Dumb-ass schnooks we are

Replay from May 27, 2011 because the issues have not changed:

Too-polite Canadians accept almost any declaration from people in authority. We are naive, complacent schnooks. Dumb, as well; the proof is all around. Implementation of HST and the alterations BC Liberals now propose provide indisputable evidence that they have lied repeatedly to us. HST is only part of the corroboration.

BC Liberals have grown comfortable with lying to citizens. Innocent white lies or pernicious whoppers; same thing, no difference. But these dishonest politicians are merely agents of self interest, obedient to shadowy figures who control the joy sticks.

Remember when Liberals promised that consumer prices would drop, the economy would boom and jobs would swell?  What happened? Colin Hansen and Gordon Campbell said things very clearly when they announced HST in 2009, including these justifying statements by our then Finance Minister:

The leading economists and think tanks tell us that the introduction of the HST is the single biggest thing we can do to improve our economy by making our businesses more competitive and encouraging billions in new investment. This will result in higher productivity, higher wages and lower consumer costs. 

“. . . With a value-added tax system (VAT) goods become less expensive to produce, and those savings are passed on to consumers. 

“In B.C., the biggest driver of our standard of living is our export markets. There is no other measure that would make our export markets more competitive and, as a result, create jobs in BC . . . 

“There is no denying that in some cases HST will apply where previously the PST did not. But the long term benefits of lower consumer prices and higher wages will far outweigh those impacts.

“The revenue generated from the HST will be about the same as the revenue projected from the current PST system.

“This shift from PST to HST will not be any kind of a “windfall” of revenue to the Provincial coffers. 

“Every year for the past eight years, we have looked at the question of HST as part of the pre-budget review of all tax matters. Each year, we have come to the conclusion that, on balance, it was not in the interest of British Columbia. 

“Secondly, there was little flexibility permitted for the tax rate in the federal model. We would have had to join the system with a 13 per cent rate as opposed to the 12 per cent we propose today. Furthermore, no exemptions were permitted. 

“It just wasn’t on our radar. As part of the previous budget process (as in every year prior), the Ministry of Finance had looked at the pros and cons of adopting the HST. As was the case in each of the previous years, the disadvantages outweighed the advantages. In the planning for the 2009 budget, like previous years, the decision was that HST did not make sense for B.C. 

On top of lower prices, there are numerous products from gas to books to children’s clothing that are exempted from the PST portion of HST. 

Instead, I suggest we remember that bloggers called them out for lying. Mainstream media shills including our best known broadcasters and newspaper writers didn’t bother to point at the truth. I did and many other online journalists did as well. For that, Bill Good, Vaughn Palmer, Keith Baldrey and the Vancouver Sun editorial board sneered and belittled those doing the job they should have done.

Look at Colin Hansen’s statement from which the above quotes were taken. Spot any direct lies? How about lies of omission and misrepresentation? My five-year old grandson could and he is still learning how to read. At this site, I specifically called Hansen a liar two years ago. Liberals wagged their fingers and complained I was unfair and inaccurate. Results prove me correct. I pay particular attention to Hansen’s claim in 2009 that no flexibility was possible, the feds would accept no further changes to rates or exemptions. Except now Liberals say to BC voters,

“If you accept HST, we will reduce the rate from 12 to 11, then 10 percent, pay $200 millions to needy citizens and postpone further corporate income tax cuts.”

If the new scenario is possible, Hansen’s assertions two years ago were false. Which are most believable, Liberal assertions of 2009 or Liberal claims of 2011? In fact, the former were untrue from the start, the latter will turn to smoke when the next budget is presented. We can already predict the likely excuses.

The impact of dishonest politics becomes real when a careful shopper enters the marketplace. Suppose its time to replace the horseless carriage and you want to commit to a small fuel-efficient car with the latest safety features like side airbags, traction control and an advanced electronic braking system. You would soon be drawn to the new Korean built cars because they offer the best values. Taxpayer subsidized North American manufacturers learned little during their decades long decline.

