Where’s the Money?

One cannot pick up any newspaper without seeing a reminder that advances in technology are rapidly changing the way people now live and work. Canadians are as active in developing new ideas as any national group but are not as good when it comes to reaping the benefits of their future commercial developments.

Whoever wins the current election might be well advised to make changing this a priority because it is from ideas that jobs in manufacturing, distribution, and sales spring. Furthermore, one idea often leads to another, and the economic development process starts anew.

For all the encouraging information coming out about ground-breaking new developments, there seems to be an equal amount emerging about technology that is on the verge of production being sold to a large, often offshore, industrial or investment concern. In too many cases it means that the technology itself is exported and the highly skilled manufacturing jobs it generates are developed for other people. In other cases, the income derived from it benefits the offshore buyer, and not Canada.

If this is a matter of real concern, Canada’s tax system could stand reforming to allow for large scale capital assembly so that money created from peoples’ good ideas stays in the country to be used for the development of new businesses.  If any of the local candidates could use some suggestions for where the money could be used, they might consider the opportunities available in the forest products sector and their potential for new materials used in the construction of new housing.

A Modest Proposal

It would be to the taxpayers’ enduring advantage if the North Cowichan council put their time to use reconsidering their recent unconscionable decision to raise municipal taxes. That they have done this during a period when their Federal and Provincial counterparts, under cover of Covid, have burdened us with the largest financial liability in our history, is inexcusable.

The taxpayer – there is only one – must now take responsibility for the repayment of federal debt estimated at more than one trillion dollars. BC’s debt is still an open question because the NDP have yet to show some believable figures.

North Cowichan has an opportunity to show national and international leadership by undertaking two significant initiatives. First would be a cost cutting program that will be sufficient to allow for an immediate ten percent reduction in municipal taxes. The second would be to approve some of the development of market properties which have been sitting before them for some time. This simple action would add value to the properties concerned, increase the municipal tax base, and make up the shortfall in revenue.

As a further example to their profligate colleagues at higher levels, now wallowing in pro-forma pay raises, the councilors should opt to reduce their stipends from all sources to a nominal one dollar for the period to the end of their term. This would be a refreshing example that they recognize their primary objective is the welfare of the community and that, in these Covid afflicted days, they recognize that they and our municipal employees are truly “in this together.”

Canadians Easily Foiled

It appears that Canadians are being foiled yet again.  Governmental policy around inflation is creating financial stress for hard-working citizens.  It is no wonder that taxpayers are hostile to the threat of even more tax increases, especially those attempted at being cleverly disguised.  High costs combined with high taxes are driving the average citizen into the ground.

The current inflation number is recorded as low, but it appears the actual inflation rate is high, and climbing.  The culprit for this confusion is the Consumer Price Index itself;  that mysterious measurement tool – the cost of a fixed basket of goods.  It has been modified, and the measurement markers changed.  “This modified CPI is used to justify a whole gamut of policies, including keeping wage increases low and giving government bragging rights about how low annual inflation is”   (1)

Modifying the CPI criteria on paper does not change the reality felt by Canadians.  However, it does allow government free reign to indulge in “tax-bracket-creep”.  This is why, even after a cost of living adjustment, if one is so lucky to get such an extravagant thing, peoples’ after-tax-dollars are still stretched to the breaking point.

It is likely that the current inflation rate is sitting somewhere around 5% or 6%, according to the old models.  (In 1980, it was around 12%).  Tragically, Canada could be sinking into 1980’s inflation territory.  Will Canadians continue to look the other way, or will they become engaged and start paying attention to their political landscape?

(1)   Phil Venoit, President of BC Building Trades, 2019

Heading Back to an Old System?

It would be very reassuring if all public sector meetings began with a recognition of the private sector of the economy.  For it is there where the wealth is created that provides the income on which taxes are levied to pay for all our well-paid public servants and their grandiose plans. There is likely no hope for this ever to happen anywhere in the Cowichan Valley, because our Federal and Provincial representatives, together with most of their municipal colleagues, seem to have never been members of this part of the economy. Few, if any, of them appear to have ever had a paycheque that the taxpayer did not sign. It is reminiscent of the time when an educated but unproductive elite needed the feudal system for their survival.

Alistair MacGregor’s private member’s bill to cut off access to the coastline for deep sea vessels awaiting berths at local ports is an example of legislation proposed to meet the convenience of very few people. That his new bill would have the result of providing yet another unneeded obstacle for our stumbling economy seems irrelevant to him.  It shows a complete lack of appreciation that west coast port operations are one of the few bright spots remaining in the national industrial establishment. Excessive taxes and inconsistent regulation have sent capital fleeing to other countries and not enough seems now available to improve the operations of the port in order to reduce or quell the need to moor expensive ships in remote locations.

Mr. MacGregor’s proposal is yet another reminder that once viable Canadian industries are now surviving on reduced revenues and curtailed markets. Our local, Provincial and National governments are very creative in finding ways to consume the wealth provided by taxpayers but seem utterly incapable of understanding what needs to be done to produce it.