Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

More than 100 Conservative MPs express opposition to gay marriage law

Dina sent me this article from the UK Daily Mail about the push by Prime Minister David Cameron to legalize same-sex marriage in the UK. Although Cameron calls himself a conservative, I can’t think of anything that he’s done that’s conservative. It’s nice to see that there is a sizable minority in his party that opposes his plans to legalize SSM.

Excerpt:

The full extent of the revolt among Tory MPs over plans to allow gay marriage was revealed last night. In all, more than 100 Conservatives out of 303 have written to constituents indicating their unease. If they all vote against, it would be the biggest Tory rebellion in modern times.

[...]The vote could happen as early as January after Mr Cameron decided this week to ‘get it done and get it done quickly’.

[...]The sheer scale of the opposition means Mr Cameron is facing what has become the biggest Tory rebellion in recent history.

Even though No 10 has signalled that it will be a free vote in the Commons, ministers will be under huge pressure to back the measure because the PM has staked so much personal authority on the change.

Even though the policy was not in the party’s election manifesto, his Old Etonian-dominated kitchen cabinet have told the PM that this legislation is a litmus test of his efforts to ‘decontaminate’ the Tories’ image on social issues.

[...][A] survey by the polling organisation ComRes found that 62 per cent of voters and 68 per cent of Tory supporters believe marriage should continue to be defined as a ‘life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman’.

A further 65 per cent said that plans to legalise gay marriage are ‘more to do with trying to make the Conservative Party look trendy and modern’ than a matter of conviction.

These findings are reinforced by a petition set up by the lobby group Coalition For Marriage (C4M) which has been signed by 612,000 people. It declares: ‘I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.’

The Prime Minister has exacerbated tension on the Tory benches by issuing what has been described as a ‘guillotine’ – rushing the Bill into the Commons to fast-track the reform.

[...]One can only assume that the Tory whips have drawn Mr Cameron’s attention to this growing rebellion. In any case, it is now patently clear that the PM cannot write off opponents of his policy as the usual hardline right-wingers who have never been reconciled to his modernisation efforts.

The UK has a Parliamentary system that normally does not allow free votes. I would expect that even a view people in the Labour Party might vote against the legalization of same-sex marriage.

UPDATE: The actual number is up to 118 now.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , ,

David Cameron’s fixation on gay marriage cripples the UK Conservative Party

From the UK Daily Mail. (H/T Dina)

Excerpt:

When he became Tory leader seven years ago, the youthful and telegenic David Cameron pledged to transform the blue-rinse image of his party and boost its membership by attracting thousands of young, ethnic and gay members.

In doing so, he would destroy forever the Tories’ reputation as the ‘nasty party’ as these new ‘inclusive’ members joined the 300,000 activists whose average age was 64

‘I was elected Leader of the Conservative Party on a mandate to change and modernise the party,’ he said. ‘I want to increase membership. I want to see a broader  base. I want to see a significant increase  in the number of members from all communities.’

[...]But the bitter and ineluctable truth is that, far from increasing numbers, Mr Cameron has presided over the sharpest decline in membership in the Conservative  party’s history.

Today, I can reveal that the number of Tory party members has fallen below 130,000, a drop of around 60 per cent since he took over in 2005.

[...]The uncompromising language deployed by Mr Cameron who, in another sop to the Lib Dems, has cynically dumped his repeated promise to reward  traditional marriage through the tax system, enraged Tory MPs and activists alike. 

[...]In a tense meeting in Downing Street last month between Mr Cameron and 20 of the party’s most senior members, he was given a stark warning that membership will plunge below the psychologically crucial 100,000 mark if there were no change of heart on same-sex marriage.

[...]The damage done by the gay marriage proposals is not confined to within the party. Potential Tory voters don’t like them.

A national poll by ComRes on the likely effects of allowing gay marriage — which, incidentally, was not in any of the parties’ manifestos — revealed the Conservatives could lose 1.1 million votes and 30 parliamentary seats in an election because so many supporters would stay at home or switch to UKIP.

A ComRes poll also revealed that 56 per cent of Mr Cameron’s constituents who voted for him at the election oppose his plans to make redefining marriage a priority.

Andrew Hawkins, the chairman of ComRes, said: ‘It’s the way it has been handled that has done so much damage. The Government has a consultation, but says it is pressing ahead whether people like it  or not.

‘One of the scariest things for the Tories is that three in four of those people who voted for Cameron in 2010, but say they won’t again, cite gay marriage as the reason.

