The next NB Power level debate

This thing about only 50% of people in that poll saying they understand the difference between the original MOU and the revised deal on NB Power and only 17% (less than one out of five) saying they feel they have a good understanding of the deal continues to puzzle me.

I got a long email yesterday from someone claiming there is a direct correlation between our low level of education as a province and this kind of response.  I told him I would blog my response to this comment here today.  As you probably know, the 2006 Census confirmed that NBers have the distinction of having the lowest level of post-secondary education in the population of any province in Canada.

I guess I kind of bristle at that assertion – drawing a direct correlation between education level (or even intelligence for that matter) and the ability to have a good understanding of big public policy issues and drawing conclusions based on some rational ground. 

I was the least intelligent of my siblings (as measured by S.A. T. scores) but I don’t consider myself either dumb or not having the ability to think complex issues through.

I would say the issue is more tied to a deeply rooted conservativism in New Brunswick.  As my dad used to say “anyone with any git up and go already got up and left” meaning that the ambitious leave and the less ambitious stay. 

While I don’t agree with that generalization, I do agree that NBers aren’t exactly risk takers.  I think the measurement of that is complicated but if I had to guess, I would say that a resistence to change is more embedded here than areas that have had sustained economic growth, sustained inward migration of people, etc.

So I come back to my Gladwellian observation that a wide swath of New Brunswickers (apparently far more Anglophone New Brunswickers) had an initial gut feeling that this NB Power deal was bad and they are sticking with it.  They don’t feel the need to see the revised MOU or anything else.  Someone in a YouTube video says NB Power is worth $43 billion – so there that’s my proof.  After entrenching an initial hunch, you then agree with those that validate your initial hunch.

It’s hard to abstract this from the NB Power deal because that is such a big public policy issue but I think this attitude does pervade – at various levels of intensity – most of the big public policy decisions.  I think back to the discussions I had about the Finn report on municipal governance in new Brunswick.  Every single person that had read this document in detail and that has at least a basic understanding of the issues told me the implementation of this report would be a very good thing for New Brunswick.  But without missing a beat almost everyone followed that up with the statement that New Brunswickers will never let it happen.  

The Premier once said he would take up the Finn report if he is elected to a second term.  Get ready for NB Power Part 2.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The next NB Power level debate

  1. mikel says:

    No offense dude, but I’ve done a lot of campaigning about direct democracy and the most common negative response is of the variant “I’m smart enough to make public decisions but my neighbours are idiots”.

    So I’ll put it in caps for you to understand-THE NEW DEAL HASN”T BEEN RELEASED. So the question is not why 77% feel they don’t understand it, but why 17% claim to understand a deal that hasn’t been released. It’s the 17% that’s the problem, and that’s not that high a number.

    I DO tend to agree with Richard that there is an overall ‘lack of information over the years’ about the issue. At the facebook group questioning TJ Burke (who clearly has NO idea about the deal any more than most people-but only trusts to the fact that he ‘knows how to read legal documents’), there are numerous comments that often show lack of INFORMATION, but that doesn’t make them ‘stupid’. For example, the carbon credit issue comes up and is discussed, and several claim that ‘cap and trade’ “doesn’t work”-when in fact we KNOW it works, depending on the details-thats the system used to clear up acid rain in the eighties, thats the system used in europe in the Kyoto protocol which has lowered emissions even more than predicted.

    The comments about ‘intelligence’ really have nothing to do with the deal, they are simply a variant of “I believe X, so why aren’t you people smart enough to believe what I believe”. For the poll, I’d be VERY worried if most people said they had full understanding of a deal whose only details are the amount and the assets involved-and considering that Graham has admitted that the final document will be well over 1000 pages, that’s not a lot of information. Again, don’t want to be too judgemental here, but what about the intelligence of the guy who supports a 1000 page deal without reading it? THOSE are the people I worry about-particularly when they have Masters Degrees.

    50% not knowing the difference between the two deals is a different story and isn’t that surprising. They didn’t actually ‘screen’ callers and only ask people who knew about the first deal whether they knew about the second. The poll shows a deep disgust with government and its leaders-something to be expected, which means, as usual, there is a sizeable crowd with only a little political interest. So 50% is actually a pretty high number for people knowing the difference. Keep in mind that if you don’t subscribe to the IRvings rags, listen to the CBC, or watch the news-and I’d suggest thats MOST people, then you’d know nothing about whats going on.

