Sunday, June 29, 2014

Idle no More: the Supreme court is the biggest threat to BCs economy: it is time to fight back

The Supreme court of Canada is now one of the biggest threats to the Canadian economy and is certainly the biggest threat to the BC’s economy. It is time to fight back the only way possible. It is time politicize judicial appointments and judicial decision making.    Billions upon billions of dollars at state. No longer can Canadians stands idly by as idiot judges give one ethnic group control of the country’s resources. Judges with a predilection for idiocy must be made objects of scorn and a heavy political cost must be attached to political parties that appoint such judges to positions of power. Immune from the savages of politics for too long every word, every foible and every indiscretion must used to against them.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Treason is reason enough to Politicize the Supreme Court

The supporters of native rights like to talk about Canada having to negotiate nation to nation with various native bands. The notion is absurd. A nation without recognized boundaries is no more a nation in the way Canada is than a “marriage” is a marriage without a marriage license. No foreign government recognizes the various bands as being a nation. NATO is not going to offer membership to the Squamish “nation”. The US and Mexico are likewise not going to ask them to join the NAFTA. The US is not going enter into negotiations to have the Squamish nation join the US. However, the 9 idiots saw it otherwise. They have decreed that because title was not formally extinguished a nation that clearly no longer exists does. This is akin to saying that any soldier declared missing in the American Civil War is not dead for lack of a body. Sadly, for Canada, the Supreme Courts resurrection is far more than a textbook non sequitur. The undead nations want their pound of flesh and billions and billions of wealth that now flows to Canadians as a whole will no go to one ethnic group instead. What is lost on the supporters of this abomination is the sure absurdity of another nation’s supreme court similarly cleaving off a whack of national territory to apiece another “nation”. The citizens of those countries would not stand for such treasonous behaviour. Canadians should not either. I was once loath to see the Supreme Court politicized, as it is in the States, thereby bringing it under political control, but years of judiciary idiocy have changed my mind. For would be Supreme Court appointees down south abortion is the political litmus test par excellence. It is time to make national loyalty the litmus test up here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Trudeau and the Median Wage

Trudeau likes to point out that Medium wages have been stagnant for over 30 years now. This is just as true of Canada as it is of the US. However, Trudeau has failed to gain much traction for two reasons. One, the issue of fairness aside (productivity has gone up by nearly 47% since then), Trudeau never identifies why this is a pressing issue rather than an annoyance. After all, it would appear that the kids are alright. Your average worker is doing just as well as his 1980 counterpart. As a result, Trudeau’s remedies seem unconvincing and somewhat half baked. Local Liberals have fared no better. I recently attended a Liberal event in which the evening’s speaker, Kevin Evans, channeled Mr. Kijiji Jason Kenny and outlined the skills gap that he contended currently plagues Canada. The only problem is there is no evidence whatsoever that a skills gap exists. This was pointed out recently by Don Drummond and by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. You can read the later’s report here. As for the government's job vacancy numbers,

"the growth in job postings was almost entirely due to a rise in postings on the classified site Kijiji. The site allows the same job to be posted in numerous sections, which inflated the job numbers." 

The second problem is that the vacancy rate is not the only bad numbers the government has been flaunting. By scrapping the mandatory long form census and replacing it with the voluntary National Household Survey, the Conservatives have effectively cooked the books. According to census data, between 1980 and 2005 median income jumped a mere $53. However according to the most recent census in mere 5 years it jumped an impressive $6464 -- in midst of the Great Recession no less. To say this is a wildly improbable finding would be an understatement. Canada was not the one Western nation to see massive increases in the median wage when most nations were at best holding steady. Something else was afoot. 

 “Brian Murphy, special advisor with Statistics Canada’s income division, cautioned not to read too much into the large jump in income from 2005. “It’s a brand new survey,” he said. “I’d be looking for these long-term trends in other data sources. It’s really important for income statistics to hold the methodology constant.” 

A note attached to the new survey warns people of the change. 

 “When comparing income indicators from one source to another, users should be aware that the methodology of how the information was collected, the concepts used and response patterns can affect the comparability of income information. Given the sensitivity of most income indicators to such methodological differences, users should use caution when comparing income estimates from the NHS to other household income surveys, administrative data or 2006 or earlier censuses." 