[...]One senior party official said: ‘Gay marriage is the final straw. In London, Bristol, Birmingham and other major cities, there are dozens of constituencies with no party organisation at all.

‘The voluntary party is virtually extinct in Scotland and in parts of Wales.

We are relying on a dwindling band of volunteers, the majority of whom are in their 70s. It’s the most desperate situation the party has ever faced.’ 

The UK Telegraph notes that Cameron has angered American Republicans with his “unprecedented” embrace of Barack Obama – despite the Falklands betrayal, the leaking the name of a British agent to the press, and other gaffes by Obama.

In other UK news, I note that nearly two-thirds of Scots oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, but the liberal Scottish National Party is going forward with plans to legalize it. But nothing is set in stone yet, and things could still go the other way. (H/T Dina)

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

A look at redistribution of wealth from the workers to the non-workers in Canada

Canada election 2011: Conservatives in Blue, Socialists in Red, Communists in Orange

Election 2011: Conservatives in Blue, Socialists in Red, Communists in Orange

I found two examples of policies that promote the redistribution of wealth from producers to non-producers in Canada. I think it’s worth taking a look at their policies so that we understand more about our own redistribution policies.

The first example of redistribution has to do with unemployment insurance, where productive taxpayers who choose low-risk, high-pay jobs must subsidize other citizens who get high-risk, low-pay jobs. Their program is called “Employment Insurance”. Canadians who work have to pay into the system, and when any of them loses their jobs, then they get to take money out of it. Those who work more pay more, those who work less pay less. Those with safe jobs collect nothing, and those with risky jobs collect more.

Is this program fair? In this article from Brian Lilley’s Lilley Pad blog, Canadian columnist Lorne Gunter explains what’s wrong with this program.

Excerpt:

Employment Insurance is a lot of things, but an insurance plan to encourage employment it is not.

For one thing, the premiums aren’t based on the risk of making a claim.

Young drivers pay higher auto insurance premiums because they are much more likely to get in an accident. Yet Canadians in high-unemployment industries and high-unemployment regions make no higher EI contributions than those who live where they are never likely to be without work.

Indeed, those most likely to make EI claims will make far lower lifetime contributions than those who are unlikely ever to claim. That makes EI a welfare program underwritten by a tax on employment, rather than an insurance plan.

In the 1990s, I interviewed a Statistics Canada researcher who had made the study of EI his life’s work. He told me that he had discovered one New Brunswick town of 3,000 people where every adult had made at least one EI claim. Most had claimed three or more times.

In some areas, EI is an accepted part of the culture. It’s that entitlement mentality the Tories’ changes are aimed at breaking.

In the CBC’s fawning 1994 biography of Pierre Trudeau, St. Pierre admitted that one of the goals of his government’s ’70s-era reforms to Unemployment Insurance (as it was more accurately known then) was to enable Canadians to stay in their home regions if they wanted to, even if they were never likely to find steady work there.

So the scheme is also an interregional transfer of wealth — from have to have-not provinces.

Of course, every year thousands of Canadians move from have-not regions to more prosperous areas in search of better jobs and higher pay. So it is not as though everyone who could collects EI to stay put.

But the question is why should hard-working Canadians be compelled to subsidize anyone who refuses to move or turns down locally available work?

It’s very similar to their health care programs, which transfers wealth from producers to health care users – and remember that not all health care is from stuff like car accidents. Abortions, IVF and sex changes are entirely voluntary – based on lifestyle choices.

But this is not the only program that transfers wealth from workers to non-workers. It turns out that there is an entire province of Canada that has a majority of secular socialist slackers who can’t pay their own way, but must instead depend on the rest of Canada to support them.

Eric Duhaime explains in this article on the Lilley Pad.

Excerpt:

Although we live in the same house, we certainly don’t sleep in the same room anymore. Our romantic days are long gone. Quebec and the rest of Canada have grown apart. Young Quebecers have no appetite for constitutional quarrels, although they define themselves more and more as Quebecois and less and less as Canadians. They have even invented the word “decanadianization.”

Conversely, English-Canadians are becoming more and more fed up with paying for Quebec, which receives more than half the money given through the so-called equalization program, the equivalent of $8 billion a year.

The solution might not be to ask Quebec to become an independent nation but to become less dependent on its neighbours and more fiscally autonomous. To calm English Canada down, the equalization formula — which will be reviewed before 2014 anyway — could be modernized.

Canada has evolved over the years. The need for interprovincial welfare is not as necessary as it used to be. The principle of redistribution is part of our Constitution but could focus exclusively on funding very essential social programs, which wouldn’t include $7-a-day daycare or a fully subsidized year of parental leave after the birth of each child.

