Canadians for Tax Fairness

There is a new group on the scene. Canadians for Tax Fairness say they promote a progressive tax system, based on ability to pay, to fund the public services and programs required to meet our social, economic and environmental needs.

They also tell us a couple of things about money and who has it.

For example, what is rich, and what is really rich?

Last year, the average income for the top 10 US athletes was $44.6 million. Wow! The top 10 pop stars averaged $87.2 million. If you think that is over the top, right? Well, think again.

The average income for the top 10 hedge fund managers was $1.7 billion. Yes, that’s billion.

The term “billions of dollars” is now thrown around with such frequency that many people simply have no feel for what it means. In their book, The Trouble With Billionaires, Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks put it in perspective: “Imagine this: you are given one dollar every second. At that rate, after one minute, you would have sixty dollars. And after twelve days, you would be a millionaire – something beyond most people’s wildest dreams. But how long would it take to become a billionaire? Well, at that rate, it would take almost thirty-two years.”

A billion dollars is an astronomical amount of money. And those with billions, hundreds of millions, tens of millions or even a few million can certainly afford to contribute more taxes to build and maintain a healthy 21st century society.

Taking a look at the corporate world. Do you wonder if Canadian Corporations are hurting so much that our Harper government has to give them tax cuts. No so, Erin Weir writes in Rabble, Canadian corporations sit on a huge amount of cash. He tells us that that private non-financial Canadian corporations held $471 billion in cash in the first quarter of 2011 saying “If corporate Canada already has half a trillion dollars more than it wishes to invest in physical or financial assets, there is no reason to expect that corporate tax cuts will boost investment. On the contrary, if the government collected more of this money and invested it directly, Canada would have more investment in total,” 

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The Western World isn't Broke. Just Misguided

Standards and Poor's finally had the nerve to say out loud - albeit very softly - what everyone has known for years now. The American economy is in deep, over it's head.

The downgrading of the US credit rating down from the highest level to a notch below is sending waves through the global economic community. Everyone is jittery. You have to ask yourself why get nervous now? We all have known this for some considerable length of time. The rating agency probably should have done this years ago and should have moved with a stronger hand than it has.

It isn't only the US. A world economic reality check is well overdue.

Don't get me wrong. The United States is not broke.  The United States is a very rich nation. In fact most of the countries in the Western World including, those in the European Economic Union, are doing very well. It is their government's that are screwed up.

We have all heard the right wing economic mantra about needed corporate tax cuts, lower royalties, business  incentives and tax breaks for those who are best able to carry their fair share. We have been told again and again. "If it is good for business. It is good for the country." To my amazement voters bought in so  for decades now, we have seen the tax burden shifted incrementally to the middle class.

The simple truth is that business is clearly, not pulling their weight. Any hint of increased taxes or royalties and they threaten to pull up stakes and to move their operations to the third world.  Business has no loyalty so who do we pander to them? How many times have we seen multinationals pull up stakes after taking millions in government grants for retooling. How many corporations feel the need to contract services off-shore, putting those who built the company up from scratch out of work, before we say "enough is enough?"

I am convinced that future generation are going to look back at this time, shake their heads and wonder, "What were they thinking?"

The western world isn't broke. It is just misguided and gutless.

Bean counters, what do they know?

Regina is a Funny Town

I don't think I've seen so many people on the Scarth Street Mall before - ever - but the Regina Folk Festival's Stage was packing them in on Sunday. The place was solid people

Hawkley Workman perhaps said it best, gesturing to Beer Brothers patio, "I don't know but, if that was my bar, I'd be open." Indeed. What a missed opportunity.

I could have used a beer and a late snack. Perhaps next year the owners will get a little better tuned in, to what is happening downtown.


What Are You Waiting For?

I can't say enough about Grasslands National Park. It is a real treasure and one that, while I wouldn't want to see it over run with tourists, should be better promoted.

We stayed in Val Marie, the best bet for people wanting to visit the park. There are a few options open but those seeking a high end spa treatment, supper at the Keg and a round of golf might as well drive on to Banff.

The Crossing B&B and campground give you the option of sleeping in  a tipi for a few days, Rosefield B&B is a bit more remote but not quite as off the grid as it claims to be but my favorite is The Convent. It is just that, an old convent, converted into a B&B by Robert and Mette Duncan. Breakfast of course is included but smart diners will chose to eat supper there as well. Mette does the cooking and it is the best place to eat in town, bar none. .

The couple also have a great house they will rent for a week at a time. Completely renovated by Robert it has all the amenities including satellite TV if you want to waste time watching the tube. There are three bedrooms, a couple of sitting rooms and a fully equipped kitchen. All for $600 a week. We stayed there and loved it.

Robert is they guy to talk to if you want to get off the beaten track. He knows the area like to back of his hand and is willing to share his knowledge with very little prodding. He steered us to a very special spot outside the park about 15 km from town. It has scores of tipi rings, a large medicine ring, a couple of  ceremonial turtles and perhaps a few burial cairns. I have seldom been to a spot with so much historical significance and it has no signed pointing to it, no explanatory kiosks and isn't noted on any of the maps I found.

There are over 3000 archaeological sites within the park.

We spent a good deal of time exploring Grasslands. Photographing wild flowers, hunting out bison and looking for rattlesnakes. (We did find bison but struck out with snakes) We specially loved it during the time photographers call the golden hour, just before sunset. The light is magnificent and I took over a thousand photographs. Some of the sunsets would take your breath away.

So, don't wait, head to Grasslands and get out of the natural prairie grasses, hike up to the top of a butte and savour the prairie wind.
A gopher having a bad day