The vast green prairie, the boundless blue sky, Polaris & a Tiger Lily

Monday, October 31, 2011

Key issues in the General Election of 2011 - Number 3

I have visited Smalldeadanimals, a blog by a constituent named Kate, for many years now. There is a post there today which is about the "Animal rights contagion [which] is spreading to even small town humane societies". In the comment thread there is a comment by "Mark Matis" containing links to essays which I read and which prompted me to post a response (shown below) on SDA, as it is on topic, that being the "lawful authorities" are out of control:

Thanks for the link, it was a chilling read. It contains another link http://bit.ly/tgcfxW with an essay that is even more chilling. There is also a link in the comments, by Arctic Patriot (The citizenry should do some soul searching as well), which I urge readers to follow and read, as it contains relevant quotes by A. Solzhenitsyn which do apply directly to our province though all are written for consumption in the USA.
 Many years ago, into what was later to become Saskatchewan, an army unit known as the Northwest Mounted Police was sent out to pacify the Territories and they are still here as the RCMP.
Our party is calling for the removal of the RCMP from Saskatchewan and the creation of a Provincial Police Force, to both remove the "lawful authorities" ability to issue orders (which must and will be obeyed by members of the RCMP) from afar, and more importantly to re-establish the trust of the citizenry in their police, that those LEO's are indeed not above the law and will defend them from tyrannical edicts of all kinds.
These 3 articles make the case for expelling the RCMP from Saskatchewan far better than I could and I urge people to at the very least read them and to be determined to have the discussion.
Like most people and, I daresay, the vast majority of citizens in Saskatchewan, I want to live my life under the Rule of Law, not the law of the jungle, but I fully expect the RCMP to obey the orders issued to them from outside Saskatchewan, no matter how contrary to the principles of freedom and liberty those orders may be. Don't believe me? Try dodging one of the most egregious violations of the principle of being free from unreasonable search and seizure, a checkstop. How do you expect that will turn out for you? Were you foolish enough to admit to the authorities you own a gun? Then you may be charged with an offence if you do not assist the "lawful authorities" as they violate the privacy of your home.
Tyranny does not always arrive in jackboots, but can and does show up well spoken and nicely dressed but no less dangerous, as their well-intentioned(!) edicts are ultimately backed up by men with guns.
Dana Arnason
Leader-WIP
We need to have the discussion, and to resolve to do what is necessary to regain the confidence of the citizens in a law enforcement community that serves the citizenry in a just and lawful manner, with the consent of those citizens. The alternative leads inevitably to tryanny followed closely by anarchy.

I want to live under the Rule of Law as (I believe) do most people. I want to have confidence in the police, that they are doing a most difficult job in compliance within the letter of the law and in the spirit of the law, while respecting the Rights of Individuals guaranteed by centuries of common law. This will not be possible so long as the occupying force from the east is allowed to remain.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ugly, sad, and very very telling

I have received a very few requests (as Leader of our party, and as a candidate pursuing a seat in the Legislature representing the Riding of Biggar) from the media in Saskatchewan during this 27th General Election, but for the most part we have been ignored by the media, particularly by the 2 (actually only 1, as Postmedia owns them both) major newspapers, (however, the smaller regional papers have shown some interest, as has the CBC). Last Tuesday, I responded to an email from one of the reporters for the northernmost outlet, about an interactive election feature they were creating, as a useful tool for the electorate during this election.
 
During the course of our email thread, he asked "...would I be correct in saying you would like to see Crown corporations abolished...". I responded with "Our party policy does not include abolishing the Crowns...." and offered our argument against the interference of any and all public sector organizations in the private sector (expanded on further here: http://bit.ly/qlq2QX)

He then asked "Are you backing off of a previous position now because it seems to be an unpopular one?". I responded "No. Besides, how can we know if it is unpopular if no one will even discuss it? We take the word of those the media choose to report?..."

I received no further response (until much later) from this journalist. This was on the evening of the 25th of October. I am prepared to release the entire email thread, if there is any interest in the whole truth.

On the evening of the 27th I saw the first referral to our website from this interactive tracker. I went to take a look at what would be sending referrals to us from a newspaper  (which has for the most part ignored our party) website and there I found on their interactive tracker the assertion that the WIP would "Eliminate Crown corporations in favour of allowing private businesses to provide those services in an open market". I snapped a screen shot of this "Business" plank in our Party Platform, and all the other planks on this tracker attributed to the WIP, including the claim that the WIP would "Join with B.C. and Alberta to form a sovereign nation separate from Canada". This last assertion is not and has never been party policy.