I think it would be an excellent idea to cut Quebec loose. Whatever goods and services they produce could still be bought by the rest of Canada – if there are any such things. Let them pay for their own exorbitant abortion and day care costs, for a start.

Why am I posting about Canada? I think it’s important for us to look at other countries so that we understand how public policies that are sold to us as “compassionate” actually punish hard work, thrift and risk-taking while at the same time rewarding ignorance, wastefulness and sloth. In fact, one could argue that Obamacare itself is nothing more than a way to transfer wealth from those who are take care of their health and work hard for their money, to those who are unemployed and want free contraceptives, abortions and sex changes. You can get all three of those things in the Canadian province of Ontario, and in the UK as well. But the UK goes even further and provides taxpayer-funded IVF and breast implants. This is what liberal compassion really means: pillaging those who sacrifice their leisure to work, in order to buy votes from unproductive, reckless and lazy special interest groups.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper wins a majority

Stephen Harper Wins Majority

Stephen Harper Wins Majority

You can see the latest Canadian election results here on the Sun News Network.

The Conservatives won 167 seats in the House of Commons. They needed 155 for a majority of the 308 seats.

From the Vancouver Sun.

Excerpt:

Conservative leader Stephen Harper has emerged from the election campaign as a much more powerful prime minister and will lead a majority government with four years to change the country.

At a rally of his supporters here, Conservatives cheered and celebrated Monday as the results rolled in from throughout the country, confirming that Canadians, in large numbers, had given Harper the trust he had sought in the five-week campaign.

As the evening wore on, Harper’s party was coming within striking distance of reaching the benchmark threshold — 155 seats — they needed for a majority. When the Tories crossed that threshold, a great cheer erupted in the hall here in Calgary where supporters had gathered to celebrate and listen to Harper’s speech.

The Conservatives success came as the NDP made historic gains at the expense of the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois, which saw their popular vote drop as they lost seats.

In recent days on the hustings, Harper had portrayed the election as having historic consequences for the country. In addition, his own personal future was at stake.

It was clear that with a majority victory, Harper will be regarded by historians as a political success story who united the political right in Canada.

He will have a four-year mandate to implement significant change in areas ranging from tax policy, to the criminal justice system, to foreign affairs.

Here’s the reaction to the Harper victory from businesses and investors.

Excerpt:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has won for a third time the leadership of Canada, in a stunning vote which changed the country’s political landscape.

As the ballot counting wore on over six times zones and more than 5,000 miles from Atlantic to Pacific, Harper won his great aim, a majority government after two minorities in 2006 and 2008. The television networks declared his majority victory well before 11 p.m. ET. The Conservatives may have won 160 to 165 seats when 155 are needed for a majority in the 308-seat House of Commons.

While a Conservative victory again was always considered quite possible, the countrys political landscape was altered in three stunning ways:

The New Democratic Party, a rump group of social democrats in the 41st Parliament with 36 seats in the 308-seat House of Commons, surged into becoming the chief opposition party in the 42nd Parliament with about 105 to 108 seats.

The former chief opposition party, the historically great Liberal Party of Canada, the government of the country for more than 100 years of Canada’s 144 years since Confederation of separate British colonies into one nation, sunk to a very poor third with perhaps 30 seats. Michael Ignatieff, who became Liberal leader exactly two years earlier to the date, was looking to lose his Toronto-area seat.

The Bloc Quebecois, the separatist party from the French-speaking province of Quebec, was wiped out by the surging NDP, from 47 of Quebec’s 75 seats to perhaps two seats.

While the social democrats in the new Democratic party hold a powerful position in the House of Commons, the Conservatives with their majority will enforce a program which by and large is what foreign and domestic business and investors prefer.

The Conservatives will bring back a budget which was lost in the last Parliament when the election intervened 36 days ago, and will continue with a further tax cut for corporations, but a reduction in spending it said would bring back balance during 2014, erasing the federal budget deficit the Conservatives created after 11 years of Liberal government-created surpluses.

Prime Minister Harper campaigned for a majority saying his Conservatives were the prudent economic managers while the others were “tax and spend” parties. He will keep the same course. Economists have said that they see no significant changes in deficit reduction or in monetary policy under the Conservatives.

Well done, Canada! Congratulations!

