AIMCo Invests Alberta Tax Money in American Pipeline Companies

Today AIMCo announced that it is investing $500 million in an American company called Howard Energy Partners.

AIMCo is an Alberta crown corporation that manages money for government pensions and endowments. They have $90 billion under management. Virtually all of that money is derived from taxation.

What does Howard Energy Partners do?

Howard Energy Partners is an independent midstream energy company, owning and operating natural gas gathering and transportation pipelines, …

Alberta can’t get pipelines, in part because it is viciously opposed by US-backed opponents.

Meanwhile, the US continues building pipelines — lots of pipelines — and even has the pleasure of getting Alberta taxpayer money invested in its own pipeline companies.

Is Canadian Politics About to Get a Dose of Austrian Economics?

The Facebook page of Conservative Party leadership aspirant Maxime Bernier posted the following image with the question “Which of these economists do you prefer?”:
bernier mises.JPG

WHOA, wait a minute.

What is going on here? Have we entered the Bizarro World? Does Spock have a beard?

The four economists in the picture are amongst the hardest of the hardcore free market economists in history.

The mere fact that this multiple choice question was posed with these four options makes us kind of like Maxime Bernier’s style. The fact that MRothbard is in this list at all is frankly shocking. In a good way.

So here’s what you need to know:

Someone who seems to like the Austrian School of Economics is running for leadership of a major Canadian political party. This is almost too wonderfully weird to believe.

Bernier has already proposed abolishing the CRTC, ending monopolistic supply chain management, having a more laissez-faire approach to air travel, privatizing Canada Post, and replacing corporate welfare with lower taxes for all corporations. Bernier is showing that he will attack sacred cows in Canada’s reflexively progressive political discourse.

Now comes this Facebook post, intimating that underlying these consumer-friendly proposals is at least some solid classical liberal economic foundations.

Honestly, as far as Canadian politics goes, that might be the best we’ve seen in the last century. Maybe we will see someone approximating a real classical liberal leading one of Canada’s main political parties.

 

Canadian Author “Impressed” by More Subsidies for Canadian Authors

Without public schools forcing students to read excruciatingly awful novels like The Stone Angel on a massive scale, Canadian authors like Margaret Atwood would probably sell far fewer books.

We should remember this when we read stories about Margaret Atwood’s approval of a new Ontario government policy that will force public school students to read even more boring books by Canadian authors.

Assuming no more than self-interest, artists, like most people, will tend to welcome subsidies that benefit themselves. It’s the model of corporate welfare applied to the artistic world. When they say it will “strengthen arts and culture,” remember there is no reason to believe that “good” arts and culture will prevail as the new learning material for children. Likewise in the corporate welfare scenario, subsidies to, say, the auto industry will be claimed to “strengthen the economy and domestic industry” even though economics tells us the opposite is true.

To the extent it survives on government money, art is a welfare program. The entire process of deciding what novels should be studied in public schools is completely political and thus likely to produce bad outcomes. Sometimes you get lucky and a real treasure comes out of the system, but the results tend to be bad. By relying on the government to “strengthen arts and culture”, you can be assured the arts and culture will be get worse while kids consider drinking bleach to avoid being forced to read books like The Stone Angel.

 

 

Notley Defends Her Beer Tax

By pointing to her new corporate welfare program for some Alberta brewers

(You get subsidies if you are small and stay small — that’s obviously helpful for one’s growth strategy!)

Does Progressivism Have a Future?

Probably not. So-called “progressivism” has no guiding principle at all. It is driven by fickle emotions and a worldview that thinks you can have your cake and eat it too. There is no hard limiting factor with which progressives can judge if their frivolous proposals have gone too far. That’s why reasonable people think progressive demands and proposals are getting… progressively more laughable and absurd.

Notley’s South African Welfare Firefighters

 

 

The Alberta government, through the CIFFC, contracted 300 of the cheapest firefighters they could possibly get.

