Government Is Too Expensive – June 6, 2013
Is it really sustainable for your paycheque to go up by 2 per cent a year, but your hydro bill to go up by 4 per cent, your school taxes by 6 per cent, your property taxes by 3.5 per cent and the provincial sales tax to go up to 8 per cent? Obviously it isn’t sustainable, but that’s what’s going on; government is simply becoming way too expensive for many people.
How the Rob Ford Crack Scandal Could Save Toronto – June 6, 2013
Rob Ford may be the best thing to happen to Toronto in a long time. Alleged crack-smoking and ass-grabbing aside, the political meltdown of the embattled mayor of Canada's largest city may inadvertently help undo one of the most disastrous public policy decisions in Canadian history: the amalgamation of Toronto by former premier Mike Harris.
A River Runs Through It – March 4, 2013
The downtown bridge is being built by Kentucky and the other, known as the East End crossing, is being built by Indiana. Yet while Indiana has legislation that allows for public-private partnerships (PPP), Kentucky does not. So the downtown bridge will be procured the traditional way, and the East End crossing will use a PPP.
City politicians focus on utopian visions while citizens just want simple things, like passable roads – December 19, 2012
It’s the new urban blight. Across the country, city governments are in varying states of disarray, if not chaos. The range is wide, from the badly governed fiasco in Toronto to outright corruption in Montreal and boondoggle-prone governments in Vancouver, Calgary and other Western cities. Taxes are rising, spending is soaring, but roads are crumbling and the basics often ignored.
Time to Rethink the Toronto Megacity – December 14, 2012
Two cultures warring in the bosom of a single city – that’s the best way to understand the current mess in Toronto. The two cultures that were unwillingly yoked together in a megacity by Ontario premier Mike Harris in 1998 have given us the Rob Ford saga.
Municipal Mythologies – December 9, 2011
In a world with scarce resources, people want more money spent on something than what is available. But that is not a “deficit.” Otherwise, we have health, education and social deficits, to name a few. In principle, optimal spending would be based on a benefit-cost calculus and programs rejected if benefits are less than cost.
How Declining Cities Can Reverse Their Fortunes – August 29, 2011
Florida economist Dean Stansel, who analyzed the growth records of the 100 most populous U.S. metropolitan cities across the past 30 years, says economic growth tracks state and municipal tax rates. The lower the rates, the greater the growth.
Voters vs. the Welfare State – June 9, 2011
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, by winning an outright majority of seats in his country’s parliament for the first time since assuming office, continues a remarkable series of national election victories, backed by voters demanding at least a pause, and perhaps some reversal, of the growth of the welfare state.
The Rise of the Efficient City – January 7, 2011
"In fact, the era of bigger-is-better is passing as smaller, more nimble urban regions are emerging. These efficient cities, as I call them, provide the amenities of megacities—airports, mass communication, reservoirs of talent—without their grinding congestion, severe social conflicts and other diseconomies of scale."
The Ultimate Tax On Economic Growth – October 7, 2009
Even in the best of times, Canada's capital gains taxes produce insignificant revenue. In 2006, a good year, federal and provincial governments collected $3.5-billion in capital-gain tax revenue - less than 1 per cent of total tax revenue. It's time to encourage entrepreneurial activity. It's time to release - for productive employment elsewhere - much of the brain power held needlessly captive by Canada Revenue.
Privatize City Hall – August 11, 2009
"Toronto’s municipal strike is over. Some 30,000 garbage and other workers are back on the job. That’s at least 15,000 too many. If the strike has taught Torontonians anything, it’s that the city does precious little for its residents."
Local Councils Become Instrument Of Nanny State – July 13, 2009
Compounding the problem of meddling councillors is the even more insidious practice of local bureaucrats weighing into the debate. Somehow these unelected local officials believe that they have a right to impose their world view on the citizenry.
Smart Growth Bill Repealed – June 23, 2009
"Decisions about the growth of communities should be made by local governments closest to the people living and working in these areas. Local governments can already adopt “smart growth” policies based on the desires of the community without a state-led effort that endorses such planning. This legislation would promote a one-size-fits-all approach to land use and planning that would not work across a state as large and diverse as Texas."
BUTLER: Dumping 'Smart Growth' Is Wise – March 13, 2009
If we are going to get out of the housing mess, it doesn´t just mean fixing the mortgage market or - as some argue - bailing out homeowners. It also means scaling back the rules in many jurisdictions that continue to artificially push up new house prices and fan the pressure for huge mortgages.
The Case For Affordable Housing In Regina – March 7, 2009
The Canadian Centre for Policy alternatives realizes some home truths about affordable housing: “[Inclusionary zoning] amounts to a narrowly focused tax that aims to serve a broad social function. The real estate industry has become a target because people view the lack of affordable housing as a real estate problem. However, experience in other jurisdictions suggests it is more of an income distribution and regulatory problem…. While attention is focused on distribution of the housing pie, the fundamental supply problems remain unsolved. A better approach is to enlarge the pie to be shared.”
Will New Brunswick Dare To Pull Out All The Stops? – August 30, 2008
New Brunswick's strategic objectives in its tax-reform exercise are impeccable. It seeks to achieve “self-sufficiency” – independence from federal equalization payments – by 2026. The corporate tax reform cited here is one of the more radical options presented in the New Brunswick discussion paper. But it doesn't go quite far enough. New Brunswick needs a corporate tax rate that will reverberate across the country and around the world.
Free Trade Breakdown – August 28, 2008
Establishing significantly freer trade would help the world combat its biggest problems. For a low cost, we could improve education, make the poorest people richer and help everybody become better able to tackle the future.
Council Votes 7-4 to Expropriate Land – August 12, 2008
"The fair determination of any private transaction should and can only be characterized by two fundamental principles - the first that the transaction should be voluntary, and secondly that the price is between the maximum that the buyer will pay for it and the minimum that the buyer will accept. >"This is not fair. There's nothing fair about this transaction. Some may consider this extreme, but I look to this as theft."
Idea Power – July 23, 2008
Unquestionably, the idea that it's important to keep promises, to be honest, to treat strangers with respect, to work hard, to take responsibility for one's own failures rather than blame others -- these and other such ideas that are so fundamental to modern commercial society are imparted more by example than by exposition. They are the soil of capitalist culture. Any government planted on such soil simply cannot grant privileges to special-interest groups if these privileges are widely perceived as violating these bedrock ideas.
Tax Freeze Comes with a Cost – July 9, 2008
Officials in Winnipeg and other cities have discovered that keeping a lid on property taxes while hiking user fees can boost city coffers without inciting public riots.