Higher wages do not materialize by government fiat

Want higher wages Ontario? Attract private sector investment

Higher wages do not materialize by government fiatWhenever some group claims that wages can be artificially boosted via government intervention, as one Ontario lobby group recently did, ask them this question: Can boats on a dry California lake float higher without mountain snow-packs first melting into rivers and lakes? If their response is “obviously not,” ask this follow-up query: Then how can…

Canadians are very generous to Canada’s Aboriginal people

A few facts about native funding in Canada

Canadians are very generous to Canada’s Aboriginal peopleThinking hard about history can be a useful exercise if incorrect assumptions are reformed. This was one goal of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s report on residential schools, which, in early June, published a 388-page summary of its forthcoming final report. Others have already debated some assumptions in the report – healthy, given that history…

Rent control would be a disaster for investors

Rent control has been a disaster wherever it’s been tried, but that’s never stopped politicians from suggesting it

Rent control would be a disaster for investorsRent control has been a disaster wherever it’s been tried. But this never stops politicians from suggesting it. Last November, the leader of the then-fourth place party in the Alberta legislature, now newly minted Premier Rachel Notley  argued that Alberta needed rent control. Bad idea. To understand why, consider a simple example. Let’s suppose a…

The provinces are lousy at controlling spending

The provinces have been demonstrably poor at controlling spending within justifiable parameters

The provinces are lousy at controlling spendingProvincial cries for more federal money are as old as Confederation, and rarely have any substance to them. After all, it’s easier to demand that Ottawa ante up federal cash – to cry about some mythical “fiscal imbalance” – rather than examine how provinces already spend taxpayer money. It’s also easier than raising provincial taxes…

Alberta prosperity didn’t happen by accident

Some economic facts of life the NDP government needs to keep in mind if it wants Alberta to continue to prosper

Alberta prosperity didn’t happen by accidentIn a famous explanation of why voters choose the governments they do, a 1990s-era adviser to Bill Clinton remarked, “It’s the economy, stupid.” That’s not wholly accurate; voters toss parties out (and vote parties in) on matters other than unemployment rates and incomes. The recent Alberta election is only the most obvious example. Nonetheless, economic…

Don’t define compassion by government spending

The assumption that government is best placed to care for us overlooks a fundamental truth

Don’t define compassion by government spendingIn a recent column in the Edmonton Journal, a local historian mused that modern governments have become too enamoured with “the unfettered market of purely economic conservatism.” He then equated higher taxes and more government spending with compassion. Let’s dispel a myth. Few actually believe in completely “unfettered markets” – that is, the absence of…

Government budgets are like volcanoes

It’s what underneath that counts

Government budgets are like volcanoesImagine you’re near what you thought was a dormant volcano but it suddenly erupts. Assuming you escape, you might later reflect that there was nothing “sudden” about it. The eruption resulted from earlier events deep within the Earth’s crust, when tectonic plates moved and later produced the eruption that almost trapped you in a hot…

The feds doesn’t owe Ontario – or Alberta – more money

Premiers will invent any excuses - including blaming it all on the federal government - to cover their own failures

The feds doesn’t owe Ontario – or Alberta – more moneyIn a year when two heavyweight provinces, Ontario and Alberta, which together constitute 55 per cent of Canada’s GDP, are running substantial deficits, there are three ways to reduce the red ink. Strategy one: cut (and reform) spending, something neither province has been serious about. Strategy two: raise taxes (which both provinces have done), then…

Money kept by Canadian taxpayers is not a “loss”

It is essential in a democracy that those in charge always prove they actually need our cash

Money kept by Canadian taxpayers is not a “loss”With tax season at hand, here’s a useful tip for any tax-weary Canadian. When some people refer to income or other money not taxed as a “loss” to government, remember that they may merely be using technical language. In contrast, others really do lament any reduction or “omission” in possible taxes that flow to governments.…

Alberta budget dings taxpayers with $11.4 billion in extra taxes

Is Jim Prentice channeling his inner Don Getty?

Alberta budget dings taxpayers with $11.4 billion in extra taxesAlberta Premier Jim Prentice dropped hints for months that the 2015 provincial budget was a once-in-a-generation chance to “fix” Alberta’s finances. That didn’t happen. Instead, the province raised taxes on Albertans in a manner akin to the worst of the late-1980s budgets. That was the last time Alberta faced chronically high per capita program spending…