Saturday, September 12, 2009

Conservatives: Party of the Wealthy

In case there was any doubt in your minds, in case anyone was still confused about Stephen Harper's loyalty, in case a sliver of wonder existed in the Canadian psyche, you can put all that aside.

The Conservatives are going to hike E.I. premiums to help cover the federal deficit.

Now I know everyone hates the GST. But the fact is that a value added tax is one of the fairest ways to collect taxes. It hits the rich and the poor at the same rate. It applies to what you buy and doesn't care if you earned that money through capital gains or by working for a living. It only makes an exception for food and children's clothing and the like, to take the burden off lower income families.

Value added taxes are fair.

Therefore, Stephen Harper wants to reduce them. He wants the burden to be on income taxes where his wealthy friends can hide their incomes in stock options, capital gains and all sorts of schemes that I can't even personally describe.

"But come on, Greg", you're probably saying, "He lowered a tax that everybody hates, right?"

Maybe. But remember how the Martin government wanted to lower the tax rate on the poorest in the country via cutting income taxes? Remember how the Tories opposed that move in favour of GST cut? That tells you a story right there, doesn't it? Cut the GST for the rich while keeping the income tax rate higher for the poor. If you're a rich guy buying a yacht, you're very happy with the GST cut. The income tax cut barely affects you.

And now this. Let's crank up the E.I. rate. Employment Insurance is a very special kind of tax, isn't it? It stops applying to your income once you hit about $40k. It's a very regressive tax, meaning that it affects the working poor more than the rich.

Are we done with this story now? Can we stop pretending there's a "he said, she said" going on with who supports working families the most? Can we call a spade and spade and simply say that the Conservatives don't give a damn about your family and are selling this country to their wealthy party donors?

You know what? I think we can.

Tell you what, Mr. Prime Minister. The current E.I. rate is 1.73% on the first $42 300 a person earns. You can raise the E.I. rate on one condition: instead of stopping at $42 300 and having that be the end, you can raise the rate as long as you start a new bracket somewhere in the $250 000 range where people will start paying 1.73% again.

That ought to lick this "deficit problem" you're having.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Frightening: Coalition

Look out, here comes a boogeyman!

It's a good thing Stephen Harper is there to warn us that if he doesn't get a majority and rule over us for five years of tyranny, we may end up with a coalition representing a majority of the population!


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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

My Employee said to Your Employer

I'm gonna set your factory on fire.

Iko Iko an de.

In Italy, that's what they do when Alcatel-Lucent threatens to shut down their factory.

I told you the gas cans wouldn't stay empty.

I just hope they don't actually set themselves on fire. That won't teach a corporation anything other than a convenient way to avoid paying severance. On the other hand, you'd have to burn down a lot of factories before the corporation's insurance would go up enough to make them notice, so I don't know if that's a good idea. But it would be flashy.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Agh! Chemicals!

Oh, no! The Chemicals are Here!

This is the sort of analysis that led Arthur Benjamin to give a TED talk to tell us that mathematical education ought to focus more on statistics than calculus, as statistics is far more useful in everyday life.

First off, you're ignorant if you want to rid your life of "chemicals".

When blood tests showed your body's chemical load was relatively low, did you feel any better?
It wasn't low. There was a presence of chemicals that everybody has but are there acceptable levels? Frankly, I don't think so.

A presence of chemicals, huh? Like hemoglobin? Vitamin C? Vitamin D? Zinc? Calcium? How about water? Was there any dihydrogen monoxide? You know how dangerous that stuff is. It causes asphyxiation and has been used to torture people for centuries.

But it's not just the ignorance of what the word "chemical" means. It's also statements like these:

If I use any shampoo or soap on my daughter, I buy them at the health-food store and the less ingredients, the better.

Really? I believe that Ivory advertises itself and 99.44% pure. No additives. No scents. How would your health-food store match up to that?

Today we have the highest rate of childhood cancer, unprecedented levels of autism and asthma, food allergies, skin allergies – all these sensitivities that are clearly related to environmental conditions. And this idea that past generations lived in surroundings that were chemically toxic and they survived is also quite false. One in three die of cancer.

This is a really long chunk of confusion.

Cancer rates for children are not rising. They've been relatively stable for the last 25 years.

The reason you see high levels of autism is because we've been changing the definition of autism to include more people. In a bygone era, most of these people were just referred to as "retarded" and left at that. As well, there's the term "autism spectrum disorder" which refers to a wide variety of minor social problems. As much as some want to blame the "growth in autism" on vaccines and other nonsense, the biggest cause is our widening definition and better diagnostic methods.

If you want to talk about food allergies, you have to wonder how many children simply died because of peanut allergies in the old days. Now that our infant mortality rate has dropped so severely, there are more people with allergies.

And it was way, way more toxic in the old days. There were no workplace safety rules. People died of cancer from breathing in horrible quality air in all sorts of mines and factories. There was almost no pollution control on cars. Paint was made out of lead (the article mentions this and fails to note the contradiction to her own premise). Buildings were made out of asbestos.

Finally, of course more people are dying of cancer. Everyone has to die of something and once we've fixed everything else, the last few things left are going to become bigger threats. This is the fault of improvements in medicine, not chemicals in the environment.

I read articles like this, these compilations of ignorance, and I have to wonder what people are taking away from it. Am I going to end up with people trying to outlaws vaccines? Enforce circumcisions? Outlaw fluoridated water again?

Yes, there are concerns about certain chemicals. Yes, we have to perform scientific studies to figure out which ones are real problems and which of these claims is nonsense. But articles written by a clearly ignorant person who wants you to read other ignorant things on the web and then "go back to your own spine" for guidance, are worthless.

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