    But actually, intelligence is an interesting topic for New Brunswick. Not only does NB have a high illiteracy rate, it also has the lowest spending on education. There is very little public interest in science, unlike the national print media the Irvings virtually never have features on science and technology, and the older population is still fairly religious, which has a bumpy relationship with science-particularly the scientific method. Another interesting note is the comment made that soft drink and other high sugar products have switched to high fructose corn syrup, and recent experiments have shown mice fed high fructose have a marked decrease in intelligence. Other experiments have shown that diets with high carbohydrates and low vitamins have the same effect, hence the seemingly low intelligence once famously recorded of mexican peasants who had their diets changed to high refined wheat flour tortillas and little else.

    So its easy to be an intellectual elitist, but again, to be devil’s advocate, you guys are supposedly the higher educated, but there’s been as much ‘ideology’ backing up the claims here as fact. So its a bit like the pot calling the kettle…what was it? Oh I don’t know.

  2. RKA says:

    This thing about only 50% of people in that poll saying they understand the difference between the original MOU and the revised deal on NB Power and only 17% (less than one out of five) saying they feel they have a good understanding of the deal continues to puzzle me.
    ——————————————————————–
    They poll document states the survey was conducted between Feb 3 – 25th. The revised MOU summary was released around the 19th. So that would probably account for the 50% not understanding the difference. I can’t imagine that they would have called back everyone polled before the revised deal was announced to follow up. Plus it takes a bit of extrapolation to determine how the summary affects the original MOU.

    How many business decisions finally come down to gut reactions? One statistic that IS clear is that 9 out of 10 feel this needs to be voted on.

  3. RKA says:

    Oops. The revised deal was announced in January not February so ignore the first part of my previous comment. I still think comparing the summary to the MOU is part of the confusion.

  4. Rob says:

    “So I come back to my Gladwellian observation that a wide swath of New Brunswickers (apparently far more Anglophone New Brunswickers) had an initial gut feeling that this NB Power deal was bad and they are sticking with it.”

    If we change the initial conditions, perhaps the initial hunch of NBers would have been to sell to whoever wants to take it off our hands. The problem was, like already mentioned on this blog, that we were told NB Power was fine up until October 2009. Our political leaders only publicly spoke about the massive problems with NB Power finance on the day the deal was announced. People were therefore able to make that initial hunch that NB Power was a crown jewel, and that we were being rooked by the Quebeckers.

    The above being said, we ought to be laying the groundwork for the implementation of the Finn Report. The first steps are letting people know how messed up municipal finance is. Brad Woodside’s Senior Property Tax Deferral is only a band-aid. The stories of roads crumbling in Saint John under the weight of thousands of commuter vehicles should be front and centre.

    If NBers are again left in the dark, and are hit with a broadside of change the size of the Finn Report, expect the same turtle-shell reaction that accompanied the NB Power sale.

  5. richard says:

    “The Premier once said he would take up the Finn report if he is elected to a second term. ”

    Good luck with that, Shawn. Alward has admitted there is a problem, but says Finn is not the solution. He won’t say what his solution is – guess he needs to consult first.

    “The above being said, we ought to be laying the groundwork for the implementation of the Finn Report. ”

    Good idea, but how can that be done? Our politicians have been merrily lying to us for decades on these issues and we have happily gone along for the ride. The Finn report, after all, was written after a consultation process – was nobody paying attention? What will wake us up?

    My response to Woodside’s ‘senior solution’ is: if you can’t pay the property tax, sell the house! There are large numbers of boomers living in or building retirement homes in rural NB – do I really have to subsidize their housing decisions once they reach 65? If residents of Freddy Beach don’t like their prop tax level, demand that the city cut services x, y and z. Trouble is, Freddy Beachers love x, y and z. In fact, they rave about x, y and z to every visitor to their fine city. You gotta pay for it folks.

