Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Monday, October 17, 2011

The 1 % - Week 24 - Oct 12-17

Okay.  Enough with the link roundups.  This start this week with something fresh.  There's been a lot of talk of income inequality in the US.  The Top 1% has 40% of the wealth, etc.  How does Canada fare.

There's no numbers here, but this graph shows we're not quite as bad as the US.  That's not quite what I'm looking for (The Gini coefficient does seem to be the standard for how these things are judged), but I guess it makes sense that we're somewhere in the middle, well behind Denmark but ahead of the US.  It does suggest that we're getting worse.
That Stat doesn't really cover things.  There's no nice comparable to the top 1% headline grabber in the US.  Digging deeper,  here is the motherload.  Let's got to page 73, table 8-1.  Assume 25 million people in Canada and that each household is 5 people.  That might not sound quite right, but the assumptions should balance out in the end.  So, 5 million households and each quintile is approximately 1 million.  Average household wage is $61,000.  Multiply that out, and we have $305 Billion in wages earned by Canadians.  Of that, the bottom 20% earns an average of $7,100 per year.  Which isn't much.  The top 20% earns an average of $156,300.  Let's multiply that out:

Bottom 20% - $7.1 Billion total earnings - 2.3% of total income
Top 20% - 156.3 Billion total earnings - 51% of total income

So the top 20% of Canadians earns 51% of the money in Canada.  Not sure about the top 1%.  And not sure about total "wealth".  This isn't quite as tidy as I'd hoped to make this, but the Globe and Mail doesn't seem to be able to put a nice little bow on this story eitherUpdate - According to this link, the top 20% of Americans earn 60% of the income.  Our bottom 20% is actually worse off than the US, who earn 3.5% of total income.

Guess who thinks the old Liberal Government did a great job of running Canada's finances?  Tony Clement!  It's funny what these guys will say when they don't think Canada is listnening.  Maybe Paul Martin will run for Liberal leader again?

I'm not really a union backer.  But I kind of agree that Canada Post workers got royally screwed and I think a lawsuit is a good idea.

John Baird...When you want to give the impression that you're in it for the little people, don't fly in to a country that you've just "liberated" with executives from oil & gas, pipeline and engineering firms.  It suggests that your motives may have been suspect.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dismissal of Criticism - Week 23 - Oct 3-11

Just for fun, I plugged "Harper Dismisses Criticism" (no quotations) into the old google machine.  I got 1,960,000 results.  That seems like a lot.

Update - Sorry...this is late, but it's my new favourite story of the week.  Stephen Harper requested 14 tickets for the Jets home opener.  They gave him 2.

I feel like any law is going to have weird, unintended consequences, no matter how noble it's intentions.  So, I'm not a fan of latching on to the obscure losers in the Copyright sweepstakes.  But...still...any law that gives blind people the shaft is probably not a great one.

Are there any consequences for this government?  Was it Patton Oswald who said of George Bush "I'd be happy if he accepted the blame for a chewing gum wrapper on the White House lawn at this point."?  Anyhow, Bob Dechert appears to walk away unscathed from his extra-marital dalliance with a foreign "journalist".

Stephen Harper annonces the demise of the per vote subsidy.  Ya...this is sure to cut back on the number of elections.  We'll see if they turn off the per-person limit as well.  Let's crunch some numbers...this is a bit of a wanky analysis, but we'll use their research.  From last year:

Conservatives - 17.4 Million Earned - 27.9 Million Subsidy - 45.3 Million Total
Liberals - 7 Million Earned - 14.3 Million Subsidy - 21.3 Million Total
NDP - 4.4 Million Earned - 9.5 Million Subsidy - 13.9 Million Total

If you look at the totals, Cons/Libs is about 2.12:1.  Cons/NDP is 3.25/1.  If you look at only the earned amount, Cons/Libs is about 2.48/1 and Cons/NDP is 3.95/1.  So, the Conservatives have increased their advantage, but it's perhaps not as extreme as some may think.  As well, the Conservatives had the most to gain with their increased vote numbers, and then probably the NDP.  Either way, the Liberals were going to take a funding hit.  It's actually probably not super bad news for them, as their competition is no longer getting a much larger cheque than they would have (their 14.3 Million subsidy would have been chopped while the Cons and NDP went up).  Unfortunately, I don't expect them to stop there.  After all, what's more democratic than letting anybody or any entity contribute as much money as they'd like?

I don't know what to think of this next one.  A private member's bill suggests that unions should be subject to financial disclosure laws.  Nobody seems to have a direct idea as to why this is bad, but it merely suggests the possibility of something bad that could potentially happen.  So I'm going to give him a pass on this one.

Why don't we hear more about the Elections Canada case against the Conservatives?  This less-than-mainstream publication points out that the trial is most likely to be delayed again.

The parties actually teamed up to make some headway on something!  The Liberals suggested a national suicide prevention strategy and the Conservatives agreed.

Remember the 50-million-dollar Muskoka slush fund?  Well, turns out Tony Clement was, for some reason, using his personal e-mail account to converse with the Mayor of Huntsville on exactly how he should be spending the money.  We only know this because somebody was able to track down the messages through the Mayor's e-mails.  And the Auditor General agrees that things don't really add up here.

