Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Justin Trudeau and the Sunny Ways Government - Who Really Represents Canadians?

With the Trudeau II government moving forward with its changes to Canada's tax code and the public backlash against changes to the private corporation tax regime that has been in place since 1972, it's time to see who backs the Liberal government's proposals.  Other than public pronouncements by various Liberal MPs who are playing a game with their constituents, the only way that we can really tell what Finance Minister Bill Morneau's Liberal peers really think of his proposals and the short, 75 day period of public consultation, is to look at the voting record on Vote Number 355 from Sitting Number 211 held on Tuesday, October 3, 2017.

Here is the opposition motion as proposed by Pierre Poilievre, MP for Carleton and one of Stephen Harper's former House of Commons pitfalls:  

"That, given the proposed changes to the taxation of private corporations as outlined in the Minister of Finance's paper “Tax Planning Using Private Corporations” will have a drastic negative impact on small and medium sized local businesses, the House call on the government to continue, until January 31, 2018, its consultations on these measures."

On the surface, this proposal seems quite reasonable, given the scope of the proposed changes to the tax code.

Here are the overall voting results:


Here are the voting results by party:


Note that only one Liberal voted for the opposition motion and that every other Liberal member voted against what would seem to be a reasonable request of a three and a half month delay.  The only brave Liberal MP who stood against his party's unreasonableness was Mr. Wayne Long, representing Saint John - Rothesay in New Brunswick.  I guess we now know what his chances are of getting a seat around the Cabinet table let alone getting Justin Trudeau's stamp of approval as a candidate for the Liberal Party of Canada in the next federal election, don't we?  In fact, Mr. Long was removed from two committees; the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities and the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics although his photo still resides on the human resources committee's websites as shown here:


Despite protestations by Liberal MPs like this from the Chair of the Commons Finance Committee, Wayne Easter, representing the riding of Malpeque in PEI:

"The government really needs to step back from this a bit. Let's go to the end of the consultation period, October 2nd. Let's ensure that these consultations are meaningful.  Maybe do a couple of the simpler things that were proposed, like ensuring that there isn't sprinkling of income to take undue advantage of the tax system."

Fortunately for him, Mr. Easter just happened to be AWOL on the day that the vote was taken.

...and like this from Liberal MP Sean Casey representing the riding of Charlottetown in PEI:

"I will freely acknowledge that to the extent the net has been cast too broadly, or has been perceived as being cast too broadly, that we missed the mark."

...and like this from Liberal MP Andy Filmore representing the riding of Halifax in Nova Scotia:

"Any changes that happen have to be able to provide parity for those that are funding their own retirements with those Canadians that are lucky enough to have those things looked after for them."

...and like this from Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr respresenting the riding of Kelowna - Lake Country in British Columbia:

"In my opinion, based on a ton of discussion I've had with people in my riding, and other MPs, I think we need a mediated solution between what's being proposed and what can be done.  We need some sort of compromise.  Some folks don't think these proposed changes are the right way to do it, and they're quite boisterous about it. I'm definitely going to convey their opinions to the decision-makers."

...the ladies and gentlemen that we elected to represent us under the Sunny Ways government in Ottawa are little more than sheep, following the orders of their Liberal Party elders rather than actually paying heed to those who took the time to vote for them.  Why should we be surprised?

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.


Monday, October 16, 2017

The Big Business of American Wars

While it is a bit dated, a Congressional Research Service study takes a broad look at the history of war in the United States and provides us with a summary of the high cost of warfare.  The period covered in the CRS report looks at all major conflicts that have involved American armed services between the years from the American Revolution (1775 to 1783) to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (2001 to 2010) and summarizes the total military cost of the conflicts in "current year dollars" (i.e. the amount spent at the time of the conflict) and in 2011 dollars as well as the cost of each conflict as a percentage of GDP in the peak year of the war as well as total defence spending as a percentage of GDP in the peak year of the war.  