    The general issue here, once again, is the disconnect between services and taxes. Perhaps we should have Terry Seguin read the following every hour for a few months during his show: 1) NB gets nearly a quarter of its revenue from Ottawa – NBers pay far less in taxes than they receive in govt services. NB is already heavily in debt and interest rates are likely going to rise. How can anyone be asking for a tax break? 2) NB Power has zero equity in its assets and is running on debt financing. What do we do? 3) Are our skulls really that thick – how did we get into this mess?

  6. mikel says:

    Problem is, do you believe a politician when he says something is in trouble or great depending on their policies?

    Actually, according to the Auditor General, NB now gets 38% of its budget from the feds. People are asking for tax breaks because most people’s salaries don’t keep up with the cost of living.

    As for how you got into this mess, maybe Terry Seguin should read THIS every hour:

    New Brunswick has two of the richest corporations in the world.
    NB will have the lowest CIT in the hemisphere-so far no new companies have moved in.
    NB gets the least amount of its budget from corporations than any other province at less than 3% and going down.
    NB forestry for generations has favoured five companies, most of whom went broke anyway.
    NB provides the fewest jobs per acre of wood of any province in the country and tax cuts favour technology that lays people off.
    The feds helped pay off the Irvings closing of the shipyard and dismantling it.
    NB has the fewest family farms per capita in the country and most farmers are ‘farm managers’. Per crop acre it provides the fewest jobs of any province.
    NB’s corporate tax cuts cost almost half a billion.
    NB funds its educational system at the lowest rate of all eastern provinces.
    NB provides the LEAST drug coverage of any province.

    NB has had TONS of resources, the ‘why’ is that if you give away everything you have, you can’t be surprised when you don’t have anything left. NB has more resources per capita than many european nations, but greed knows no boundaries.

    NB gives away its potash at a royalty free rate.
    NB practically gives away its peat moss.
    NB and NBPower could now be in a cushy position if they had just made one decision differently-bought into the Sussex gas field and converted coleson cove to natural gas when they had the chance (I guess they problably still could).

    But most importantly, New Brunswickers seem to be content to merely see saw back and forth between two parties who essentially have the same policies. Moreover, they seem content to gripe online rather than actually join parties and get politically active. You get what you pay for. If you don’t like it, DO something about it.

  7. > “I was the least intelligent of my siblings (as measured by S.A. T. scores) but I don’t consider myself either dumb or not having the ability to think complex issues through.”

    Well, I’m sure you understand that a counter-example of one does not invalidate a statistical generalization.

    I think overall there’s a correlation between intelligence and education – though neither is a necessary nor a sufficient condition for the other (money can get less intelligent people an ‘education’, and lack of money can deny intelligent people an education).

    And I’ve seen from several sources a correlation between education level and/or intelligence and politicial affiliations, response to change, and the rest of it.

    So I would not be overly surprised to find it established that:
    a) people who support the deal were more likely to (i) have read it, or at the very least, a variety of synopses, and (ii) been capable of understanding it
    b) people who do not support the deal either i) did not read it, or various synopses, or ii) did not understand it (as evidenced, say, by answering questions about the deal (such as, “is this a sale of NB power?”) incorrectly when polled.

    The protests that the ‘details of the deal have not been released’ ring hollow when used to describe the objections of a group of people who wouldn’t read the details, or wouldn’t understand them if they did.

  8. mikel says:

    Again to go back to the “I’m smarter than you because I believe this”, I think Mr. Downes should also consider that just because he “wouldn’t be surprised to find it established”, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s ‘been established’. And frankly, when you get to the argument that “you don’t agree with me just because you aren’t as smart as me” you are getting pretty desperate for validity.

    As I’ve pointed out numerous times, both people who claimed to support the initial deal as well as those who opposed it, often didn’t read the MOU. However, at a certain point it is true that it comes down to trust…and there was MUCH commentary, particularly at facebook, by many people who did.

    The “I’m smarter than you” crowd glosses over some very significant facts that the “dumb” people knew full well. Namely, that virtually every second week the Premier and his own energy minister were saying contradictory things about the deal. That MOST of the details were said to be never released. That doesn’t even get into the blatantly anti-democratic way it was brought in, and the SPECIFICS of the deal. Unlike here, the MOU at the Facebook site was VERY thoroughly critiqued.