Still people will naturally enough want to compare to the new data with the odd thinking they are making an apples to apples comparison. The Liberals need to do a far better job explaining that they are actually making an apples to oranges comparison.  They could start by pointing out the huge uptake in the non response rate between 2006 and 2011.   The non-response rate for the 2006 long form census was 6%.  This compares to a 20% non response rate in Vancouver and Montreal, 25% non response rate in Toronto for the NHS.

To add insult to injury, the Conservatives almost always talk about family median income instead of about median income. This matters a lot. For one, the number of women entering the workforce has risen steadily over the last couple of decades and with that family income has also risen even has median income has remained the same. There are more two income families than ever before. For another, Canadians are getting married ever later in life and as a result many more Canadian couples are into their peak earning years by the time they decide to tie the knot. This has impacted the numbers. For these and other reasons the Liberals bring the discussion back to median income.

That said, in order to really make hay, the Liberals at both a local level (nominations are coming up) and federal level need to switch from talking about the need to increase wages per say to talking about the need to reduce fixed costs for families. For it is fixed costs that are jacking up private debt levels and putting the Canadian economy at risk. Child care is one driver. In Vancouver it is $1200 a month. But most important of all is housing. In Vancouver the average home listing on MLS in 2000 was around $300,000. A decade later it was over $800,000. A modest increase in the median wage and or modest tax cuts are not going to do the trick. As RBC pointed out, 

"A typical Vancouver-area home buyers would need to allocate 92% of their income to carry the costs of a two-storey home".
Liberals also needs to bring the soaring costs of post secondary education into the equation. In Ontario, for example, average fees, in current dollars, have increased from $1,464 in 1990-91 to $6,348 in 2012-13. They can do this by pointing out how the ever increasing student debt levels, coupled with sky high cost of housing will ultimately worsen the coming demographic crush. Couples, especially those living in the Lowermainland, can not afford to have too many kids full stop. However, for those that can afford them, the point at which they can afford them is getting later and later in life. Indeed, more babies in Canada are born to women over 30 than under. Incidentally, the two provinces where women wait the longest to have kids, viz., Ontario and BC, also have the most expensive real estate. In 2010, 56.2% of Ontario babies were born to women over 30 and 55.7% of BC babies were born to women over 30. The Canadian average is 51.2. The longer couples wait to have kids the smaller their window for having kids

Monday, June 09, 2014

How goose the Numbers: household income

There are several ways to goose the income numbers.  One way I have already mentioned.  Make the long form census voluntary.  People will naturally enough want to compare to the new data with the odd thinking they are making an apples to apples comparison.   Only you will know they are comparing apples and oranges.   Again, “Brian Murphy, special advisor with Statistics Canada’s income division, cautioned not to read too much into the large jump in income from 2005.  “It’s a brand new survey,” he said. “I’d be looking for these long-term trends in other data sources. It’s really important for income statistics to hold the methodology constant.”  Another way is to switch from talking about median income to talking about household income.   The number of women entering the workforce has risen steadily and with that household income has also risen.   Also Canadians are getting married ever later in life.  As income levels tend to rise throughout ones twenties and into one’s 30s, the decision to delay marriage longer is also driving up family income levels.    

Sunday, June 08, 2014

How to increase the Median Income in one easy step

Scrap the long form census and presto. The median income which had jumped a mere $53 in 25 years goes from $41,404 to $47,868 in 5 years. Of course, “Brian Murphy, special advisor with Statistics Canada’s income division, cautioned not to read too much into the large jump in income from 2005.  
“It’s a brand new survey,” he said. “I’d be looking for these long-term trends in other data sources. It’s really important for income statistics to hold the methodology constant.” The Conservatives replaced the mandatory long-form census in 2011 with the voluntary National Household Survey. http://business.financialpost.com/2013/09/11/canadians-are-making-a-lot-more-money-especially-in-the-north/

