
lets give citizens an equal playing field
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Taxpayers federation urges Ottawa to reduce tax brackets, personal income tax - Yahoo! Canada News: "Taxpayers federation urges Ottawa to reduce tax brackets, personal income tax
By Steve Rennie, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA - The Canadian Taxpayers Federation wants Ottawa to lower personal income taxes and cut the number of tax brackets in half as the first step toward a single tax rate.
In a study released Thursday, the federation recommends the federal government move to two income tax rates of 15 per cent and 25 per cent by 2012, down from the current four brackets.
The federation suggests Canadians earning between $15,000 and $80,000 be taxed at a rate of 15 per cent, while those earning more than $80,000 be taxed at 25 per cent.
The group says the eventual goal should be a single tax rate.
'We actually began this process trying to actually achieve a single tax rate for all Canadians. We concluded, though, it just wasn't do-able,' said John Williamson, the group's federal director.
'What we're trying to do is put forward policy here that a political party that was interested in promoting lower taxes could adopt in the immediate term.'
Doing so, the federation says, would remove about 1.4 million low-income Canadians from the tax rolls since their income wouldn't be high enough to tax.
The group says its plan would result in a $25-billion cut to personal income taxes by 2012.
However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty have cautioned against expectations of any major new tax cuts or spending programs in this year's budget because of the expected slowdown in the Canadian economy"