But, our version of free enterprise capitalism keeps you from being treated fairly. Regardless of where a car is built or how much it cost to build, Canadians get screwed. I could give countless examples, some brands are worse than others but this is typical. I priced a base model Kia Optima 4-door sedan with manual transmission. Here are the results:

  • At Smith Kia of Bellingham, the sticker price is $19,950 plus 8.5% sales tax for a total of $21,646 ($20,304 CAN at today’s Bank of Canada cash rate.)
  • At North Shore Kia in North Vancouver, the same car is $23,700 plus 12% sales tax for $26,544.

On what should be a base level small family sedan, the difference is over $6,000. In the great tradition of trickle down economics that excessive price for a new car keeps older used cars – dirty, inefficient, less safe vehicles – on the road, priced higher than they should be.

Who wins? Not consumers or even the schmucks that sell the cars to us. No, it is the handful of super-rich operators who dominate the car sales industry. They buy politicians who ensure that legitimate competition never forms a part of Canadian free enterprise.   So, for the consumer who is pissed about North Shore Kia charging $5,000 more than needed for a new vehicle, they can walk down the street and visit:

  • Jim Pattison Toyota, or
  • Jim Pattison Lexus, or
  • Jim Pattison Hyundai, or
  • Jim Pattison Volvo, or
  • Jim Pattison Jeep Chrysler Dodge, or
  • Jim Pattison Scion.

Maybe, you’ll get a better deal there but don’t bet on it. What happened to the lower prices we were promised? Massive increases in extraction industry profits came not from saving a few hundred million in PST. It came from dramatically higher prices and when you called in the plumber or an electrician for home repairs, it cost you dramatically more with higher materials costs and the new HST on labour.

The economists and politicians who talk about embedded PST cascading through the marketplace conveniently forget that extra costs from excessive prices in uncompetitive markets are embedded as well. The Canadian plumber who paid $12,000 more for a truck than his American counterpart, or the plumber who paid 100% more for speciality tools, must charge retired old people like me more money to do even simple jobs.

Colin Hansen said we needed HST to remove embedded provincial tax from the cost of lettuce but he did not bother to tell you the amount was insignificant, too low even to measure. By introducing HST as they did, Hansen and Campbell were not doing the single best thing that could be done for the economy. They were doing the single best thing that could be done for lobby groups of big business billionaires. It was Gordon Campbell’s going away present to the only people about whom he cared. Hansen and Liberal associates were willing lap dogs.

Categories: HST

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14 replies »

  1. Norm..You are so right. Now we have to get these idiots who believe HST is a good thing to see the light. And by idiots I mean all those from young & old who are so gullible because of their devotion to the Liberals. You can find all kinds of them making comments on sites like the CBC & Globe & Mail.

    Guy in Victoria


  2. So true Norm.We are being treated to a relentless propaganda campaign paid for by our tax dollars.The dark side has tried to put forward what they think is a rational argument in favour of the HST.When bloggers such as you,Laila,and David expose their arguments for the fallacies they really are,they have no problem showing their ugly,bullying,arrogant side.I watched a youtube video by the apologists the other day and it was full of contempt for those who disagree with them.No rational debate is possible with an HST apologist…


  3. The concentration of so much wealth and political power by so few people is very frightening. Then add a dash of right-wing evangelical religion into the mix, where the very wealthy believe that they are truly inspired by god is down right horrifying.

    The Koch brothers in the United States are laying a foundation of oppression that would make the signers of the Declaration of Independence up-chuck.

    History has shown there is only one outcome of this dilemma and the “Arab Spring” points the way – the oppressed rise up and overthrow the oppressors.

    For now the public are cajoled with the likes of the Canucks, fireworks, and other entertainment for the masses, but the clock is ticking down for a political showdown between the wealthy establishment by the oppressed poor.

    It will happen, history has proven this time after time, but of course, religious zealots and political whores make real history, unhistory, by doing a George Orwell changing history via Hollywood and our educational intuitions, but even that will not last forever.

    History maybe bunk, but those who fail to read history are doomed to make the same mistakes and suffer the same consequences.


  4. BC province has a vast wealth of natural resources. There is no excuse for the HST what-so-ever.

    Campbell thieved and sold the BCR, along with the very valuable real estate that went with it. Whose pockets did that corrupt sale fill? Sure in the hell wasn't the citizen's.