Thursday, June 05, 2014

The Stagnant Median Income: Trudeau needs to look to Elizabeth Warren

Trudeau likes to point out that Medium wages have been stagnant for over 30 years.  This is just as true of Canada as it is of the US.  A 2008 study by Sharpe, Arsenault and Harrison is typical.  They found that inflation adjusted median income had jumped $53 dollars, from $41,348
(2005 dollars) in 1980 to $41,401 in 2005.   http://www.csls.ca/notes/ Note2009-2.pdf   Fairness aside (productivity has gone up by nearly 40% since then), Trudeau never identifies why this is a pressing issue rather than an annoyance.  After all, it would appear that the kids are alright.  Your average worker is doing just as well as his 1980 counterpart.  As a result, Trudeau’s remedies seem unconvincing and somewhat half baked.  For example, I recently attended a Liberal event in which the evening’s speaker, Kevin Evans, outlined the skills gap that he contended currently plagues Canada.  The only problem is there is no evidence whatsoever that an such skills gap exists. This was pointed out recently by former Bank of Canada head Don Drummond and by the Parliamentary Budget Officer.  You can read the later’s report here.  http://www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/ files/files/Labour_Note_EN.pdf   

What Trudeau needs to talk about is the soaring costs of post secondary education.   In Ontario average fees, in current dollars, have increased from $1,464 in 1990-91 to $6,348 in 2012-13. http://www.cbc.ca/news/ canada/university-tuition- rising-to-record-levels-in- canada-1.1699103  He needs to talk about the high cost of child care. In Vancouver it is $1200 a month.  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/by-the-numbers-how-much-does-daycare-really-cost-in-canada/article15006208/ Most important of all, he needs to talk about the high cost of housing, particularly in Vancouver and Toronto.  In Vancouver the average home listing on MLS in 2000 was around $300,000.   A decade later is was over $800,000.   http://www.rbc.com/ economics/economic-reports/ pdf/other-reports/ vancouverhouse.pdf   In the long term the ever increasing costs of education, coupled with sky high cost of housing will ultimately worsen the coming demographic crush.  Canadian couples can not afford to have too many kids full stop.  However, for those that can afford them, the point at which they can afford them is getting later and later in life.   Indeed, more babies in Canada are born to women over 30 than under. Incidentally, the two provinces where women wait the longest to have kids, viz., Ontario and BC, also have the most expensive real estate. In 2010, 56.2% of Ontario babies were born to women over 30 and 55.7% of BC babies were born to women over 30.  http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/.
3ndic.1t.4r@-eng.jsp?iid=75 The Canadian average is 51.2. In summary, the medium wage might have kept up with inflation, but increasingly life’s necessities and big ticket items are ever more expensive.   Once he has sketched out the issue, Trudeau needs to come up with solutions that address these soaring costs.  All the tax credits and tax cuts in the world are not going to do the trick. As RBC pointed out, "A typical Vancouver-area homebuyers would need to allocate 92% of their income to carry the costs of a two-storey home".  
Although her work focused on the US, the work of Elizabeth Warren is a great place to start. Even before the 2008 downturn Warren pointed just how much pressure the middle class was under. She pointed out that Americans are spending ever less on discretionary items and not more. Indeed, compared the spending habits of a 1970 family of 4 to a the spending habits of a 2003 American family of 4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akVL7QY0S8A&noredirect=1 The 2003 family spent 32% less on clothes 18% less on food and eating out 52% less on appliances 24% less on a car 76% more for a mortgage on a 6.1 room house than the 1970 family paid for mortgage on a 5.8 room house. 74% more percent for employer sponsored health care 52% more for transportation (more cars and more travel time) 100% more for childcare 25% more for taxes (more two income families meant more taxable income.) The 2003 family kept cars two years longer, took 33% less vacations and was significantly more likely to live in a home older than 25 years old. The 2003 family devoted 75% of their income to housing, taxes, health care and child care and transportation. The 1970 family devoted 50%. Despite a large increase in family income between 1970 and 2003 (there was a huge increase in the number of two income families) the 1970 family had more money for discretionary spending and savings. Sky rocketing college tuition should also be factored in. Not only has tuition costs gone up 231% since 1970, college education is deemed necessary in ways it was not before. As Elizabeth Warren points out, more people believe the moon landing was fake than believe a university education is not needed for entrance into the middle class. Of course, a huge increase in the above mentioned areas only tells part of the story. American families are much more vulnerable today for other reasons as well. Not only has the savings rate declined from 11% in 1970 to below zero in 2001, the number of families that depend upon two incomes in order to make ends meat has skyrocketed. These familers are vulnerable if either partner looses gainful employment. There is no one there to step into the void if one of partner goes down. To make matters worse the social safety net is not as wide as it once was. This is especially so when it comes to health care. Whereas the average uninsured person in 1970 was a 23 year old male with no children (in other words someone who choose not to have health insurance), the average uninsured person in 2003 was 35 year old married parent of two. It is not just the poor that vulnerable either. In 2001 1.4 million lost their health insurance. Of those, 800,000 earned more than $75,000 a year. It is no wonder the bankruptcy rates have skyrocketed. Since the late 1990s an American married couple with children is more likely to declare bankruptcy than to file for divorce. 90% of those filing for bankruptcy do so for 1 of 3 reasons, viz., an illness in the family, family breakup or job loss.



