Funny Money

April 16, 2011

As if to prove that rich people’s money is not the same as yours or mine, a penthouse in London has just sold for £137 million.  And that’s not all:

“The penthouse was purchased as an empty shell, and the buyer is spending £60m fitting it out.”

The developer is more than pleased:

“Nick Candy said that 45 flats in the development have sold so far for a total of £963m – an average of £22m each: “No one else has achieved that – not just in London, but anywhere in the world,” he said. “

It has a great view I am sure, and access to room service from the neighbouring Mandarin Oriental Hotel is included. But come on — $300 million for an apartment!   That’s Monopoly money for sure.


“The Drive” Is Published!

April 13, 2011

My book “The Drive: A Retail, Social and Political History of Commercial Drive to 1956” is now published and available for purchase!

Signed copies can be purchased at The Drive Press website using PayPal.  Copies can also be purchased from CreateSpace.

In about a week, the book will also be available online at Amazon and in person at People’s Co-op Books, 1391 Commercial Drive.

It might be the most interesting read you have this year!

Did We Give Up Being Bi-Lingual?

April 12, 2011

We bought a new TV today.  The screen is endlessly bigger than our old Trinitron and  — joy of joys — it weighs about a fifth of the old one.

Setting it up proved easier than I had feared — even though I was only given guides and manuals in French.  I didn’t think we were allowed to sell stuff with unilingual guides these days.  I sure didn’t expect to get a French-only set here in BC.

No worries.


50 Years Of A Hero

April 12, 2011

The first hero that I remember having was Duncan Edwards, the Manchester United footballer who was killed along with many others in the team in the Munich air crash of 1958.  The second was Yuri Gagarin.

Fifty years ago today, Yuri Gagarin entered history as the first human being in space. A few years earlier, just before my 8th birthday, my father had taken the time to get me interested in the Soviet Union’s feat in putting Sputnik into space. I was entranced and remained an avid follower of the space race for decades. I followed the Russian dogs going up, and Gagarin’s flight was the obvious next step.

It wasn’t revealed for forty years that the cosmonaut ejected from the capsule before it crash-landed, parachuting to earth. And it was definitely sad for Gagarin that he was thereafter too valuable to put at threat and so he was never allowed to return to orbit. No matter.  That first flight was a glorious triumph for mankind!

Liberalism Meets Fascism

April 11, 2011

It is sad but true that whenever a Liberal looks carefully in the mirror, they recognise a Fascist staring back at them.

Let us take the Liberal proposition that the hijab and the burqa are insults to women, degrading them, making women second class citizens at best.  Perhaps that is true, in a general sense.  So, how does the Liberal deal with this proposition?  They pass a fascistic law that bans all women from wearing the garments.

But it is also true that many women seem to wear the garments with some pride.  No matter; this fascistic law says that  — as usual — the capitalist nation state knows better than you women who want to wear the garb, and you will do what we say.

Thus, apparently to protect women from being oppressed, women are  treated as second class citizens and told they cannot wear whatever they want. Dumb Liberals.

The View Through

April 10, 2011

The View Through” at the Sun Yat Sen Gardens

Voluntary Taxation — Again!

April 6, 2011

Now that we are in the middle of a Federal election in Canada, with taxation and financial policy crucial components of each party’s platform, I want to raise once again my proposal for making all taxes voluntary, by moving taxtaion from income to consumption.

Back in June 2002, well before the HST controversy that is sweeping BC and Ontario, I proposed doing away with all non-voluntary taxation by replacing income and all other taxes with a consumption tax. This is what I wrote in 2002, and I see little need to change the basic structure proposed:

The basic principles for a semi-anarchistic tax scheme are that it should be essentially voluntary, and concerned with ensuring equal opportunities for all. Therefore, I would propose the elimination of all personal and corporate income taxes as they violate by their very nature the voluntary aspect of taxation. I propose to replace the revenue with an all-inclusive sales tax on goods and services with a few, well-defined exceptions (the figures below represent Vancouver costs of living and could be adjusted as required):

• all foods
• shelter (to $15,000/year rent or the first $250,000 of purchase)
• all non-cosmetic medical and dental services
• educational services
• financial services to $500/year
• legal services to $2,000/year

The sales tax should be a single percentage across all categories of goods and services in order to reduce accounting and bureaucratic requirements.

The use of the sales tax for the bulk of government revenues brings a great deal of volunteerism to the matter. The exceptions provide an important and necessary break for those goods and services which can be described as the necessities of life; above that, the more I choose to buy, the more taxes I choose to pay.

On the other side of the ledger, also to the good, the simplicity of the scheme allows for huge bureaucratic savings in administration and zero non-compliance. It will oblige tens of thousands of “tax lawyers” to find genuine productive employment.

It also assumes that significant portions of current governmental activity have been done away with, returned to the people for their own handling. Those portions of government activity that do remain should be easily categorized into line items that can be shown to have a direct bearing on the level of the sales tax. In this way, the people are enabled to make decisions about what sections of government can be further cut to reduce the level of taxation. Conversely, any additional work to be performed by the government can be easily calculated as an addition to the sales tax. In other words, the cost of a government service will be immediately and directly calculable — and the people can make their judgments on whether to go ahead with it on that basis. It is one thing to say that a government program costs $600 million — an abstraction at best; it is quite another to say that program x will cause a rise in the sales tax by 1%.

In a capitalist system where the government bureaucracy acts as a nanny on so many issues, taxation of some sort is inevitable, as will be resistance to such taxation. The sales tax that I propose will allow the taxation system to operate on a voluntary basis, thus achieving considerably greater support and compliance.