Here we go, in chronological order:

1.) American Revolution - 1775 to 1783
Current Year Cost - $101 million
In 2011 Dollars - $2.407 billion
War Cost as a Percentage of GDP - N/A
Total Defense Spending as percentage of GDP - N/A

2.) War of 1812 - 1812 to 1815
Current Year Cost - $90 million
In 2011 Dollars - $1.553 billion
War Cost as a Percentage of GDP - 2.2 percent (1813)
Total Defense Spending as percentage of GDP - 2.7 percent

3.) Mexican War - 1846 to 1849
Current Year Cost - $71 million
In 2011 Dollars - $2.376 billion
War Cost as a Percentage of GDP - 1.4 percent (1847)
Total Defense Spending as Percentage of GDP - 1.9 percent

4.) Civil War (Union side) - 1861 to 1865
Current Year Cost - $3.183 billion
In 2011 Dollars - $59.631 billion
War Cost as a Percentage of GDP - 11.63 percent (1865)
Total Defense Spending as Percentage of GDP - N/A

5.) Civil War (Confederate side) - 1861 to 1865
Current Year Cost - $1 billion
In 2011 Dollars - $21.111 billion
War Cost as a Percentage of GDP - N/A
Total Defense Spending as Percentage of GDP - N/A

6.) Spanish- American War - 1898 to 1899
Current Year Cost - $283 million
In 2011 Dollars - $9.034 billion
War Cost as a Percentage of GDP - 1.1 percent (1899)
Total Defense Spending as Percentage of GDP - 1.5 percent

7.) World War I - 1917 to 1921
Current Year Cost - $20 billion
In 2011 Dollars - $334 billion
War Cost as a Percentage of GDP - 13.6 percent (1919)
Total Defense Spending as Percentage of GDP - 14.1

8.) World War II - 1941 to 1945
Current Year Cost - $296 billion
In 2011 Dollars - $4.104 trillion
War Cost as a Percentage of GDP - 35.8 percent (1945)
Total Defense Spending as Percentage of GDP - 37.5 percent

9.) Korean War - 1950 to 1953
Current Year Cost - $30 billion
In 2011 Dollars - $341 billion
War Cost as a Percentage of GDP - 4.2 percent (1952)
Total Defense Spending as Percentage of GDP - 13.2 percent

10.) Vietnam War - 1965 to 1975
Current Year Cost - $111 billion
In 2011 Dollars - $738 billion
War Cost as a Percentage of GDP - 2.3 percent (1968)
Total Defense Spending as Percentage of GDP - 9.5 percent

11.) Persian Gulf War - 1990 - 1991
Current Year Cost - $61 billion
In 2011 Dollars - $102 billion
War Cost as a Percentage of GDP - 0.3 percent (1991)
Total Defense Spending as Percentage of GDP - 4.6 percent

12.) Iraq - 2003 to 2010
Current Year Cost - $715 billion
In 2011 Dollars - $784 billion
War Cost as a Percentage of GDP - 1.0 percent (2008)
Total Defense Spending as Percentage of GDP - 4.3 percent

11.) Afghanistan/Other - 2001 to 2010
Current Year Cost - $297 billion
In 2011 Dollars - $321 billion
War Cost as a Percentage of GDP - 0.7 percent (2010)
Total Defense Spending as Percentage of GDP - 4.9 percent

While the study did cover the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the post-9/11 costs of actions in Pakistan, they are somewhat dated since they only go to what was spent in fiscal 2010, I will refer to the costs of the post-9/11 wars including America's involvement in Syria as summarized by the Watson Institute:


Here is a graph showing the cost of each war in 2011 dollars (excluding the post-9/11 wars which are in 2016 dollars):


Since the American Revolution in the mid-1770s, wars have cost Americans $10.507 trillion, excluding the estimated future interest costs on the debt associated with the post-9/11 wars which is projected to reach at least $7.9 trillion to the total costs by 2053.  As well, outside of World War II which was fought on a much larger scale than most of America's other wars, the cost of conflict has risen significantly as the decades have passed, thanks in large part to the use of high-priced technology.  

Conflicts, both internal and external, over the past two centuries  have cost Americans trillions of dollars, much of which has ended up as profits in the arms sector without mentioning the high cost to American families who have suffered the loss of their sons and fathers along with a growing number of daughters and mothers.  When politicians try to sell us on the next "good war", we need to remember that wars have had a very high cost and that very few benefit from the misery inflicted on the many.