But the premise, that by forcibly merging everyone’s savings into one big, government-sponsored fund, such waste can be avoided, does not necessarily follow. I’ve had a look at several years’ worth of annual reports from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), on which the ORPP is to be based (indeed, the government cites the plan as a fallback from its preferred position, of simply expanding the CPP). It was hard slogging: the figures on costs are buried in acres of print near the back. But the picture that emerges is unmistakable, and gives the lie to any claims of savings.
Andrew Coyne then spends the next few hundred words explaining that governments do not run things very efficiently. Perhaps he was under the impression that if this was explained one more time it would be grasped by the reader and the Wynne Government. Or perhaps he's just a glutton for mathematically induced punishment.
As Ayn Rand once observed: But there’s always a purpose in nonsense. Don’t bother to examine a folly--ask yourself only what it accomplishes.
Taking that advice to heart let's see what this bit of nonsense accomplishes.
I doubt even Kathleen Wynne is quite so deluded as to believe that an Ontario Pension Plan is going to be any more efficiently run than the federal version which hits its 50th anniversary next year. Or that either will run as efficiently as the private sector. As someone who has worked in financial services for more years than I care to remember, I can attest that it's hardly a bastion of competence and efficiency. It's a minor miracle that anything gets done on a daily basis.
In High School I had an older teacher who joked that when the market is up even pigs can fly. That's how it works on Bay Street and Wall Street. There are a lot of overpaid idiots and deadwood time servers who survive simply because they keep collecting their 50 basis points. Investors don't notice their being fleeced when they're making money, only when they're losing it. Again I say this from personal experience.
I am not, whatever my critics may insist, a cheerleader for the private sector. There's plenty of stupidity among the private profit seekers, even among those are aren't professional rent seekers. It's that government stupidity is almost always far greater than private stupidity. Large FP 500 companies waste untold billions on office politics and simple incompetence every year. This is why I loath the public sector. If the pin stripped pinheads on Bay Street can't get it right what makes you think the Wynnesters up the road at Queen's Park can?
If the private sector wastes a billion you can be sure the state will waste twice that on a good day.
This is a nonsense so obvious that even Liberals can understand it. So what does this nonsense accomplish? Or at least hope to accomplish? Private actors are utility maximiser. They want whatever combination of stuff and leisure meets their personal preferences. Politicians are power maximizer. The bid to establish a provincial pension plan is a bit for power. It's has an electoral aspect and coalition building aspect.
The electoral aspect is fairly straight forward. Large swathes of the electorate, believing that government would guarantee a comfortable retirement, failed to save properly. These aren't the wretched of the earth, they're typically middle class families who just had to have the bigger home and the three cars. The family that orders take out every other night. The type of people my mother used to shake her head at. One day, she would say, these people will not be able to buy themselves a slice of bread!
My mother never went to university and so never learned about the wonders of socialism. Unfortunately many middle class people did go to university, where instead of learning something useful or important, they learned that the world owes them a living. They have been packed into the cubicles of our fair dominion for the better part of two generations. Now they expect a government bail out. That's what the Ontario Pension Plan would amount to. Suckers like me bailing out spendthrift boomers.
Everybody loves free stuff! Except the people paying for it!
I have been under working assumption since I was teenager that the government was going to give me nothing, probably a bit less than nothing, when I reached the Golden Years. Assuming that retirement was even an option. But then again I was raised by paranoid peasants so this type of thinking comes naturally. Everybody is out to get you. That's paranoia in a free country. In a mixed economy heading toward a pension cliff it should be baseline thinking. Government is out to get you, that is if you bother working for a living.
So if the financial math is a bit off, the electoral math is about perfect. There are more Baby Boomers than Baby Busters, and the former vote far more than the latter, so you pander as appropriate. Yes you are screwing over the younger generation, but that's kind of been the Leftist Boomer motto since about 1963.
Now the Wynnesters are smarter and more evil than they seem. In addition to buying vote they're also buying the support of the unions. That might seem like a bit of a leap so I'll have to ask you to follow the bouncing ball on this one: The money confiscated into the Ontario Pension will be used to subsidize provincial government operations directly and indirectly.
No the sensible thing, as Andrew Coyne indicated in his piece, is to put everything into an ETF or index fund. But what fun would that be? No the story is likely to unfold along these lines:
Wynne and her minions will announce that the new pension plan will deliver higher than average returns. After all don't you deserve better than average? Doesn't everybody? So no boring old index funds for us! But while money is important, it isn't the only thing. No sir, it's important to be socially responsible. To invest in the community in a sustainable way. You wouldn't want your retirement money financing tobacco companies or gun makers would you? No you'd want your money building something! Building Ontario! But more than this, there's always more with the Liberal Party, you want to be safe with your investments!
So that's the pitch my fellow Ontarians! Higher than average returns placed in very safe and socially sustainable investments. It's Win-Win! Or more accurately a Wynne-Wynne!
A large portion of this Ontario Pension Plan will likely be invested in, wait for it, Ontario government bonds. The Grits are secretly terrified that the bond market vigilantes are, once interest rates start to raise, going to smash the province's credit rating to bits. Since the printing presses are not an option for a provincial government, trust me Bill Aberhart tried and failed on that one, the Wynnesters will instead use the force savings from the pension plan to finance their deficits cheaply.
