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Posts tagged ‘Politics’

And the election winner is….

Well, we went out and elected a minority government. Pending recounts and absentee ballots, the results are 43 Liberal, 41 NDP, 3 Green. The big winners look like the Green Party, who hold the balance of power with North America’s first green caucus. The results are also very regionally polarized, with the Liberals strongest in the Interior and Fraser Valley, and the NDP strongest in Metro Vancouver and The Island. The Greens won their seats on The Island.

As for what happens next, I think Christy Clark ought to be given a chance to continue governing. She won a plurality of votes and seats (one below a majority), and getting the support of the Greens, either by abstention or voting with them, provides more “breathing space” to avoid losing a vote of confidence. In particular, if the Greens abstain, then the vote is 43 – 1 (for the speaker who votes only if there is a tie) = 42 to 41. If the Greens vote with the Liberals, then it is 43 + 3 – 1 = 45 to 41. For the NDP to govern, they will require the support of the Greens. The votes would be 41 + 3 – 1 = 43 to 43. This is a tie, so the speaker votes. Clearly, it is much easier for the Liberals to command the confidence of the Legislative Assembly. In addition, there is also the convention that the incumbent premier stays in power if a minority government is elected or they resign. Hence, unless there is some concrete agreement between the NDP and Greens, and possession of Canada’s best whips, both the seat totals and established norms support Christy Clark remaining in office for the time being.

Also, see how close the election was? And how one seat was decided by nine votes? That’s why you should vote and why there should be compulsory voting. Turnout is too low. This election, you should have voted, because it could have mattered this time.

BC Election day today

Make sure you vote.

Orange crushed

Well, the election is over and there is a result no one expected. Christy Clark and the BC Liberals were re–elected to another majority government. The NDP will be the official opposition, and Green Andrew Weaver and independent Vicki Huntington will round out the legislature. In what might end up being BC’s version of Don Getty, Clark might lose her own seat (Vancouver Point Grey); she was trailing by a few hundred votes as of this writing. Nevertheless, she still qualifies as the first female to be elected Premier of British Columbia. Update (2013–05–15): Clark did lose her own seat, narrowly. This will be no barrier to her keeping her job. Some liberal in a safe seat will resign to let her come in in a by–election.

Everyone who looked at the polls would have easily predicted an NDP win. The Liberal win is therefore truly an upset. I myself said that “it seems likely that NDP flags will fly in enough ridings tomorrow to give them a narrow majority government.” I made that prediction, and unlike American political operatives who melt down on live television, I admit that I got it wrong and accept responsibility for my error. Let this be seen as an opportunity to improve polling methods and voting projections so that there will be no more surprises in the future.

As I indicated, British Columbians had a chance to end our perverse “tradition” of putting women in charge of political parties in ruins. From Rita Johnston losing her seat in 1991, to Kim Campbell taking charge only to lose in the PC wipeout, to Joy MacPhail becoming Leader of the Opposition with only two seats, to Carole James taking over that position, for far too long a British Columbian woman leading a major political party has meant that her party is (about to be) in ruins. But with Clark winning, that streak is finally over. That ought to be one good thing everyone can agree on.

And voter turnout was dismal yet again. Folks, I know you can do better.

Election day today

Election day is today. The polls open at 8am, and remain so for twelve hours until 8pm. Make sure you vote.

Elections BC has more information.

Even if you live in a safe Liberal or NDP seat, you have no excuse. I live in a safe seat, and always vote.

Election day tomorrow

Voting day is tomorrow in British Columbia. Make sure you vote.

Based on the polls and predictions, it seems likely that NDP flags will fly in enough ridings tomorrow to give them a narrow majority government. It was a lot bigger margin weeks ago, but after Christy Clark’s performance in the leaders’ debates, her party acquired a big jolt of momentum, causing the gap to narrow. Frankly, the election can’t come soon enough for Dix and the NDP. Part of me is happy that there won’t be a Liberal wipeout. First, a strong opposition is always necessary, and second, the strength of the Liberal showing will have a large influence on whether Clark stays on until the following election. This means that we British Columbians still have a chance to end our perverse political “tradition” or streak of putting women in charge of political parties in ruins.