This tracker was riddled with errors, including bad data not only about the WIP but the other partys as well (the Greens have only 57 candidates!?). I emailed the journalist (who had not responded since the 25th) pointing out these factual errors, but received no response from him, and did not until the evening of the 28th. In the meantime I emailed the leaders of the Greens, Liberals, and PC's, to let them know about the inaccurate information in this tracker. Only Mr. Lau responded. I cc:'d the reporter (still got no response) but Mr. Lau contacted the City Editor of the the newspaper in Saskatoon, and shortly after that I also contacted that Editor. He did respond immediately to my email, expressing that he would like "correct information only on the website", and the erroneous information was removed almost right away. The tracker also removed the links to all the party websites in the new version. Only after that did I finally receive a response from the reporter, apologizing for the late reply, assuring me the errors would be corrected, and wishing me good luck in my campaign. I did not however see any more referrals from that newspapers new version of the tracker.

What I did see was referrals from the southernmost outlet of the Postmedia newspaper chain, and quite a few of them in fact (again, from an organization that has for the most part ignored our party, big exception here: http://bit.ly/oo8emU). So I went to their election coverage page and on that page there was a link to the page which contained the interactive tracker (and yes, I snapped a screenshot), the old (riddled with errors) interactive tracker.

Once again I gave the 3 other leaders a heads up, and again, only Mr. Lau responded, letting me know he had been in touch at some length with an editor at this newspaper. I sent their city desk an email urging them to follow the lead of their northernmost outlet. I did not receive (and have yet to receive) any response from the editors of that news outlet, but their reaction was very very telling. They removed the page which showed the interactive tracker almost immediately, and then within hours removed the link to the page (now 404) from their election coverage page. The northernmost outlet at this point also removed from their election coverage page the link to the interactive tracker page. Neither have restored those links or the interactive tracker page at the time I write this. I have to question if there is any plan to restore (what should have been) this very useful tool.

And that is the state of our (major) free press in Saskatchewan. Ignore what you deem ignorable, and don't admit an error and correct it, but just spike the story.

Speaks volumes, doesn't it?

Update: Sometime around 7 PM Saturday (Oct 29th)  the interactive tracker page went back online at both the Postmedia outlets http://bit.ly/tQsc2Y & http://bit.ly/u0Sehm (be warned, still some bad data in the InfoGrid database) and the links to all 6 party websites are working, but no sign (yet) of links to those interactive tracker pages from either outlets election coverage pages, and neither (yet) has more than 4 parties in their "Election Resources" box on that page. It's not that difficult to add 3 hyperlinks to a webpage.

Another  Update: Just after 12 Noon on Sunday (Oct 30th) the hyperlink to the the interactive tracker page was restored on both outlets, although both point to the same page. However there is still some incorrect information about the other partys.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Candidates forum at SIAST

I attended the candidates forum held Oct 26th at the E.A. Davies building on the SIAST Kelsey campus, and there were some great questions from the attendees. My thanks to the students that took the time from their very busy day to show up, and to ask questions, and also to Ashlyn Yablonski for all her work coordinating the forum. Good job Ashlyn! And thanks again for getting the A/C going in time!!

Two significant occurrences from the forum:

One was that the absence of the Saskparty representative (invited but a no show) was noted by the audience. They appeared to take that lack of respect for what it was, disrespectful.

The other was the reaction from the crowd, when Mr. Yachyshen (the PC Party candidate running against me in the Biggar constituency, the only riding in the province with 5 candidates on the ballot) mentioned the Leaders televised debate held the night before (55 minutes I'll never get back), and he deplored the absence of the other four leaders of the registered parties in the debate, pointing out the lack of democratic principle displayed by the consortium of two private broadcasters & one 'public broadcaster' and encouraged by the attendance of the only two leaders invited to #skdb8.

I thanked James for bringing this up, as I was one of those leaders frozen out of that debate, and that drew applause from the crowd.

We needed more time as there were questions left unasked (due to the event going past the allotted hour), so all the candidates spent more time talking to people one to one. All in all an excellent event.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A few months ago, a documentary crew from Les productions de la ruelle, a award winning production company based in Quebec, came out to Saskatchewan to film for their production titled: THE DISUNITED STATES OF CANADA (from their website)"...The documentary is following the Canada new separatist and presents conflicts between provinces in an old fashion family dispute way." Guylaine Maroist and √Čric Ruel spent a few days here in our province filming us and conducting interviews. They are now planning on returning to Saskatchewan towards the end of the campaign, looking to capture some "action" for their documentary. This would be shots of me on the campaign trail, knocking on doors etc.
I'm used to being on the other (their) side of the lens, but it's certainly not the first time I have appeared in productions, so I'm looking forward to their visit.