    IF it were a referendum then David’s blog, for good or bad, would DEFINITELY be one of the places where support was organized-apart from ‘hired hands’ there was really no ‘citizen group’ coming out to support the deal. Nothing personal, but David’s support, and Richard’s, is as ideologically based as the opposition. As Richard noted yesterday, presumably from the AG report yesterday, NBPower is no worse off than the province of New Brunswick.

    Making rash long term decisions at moments of percieved crisis is BAD policy, in fact its pretty well established now that the reason debt was increased under a fiscal conservative like Reagan was to justify massive cuts in the government programs that served the population (that’s been admitted by several Reagan aides and administrators from James Watt to Pat Buchanan).

    So come on guys, at least Richard is debating the deal in the thread below, if the new chant for supporting the deal is “its been proven you’re stupid if you don’t agree with the deal”, that’s not only pretty low, but pretty wrong. Several economists from the universities have come out against the deal, as well as many engineers and other professionals, if people REALLY weren’t smart enough to understand the deal then that doesn’t explain their reaction. Like I’ve said, take a look at the antics in Fredericton, and if you think these people are ‘much smarter than the population’, well, I think you’ve just made a commentary on your own intelligence.

  9. Samonymous says:

    I’ve lost faith in the minuscule polling efforts in Atlantic Canada. Though they [CRA] try as hard as the next polling company to make ends meet, their efforts are about as trustworthy and balanced as a national poll conducted only by say, Pollara, a company well known to be contracted out by the Liberals. In other words, these numbers have been soft soaped and the question strategically positioned to give the best results.

    Not that this doesn’t happen in other circles, but in order to take any poll seriously we need at least 3 or 4 other companies with a bit of a different agenda saying close to the same thing.

  10. richard says:

    Unfortunately, raising the CIT to its previous level will not do a great deal to address the deficit or the debt. The problem in NB has been the failure to attract and retain high-wage jobs. Low wage jobs, no matter how many are created, will not produce enough tax revenue to pay for the services NBers are using.

    Politicians and the media have been dishonest for decades, telling us what we wanted to hear. That’s partly their fault, partly our fault. For me, the issue that needs to be addressed is how to get NBers to get enagaged in some rational discussions on how to deal with these problems.

    “As Richard noted yesterday, presumably from the AG report yesterday, NBPower is no worse off than the province of New Brunswick.”

    I’m not sure the AG would agree with that. In any case, its a rather sad case to make that NBP is no worse off than GNB,when GNB is very badly off and heading for much worse.

    “NB has had TONS of resources,”

    True, which is why several of us believe that R&D investment in those resources is a key to turning things around. You disagreed with that before, have you changed your mind?

  11. Mikel has a tendency to use hyperbole to make his point. I guess we all do. He says that “NB’s corporate tax cuts cost almost half a billion”. Here are the budgeted figures for corporate income tax revenue to the NB budget:

    2007/2008 budget $267 million
    2008/2009 budget $183 million
    2009/2010 budget $171 million
    2010/2011 budget $187 million

    The decline in 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 was in part due to tax cuts and in part due to the state of the economy. I think it is fair to say that the corporate income tax cuts cost the provincial government some where in the $80 million range per year – not half a billion unless Mikel is spreading his numbers over seven years or so.

    But the basic point that the tax burden in Canada is more heavily weighted on individuals vs. corporations is something that is well known. I suspect it has evolved deliberately over the years to ensure that Canada is attractive for foreign investment compared to the U.S.

  12. mikel says:

    CIT has been cut in NB for decades, half a billion is actually the OPPOSITE of ‘hyperbole’-but yes, perhaps I should have put a time frame in there. It’s worth considering that in the 1950’s, the amount that individuals paid in income taxes, and the amount corporations paid was about equal-in New Brunswick that comes out to a LOT more than half a billion-even per year. As I’ve pointed out before, even miniscule PEI gets 10% of its budget from corporate income tax-it has a higher rate and surprise surprise, its had significant investment from engineering, aeronautics, and high technology firms.

    And thats with NO large scale corporations in that province. In NB even the tax cuts to the wealthiest income earners is 80 million EACH year. Even before the next phase of tax cuts just THIS governments cuts to CIT are 10 million each year, and that will increase- 100 million just for the four years David shows above. That doesn’t even include other subsidies, and if you heard the federal throne speech, those are going to be considerable.