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Trudeau and Abortion

I first published this in the comment section at Blunt Objects.  Kyle had written had post on the subject.  http://blunt-objects.blogspot.ca/2014/05/gun-meet-foot-lpc-abortion-policy.html

Politics of same sex marriage are not at all akin to the politics of abortion. Anyone with even a fleeting understanding of the SSM issue years ago could have seen the issues potential. (Incidentally, the same is true for marijuana legalization.) It was one of those rare issues that the public had the ability and willingness to delve into. More importantly, the arguments against SSM are idiotic and little bit by little bit the defenders of “traditional marriage” were always going to pay a price for making those arguments. By contrast, public opinion on abortion has remained remarkably stable with no hint of either side making a breakthrough. There is a good reason for this. Leaving aside the idiotic notion that personhood begins at conception, the abortion debate is a philosophical and scientific labyrinth.

In this sense, Trudeau abortion stance could be said to be a mistake. Best to leave sleeping dogs alone. That said, electoral success for the Liberals in the next election depends on Liberals making a breakthrough in area of the country with a population large enough to affect the national numbers. With the hope that such a surge will get supporters of other parties to think about voting Liberal. An explanation is in order. Voters do not often vote strategically, but they did in both 1993 and 2011. As the PC voters in Quebec began to move on mass over the Bloc in 1993, many traditional PC voters elsewhere in the country went in search of a new home and no doubt strategic considerations, certainly region ones, played a role for many. In Western Canada most followed the lead of the NDP voters, who had already migrated over to the Reform party prior to the writ being dropped. (The NDP vote collapsed before the PC vote did in 1993. The PCs were tied with Libs going into the 1993 election. That was in marked contrast to the NDP. Going into the 1993 election the NDP were at 8% in the polls. They finished with 7% of the vote. In other words, the notion that NDP voters moved over to the Libs to block the Reform party is not there in 1993. As for 1997 and 2000, the regional makeup of Canadian politics, the unpopularity of NDP governments in Ontario and BC and NDP support for the Charlottetown accord explain why the NDP vote did not return to normal until 2004. Strategic voting had nothing to do with it.) However, a sizable chunk of PC voters in Western Canada moved over to the Liberals. Most PC voters migrated to the Reform party in Ontario and in the Maritimes the PC vote moved over to the Liberals in NFLD and PEI and to the Reform party to lesser extent in NS and NB. Finally, in Quebec a chunk of what was left of the PC vote moved over in equal portions to the Bloc and Liberals.

Something similar happened in Ontario in 2011. As the NDP began to surge in Quebec and Ignatieff turned in one of the worst debate performances ever, the Liberal vote in and around Toronto collapsed. Suburban Liberal voters moved in droves to the Conservatives and urban Liberal voters moved in droves to the NDP. The party was ripped in two.

If the Liberals are to reverse the 2011 tide, the most likely place for a breakthrough is urban Toronto. The NDP appear too strong in Quebec for a frontal assault, but the NDP appear especially vulnerable in urban Toronto. Layton and Chow are out of the picture, Toronto has been a bastion of Liberal support and the polls both provincially and federally are pointing in the right direction. All of this brings me back to the topic of abortion. While taking a more robust pro choice position gives little hope of gaining the Liberals new converts on a national level, inside pro choice urban Toronto the policy could very well bare fruit and could help establish a needed Liberal bridge head there.