Update: Unfortunately, the documentarians let me know on November 3rd that they were unable to arrange a trip to our province. C'est la vie.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Just to be clear - Preferential Balloting vs Proportional Represenattion

I had a chance to listen to my interview on the CBC BlueSky program (streaming clip here) and I had mistakenly addressed Preferential Balloting ("what all the parties use to select a leader", also known as the Single Transferable Vote - STV) as Proportional Representation (something else entirely) and did not correct the mistake immediately on air. That honest mistake was then included in the CBC web article (online here) about me and our party.

Our website page about Preferential Balloting has been online since 2007, unchanged since then except to update the reference to our Chief Official Agent.

I apologize for the mistake and hope this post can be taken as an earnest attempt to correct the record by a "political neophyte" (as James Woods, lately of the Star Phoenix, labelled me).

In this day and age of a professional class of politicians, is being a neophyte really a bad thing?

Update: I joined the CBC Member Center to issue a correction on their story (can't do a thing about the BlueSky broadcast). It is sitting in moderator approval but reads;
Hi all
Glad to see people are paying any attention at all to the WIP.

I have issued a correction and apology here: http://bit.ly/odY9w7 for mistakenly addressing Preferential Balloting (which I meant to endorse as our party's official position since 2007) as Proportional Representation.

As for some of the other comments to this article; I would also be glad to live in a country where everyone is free to speak their mind without being targeted by bureaucrats, but unfortunately, Confederation is not that place. Ask Ezra Levant (2 years of punishment by the Alberta Human Rights Commission), Mark Steyn (BC HRC), Bill Whatcott (SK HRC), Connie & Mark et al from Freedominion.org (CHRC); the list is quite long of people prosecuted by quasi-judicial "Human Rights" Commissions.

35 years ago, the National Energy Program (NEP) demolished Albertas economy, (Saskatchewans economy was already in dire straights due to decades of the regressive policies of the ruling socialists), and the result was indeed a desire to leave a Confederation that was extracting wealth from the West and redistributing it to other Provinces. It should be noted that Quebec is _guaranteed_ to always be a 'have-not', and BC & Ontario are right now have-nots due to the "progressive" policies of their Provincial governments.

I apologize for the mistake.
Thanks
Dana Arnason
Leader - WIP


Update: It appears the CBC web folk will not publish my comment, leaving it sitting unapproved. I tried a comment (one sentence) in another article, and it is also unapproved. As far as I can tell, I met their guidelines, perhaps my transgression(s) could be pointed out with a message directed to me.

I'll try again, with less:
I have issued a correction and apology here: http://bit.ly/odY9w7 for mistakenly addressing Preferential Balloting (which I meant to endorse as our party's official position since 2007) as Proportional Representation.

Dana Arnason (much better looking than Ted, and my hair is real)

We'll see if this is acceptable.

Otherwise, one could rightly draw the conclusion they have no intention of allowing my comments to appear on the "public broadcasters" website.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Key issues in the General Election of 2011 - Number 2

Recently, I was making a purchase at a store, but when the merchant saw the wedding band on my finger, I was told that for you married people the GST is 7%. Well, I asked, what if I was single? The answer was 9%, unless I have a kid under 18 years of age, then it's 8%.

How can this be, I demanded.

I was told that, depending on my marital status (and a child is considered an equivalent to a spouse), different rates of tax apply.

Then the merchant spotted my car (not a beater with a heater, but it gets good mileage), and he announced that with a car like that, there is a surcharge of 3%.

What!? How can you do THAT, I asked (glad that I left the BMW at home).

The merchant told me that because I make enough money to afford such a nice car, I have to pay more tax. But, the merchant offered, if I can prove that I'm are a senior, the rate would be 5% with no surcharge...

You get the picture, (and of course I made that whole story up), however;

The GST and the PST, they are fixed at a flat rate, no matter your circumstances.

The same is not true of direct taxation (a.k.a. income tax - more on this later)

The current tax regime uses what is known as 'progressive' tax rates, and it means that if you make more money you pay a higher percentage of your income to direct taxes.

How can this be anything but unfair? Legal, perhaps, but surely not fair.

The 2 parties with elected MLA's, the Saskatchewan Party and the New Democratic Party, Sask. Section, are in a bidding war right now (the Saskatchewan Liberal Association is also participating, as is the Green Party of Saskatchewan, hard to tell with the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan), offering various exemptions to taxation, depending on your circumstances. This is not considered 'buying' your vote. No, not at all, it's just standard electioneering.