    I suspect its simply because Canada’s political structure has always been more geared to business than individuals. In other words, there is simply nothing we can do about it. It’s the wealthiest people who own most of the businesses, and sorry to be insulting, but anybody that STILL believes the garbage that lower taxes equals more investment is delusional.

    As for Richard’s comments, he keeps misunderstanding my point on resources. It doesn’t take ‘research’ into resources to make them worth more, it takes different policies. If you have a tree and you have a choice between making a commodity like pulp or making dozens of high end violins, you don’t need much research to tell you which is worth more. If you have tons of peat moss, you don’t have policies that not only strip away the commodity for almost nothing and have the added bonus of causing environmental destruction that affects other industries, you look at what kind of products you can make out of it.

    That goes for ALL the industries. That doesn’t rule out research of course, but some of that money gained can be put into the research as part of its cost. For example, a cancer research company in Sackville is focused on finding treatment derivatives from forest plants in that part of the province, all because a researcher found a local plant that seems to have cancer benefits. As any biologist knows, many plants and chemicals in plants are indiginous even to very specific locations, which means, the cure for cancer COULD have been in one of the forests on the Christmas mountains that were hacked down.

    But that doesn’t ‘cost’ that much, what that research needs is accessibility, not funding. If you can find natural products that have technical, wholistic, or medicinal value, you wont’ NEED to fund it, the market will be clamouring all over for it. Even at the Beausejour health centre when the media had a story on cancer research, the next story several months later was about how it had already found lots of private funding. The company I’m familiar with here now gets virtually NONE of its funding from governments, in fact it throws money at the university. It’s getting close to clinical trials and even american investors are all over it. It’s so successful the government comes to it and asks it what it can do to help-without even being asked.

  13. mikel says:

    “My response to Woodside’s ’senior solution’ is: if you can’t pay the property tax, sell the house! If residents of Freddy Beach don’t like their prop tax level, demand that the city cut services x, y and z. Trouble is, Freddy Beachers love x, y and z. In fact, they rave about x, y and z to every visitor to their fine city. You gotta pay for it folks. The general issue here, once again, is the disconnect between services and taxes. ”

    That’s actually not true. Take a look at virtually ANY municipal budget. In Fredericton, only about half of what you pay taxes for will benefit you. Even less if you are a senior, who typically don’t go out much. If you live in a safe neighbourhood with a well maintained home (not much risk of fire) then there is almost virtually NOTHING that you are paying property taxes for that benefit you.

    Again, its the bizarre way the tax system is set up-municipalities can ONLY get money from property, which is just stupid, I don’t know of ANY other jurisdiction in the world that does that. In Fredericton, they are increasing debt for….a convention centre! Now, what benefit will a senior, or in fact most of the population get from that?

    That’s why municipal politics, while closest to the population, virtually always has the lowest voter turnout and political activism of any level in Canada-virtually the opposite of the United States. That’s, again, the ‘democratic deficit’. It’s been well known since long before they nailed a guy to a tree for saying ‘be nice’ that democracy is a LOCAL institution, and pretty much verifies just how little of it exists in Canada.

    So you certainly can’t BLAME a senior in Fredericton for complaining, they SHOULD be complaining. Seniors generally have much less income, which means Graham’s tax cuts benefit them hardly at all. Meanwhile, go look at the Fredericton budget and see how much of the increases are due to downloading from the province.

  14. richard says:

    The current NB CIT differs little from that in other provinces. Therefore it has little to do with NBs fiscal situation. An excess of hyperbole leads to a loss in credibility. I’d say Mikel is, like NBP, downn to about zero in credibility equity.

    “As for Richard’s comments, he keeps misunderstanding my point on resources. It doesn’t take ‘research’ into resources to make them worth more, it takes different policies.”

    Mikel, that is just crap. I haver proposed several times that the province and its unis re-orient their research policies to invest more heavily in natural research R&D. Just recently on this blog, you stated that these resources were dying and should not be a priority for R&D. You cannot continue just making stuff up and pretending that the blog does not have archives.