Everyone made a big deal out of these cheerful South African firefighters, who sang and danced upon their arrival at the airport. Hooray! How cool is that?

No one has said much about the fact that these firefighters were hired as part of a South African government job creation program called “Working on Fire.” They may have only been hired shortly before their departure for Canada (they arrived on May 29).

Are they real firefighters? We can’t be sure.

Once here, the workers go on strike because of their wages, which are pathetic by the standards of a comfortable Albertan (about $4 an hour, or $50 per day). Now they might all be going home.

Premier Rachel Notley says they contracted to pay the firefighters $170 per day + food and lodgings.

So the South African government is exporting its welfare firefighters and taking $120 per day off the top for each one. They must think the Alberta government is a bunch of suckers.

 

Notley, who apparently thinks everyone should pay $15 minimum wage except when her government wants cheap African thralls to fight fires, says she is going to fix everything. She claims she will somehow ensure the South African firefighters get paid the appropriate Alberta wage (which is small fortune to them — each day will equal almost a month of the average firefighter wage back in their home country).

Since the firefighters are paid by the South African government, this means the Alberta government will have to give money to the South African government. It’s probably fair to think the South African government is still going to skim “a little” off the top.

The South African government tells us not to worry, because that $4 per hour wage is just an “allowance”, and their firefighters still get regular pay at home (average 2,400 rand, or about $205 per month). The welfare firefighters are double dipping!

We’ve heard of people applying the broken window fallacy to natural disasters: “This wildfire is pretty bad, but fixing things will boost our economy!” Even those people wouldn’t be so daft as to suggest it would boost another country’s economy.

Who would have thought that a wildfire in Fort McMurray would lead to foreign aid for South Africa, letting corrupt bureaucrats enrich themselves at the expense of the Alberta taxpayer?

— Read more at CBC.ca —

 

Should We Subsidize CO2?

Alberta’s NDP government passed its carbon tax law today.

Many agree that it is one of the stupidest taxes ever created, however even many arguments against the tax accept the basic premise that CO2 is a negative externality and “something must be done.”

But what if the premise underlying the tax — not to mention any other “climate change” policy — is wrong?

What if the social cost of carbon is negative — i.e. the net effects of carbon are positive?

A new paper by Dayaratna, McKitrick, and Kreutzer finds reason to believe this is justified by the empirical data:

Substituting an empirical ECS distribution from LC15 yields a mean 2020 SCC of $19.52, a drop of 48%. The same exercise for the FUND model yields a mean SCC estimate of $19.33 based on RB07 and $3.33 based on the LC15 parameters—an 83% decline. Furthermore the probability of a negative SCC (implying CO2 emissions are a positive externality) jumps dramatically using an empirical ECS distribution. Using the FUND model, under the RB07 parameterization at a 3% discount rate there is only about a ten percent chance of a negative SCC through 2050, but using the LC15 distribution, the probability of a negative SCC jumps to about 40%. Remarkably, replacing simulated climate sensitivity values with an empirical distribution calls into question whether CO2 is even a negative externality. The lower SCC values also cluster more closely together across difference discount rates, diminishing the importance of this parameter.

This all makes perfect sense, because there are non-climate effects of CO2 and they are extremely beneficial to the planet (plant growth, crop yield, human well-being). Furthermore, the climate effects of CO2 observed in the real world are far less damaging than what’s been predicted by the models of climate change propagandists — and these too are largely beneficial. On this, see Goklany’s Carbon Dioxide: The Good Newsfrom GWPF.

So using the logic of carbon tax advocates, since carbon provides us with overall benefits, we should subsidize carbon rather than tax it extra.

CONCLUSION

From the standpoint of economics and ethics, we should neither subsidize carbon nor tax it.

If you have a carbon tax, get rid of it. If you don’t have one but think you need one, forget it.

Carbon taxes are an abomination — they do nothing to improve the environment and exist only to plunder citizens so that politicians, central planners and cronies can enrich themselves.

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