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Alanna Newman

Saying No to the Nanny State

Nanny state.  It is a term that has been thrown around a fair bit recently- referring to the policies of “Premier Dad” (Premier McGuinty) or “Mommy Mayor” (Mayor Bloomberg).  It is a term of British origin that conveys the view that government policies are unduly encroaching on personal choice.  These policies tend protect people from themselves while conveying the message that the government knows better. In cases where the government babies the populace by taking care of all its needs, and then some, society begins to ask more and more of the government with out thinking of the consequences.  When you take away choice, you take away responsibility.  When you restrict freedom, you encourage reliance.  A society that is reliant on the government lacks the ability to think critically, and the motivation to take action.  If an individual is restricted from taking on personal risk, how will they grow from failure?  How will they reap the rewards of success?In May 2012 New York City Mayor Bloomberg proposed to restrict the sale of soft drinks in venues, restaurants, and sidewalk carts to 16 ounces.  He received sharp criticism- and ridicule- for his proposal.  It was proposed as a measure to combat obesity.  As if restricting an individual from purchasing a 24-ounce soft drink will change anything.  If they were so inclined they could purchase two drinks.  Individuals who are obese are aware of that fact.  They will only change if they, as individuals, decide that it is time to change their lifestyle.   Government policy will not spark that inside a person.Starting September 3rd, 27 out of 40 New York City hospitals will cease to hand out “swag bags” sporting baby formula logos and trinkets and start to regulate every bottle of formula that a newborn receives.  When a new mother requests baby… Read More

Thank You, Governor Carney

With the recent passing of Canada Day, national pride was at the forefront of Canadian minds.  Through the parades, the face painting, the flags and the fireworks, we came together as a nation to celebrate the many things we are able to be thankful for.  One thing that often gets overlooked in our things to be thankful for is our current financial climate, especially after going through a recession.  We weathered the storm with confidence and we are now on the road to prosperity.  We have our Conservative government to thank – in part – for this.  More importantly, we have Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney.On Thursday June 21, 2012 Governor Mark Carney spoke at a luncheon hosted by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies about the transformation currently underway in the global economy.  He argued that an open, resilient financial system was needed to sustain global growth.  On paying down the debt, he said that “Austerity is a necessary condition for rebalancing, but it is seldom sufficient.  There are really only three options to reduce debt: restructuring, inflation, and growth.” He recognized that the most “palatable strategy to reduce debt is to increase growth.” Private growth flourishes in an environment of stability; it needs to be taxed in a diverse, competitive, resilient and open financial sector.  Canadians understand the value of hard work and perseverance.  We also understand that jobs are necessary for individual prosperity and for a strong national economy.  If there is one day for Canadians to celebrate what unites us, it is Canada Day.  We must not stand divided along regional lines, but continue to work together towards jobs, and prosperity through growth.Governor Carney also had one key insight that is so simple; many of us just might call it common sense.  He said that “we… Read More

Nova Scotia’s government loans should be transparent

Cheers erupted from hundreds of workers in October 2011 at the Irving Shipyard in Halifax when the federal government announced that it had been awarded the $25 billion contract to build 21 Canadian combat ships.  The Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter noted that it was an historic moment for the province.  Workers were elated that young people who had gone west for work could stay in Nova Scotia and build families.  Although there are 800 people who work at the shipyard, this contract is expected to create 11,500 jobs, and have a myriad of economic spin-offs.However, excitement over the contract began to die down.  By March 2012 Irving Shipbuilding was set to receive the province’s single largest assistance for a private business- a loan to the tune of $304 million.  Of that loan, $206 million would be forgivable and would be used for upgrades to handle building the combat vessels over the next 30 years.  Dexter explained it as “The kind of game-changing opportunity Nova Scotians rightly expect their government to get behind.”  It was important that Irving did not ask the federal government to support them in this venture.  A non-partisan rating system was used to determine which shipyards were best for the contract.  Worth 20 out of a possible 100 points: whether or not there would be any cost to the federal government beyond the cost of the ships.  In order to get the highest possible score, Irving would not be able to ask the federal government for assistance, so they turned to the province.Kevin Lacey, the Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taypayers Federation rightly questions why provincial taxpayers should give $304 million when the contract is valued at $25 billion.  After all, Irving was selected for this prestigious contract because it was deemed the best company for… Read More

Tim Hortons running at a loss: only when the government is in charge!

Tim Hortons boasted total revenues of $ 2.53 billion in 2010, and employs nearly 85,000 people across Canada.  This company is more than a coffee and doughnut shop- it is a Canadian icon.  As Canadians, we love our “Timmies” (especially at “Roll up the rim” time!).  We are willing to wait in line-ups out the door for our favourite food and beverage.  Given the national obsession with their products, it would seem like a simple task: open a Tim Hortons’, and turn a profit. All you need is some basic business sense, a hot pot of coffee, and a selection of treats.  Eastern Health decided to do just that and opened up a Tim Hortons in a St. John’s hospital.  They anticipated enough profit to pay for 7 nurses, or 11 support staff.  Alternatively, the money could go back into cancer treatment.  Customers felt good knowing the profits were supporting local healthcare, while they enjoyed their double-doubles and old-fashioned glazed.  The only flaw with this business model was the $28 wages paid to the employees.“Let me tell you why (the hospital franchise loses money),” Vickie Kaminski, President and CEO of Eastern Health Authority began “We charge you a buck-ninety-four for that large coffee, but we insist that the staff who are pouring the coffee are Eastern Health staff, and they get paid $28 an hour. No Tim Hortons pays that.”  She hits the nail on the head. It is unfortunate that this was not realised sooner though, given that last year the coffee shop lost approximately $260,000 that year.  In 2008-2009 the shop lost $296,110.  Critics- myself included- see this as a cautionary tale of what happens when the public sector tries to run a private enterprise.  In short, it fails.  However, a more detailed analysis would conclude that lack… Read More