Thursday, December 15, 2005

The French Debate

I watched the debate tonight in French, I tend to think the translation don't give you the best feel for it. You get an artificial translation that doesn't give you an accurate representation of their performance. On the whole, I tend to think the French debate had the outcome you would expect of it. Gilles Duceppe was the clear winner. He started off fairly strong, and after the first hour he was simply dominate. He responded clearly and forcefully to Paul Martin's accusations about seperatism and the illegitimacy of his presence in Ottawa forcefully and firmly. As a francophone he has a clear advantage. He consistently went after Martin over the sponsorship scandal, and called him fundamentally dishonest. He also made hay out of the fiscal imbalance. I'd rate Duceppe's performance as an A-.

I thought Paul Martin started off fairly strong, but he faded down the stretch. Paul Martin had a night were he was all hat, no cattle. I liked his vocal tone, he was animated and sounded passionate. Points awarded for that, and I think at the begining that was carrying him. However, as the two hour debate went onwards he developed a terribly annoying habit of frantically waving his hands which took away from his delivery. However, Martin's problem wasn't so much style as substance. He was clearly reading talking points from cue cards. He'd accuse Stephen Harper of implimenting two tier health care a moment after Harper actually explained his position. He went after Duceppe as well, but it was simply pointed out that Duceppe couldn't call a referendum. He also was evasive on the subject of the fiscal imbalance and I thought that left the door open for Duceppe and Harper. I'd give Martin a C+.

Stephen Harper started off fairly poorly. He struggled in the french language for a while. Hour one he got ambushed with what was pretty much a cheap shot with a question on how he'd feel about one of his children being gay. However, hour two was much better for Harper than hour one. If your going to start off slow, its preferable that you finish strong and I think Harper did that. Once he seemed to get more comfortable having spoken French for a while I thought his performance improved substantially. He was on a bit of a roll for the better part of the last hour, and I thought he handled taxes and the fiscal imbalance rather superbly especially after Martin's evasion on the question left the door open to him. Harper was fairly consistent in his objective which was to convey the Conservative's policy platform. I think Harper turned things around sufficiently that he warrants a B rating.

Jack Layton was on fire to start off the debate. For one hour, I was projecting Layton to be the surprise winner. He'd taken his bouncy demeanour that he had last year in the debates and toned it down to the point where he was simply being positive and engaging. His french was fairly solid, and he seemed to have concise to the point answers. However, the problem for Layton was this was a two hour debate, not a one hour debate. He had a tremendous first half, and then absolutely dissapeared. It seemed like he was prepared for the topics that came up at first, and later he was struggling with his French. He seemed tentative and hesitant. If I was an NDP supporter I'd feel let down, as it seemed he was poised to be the winner and then simply tanked it. I'd give Layton a C, a B+ for hour one and a D for hour two.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rex Murphy on the Montreal Environmental Conference

You can find a transcript of his segment called "Maybe Kyoto is Japanese for Hypocracy". After all they're nothing like flying to Montreal on an old jumbo jet to spout pollution off into the environment, to attend a conference which will generate further environmental waste and spout off abunch of hot air. All the while criticizing those horrible Republicans for their environmental recording and failing to drink the Kyoto coolaid when they're environmental record is better than your own.

I hope Karl Rove makes a commercial out of Paul Martin's speach, with a nice moving graphic showing America's rate of emissions going down and Canada's going up with another line plotting environmentalist rhetoric steadily rising.

Adler goes after the pious healthcare fascists

Greg at Political Staples provides readers with a link to a recording of Charles Adler from yesterday up at Proud to be Canadian.

Everyone from Manitoba, and I am origionally until I was called to the Conservative mothership in Alberta, knows that Chuck is one heck of a rabble rouser and not afraid to let his knuckles drag for the right cause. I do say that in the most affectionate way as a libertarian and a democrat myself. However, when you listen to his national broadcasts you tend to hear a kinder, gentler Adler as after all you wouldn't want to be too "scary" for those delicate people in Ontario. But this is Adler at the top of his game, full of righteous indignation and biting logic and expounding upon the totalitarian nature of the pious socialist health care corner, who not only want to make you pay taxes for universal health care but to prevent you from spending your money on additional services if you so choose. He puts the case forward as well as anyone could, check it out.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

My election prediction

My cautiously optomistic prediction will be a reasonably strong Conservative Minority.
Conservatives: 126Liberals: 98NDP: 26Bloc Quebecois: 58

