On Entitled Woes, Blue Collar Millionaires and Homeless Trans Am Totems

Cue a boatload of anti-tax fear mongering: Vaughn Palmer: Readers stunned by impact of B.C.’s new ‘speculation tax’. Jesus, people! They’re not repossessing your cottage for the purpose of wholesale collectivization of housing stock. Though one can dream! It is perfectly reasonable to tax a non-essential seasonal luxury residence at a higher rate than one’s primary residence. As Geoff Berner says, Nobody should have two homes until everybody has at least one.

I get the confusion, “Speculation” is not the best name for the tax, which could go way further to actually combat speculation, but it hasn’t even been finalized and most properties will end up being exempt. The industry has deep pockets and they are going to capitalize on populist resentment and exploit those cognitive biases. Thousands have already signed a petition including one commenter who refers to it, bafflingly, as “social cleansing”.

These aren’t cottage owners complaining, these are people who own condos downtown and call them pied-a-terres. They are spoiled babies who already pay some of the lowest property taxes in Canada and don’t want to pay their fair share.

Tom Davidoff expands:

We have a tax system today that says, “come here to buy property, but we’re really going to hit you with the taxes in income and sales taxes, if you live and work here.”

And what does that do? It just encourages people to buy property as second homes, because it’s tax smart to buy a second home but not so smart to live and work in the province.

When you compare superstar cities in North America like San Francisco, New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago; property taxes are much, much higher.

There is a similar misdirection of anger when it comes to gas prices. Here, Notley is exploiting that rage by hinting gas prices could go up, even though most of the gasoline we use in BC comes from Cherry Point refinery in Washington: British Columbians could be facing gas at $2 to $3 per litre without Alberta oil. Ah yes, what was that famous phrase? “Let the Western bastards freeze in the dark”? But as progressives, this is a good thing, right? Stuart Parker: “I am excited about this prospect. This could help accelerate infrastructure and lifestyle changes to permanently reduce demand for petroleum. Go ahead Premier Notley, make Alberta poorer and BC greener”!

Spiking gas prices: sometimes it really is a conspiracy. “Nearly 90 per cent felt that the industry manipulates prices for profit”. It’s always confused me that this could be an entry point into a promoting a universal distrust of the free market but instead turns into “53 per cent believe that a lack of competition is leading to unfairly high prices”. Populist rage: We’re mad at price fixing, the government should step in! Also populist rage: Prices are high because the market is regulated! Then again, what kind of federal regulator would intervene when it can be used as another tool to leverage a Texas based oil and gas project and drive a wedge between two provincial NDP parties.

Also, that article has one of the most woke opening ledes to any CBC story I’ve seen:

This is the part where some incredibly intelligent economist usually tells you that while it may look suspicious the way gas prices rise in lockstep without any apparent logic except relieving you of your hard-earned pay, in fact, it does make perfect sense to anyone who’s spent half their life in graduate school studying the highly evolved calculus of taxes, rack rate fluctuation and Middle Eastern politics.

So with that out of the way — what if they’re wrong? What if it really is a conspiracy?

This is the part where I was going to undo all of that by linking to a CBC headline’s use of false equivalence in suggesting a pro-pipeline counter protest was even remotely proportionate to the main anti-Kinder Morgan protest, but they redacted it.

Related: A Standing Rock-Style Indigenous Occupation Just Kicked Off in Canada.

An oil spill bill in Washington, a pipeline protest in B.C.. “Congrats to our WA neighbours on passage of your new oil spill protection act. If BC tried taxing pipelines to pay for local spill response, Alberta would have paratroopers seize our legislature”. -Kai Nagata

Speaking of populist rage: Ontario PCs elect drug dealer to replace sex criminal. “At press time, Doug Ford was planning on using some of the $100 million he makes annually from his inherited company to brand himself as the ‘blue collar’ candidate.”

Related? How video games are fuelling the rise of the far right. Mohammad Salemy: “A long-running Guardian series: How __________ are fuelling the rise of the far right. You can put there anything you want, the internet, social media, facebook, LD50 gallery, whatever… just make sure the syntax and logic stay the same. As if economic hardship, inequality, war, etc that has no bearing on the issue; only technological phenomenon and cultural stuff”.

Bonus: Vancouver’s Trans Am Totem needs new home before it ends up in artist’s driveway.

There are 2 comments

  1. Oh great, a copycat protest, in the style of Dakota, where after that party, working people in the state had to pay $1mill to clean up 48 million pounds of garbage and trash.

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