    Campbell thieved and sold our rivers, who has stolen that money from the people? Some of our mills were shipped to China, along with our raw logs, for cheap child labor. Where is that money?

    These resources belong to the people. Our resources should be helping to pay for the services, we are taxed through the nose for.

    Then we also have to contend with Harper's ripoffs too. He gives banks, mines, large corporations, gas and oil company's, billions of our tax dollars. I saw that motion pass, on the House of Commons TV channel. He also gives them, huge tax reductions. He just gave them another deduction.

    I nearly gagged when, Harper was to take the huge gas company's to task, for their ripoff gas prices. He damned well gives those same company's billions of our tax dollars. Did the prices come down? The hell they did.

    Harper, Campbell and Hansen, thieved the HST from the people, to give to big business. Whose pockets get filled with our assets and natural resources? Sure in the hell isn't the citizens.

    When Harper starts drilling oil and gas wells, off BC's coast, will the people have any benefit from those resources? Not on your Nelly. When Harper forces the Endbridge pipeline and the dirty Chinese oil tankers on BC. Will the people get any reward, they sure will not. Enbridge has their own experienced staff. Enbridge also has the worst record for pipe bursts. BC gets the oil spills, and Harper gives all of the resource money, to the wealthiest corporations in the world, of whom he works for. The eco damage from the filthy tar sands, is permanent and ongoing. Nothing can ever clean up that filthy hell, of an abomination, on the face of Canada.

    Whine and snivel away BC Liberals. It is your own corruption and thieving, that has killed this province. Steal back, the BCR with the priceless real estate, our resources, the rivers and the money, from Campbell, and the rest of the Liberal thieves. Cry me one of Campbell's thieved rivers.


  5. Mr. Farrell…Spectacular, Enbridge`s Northern Pipeline will cost BC drivers over $600 million dollars per year, cost Canada`s drivers as a whole, $7 billion dollars per year..

    Over the 16 years of theEnbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, it will cost BC drivers roughly $11 billion dollars, Canadians drivers as a whole $105 billion dollars..

    And the benefit to the BC Government?

    $131 million dollars over the life of the project, or if you like..$14.3 million dollars per years..

    Details over at my place.

    Good Day


  6. Most Canadians would easily accept being characterized as too polite, as you wrote back in May 2011. Being called dumb, naive, complacent schnooks, however, is a little harder to take. The BC Liberals took us to be all of those things by flat-out lying about the HST; probably had a lot to do with our atypically rude and astute reaction.

    It was no flash in the pan: the Initiative process itself was designed to fail; when, much to everyone's surprise, petition thresholds were met in all 85 ridings, the Initiative had to be doggedly pursued in court to force the Electoral Office to proceed to the Referendum stage; all the while tax dollars in the millions saturated the media with pro-HST propaganda, relentlessly pumping out a confusing Referendum question and boosting a strange, unverifiable mail-in ballot. If we truly were schnooks, we should have been snookered by all this, but we weren't.

    By presuming the electorate too naive to suspect electoral fraud, the taxpayer too dumb to understand the HST, the BC Liberals themselves came up naive and dumb. Commonwealth governments around the world must be wondering, now that the BC Liberals have precipitated the precedent of public initiative defeating tax legislation, how long it will be before their own citizens, even the too-polite ones, refuse to accept their declarations of authority. For those governments, the BC Liberals might become as legendary as original sin. For voters, a milestone has been passed, the eyes have been opened, the age of innocence and ignorance has suddenly, irrevocably become outgrown. Now we know Citizens Initiatives can work, and like Eve, the first knowledgable human, we can't go back. First step: share some apple.

    Roger Bacon, the thirteenth century philosophizing friar, named authority as one of the four causes of ignorance because people often accept authoritarian pronouncements without question. The BC Liberals counted most heavily on authority to stick the HST to BC, but they also employed Bacon's second cause: rote. In this case incessantly repeating HST's bogus economic benefits facilitated his third cause of ignorance: public opinion. In addition, government, MSM, pundits and economists, the powerful controllers of information, contributed charlatanism, Bacon's fourth cause of ignorance. With these the government had all its ducks in a row; why then couldn't they pull the wool over our eyes?

