Monday, December 12, 2011

Occupy Movement

Ordinarily, it would be fairly easy to brush off the Occupy movement by responding to some TV photos of bedraggled and unkempt youth--and the very sad illicit-drug-induced fatality of a participant in Vancouver.

If it weren't for the truth the movement conveys.

Mark Milke's five principles hit the nail on the head in the December 2011 issue of Thompson Okanagan Business.

"I sympathize with the protesters' concerns but for those sincerely interested in creating a better world, slogans, demands and a snap of the finger won't do it.

Thus, to make poverty scarce, to foment prosperity and to avoid political favouritism for anyone, here are a few general principles Occupy protesters should grasp and promote:

Principle One:  Subsidize only people in need, never the wealthy or corporations.
People occasionally need help and the exact parameter of that is a constant source of debate as is who should do the helping.

Nonetheless, let's be clear about who doesn't need a subsidy:  the wealthy and corporations.

The rationale here is not difficult to understand.  Obvioiusly, the wealthy don't need income transfers from taxpayers.  As for companies, they are artificial entities which will rise and fall, so let them.

Real people work in companies but that's rather the point:  when flesh-and-blood human beings are down on their luck, help them, not corporations who come and go.

After all, trying to "save" corporations through taxpayer money only sets government up to intervene between competitors and to pick winners and losers.

Wall Street protesters are right to oppose the socialization of losses on Wall Street; same goes for Detroit automakers and anywhere else where private losses are paid for by taxpayers.

So as a general principle, end all corporate welfare and means-test all social programs.

Principle Two:  Be neutral in tax policy.
Whether in Canada or the United States, the personal and business tax codes are riddled with loopholes disguised as "tax credits", "deductions" and "exemptions".

Regardless of where one thinks the overall tax levels should be, job creation (except for accountants) could be helped by broadening the tax base and simplifying collection.  Lower, flatter and simpler taxes are always preferable to higher, convoluted and confusing taxes.

Principle Three:  Always favour consumers over producers.
Want cheaper food prices for the world's poor?  Then stop favouring farmers or anyone else with subsidies, protective barriers, and "supply management" boards (which are essentially cartels).

All that does is protect the market share and prices of producers at the expense of consumers.  Instead, embrace open competition.

Principle Four:  Oppose government-sponsored "Ponzi" schemes.
Insofar as anyone thinks governments should throw another borrowed billion or trillion dollars at the economy, it's an attempt to generate political returns now at real costs to future generations.

That cost includes more debt to be repaid in the future with higher taxes, slower economic growth and fewer jobs--for the younger protesters on Wall Street.

That's almost akin to a Ponzi scheme.  It's an inter-generational "borrowing" of wealth that forces the last people into the scheme to pay for not only their own government services but also those delivered to people who came before.

There's a good example of where that leads to:  Greece.

Principle Five:  Favour opportunity, wherever it appears.
Some Wall Street protesters decry so-called entry-level jobs but that's an insult to those who hold them and who work hard to imiprove their life.  There is great dignity in all work, in any field.  For most able-bodied people, it beats dependence on a government cheque.

So in general, embrace opportunity.
Look at what it did for Steve Jobs.  

Consider how he improved the world with his inventions and entrepreneurial drive.  Ponder how many people's lives he improved with employment and expanded opportunities.

That's a smashing success story and one worthy of emulation."
end of Excerpt from Mark Milke's article.

A sincere thank you to Mark for saying it as it should be.

But where to start?

I think a very good start would be if all the people--starting at the beginning...with the former Goldman-Sachs executives, whose intentionally fraudulent acts bundled worthless mortgage paper into bona-fide investments and created the sub-prime debacle--actually were charged with fraud and went to jail.

Send them to jail.
To prove that cheating and lying are not acceptable.

"And don't collect $200 as they pass 'Go'," offers Kia.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Contrary Coldstream

"Public debate over a controversial bylaw in Coldstream may soon be eased," begins a December 2nd, 2011 story by Jennifer Smith of The Morning Star, under the banner Information compiled on development bylaw.

or, more correctly, will be compiled.
As should have been done prior to the triggering of the bylaw.

The article continues: 
"A list of all general and specific off-site works requests from the district is being compiled following public concerns around a proposed Subdivision, Development and Servicing Bylaw.

'There's some uncertainty and confusion among the public as to when and where off-site works may be required,' said Coun. Doug Dirk, who pushed (Ed.note:  only recently) for a list to be drawn up.

Despite some concerns about the amount of staff time required to create such a list, the request was unanimously passed by council.

'We were attacked severely during the election on this bylaw,' said Coun. Maria Besso, who suggests some information for the public may have eased some resident concerns.

'We never actually publicly made a press release or put anything up on our website and that's something we need to do.'

Since the bylaw is already in the process of being amended, it is hoped the information might aid the process.

'I think it's work that has to be done anyway,' said Coun. Pat Cochrane." (end of article)

Some uncertainty and confusion?
Staff time required to create such a list?

So it sounds as though Coldstream Council was flying by the seat of their pants during the recent fiasco.
How so? 

Charging one homeowner ~$300,000 for a multi-use path along their new property's roadfrontage, based ostensibly on either the 600-name (or 370-names as was later commented) petition from residents further afield didn't ring any alarm bells for this Mayor and Council.  One has to question whether this prejudicial treatment of one homeowner--without either earlier publishing a list of desired community works or, dispensing with Council's normal tenet of "user pay"--was intentional or accidental.  Neither denotes confidence in this council's planning.

If intentional, printable words don't exist that accurately reflect people's disgust.
If accidental, then the lack of confidence in this Mayor and Council by 829 voters (who voted for mayoralty candidate Hrabchuk...more than half of the incumbent mayor's votes) should give them pause. 

Whether 600 or fewer people requested a multi-use path along that stretch of Kidston Road is a moot point if "users (demanders) pay", according to Coun. Dirk.

In addition, mayor Jim Garlick, at the fiasco's culmination, indicated that Council would look to Kelowna to see how they handled their off-site works requirements. 

Well, it's been months since the proverbial mincemeat hit the fan and the mayor is likely unwilling to admit that our thriving neighbours 56 km to the south do not charge homeowners off-site works.  Nor do they call homeowners Developers.

In case our elected officials' phones don't work and they're walking those 65 kilometers, Kelowna's treatment of homeowners is easy to find, excerpted here:

It's under Schedule 7, entitled Types of Development that will Generally have a "Directly Attributable Impact" requiring installation of Works and Services.

RESIDENTIAL:  Single/Two Unit Additions/Alterations Accessory Bldg.
Water:  NO; Sewer:  NO;  Drainage: NO; Roads: NO; Road Reserve: NO; Right-of-Way: NO.

Not one mention of a residential homeowner being a Developer.

Could it be that Coldstream's Mayor and Council were anticipating the sentiment -- albeit predating it -- of the Occupy Movement

"As with transparency, I wouldn't say anticipation is one of Council's skillsets," offers Kia.

So which is it, Contrary Coldstream?
User/demander/petitioner(s) pay?
or the object of the petition should pay?

Your 99 per cent await The List.