There is one sure way to make this bidding stop, and that is a flat tax, with no exemptions.

Everybody pays the same rate, and the tax return consists of a single page. Same holds true for businesses.

One tax rate, no exemptions, everyone contributes the same percentage of their income.

Alberta does it, as do many countries around the world.

And as an added bonus, there is no point in you lobbying the government for special tax treatment for your industry, as there are no exemptions.

Three years ago, the Fraser Institute published a research study on the flat tax system. A bit long but definitely worth a read.

The Western Independence Party of Saskatchewan (W.I.P.) supports a flat tax, but there is no chance the other parties (nor the media) will even want the issue raised in this election. Wouldn't it be awesome if I was wrong about that?

Perhaps if the electorate demanded the other parties address the issue, it might be brought up by the media, but if no one speaks up, it will not happen.

And that income tax (a.k.a. direct taxation) I mentioned above? The Constitution Act reserves that to the Provinces in the section titled: Exclusive Powers of Provincial Legislatures. Section 92(1) is the only place that "Direct Taxation" appears in the Constitution. And Saskatchewan doesn't even collect it itself (unlike Quebec) but rather allows the Canada Revenue Agency to do the collecting.

Don't take my word for it, go look it up.

Election issue? Not unless you the voters make it one.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Key issues in the General Election of 2011 - Number 1

A constitutionally focused government that ensures that individuals have the freedom to participate in both the supply and demand sides of the free market economy.

Keynesian economic theory rests on the assumption that government intervention in the marketplace is not only benign but can have a positive effect on the market economy, IF the government intervention is reversed when the desired effect is achieved. It is this second part that has been uniformly ignored by successive governments, as they spend money they do not have (yet, that is, received as revenues) causing government to operate under a deficit (requiring short term borrowing), which, when it is not reversed (read: paid back) becomes debt. The 'stimulus' spending by the government is a good example of this, both in Canada and the US. Time has shown that the money (which they never had but was borrowed) was wasted for almost no discernible effect on the economy.  Government fiscal policy for decades has rested on this failure to reverse the intervention, and so now there are large debts, which future generations will have to pay off, eventually. The interest payments on borrowed money drain the provincial coffers, and reduce the amount of money available for government to perform it's primary functions of delivering vital services to the people of Saskatchewan.

This is in direct contradiction to Austrian economic theory, which views all government intervention as benign at best, but generally having a negative effect on the economy. Saskatchewan has been a petri dish for decades, with massive government intervention, none of it benign, with the overall result of a moribund economy, which leads inexorably to the best and brightest fleeing elsewhere to seek success in a free(r) economy. Alberta has benefited mostly from this flight of human capital, and the economy (and population) of Alberta long ago exceeded that of Saskatchewan.

In Saskatchewan the government stifles the free market not only with over-regulation, but also with the Crowns competing with the free market for limited resources in labor, capital, credit (borrowing) and, most importantly, market share. Sasktel is a case in point, with the Crown corporation ruthlessly crushing any and all competition (most notably the small operators offering dial-up internet access). Sasktel cannot sustain undercutting the very large competitors, such as Rogers, and have been forced to concede market share.

Government has no money of it's own, but must take it from individuals, in the form of taxes (and businesses pass along any taxes they 'pay' to the end users, the individuals, as a cost of doing business) and this reduces the amount of money available for individuals to spend with the private sector. Crown monopolies reduce the choices available to individuals and choice is the driving factor in competing for market share.

Where can I, as a citizen purchase car insurance, health care, electricity, natural gas, etc. etc.? One place and one place only and that removes the competition that drives down prices as the various choices that would be available were there not a monopoly are not allowed to exist.

Furthermore, citizens (and the businesses they would own and operate if only they could) cannot compete with the Crowns, offering up choices in the delivery of goods and services, which would result in better and cheaper alternatives available to the market, as is always the case when providers are permitted to compete for market share. This also has the effect of reducing the amount of money collected by government in the form of taxes on private sector activity, as the potential employers do not hire employees. Worse, the service is then provided by public sector workers, and all their 'wages' come first from the actual taxpayers of the province. This point cannot be over-emphasized. Most importantly, wealth is not a zero sum game but is created by the private sector, something the public sector cannot do.

Allowing people in Saskatchewan to participate in both sides of the supply/demand equation would increase the wealth of the Province, and that means removing governments ability to interfere in the market economy.