    The BC Liberals had lied so many times before and gotten away with it, winning three elections in a row. What's changed so much that public ire could, in such short order, take out a Premier (only just into his third mandate,) forever sully the BC Liberals' reputation, and in one swoop destroy the HST while setting a huge political precedent for Commonwealth nations around the world? I'll posit that it must have something to do with the explosive growth of, and access to, new electronic media because that's what's categorically neutralized Bacon's causes of ignorance: authority can now be questioned with irreverence and impunity; in the vastness of information, rote repetition is as impressive as hair in the washtub drain, public opinion has become as microlithic and dispersed as beachsand, and charlatanism is now easily outed, avoided or diluted to a homeopathic nothing in a sea of of its own bullshit. Bacon might approve of the conclusion's empiricism, but the real reason might be nothing more than we finally had of enough of the nonstop lying, the outrageous unrepentance, the galling blatancy; the HST was merely the straw that broke the camel's back.

    Whatever it was, we are definitely wiser, more wary and maybe a little less polite. Now alls we gotta do is watch out for online voting.

    No foolin'.


  7. @ Scotty on Denman

    One of the best comments ever. You've convinced me to read Bacon on ignorance. Maybe then I can understand our neighbours to the south where so many of their politicians see ignorance as a badge of honour.


  8. Ignorance is bliss.

    Ignorance is the great excuse.

    Ignorance is the best defense.

    A TransLink spokesperson can lie with impunity and when caught out, claims he/she was ignorant on the facts.

    A politician can lie and lie and lie and when caught out, can claim ignorance.

    Corporations can lie ad nauseum and when caught out, claim ignorance.

    What ever happened to “Ignorantia legis defensio nulla” (ignorance of the law is no defense?)


  9. Makes you wonder which financial psychic (or should that be side-kick) CAMPBELL 'n' Hansen were listening too?

    The younger brother must help to pay for the pleasures of the elder. ~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park


  10. How quick the BC Libs were to give Campbell the OBC. How quick Harper was to award Campbell a plum appointment in London. All this so that the shmucks out there think that he must have been a good premier for BC, look at all the awards he is getting.

    Harper is in line to fulfill his role as the worst PM Canada has ever had.


  11. Politicians are supposed to be in a position of trust. Harper and his Conservatives and the Campbell/Clark BC Liberals are the worst crop of corrupt politicians, Canada has ever produced.

    We are up against a gutless media, that are propaganda machines for the government. Did anyone see, the moron from Enbridge on TV? He said, the BC people want the Enbridge pipeline and the dirty oil tankers from China. This is an out and out blatant lie.

    Why in the hell would the BC people, even remotely want those atrocities forced on our province? There are no jobs from the Enbridge pipeline, nor the dirty oil tankers. All BC gets is the spill of a tanker and a pipe burst from the Enbridge. Enbridge didn't even clean up their mess from their pipe burst, into the Kalamazoo River. There are creeks, other rivers and streams now contaminated. All of that poison, eventually ends up in the ocean.

    Thousands of the BC citizens are supporting the F.N. People, to fight this monster of pollution, coming into our beautiful province. Our Orca, Humpback Whales and all our wonderful marine life, are far more valuable to us than Harper and Enbridge. They have no value, what-so-ever.


  12. Norm, your words are good, honest and true; I also thank you for the kind ones.

    As to US politicians: ignorance is not so much displayed as a badge of honour, rather as an assertion of blind faith which the voting minority seems to demand. The country's going through some pretty corrosive electrolysis by shorting the poles of national patriotism and religious fundamentalism, where people are proud that requisite education can be found entirely minted on a single penny, where putting in your two cents worth makes you an intellectual, two bits probably a subversive.

    US politicians, especially Republicans, practice a kind of reverse charlatanism: they make out like they don't know, when they really do.
    To the extent they take refuge in feigned ignorance, they are, in the last resort, scoundrels.


  13. Another splendid one Mr. Farrell
    We all knew we were being lied to and in spite of the $millions spent persisted in getting the vote out. Just barely, but enough. So now why all the delay to get back to where out of province job poachers get to pay PST on machinery brought in to compete with residents, rather than giving it all back to them.


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