Teabagger Litmus Test

It seems unthinkable that Ron Paul would be challenged in his upcoming primary race by an assortment of disgruntled advocates of the populist movement that he arguably helped inspire and motivate.

I don’t happen to agree with much of Paul’s radically libertarian agenda, but his voice is one that definitely needs preserving in Congress.

Is the HST Unconstitutional?

From the outset, let me just say that personally, I don’t care — in fact, I think that harmonizing taxes makes a lot of sense from the practical standpoint of efficiency in terms of revenue collection and remittance — but a lot of people are quite exercised about the issue. This latest effort spearheaded by Wilhelmus Nicholaas Theodore Marie “Bill” Vander Zalm contends that the proposed HST violates Sections 91 and 92 of the British North American Act of 1867.

Evidently, it’s sort of a “states-rights” argument (to put the dispute into a context that may be more familiar to our American friends) insofar as the BNA Act directed that the right to tax income (i.e., a “direct tax”) was delegated to the provinces; and it was clearly indicated that any monies so raised must be raised provincially, and used for provincial purposes. Backers of the petition maintain that according to the BNA Act, the federal government was denied the right to levy income tax and are relying on a precedent from the SCOC rendered in 1950 involving the transfer of powers from the provincial to the federal government as it related to application of the Income Tax Act to bolster their argument.

Good luck with that.

I’m not a lawyer and don’t even play one on the Internets, but it seems completely obvious to me that a consumption tax such as the GST/HST is quite a different animal than a “direct” income tax. The SCOC ruling cited by the petitioners does however throw the whole process into some amount of question. In that particular case, reference was made by federal and provincial attorneys general concerning the province of Nova Scotia’s authority to make a certain law which would permit the imposition of an indirect tax if the power to do so were delegated by the federal Parliament to the provincial Legislature. By unanimous decision the court held that the federal Parliament and provincial Legislatures have non-overlapping powers that cannot be delegated from one law-making body to the other.

Should be interesting to see how this plays out. Especially vexing to the Campbell government is the dictate that should the movement to have the HST aborted succeed, any revenues that may have accrued to the government past its planned implementation date would have to be rebated. The mechanism for how that might work however is entirely unclear…

Better is… Better

The “smart grid” concept explained in practical terms using electric hybrids automobiles as a starting point for illustrating the idea of how a more intelligent framework of energy distribution might work.

This new series of videos produced by Peter Sinclair (aka ‘greenman3610′) promises to be very encouraging to those of us who think there’s more to solving the global energy predicament than the dimwitted stratagem of “Drill baby, drill!” or a bleak future of scarcity involving caves and such…

Update: Video replaced with newer upload.

Wildfires & The “Free Market”

Sean Holman poses the question of the B.C. government: “Will wildfires burn a hole in the coming fiscal year’s budget?”

A: Yes, likely they will.

Which then naturally begs the supplementary question as to where the shortfall will be recouped from… And the answer to that, most probably of course, is discretionary spending — i.e., arts programs, environmental initiatives, or anything vaguely charitable that even remotely benefits the disadvantaged.

Or maybe not — but in any case, where is the “free market” when it comes to addressing problems such as this? Why isn’t the “free market” private sector collectively mobilizing its considerably wealthy means and abilities to combat wildfires? After all, for those who maintain that government is the nefarious root of all evil, shouldn’t independent businesses (including their investors and shareholders) immediately leap to the fore so as to protect their own feedstock?

Why should risk management, damage control, fire suppression, and other forms of hazard abatement be “socialized” activities where the cost is shared by everyone, but the profit and private enrichment from exploitation of those same resources accrue solely to corporate entities that evidently have little regard in terms of stewardship for their maintenance and long-term sustainability?