I am glad that the Liberals will be out of power. But I am not particularly thrilled that the NDP will be taking power; for various reasons, I believe that Dix will be a disastrous premier. And it is a sad reality of a two–party system that only the Liberals and NDP have a realistic chance of forming government. And furthermore, although exceptions exist, in general, only those two parties manage to recruit knowledgeable and qualified people who can bring their expertise to government.

For the above reasons, I explicitly refuse to endorse any party. But there are indeed a number of individual candidates I’d like to see elected, such as Weaver in Oak Bay–Gordon Head, and a number I’d like to see defeated, in particular Polak in Langley. Please, elect him and throw her out.

How to simplify the tax system

Considering that yesterday was the day that most Canadians were supposed to have filed their tax returns, I see the usual complaints about it being complicated. With that in mind, here are two possible ways to simplify the tax system. They offer features that should appeal to people from all across the political spectrum.

The first one is known as a “negative income tax“. About four in every five economists (79%) agree (possibly with provisos) that “the government should restructure the welfare system along the lines of a ‘negative income tax.'” The features of a NIT are as follows (I’ve explained them in comments elsewhere, but this is the first time in a post at this blog):

All income, whatever the source, is taxed at a flat rate. This includes incomes that are currently exempt, taxed differently, or deferred, such as capital gains and inheritances. Second, all deductions, whatever the basis, are eliminated. This includes ones like charitable donations, political party donations, or hazardous jobs. The result of this is that everyone with the same nominal income pays the same tax. Third, all welfare systems, like social assistance or unemployment insurance, are eliminated and instead converted into a refundable tax credit of some amount. Each taxpayer subtracts the refund from the income tax they paid. If the result is negative, they get a refund from the government. If the result is positive, they pay the difference to the government.

Let’s use examples to demonstrate. For the sake of this example, we’ll assume that the flat rate is 20%, and that the refund is $5000. There is nothing special about these numbers; they are examples only.

Alice’s T-slips indicate that she earned $20000 last year. She pays 20% of that ($4000) in taxes. She gets a refund of $5000, which means that she actually gets a net $1000 from the government. The same year, Bret earns $25000. He pays 20% of that ($5000) and gets a $5000 refund. Therefore, he actually pays no net taxes and gets no money from the government. The same year, Chris earns $30000. This taxpayer pays 20% of that ($6000) in taxes. After the refund, $1000 is still owing, so this taxpayer actually pays a net tax of $1000.

As can be seen from the examples, by tinkering with the rate or the refund, a guaranteed minimum income can be maintained, and any arbitrary no tax payable point can be chosen. Update (2013–05–05): And it goes without saying that certain “special circumstances” can be given a slightly different refund, such as dependents or disability.

The negative income tax system has a number of significant advantages over the current regime (after the jump). In no particular order:

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Some speech that should be banned

On the day the Supreme Court ruled incorrectly by failing to completely strike down hate speech laws, I think that there is a form of speech that should be illegal nationwide: partisan government advertisements. Is it just me or is there really a whole spree of them going on right now? I’ve seen ones from both the federal government (it’s action plan, etc) and from the provincial government (especially the one with the cell phone dominoes). Now, these ads aren’t technically partisan, as they aren’t explicitly promoting any political party. But, still, if you read between the lines, you’ll see that they intend to show you how the government (the party currently in power) is doing X (low taxes, action plan) to help you. Hence, since these are supposed to remind you of what the current party in power is doing, they are still partisan, even if not explicitly so.

Partisan government ads are nothing more than legal propaganda. They should be banned, for all levels of government.

Any problems arising from people not being informed of necessary government functions (which advertising is in part supposed to deal with) can be handled by requiring the official opposition to agree to those advertising expenditures as well. This way, partisanship is avoided.

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