    ” If you can find natural products that have technical, wholistic, or medicinal value, you wont’ NEED to fund ”

    More crap; you have no bloody idea how much it costs to run a research lab, how much it costs to identify and bring this stuff to a point where you can even approach the market. Please stop pretending that you something when you know nothing.

  15. mikel says:

    CIT rates are four percentage points lower than the other three maritime provinces, and again, rates are only one aspect. For example, St. John loses out in MILLIONS (no hyperbole there) on the tax exceptions for the LNG terminal. Those millions could easily pay for the bridge. And again, more important than the rates is what corporations contribute to the economy, and again, NB has two of the richest companies in the world, a relatively small economy, yet manages to get the least amount of its budget from CIT. Nova Scotia IS a close second, but it still manages a good 3% points more than NB, PEI and NFLD get 10%. Out west its even higher, but that can be partially attributed to the larger economies.

    And again, it may have ‘little’, but every little helps. There is ZERO evidence that the tax cuts have improved the economy, so simply add up those millions and ask how much smaller the deficit would be if that revenue were still generated.

    As for the hostility, take a valium. You are doing something you always accuse me of..putting words in my mouth. I didn’t say the resources were ‘dying’, although the current economic models with regards to how they are being managed IS dying, there is no question about that. As I’ve said HUNDREDS of times, the resources are EXTREMELY valuable-when used in a valuable way. In fact I said it right above, it doesn’t take research to produce a value added product rather than use it as a commodity, particularly a commodity which can be produced much cheaper elsewhere. What is so difficult to understand about that?

    I DID say it shouldn’t be a priority for R&D, absolutely, I don’t know where the indications are that suddenly I’ve reversed that. Again, if you want to spend federal R&D money in Fredericton to make purple potato chips, thats your business, but again, I don’t think that should be a priority. You seem to, so good for you.

    Although technically in mining the resources ARE dying since they cannot be replenished. The point is how to maximize the dollars from resources, and that requires NOT handing them over to foreign companies only looking for short term profit while it wipes them out and then comes crying for more handouts.

    As for the final rude comment, I know exactly how much it costs to run a research lab, I can do up a balance sheet for you, although I have no idea what that has to do with anything that was said. Depending the type of research being discussed I can also do the projections on how long it takes to approach the market-depending on whether you are talking about pharmaceuticals, medical treatments, or genetically modified plant products. I have intimate knowledge of each of those, although again, what exactly does that have to do with what was being discussed? Grow up man, you’re an adult, if you can’t be civil in a debate why would anybody take you serious?

  16. richard says:

    ” I didn’t say the resources were ‘dying’”

    Oh yes you did.

    “I know exactly how much it costs to run a research lab”

    No one who did know would make the comments you made above. Research is expensive.

    “what exactly does that have to do with what was being discussed? ”

    You made the comments re research being cheap and easy. Please don’t try to tell us you are a research manager. As for ‘civil, pot meet kettle.

    Current CIT rates between NB and other provinces are not sufficient to account for NBs fiscal problems. You made claim that they were; instead of simply admitting your error, you attempt deflection and distraction. That is crap and is your usual style of operation.

  17. mikel says:

    Where exactly was I incivil or said to Richard that he’s ignorant and shouldn’t talk about things which I may think he knows little about? Where exactly did I call anything Richard said “crap”? or something along the lines of “your usual style of operation”? Occasionally I may call a statement ‘silly’, but thats about it. So grow up man, you post interesting comments and its good to see such debate, but the missives simply undervalue your point and push the arguments close to “its official bilingualism that’s at fault”.

    It’s also a rhetorical device that is beneath you, politicians use that all the time, by claiming somebody’s posts ‘cannot be trusted’ or are ‘crap’, the intent is to make readers suspicious of everything that person posts, while giving your own a pass because of course people rarely will state their own opinion is ‘crap’. That’s the sort of thing people expect (but don’t like) about politicians, but this is a blog for debate by reasonable people-not politicians:)

    Where exactly did I say research was NOT expensive?
    Where exactly did I say that NB’s fiscal problems were SOLELY because of corporate income tax?

    But like I said, everything comes down to context. SOME resources ARE dying. Unless you truck in more potash or zinc then those are non renewable and the very definition of ‘dying’. Unless you want to use some other bizarre word.

