Tag Archives: BC

HST Rage

At first I was ambivalent about the HST. I didn’t know exactly what it was other than a combination of the GST and PST. I bought my house before the summer to avoid it. I thought the HST petition would be “fun”, that it would be nice to get a break from the Liberal party’s hegemony. There is something about taxes that inspires populist revolt. We feel the Boston tea party and the fall of the Bastille in our hearts whenever a politician dares to intimate that the government be somehow paid for the services it provides.It’s beginning to look like the HST petition was more of a referendum against our one-party legislature and Bill Vander Zalm’s return to politics than it was about helping the economy and making sure we had jobs.

This is not to say that the government is blameless. They completely botched the media coverage. They thought they could tack on an extra 7% to many goods and services without anyone noticing, when they should have been up front about the benefits from the start. Now, I’m not a tax lawyer, but from the research I’ve been able to gather, we need the HST for at least three reasons:

1) To reduce the cost of doing business in BC.

Under the PST system, BC businesses had to pay taxes on every input to their business. This includes heat, electricity, machinery, and computers. The HST eliminates these taxes and only needs to be paid on the end consumer product. This means more money for businesses so they can grow and invest in such grand things as HUMAN capital, which means better jobs for you and I. Even if you don’t have a job at this point, you could start your own business and have less costs to worry about.

2) To simplify the tax code for businesses.

Bringing in the HST and eliminating the PST takes out an entire level of bureaucracy for businesses. This frees up time and money they can use on other aspects of their services.

3) To keep tax revenue flowing from a rapidly aging population.

Like it or not, baby boomers are retiring, leaving a massive income tax revenue gap. An increased sales tax is a good way to make up the shortfall without increasing the burden on young people.

We should have known that, but they never bothered to tell us. Why should they, given how we reacted when we found out we’d be paying an extra quarter on our egg mcmuffins? The problem is that all political parties see themselves as immutable, flawless institutions, not a bunch of human beings in suits trying to make decisions.

If the HST does what it’s supposed to do and we all have more income because of it, who cares if we pay a little more sales tax? I think to complain about it gives the government a little too much credit. It’s up to us to make real changes in government. The HST is but one idea to make the province a better place and keep our government from spending money it doesn’t have. If we don’t have a better idea to take its place, all this petition is doing is tying up our supreme court and generating a little schadenfreude for bitter Liberal opponents who couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery, much less form a government.

No2010 and the Death of the Left

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan

-John Lennon

Last week the Olympic Flame was diverted from its intended path in front of the BC Legislature by protesters. The downtrodden and disenfranchised of this province rose together in glorious revolution to disrupt an integral cog in the all-consuming Olympic machine – the photo op.

Every time I see the No2010 protesters on the news, I am filled with armrest-ripping rage when I see their flakey, malnourished leaders make  a speech on the evils of capitalism. Is it because I’m just shy of my 30th birthday? Is it because my factory farm fed existence is being threatened? Have I sold out to the corporate machine, put on a blazer and started selling real estate?

Not exactly. Well, at least I’m not selling real estate. I’ve been following protests like these in the news since the so-called “Battle of Seattle” at the meeting of the G8 countries in 1999. In that time, wars have broken out, oil prices have skyrocketed, the cost of computer storage has plummeted, and every year these protests seem to be less about affecting actual  change and more about making noise and ruining things.

The Olympics are a particular sore spot for me because it is only tangentially related to the problems the protesters are trying to address.  Are any of the torch runners greedy land developers? Did any of the snowboarders widen the sea to sky? Should the Olympic flame be blown out as Terry Fox’s mother might carry it to the podium? Most of the people involved with the Olympics are simply trying to achieve their hopes and dreams. Disrupting that proves nothing. If the protesters are complaining that society sees them and the poor as human garbage, they do themselves no favors by acting the part.

You might say that making an out-dated and kyriarchal sporting event slight less enjoyable is a small price to pay in the never-ending class war between the rich and the poor. Over time these efforts will result in the anarchist paradise that supposedly we’re all hoping for. But let me ask you this.  Is there any mention on the No2010 website of actually talking to government officials? Will they be sending any bills to Parliament? The Legislature? City Council? Strata Council? Are they knocking on any doors? Raising campaign funds? I must admit I haven’t been looking all that hard. There’s only so much rhetoric I can take at one time. I did find a lovely Riot 2010? Riot Now! pamphlet, though.

Even if No2010 achieved its goal of stopping the Olympics, then what would happen? There never seems to be any plan with these movements, be it No2010, the Green Party, the Marijuana Party, or even the current NDP. I think that there is such deep-seated hatred of authority in these organizations that any kind of leadership or coordination is immediately shouted down. Meanwhile, the BC Liberals will probably be in power for the next 100 years. You can be sure they will pass any dumb idea that the Fraser Institute can cough up. It’s not because the Liberals are necessarily on the take. By the time the Fraser Insitute presents an idea for a bill, they’ve got all sorts of studies and petitions that make the legislature’s job much easier. The only people who even pay attention to protesters are running paranoid military juntas. Canada is nothing of the sort, so we’d do best to start acting like it.

No Strawmen Allowed in District 9

district9tease

I saw District 9 last Friday knowing only that it had aliens, a power suit, and no connections to movie, toy, or restaurant franchises. I saw aliens, and I saw a wicked power suit, but I also saw something profound. Consider this your spoiler warning.