I'm basing this prediction on Stephen managing to find 22 seats in Ontario that he can turn our way, expecting the party to come our +2 seast (Cadman is dead, Kieth Martin hopefully dies his overdue political death) in BC, +2 in Alberta (Go home Anne), losing one seat to the NDP in Saskatchewan - I don't think we can expect to win both the races we won by a whisker, Manitoba no change, Quebec..also known as the Tory dying ground nil here, Atlantic Canada - I'm optomistically expecting us to be +4 across the 4 provinces there. I think we can win Efford's seat in Newfoundland, pick up one in New Brunswich lacking the health care dynamic which was going on there provincially last election, gain one to two seats in Nova Scotia and if we're lucky one in PEI.

From the last election that would amount to 37 fewer Liberals. Four more Bloc Quebecois members, as well as 7 more members of the NDP. Most importantly 27 more Conservatives than were elected in the last election. This seems doable to me, provided that the CPC or the NDP doesn't completely run themselves into a wall.

The GST Rollback - Consumption vs Income Taxes

I've got a degree in Economics up on my wall so I supose that makes me "an economist" and according to the Liberal Party my opinion is decisive on how taxes should be cut. Thus I supose the time is right for me to now return from the blogging wilderness to chime in with my much vaunted opinion on the matter. (Quickly thereafter returning to being swamped by law school) I'll personally defer to the Milton Friedman who said "I'm in favour of cutting any tax, any time, for any reason whatsoever."

Although, that's probably Milt taking his own position to the extreme. Their is something to be said for the efficiency of consumption taxes as opposed to income taxes. I think its terribly misleading to say they're the preference of all economists. Ironically they're the preference of all free-market economists whom Liberals routinely ignore. You see most left leaning economists labeling it a "regressive" tax that "disportionately" affects the "less priveleged". Its a flat rather than progressive tax. This is why in the past both the Liberals and the NDP have proposed scrapping it. And really any reduction of a flat tax will have the greatest proportional effect at the bottom, and the larged dollar figure directed towards the top. This is always going to be the case as people don't have the same amount of money to begin with, no matter how many NDP supporters secretly pine away for an egalitarian society.

The Liberal talking point about the GST reduction affection those who spend more recieving more money in return is true. But then again this is true with any across the board tax reduction. Tax cuts return money that people already had, as opposed to increasing their prexisting store of wealth.

However, a two percent reduction in the taxes applied to your consumption will affect those who
consume a higher proportion of their income as opposed to "saving it". The rate at which people save increases with their income. Hence the less income you have, the more this tax will impact you. Furthermore, everyone consumes - not everyone pays income tax. If you want to make an argument that not everyone consumes, I supose your pitching your tax plan to a hermit. I find it dubius that they're a constituency whose vote you can really get out to begin with.

I'd be rather skeptical anytime the Liberals suddenly embrace the same economists that they
spurn on any other public policy issue. Although its ironic that perhaps the debate has been framed with the Tories taking up the leftist/social justic tax cut and the Liberals with the libertarian cut. Although arguably the entire debate falls right of center as the true lefties wouldn't cut any taxes at all.

Whether cutting the GST or Income Tax is preferably really depends on what your trying to achieve. If your attempting to increase investment, savings, and productivity - it would be more effective to lower income taxes. On the other hand if your goal is simply to remove excess tax, and return it in the most just manner knocking back the GST is as if not more effective in doing that.

From a purely moral perspective there really is a certain disingenius tone to having the Liberals lead by a silver spoon shipping magnet claiming that a Conservative tax cut is going to result what Scott Reid suggested were "the Conservatives upper class constituency who were going to spend it on luxury automobiles" or something to that effect. Perhaps that's how Paul 'Plutocrat" Martin would spend his GST reduction, on the other hand I think I and most other Canadians are likely to see the price of gas, their phone bill, their internet bill, and their cable bill drop a few bucks every month with the GST reduced as opposed to rushing out and buying a Porsche because of the 2% saving.

Its too bad that when a chance for a real debate emerges, you often find that it just as swiftly decends to ridiculous metaphors and hyperbole. That said the prospect of a Conservative victory warms the cockles of my soul, and I smile a little more at the thought of Paul Martin and Scott Reid no longer annoying me with their presence on national television. Hope springs eternal.

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