    The pulp industry is also dying, that should be fairly obvious, and again points to the need for value added products. Something which has just taken off in past ten years, unless you count Irvings use of forestry products for Kent Homes. And again, to find better uses for wood than pulp is NOT expensive, and doesn’t take much research. It DOES take some funding though.

    To go back to CIT though, looking at percentages is instructive. CIT counts for less than 3% of the NB budget, something along the lines of 300 million in a budget of 6 billion. In many provinces its upward of 15%, and like I said, in the fifties they were close to parity. I’m not suggesting that simply raising CIT substancially would solve the province’s problems, far from it, we all know that Irving and McCains would be tearing out every business they could if that happened. However, in 2009 the deficit was 800 million. If the province had a similar percentage to many other provinces, even adding just 10%, then you have around 600 million more on a 6 billion budget. That’s 600 million, but we really don’t know whether Irvings, McCains and Ganongs, as well as a few other larger industries, have that kind of cash. We don’t know because they are private corporations that keep all their books away from the public.

    That would be pretty close to balancing the books. So you CAN actually blame CIT for NB’s fiscal problems, however, although Richard may jump to conclusions from that, that doesn’t mean that simply raising the CIT would solve the problem. Sort of like if you are a smoker you can start running, but it doesn’t take care of the fact that you are a smoker-though it WOULD help.

    I certainly never said I was a research manager, but you certainly don’t need to be a research manager to know what things cost. What I said was that MUCH current research that is marketable is financed privately and there is no necessity for government at all. There is lots of other types of investment though, and thats the stuff we are talking about. Richard and I simply disagree on what the priorities should be, so let’s just leave it at that.

  18. mikel says:

    Just to tie all this in to the equalization post, when you look at things like the extremely generous tax break for Irving LNG’s plant, then you can understand why somebody from another part of Canada would have a hostile view of equalization. As mentioned elsewhere, equalization money is money saved that a province can spend elsewhere. If you look at federal spending in the province and see how much gets earmarked for highways and Irvings, then its no longer a moot point that somebody from ‘away’ would question priorities.
    In short, why should Albertans be subsidizing Irving and the various trucking companies? However, the pertinent issue here is that its not New Brunswickers who elect to do that type of spending, while they aren’t exactly protesting THAT at the legislature, it doesn’t follow that its simply ‘their fault’. Plus, of course, it was NBers who helped bail out Albertan meat processors when the mad cow scare cut off the border. Quid pro quo.

  19. richard says:

    “Where exactly did I say research was NOT expensive?

    You said that it did not cost much. But it does cost a great deal, especially when the money has to be pulled away from other programs. You did say that resources were dwindling, when the resources are not – what is happening is that some traditional industries that rely on those resources are shrinking. A way to counter-act that is to invest R&D funds into those resources in order to develop new industries with high-wage jobs. You said in a previous post that should not be a priority; now you are apparently switching tack again.

    “And again, to find better uses for wood than pulp is NOT expensive, and doesn’t take much research. It DOES take some funding though.”

    It takes a lot of funding and a lot of time to undertake those investigations if you want the end result to be high tech industry and high-paying jobs; otherwise you are just playing catch up with everyone else.

    “So you CAN actually blame CIT for NB’s fiscal problem”

    No you cannot. Once again you are engaging in hyperbole. Don’t expect not to get called on it – crap is crap. You are making the bizarre assumption that slightly lower corporate tax rates are responsible for the relative lower contribution of corporate taxes to NBs revenue. One does not follow from the other.

    NBs fiscal problem is largely the result of anemic growth in high-wage jobs for over two decades, not its tax regime. NB might give a tax break to an LNG plant; AB gives them to the oil industry via reduced royalties; ON via ‘investments’ in the auto industry. If you want to extract more money from the McCains and the Irvings, then you should be going after Ottawa to make it more difficult to hide earnings off-shore.

    “What I said was that MUCH current research that is marketable is financed privately and there is no necessity for government at all.”

    Again, to get things to the marketable stage takes a great deal of investment. In Canada, most of that investment has been done by the public and para-public sectors. Determing the marketability of something often comes well after those initial investments are made.

Comments are closed.