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Gender: Male
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Home country: Canada
Current location: Toronto, Ontario
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 03:34 PM
Number of posts: 3,021

Journal Archives

I paid the fifth lowest tax burden in the world but all I got was this lousy infrastructure.

Despite so many in the US believing that Canada is a "socialist" haven of high taxes (repeatedly reported by the RW in the US), it turns out that major Canadian cities have a lower tax burden than US major cities.

The article in The Toronto Standard:
is a little slim on details, but it does link to the original study in .pdf format, as well as the Forbes article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2012/09/25/the-most-tax-friendly-country-in-the-world-is-spoiler-alert-its-not-the-u-s/
that gives a lot more detail.

Despite Canada's reputation as a heavily taxed country, it is apparently #2 in the world based on overall tax burden, with the following methodology:

The accounting giant conducted a major study of the general tax competitiveness of fourteen countries with an emphasis on the climate in 55 major international cities. The study took into consideration the relative corporate income tax, capital tax, sales tax, property tax and miscellaneous local business tax burdens of those countries, along with the statutory labor costs.

With India taking the #1 spot, and the USA coming in at #8, it puts things into a business perspective for the US.

One of the many ways we're screwed.

This news is a little old, but this is the first I've heard about it. It's hard to believe that this could happen, but... then again, it's not so hard to believe.

Here's the story:

To paraphrase, a brokerage employee during a drunken blackout state traded so much money on oil futures that it changed the price of oil globally. One man, while incoherently drunk.

Some excerpts (emphasis mine):
It was 7.45am on June 30 last year when the senior, longstanding broker for PVM Oil Futures was contacted by an admin clerk querying why he'd bought 7m barrels of crude in the middle of the night.

By 10am it emerged that Mr Perkins had single-handedly moved the global price of oil to an eight-month high during a "drunken blackout". Prices leapt by more than $1.50 a barrel in under half an hour at around 2am the kind of sharp swing caused by events of geo-political significance. Ten times the usual volume of futures contracts changed hands in just one hour.

By the time PVM realised the trades were not authorised and swiftly began to unwind the positions, losses of exactly $9,763,252 had stacked up.

Mr Perkins' trading stopped for a few hours, but in the early hours of the morning, he returned to the oil market via his laptop. He placed an incredible $520m in orders through ICE Futures Europe, where traders can buy or sell crude oil for future delivery and bet on whether prices will go up or down. The first trade was at 1.22am was at $71.40 per barrel and the last trade at 3.41am was at $73.05. During this period, Mr Perkins gradually edged up the price by bidding higher each time, until he was responsible for 69pc of the global market volume.

Mr Perkins told investigators that he has "limited recollection" of the entire episode, claiming he had placed the trades during a drink-induced stupor.

Having admitted to an alcohol problem and received treatment, Mr Perkins was banned from trading for five years and hit with a 72,000 fine, reduced from 150,000 because of potential financial hardship.

Let's put that into perspective. $1.50 increase on a barrel of oil means that some people had to decide between filling their car to go to work or eating that week. Did people their jobs because they couldn't afford the gas to get to them? Did people die because they couldn't afford oil to heat their homes. This one man pushed oil prices up -globally-.

I'd say he deserves a harsher punishment than what is indicated in the article, but the problem is systemic. Brokers and corporations all have their collective twitchy finger on the same button. But no, they want to be deregulated further. They want no oversight. They want the inmates to run the asylum.

A "die-hard conservative Republican" embraces Universal Health Care

Someone on my Twitter feed just linked me to this article. Really excellent read about someone who comes to the realization that they have been lied to for a long time about how Universal Health Care works. The author describes herself as a "die-hard conservative Republican" several times, who was disgusted by the idea of being under a gov't mandated health plan in Canada.

I'm Canadian, so I can't really speak to her experience in the US system, but having grown up in Canada, and having used the system all my life, her experience with the Canadian system rings true.