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NDP leader Jack Layton wants consumers to pay higher prices for lower quality goods

NDP leaders Bob Rae and Jack Layton

NDP leaders Bob Rae and Jack Layton

Jack Layton is opposed to free trade with other nations, and Jack Layton supports the imposition of tariffs on imported goods. Stephen Harper favors free trade and opposes tariffs, and has pushed through numerous free trade deals during his terms in office. So now we have to ask the questions: is free trade good for Canada? Is free trade good for Canadian consumers? Is free trade good for Canadian companies? Is free trade good for the poor in other countries?

Let’s start by noting that free trade is supported by virtually ALL economists, regardless of their political persuasion. Moderate economist Gregory Mankiw of Harvard University lists the policies that are accepted by virtually all economists.

Here’s Greg’s list, together with the percentage of economists who agree:

  1. A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available. (93%)
  2. Tariffs and import quotas usually reduce general economic welfare. (93%)
  3. Flexible and floating exchange rates offer an effective international monetary arrangement. (90%)
  4. Fiscal policy (e.g., tax cut and/or government expenditure increase) has a significant stimulative impact on a less than fully employed economy. (90%)
  5. The United States should not restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries. (90%)
  6. The United States should eliminate agricultural subsidies. (85%)
  7. Local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises. (85%)
  8. If the federal budget is to be balanced, it should be done over the business cycle rather than yearly. (85%)
  9. The gap between Social Security funds and expenditures will become unsustainably large within the next fifty years if current policies remain unchanged. (85%)
  10. Cash payments increase the welfare of recipients to a greater degree than do transfers-in-kind of equal cash value. (84%)
  11. A large federal budget deficit has an adverse effect on the economy. (83%)
  12. A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)
  13. The government should restructure the welfare system along the lines of a “negative income tax.” (79%)
  14. Effluent taxes and marketable pollution permits represent a better approach to pollution control than imposition of pollution ceilings. (78%)

Now let’s drill down to the research on free trade in particular.

Here’s an article from the  libertarian Cato Institute, a respected think tank.

Excerpt:

There are three important reasons voluntary exchange is good not only for the contracting parties but the world as a whole:

(1) Trade improves global efficiency in resource allocation. A glass of water may be of little value to someone living near the river but is priceless to a person crossing the Sahara. Trade delivers goods and services to those who value them most.

(2) Trade allows partners to gain from specializing in the producing those goods and services they do best. Economists call that the law of comparative advantage. When producers create goods they are comparatively skilled at, such as Germans producing beer and the French producing wine, those goods increase in abundance and quality.

(3) Trade allows consumers to benefit from more efficient production methods. For example, without large markets for goods and services, large production runs would not be economical. Large production runs, in turn, are instrumental to reducing product costs. Lower production costs lead to cheaper goods and services, which raises real living standards.

Evidence supports the idea nations more open to trade tend to be richer than those that are less open. Columbia University economist Arvind Panagariya wrote in a paper “Miracles and Debacles: Do Free-Trade Skeptics Have a Case?”: “On the poverty front, there is overwhelming evidence that trade openness is a more trustworthy friend of the poor than protectionism. Few countries have grown rapidly without a simultaneous rapid expansion of trade. In turn, rapid growth has almost always led to reduction in poverty.”

According to the Cato Institute’s 2004 report on Economic Freedom of the World, which measures economic freedom in 123 countries, the per capita gross domestic product in the quintile of countries with the most restricted trading was only $1,883 in 2002. That year’s per capita GDP in the quintile of countries with the freest trading regimes was $23,938.

Harper holds the B.A. and the M.A. in economics from the University of Calgary. He knows this stuff cold.

Here’s an article from The Heritage Foundation, another think tank. This article outlines five reasons why free trade is the best economic policy.

Here is an excerpt from one reason from the list of five:

REASON #1: Higher Standard of Living

The most compelling reason to support free trade is that society as a whole benefits from it. Free trade improves people’s living standards because it allows them to consume higher quality goods at less expensive prices. In the 19th century, British economist David Ricardo showed that any nation that focuses on producing goods in which it has a comparative advantage will be able to get cheaper and better goods from other countries in return. As a result of the exchange, both trading parties gain from producing more efficiently and consuming higher quality goods and services at lower prices.

Trade between nations is the same as trade between people. Consider what the quality of life would be if each person had to produce absolutely everything that he or she consumed, such as food, clothing, cars, or home repairs. Compare that picture with life as it is now as individuals dedicate themselves to working on just one thing–for example, insurance sales–to earn a salary with which they can freely purchase food, a car, a home, clothing, and anything else they wish at higher quality and lower prices than if they had done it themselves.