Apparently the crazy new flag law wouldn't apply within Parliament Hill Offices.  As there's a law that supercedes that law that prevents flags from flying within the offices.  So, basically, the Parliamentary Precinct Standards would break the new flag though.  This is an outrage!  Why are the Parliamentary Precinct Standards so anti-Canadian?

Some crazy idiots want to know the details of the new Canada/US North American Security agreement.  Ya...like it matters what the US plans on doing on Canadian soil to increas their security.  Terrorism!  Illegal immigrants!  Isn't that enough information?  Now, what exactly is "perimeter security"?  I don't think they're talking about all of the people that sneak through the arctic.  They're probably not too concerned about boats flooding the various coastlines.  So I think they're probably talking about massive airport crackdowns.  And the "carrot" is that cross-boarder traffic and waits will be reduced?  Ya.  Probably.  And it's only a billion dollars.  Peanuts, really.

Maybe Stephen Harper is on to something with his War of 1812 education project?  It still seems a bit off to me, somehow.  But Canadians knowing a bit more about their history isn't really a bad thing.  I just don't really trust his reasons for doing this.

The Government expands its unwillingness to negotiate on RCMP deals out to Newfoundland and PEI.  I don't think that expanding the number of Provinces pissed off about a situation is a great bargaining tactic.

Bonus culture hits the public sector.  Tony Clement offers up fat bonuses (well...promises not to take away fat bonuses) to public service heads that help him make his cuts.  In similar budget cutting news, the government is expecting $200 in savings for every $1 spent on consultants.  Which nails it for me that these guys don't know what they're doing.  Have you ever worked with consultants?  I have no question that they'll come up with $200 in expected savings.  Unfortunately I expect that $200 will turn into a cup of coffee and a donut once reality hits.

Stephen Harper continues his rhetoric against the evelist of evils...The Canadian Wheat Board.  Indeed, the train "barreling down a prairie track" is going to stop for no-one, so you're better to "get on it than lie on the tracks."  Wait...is this about wheat or about trains?

Finally, this outlines some of the money spent in the last year to influence American decision makers on the Keystone pipeline.  This Government doesn't mind spending money or helping people out.  It just needs to be about oil.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Flexing the Muscles - Week 22 - Sept 26 - Oct 3

What an awesome way to set the tone for your new government.  Limit debate on your cornerstone piece of legislation to two days.  Way to suggest that you're eager to work with the other parties in Parliament.  Other ways Stephen Harper could suggest that he's eager to create a great working Government:
- Limit opposition party members to two appetizers at the next inter-Parliament mixer
- Limit visiters interaction with his kitten to two quick pats on the head
- Allow two questions from the media at each campaign stop during the next election campaign

Tough on Crime?  Tougher on the budget.  Just one of the Omnibus crime bills is going to end up costing a few billion dollars over the next five years.  The original estimate was a whole lot less.  And a BC Supreme Court Judge has suggested that the new legislation will become a "strain on the bench."

Things get worse for Peter MacKay.  He was the guest of a man recently named head of a crown corporation.  Which is pretty cozy.  And even worser...3 million worth of flights in the last 4 years?  Yikes.  Our buddy Steve comes to his defense...but his numbers don't really add up.

The Conservatives have lost their battle to close the Insite Safe Injection Site.  Which is pretty awesome.

Here's an interesting editorial pointing out some of the fallacies of "ethical oil".  I knew that tar sands require a crazy amount of energy to extract the oil (approximately 1/5 of the energy extracted is required for production), but this is the first I've heard that it requires crazy amounts of oil to extract the oil.

Another Conservative law to fix something that isn't a problem.  Some car-dealership-owning-Conservative-MP is proposing a private members bill that would prevent people from preventing other people from displaying the Canadian flag.  By giving them jail time.  Says the article "It is not clear how he came up with the bill and what his motivation for it is."  I guess he has personal experience with the scourge of flag-flying-prevention sweeping the nation.  Shouldn't there be some mechanism within the Conservative party to prevent rookie MP's from embarrassing themselves like this?

Speaking of backbench MP's speaking out when they shouldn't...one of them is rankled about some funding going to an organization that provides abortions.  And another one.

Well.  Here it is.  Copyright legislation has been tabled.  Exactly as it was before.  This will make it illegal for you to jailbreak your iPhone.  This is legislation that was dictated to the Canadian government by an American industry lobby.  This legislation is a result of the Canadian Government asking the US Government to produce more public pressure so that they could justify it to Canadians.  I don't think it's a great idea.

Here's a lesson in media bias.  From the Globe - "RCMP won't pull out of BC if Province signs on to new deal"  From the Vancouver Sun - "Feds threaten to withdraw BC RCMP services if as contract talks break down"   Sounds like good faith bargaining to me.

And NDP MP points out that we're about to sell nuclear assets for $15 Million...after pumping $183 Million into them.  Six months ago.

Stephen Harper has decided that a war that our country didn't even fight is worth a lot of celebration.  I don't really get it.  Yes, it shaped our nation.  So did glaciers and smallpox.

Lastly, Steve probably shouldn't go meddling in Provincial politics as a new poll suggests that his talk of a "Tory Trifecta" scared the hell out of people.