Some excerpts:
When I moved to Canada in 2008, I was a die-hard conservative Republican. So when I found out that we were going to be covered by Canada's Universal Health Care, I was somewhat disgusted. This meant we couldn't choose our own health coverage, or even opt out if we wanted too. It also meant that abortion was covered by our taxes, something I had always believed was horrible. I believed based on my politics that government mandated health care was a violation of my freedom.

Fast forward a little past the Canadian births of my third and fourth babies. I had better prenatal care than I had ever had in the States. I came in regularly for appointments to check on my health and my babies' health throughout my pregnancy, and I never had to worry about how much a test cost or how much the blood draw fee was. With my pregnancies in the States, I had limited my checkups to only a handful to keep costs down. When I went in to get the shot I needed because of my negative blood type, it was covered. In fact I got the recommended 2 doses instead of the more risky 1 dose because I didn't have to worry about the expense. I had a wide array of options and flexibility when it came to my birth, and care providers that were more concerned with my health and the health of my baby than how much money they might make based on my birth, or what might impact their reputation best. When health care is universal, Drs are free to recommend and provide the best care for every patient instead of basing their care on what each patient can afford.

The only concern I was left with was the fact that abortion was covered by the universal health care, and I still believed that was wrong. But as I lived there, I began to discover I had been misled in that understanding as well. Abortion wasn't pushed as the only option by virtue of it being covered. It was just one of the options, same as it was in the USA. In fact, the percentage rates of abortion are far lower in Canada than they are in the USA, where abortion is not covered by insurance and is often much harder to get. In 2008 Canada had an abortion rate of 15.2 per 1000 women (In other countries with government health care that number is even lower), and the USA had an abortion rate of 20.8 abortions per 1000 women. And suddenly I could see why that was the case. With Universal coverage, a mother pregnant unexpectedly would still have health care for her pregnancy and birth even if she was unemployed, had to quit her job, or lost her job.

Read the whole story here:

Halifax man pepper-sprays teen over gay slurs


A 39-year-old Halifax man says he used pepper spray on a teenager after she harassed his partner for six weeks.

"I actually pepper-sprayed her," said Christopher Whittle. Whittle spoke with the CBC's Elizabeth Chiu because he wants people to know this was not a random act.

The incident happened last Friday, when Halifax Regional Police said a 14-year-old girl was sprayed with an irritant near the parking lot of the Halifax Shopping Centre.

"This was happening every few days. She was coming and making comments about him being gay, and basically just taunting him for who he was, calling him a faggot, fruit whatever," Whittle said.

Friday, Whittle said he witnessed an incident between the girl and his partner. He said he snapped.

Whittle said he was shocked to find out the person he sprayed was a 14-year-old girl. He said she looks older, and assumed she was a woman.

"I do regret how I handled it. I could have handled it differently. But at the time I guess I was just so upset with everything that had gone on, that's how I reacted."

Police say whatever the reason, there's no excuse to pepper spray anyone.

"They should take other means such as calling police, and allow us to deal with it so they don't find themselves in a position of being charged criminally," said Halifax Const. Brian Palmeter.

The American Dream by the Provocateur Network

Interesting little video I was directed to yesterday. It's definitely worth the 30 minute run time to get through it (though the ending is perhaps a bit needlessly jingoistic).


From the information box on YouTube:

The AMERICAN DREAM is a 30 minute animated film that shows you how you've been scammed by the most basic elements of our government system. All of us Americans strive for the American Dream, and this film shows you why your dream is getting farther and farther away. Do you know how your money is created? Or how banking works? Why did housing prices skyrocket and then plunge? Do you really know what the Federal Reserve System is and how it affects you every single day? THE AMERICAN DREAM takes an entertaining but hard hitting look at how the problems we have today are nothing new, and why leaders throughout our history have warned us and fought against the current type of financial system we have in America today. You will be challenged to investigate some very entrenched and powerful institutions in this nation, and hopefully encouraged to help get our nation back on track.

I was going to put it into the Video & Multimedia section, but it seems a little... conspiracy-theory-ish for that department, at times.

Update: Here's a good review of the video, indicating some of its shortfalls. I did notice the absence of Glass-Steagall in the video, etc...
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