It simply makes sense for each person to work at what he or she does best and to buy the rest. As a nation, the United States exports in order to purchase imports that other nations produce more skillfully and cheaply. Therefore, the fewer barriers erected against trade with other nations, the more access people will have to the best, least expensive goods and services in the world “supermarket.”

Producers benefit as well. In the absence of trade barriers, producers face greater competition from foreign producers, and this increased competition gives them an incentive to improve the quality of their production while keeping prices low in order to compete. At the same time, free trade allows domestic producers to shop around the world for the least expensive inputs they can use for their production, which in turn allows them to keep their cost of production down without sacrificing quality.

In the end, the results benefit both producers–who remain competitive and profitable–and consumers–who pay less for a good or a service than they would if trade barriers existed.

There is no loser to free trade exchanges, otherwise the participants to the trade would not make the trade at all. Both parties gain – that’s why they choose to make the trade.

NDP candidates are not economists

NDP candidates are not known for their demonstrated knowledge and experience in economics, unlike Stephen Harper.

Excerpt:

Usually an election call means all bets are off for politicos wanting to take a Vegas vacation.

But, if you’re a New Democrat, you can be in Sin City with just days to go in the federal election campaign.

That’s where the party’s long shot candidate for the Quebec riding of Berthier-Maskinonge, Ruth Ellen Brosseau, finds herself.

Ruth works in the campus pub at Carleton University. She is not an economist.

But there’s more:

Some NDP candidates in Quebec could prove to be wild cards if they end up winning on May 2.

Several are still university students.

Charmaine Borg in Terrebonne-Blainville and Sherbrooke candidate Pierre-Luc Dusseault are both studying political science.

Actress and former camp counsellor Marie-Claude Morin in Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot is working on a degree in social work.

Others have off-beat political backgrounds.

Alexandre Boulerice, the NDP candidate in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, is a member of the left-wing separatist party Quebec Solidaire.

In the Pontiac riding, the New Democrats have nominated Mathieu Ravignat. He was a Communist Party candidate in the Montreal area in 1997.

You can watch a video report on some of the NDP candidates here at Blazing Cat Fur.

How did former NDP leader Bob Rae govern in Ontario?

If you want to know what New Democrats do to an economy, you can read about how NDP leader Bob Rae wrecked the Ontario economy in the 1990s.

Excerpt:

The Liberal government had forecast a small surplus earlier in the year, but a worsening North American economy led to a $700 million deficit before Rae took office. In October, the NDP projected a $2.5 billion deficit for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 1991.[40] Some economists projected soaring deficits for the upcoming years, even if the Rae government implemented austerity measures.[41] Rae himself was critical of the Bank of Canada’s high interest rate policy, arguing that it would lead to increased unemployment throughout the country.[42] He also criticized the 1991 federal budget, arguing the Finance Minister Michael Wilson was shifting the federal debt to the provinces.[43]

The Rae government’s first budget, introduced in 1991, increased social spending to mitigate the economic slowdown and projected a record deficit of $9.1 billion. Finance Minister Floyd Laughren argued that Ontario made a decision to target the effects of the recession rather than the deficit, and said that the budget would create or protect 70,000 jobs. It targeted more money to social assistance, social housing and child benefits, and raised taxes for high-income earners while lowering rates for 700,000 low-income Ontarians.[44]

A few years later, journalist Thomas Walkom described the budget as following a Keynesian orthodoxy, spending money in the public sector to stimulate employment and productivity. Unfortunately, it did not achieve its stated purpose. The recession was still severe. Walkom described the budget as “the worst of both worlds”, angering the business community but not doing enough to provide for public relief.

[...]Rae’s government attempted to introduce a variety of socially progressive measures during its time in office, though its success in this field was mixed. In 1994, the government introduced legislation, Bill 167, which would have provided for same-sex partnership benefits in the province. At the time, this legislation was seen as a revolutionary step forward for same-sex recognition.

[...]The Rae government established an employment equity commission in 1991,[49] and two years later introduced affirmative action to improve the numbers of women, non-whites, aboriginals and disabled persons working in the public sector.

[...]In November 1990, the Rae government announced that it would restrict most rent increases to 4.6% for the present year and 5.4% for 1991. The provisions for 1990 were made retroactive. Tenants’ groups supported these changes, while landlord representatives were generally opposed.

Be careful who you vote for, Canada. We voted for Obama, and now we have a 14.5 trillion dollar debt and a 1.65 trillion deficit – TEN TIMES the last Republican budget deficit of 160 billion under George W. Bush in 2007. TEN TIMES WORSE THAN BUSH.

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