For a while I subscribed to the documentary podcast by the BBC world service. I was sure that in-depth tales of far off places spoken in the Queen’s English would drown out distractions at work. However, the more episodes I listened to, the more I heard things that put me in the mood for a beat down. Chinese citizens we’re getting hit with nightsticks simply for filing a complaint. African immigrants were crossing the Sahara to Europe only to get robbed and left for dead. Iranian girls were being raped and then sentenced to death for adultery. I thought to myself, when does it get fun to do that kind of stuff to other people? Since I found I couldn’t do any work while angrily pacing the room, I stopped downloading the podcast.

When I saw the documentary-style presentation of District 9, I was reminded of the more grim episodes of the BBC podcast. The Aliens’ situation seemed no different than the plight of any transient population anywhere in the world. The film was also different from the podcast and other sci-fi fables about race in that the Aliens weren’t simply this noble race of “other”. They had problems just like any other large group of people. They were depicted as dirty, lazy, violent, and quite possibly high on catfood, their favorite narcotic. At the start of the film, they were not getting evicted because a bunch of bureaucrats woke up one day and thought “hmm, I’m not doing anything today, let’s go put some prawns in a concentration camp”. There was a genuine, but misguided sense of self-preservation involved here.

In places like BC we tend to think of racism in terms of slogans like “Save Darfur”, “Free Tibet”, and “Don’t say that n-word”. When you’re from a place like South Africa, like District 9 director and writer Neill Blomkamp, you are aware that overcoming racism is more complicated than that. It’s important to maintain that kind of perspective especially when we look at history. If we simply write off things like the Japanese internment or the Chinese Head Tax as simply the acts of some dirty racists, we lose the context that came with those events. Without it, we won’t be able to recognize such lines of thinking until we are entertaining them ourselves, and by then it may be too late to prevent something monstrous from happening.

District 9 is a triumph in that it steers clear of easy answers and logical straw men. It does everything a science fiction film is supposed to do. It takes reality, removes the political baggage, and allows us to see how we truly are, warts and all.

You are making Perez Hilton a Martyr! Stop it!

It pains me that I should comment on something like this, but the insanity of this story is going unchecked. Perez Hilton was allegedly punched by Will.I.Am’s manager and within minutes the internet lost its mind. Men who don’t even read Perez Hilton’s site were jumping to the fore with “GOOD, HE DESERVED IT!” What the hell? Then you have this other gallery of hypocrites pulling their pants up to their chests and saying “Weellll, I don’t think Perez should’ve been punched, but he is trash and a provocateur, etc. etc.” Bull-tweet. They all subscribe to the same baffling brand of mob justice that makes people go ape-spazz over cartoons of Mohammed. And for what? How many people do you know, Mr. Digg Commentor, or Reddit/Mixx/wasteoftime.com commentor, that have been made fun of by Perez Hilton? Answer? Zero. None. Nai. Nada. Sorry to drag you back to the real world where people work hard and pay taxes, buddy. Will.I.Am just had his best sales week ever, and his biggest problem is this twit with a netbook? He should be so lucky. If you want to call Perez names for crying his eyes out on youtube, that man (for lack of a better word) is crying his way to the bank with the extra traffic and ad revenue from his site.

For all the rants on the ubiquity of celebrity news, I’ve been able to avoid all the specific causes of what happened and what Perez said about the Black-Eyed Peas. I still don’t care about it. The only celebrity news that I care about is the kind that’ll lead to the Marvel Avengers movies. If I have any questions, I go ask my wife. That’s it. What I am angry about is the hypocrisy surrounding the idea that he should be silenced when we as a society have decided that we want to read what’s on his site and give him a ton of ad money to update every day.

Perez doesn’t deserve to get punched in the face. He doesn’t deserve to have his website taken down either. All the verbal abuse that the internet can dish out won’t affect him, he’ll just throw on a crown of thorns and dance around for your amusment. Look, I know it’s horrible that celebrity news has taken up such mental space in our society, but it seems like the more we fight it, the more we feed the beast. In fact, I don’t know why we have this demarcation line between “Important Stuff” and Celebrities. Haven’t we already voted with our attention and our dollars that it’s just as important as Iranian Revolutions and Shuttle launches? We can’t innoculate ourselves from tragic heroes and comic villains, it’s practically in our DNA. Instead of just complaining about it, we need to understand what void people fill up when they log on to TMZ or Access Hollywood. The answer will be just as important as an electric car or fusion power.

The Rules of the Game

Hummingbird604.com‘s Raul Pacheco had the opportunity to ask all three BC provincial party leaders the same three questions about the election. One of the questions was, “Give me three reasons to vote for each one of the other parties (NOT to vote for yours).” The answers were quite telling.

No leader would directly answer the question. All three used the question as an opportunity to re-iterate their party’s platform. Gordon Campbell almost had an answer by acknowledging the Green Party’s commitment to the environment. The Green Party mentioned the governmental experience of the other two parties, but used that as a basis for their argument that the Liberals and the NDP were too beholden to special interests to properly serve the public. The NDP did not make any mention of the other parties at all.

Of course, it is counter-intuitive for political parties to say anything nice about their opponents. However, shouldn’t they at least know why certain sections of the population vote for their opponents? Wouldn’t that be the whole reason they are traveling the province, shaking hands and kissing babies? I hope for their sake that they were simply providing their answers for the benefit of a popular local blog. If BC-STV referendum passes, they’ll have to be able to acknowledge why people vote for their opponents if they are going to get anything passed in the legislature. Canadians have demonstrated, at least at the federal level, that they prefer the compromise and negotiation of a minority government over the sweeping mandates and agendas of a majority. Bit by bit, we’ll all have to consult each other over which direction this country is going.