Now the whole plan can't be placed in Ontario bonds, that would be too suspicious even for the dullards who vote in provincial elections. Instead some of it will be thrown, they'll use an environmentally friendly dart board, at the equity markets. Much of the rest, chasing higher than average returns, will be invested in the public-private sector partnerships. Building roads, power plants and whatever vaguely important thing crosses the power craven minds of our elected elites. Those partnerships will, of course, require union labour! Both private and public sector just to keep everybody happy. And so through means fair but mostly foul the Liberals will finance themselves another decade of power.
It's been said that the lottery is a tax on the stupid. Think of the proposed Ontario Pension Plan as a tax on those stupid enough to vote Liberal earlier this money. Unfortunately all of us will have to pay it.
The Honourable Rob Moore, Regional Minister for New Brunswick and Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), on behalf of the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, along with the Honourable Jody Carr, New Brunswick Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, today announced that three agreements have been signed by the Government of Canada and the Government of New Brunswick to help connect Canadians with available jobs.
It's called a bus ticket to Alberta. See. If you'd just thought of that Jason Kenney could have moved on to his next photo-op. Campaigning to be the next Prime Minister of Canada is a lot of work, no point wasting time pandering to people who don't live in the 905.
Municipal workers in Montreal and other Quebec municipalities walked out en masse at 2 p.m. today, to protest against the Quebec government‘s proposed legislation aimed at reforming municipal pension plans to control crippling deficits.
In Old Montreal, hundreds of city employees – including firefighters and police officers, who flashed the lights of their cruisers – crowded onto the steps of Montreal City Hall and spilled onto Notre-Dame Street and Place Jacques-Cartier.
Some waved black flags and started a bonfire on the street.
Quebec, as we have so often been told, is a distinct society. In generations past it was the poor who protested against their rough lot in life. Our modern age, so full of wonder, has added a new aspect to the business of barricading the state: The Revolting Bureaucrat.
The traditional bureaucrat was a small chested chap with a reedy voice, thick glasses and a modest pension. Those days have long ago past. The modern bureaucrat is fat, arrogant and blessed with a pension that would have made the more effete nobles of the Ancien Regime blush with shame. They do not count their blessings, especially if those blessings are financed by someone else, the all rich and all generous being known as the taxpayer.
These staged riots are one-half theatre and one-half genuine anger. Having been promised the plush life upon signing up for the government teat, they find themselves rudely cut-off. They had Dreams! They have Rights! Weep for them my children, for they truly are the wretched of the earth. Pity the government employee who planned to retire at 50 and must now slog it out to 55. There is, by contrast, a large swath of the Canadian workforce that must eke out an existence until their early 70s or resort to the Purina Chow.
But it's dangerous work being a firefighter and police officer! So it is. For some police officers and some fire fighters. Is the life of a police officer patrolling Toronto's Jane and Finch quite the same as an officer patrolling suburban Mississauga? And is the cop life more dangerous than that of constructions workers, maintenance personnel, miners, lumberjacks and roughnecks? There is no shortage of dirty and dangerous jobs in Canada for those willing to take them. None of them have the fat pensions and benefits of government employees.
Behind the narrow sliver of the public sector that does useful work there is the vast army of paper pushers who are either zero benefit to the economic and social life of the country, or are in fact a dead loss. What exactly does the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care do? It does not heal the sick or bind up the wounds of the injured. It doesn't change a single bedpan. Yet there it sits, consuming untold billions telling doctors and nurses how to do their jobs. Parasitism combined with impertinence is not a charming combination.
This is, as the newsreels liked to say, only the beginning. Worse things may yet arise in the time and tide of men. Quebec, being the most entitled and spendthrift of the provinces, has hit the public sector pension wall first. A decade ago we Ontarians used to laugh at how that could never happen here. Nope. In boring Protestant Ontario we knew how to balance the books. Eventually. Sure we had Bob Rae but then we checked that with good old Mike Harris. The problem with the Protestant work ethic thingy, however, is that it seems to stop working when you run out of Protestants, or the nearest reasonable facsimile.
My preferred solution is the one adopted by Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Ring fence the important government workers, the EMS people mostly, and then take a machete to everything else. If they strike, all the better. See how well the economy functions without having several layers of red tape strangling everything. Think of it as the reverse of Atlas Shrugged. Call it Moocher Shrugged. Let's see how indispensable the public service really is to the public.
A year after Ottawa expelled the consul-general of Eritrea to put a stop to a money-making scheme his regime had set up in Canada, the dubious “diaspora tax” program appears to be continuing undeterred.
Under the system, the Eritrean consulate in Toronto tells expatriates they must hand 2% of their wages to the repressive African regime. The setup is part of a strategy that “routinely involves threats, harassment and intimidation,” according to a United Nations report.
The Grits are angry about this flyer the Tories are distributing in Toronto:
Shocking. It's the sort of low down dirty tactics one would expect of, ahem, well everybody really. It also has the added merit of being basically accurate. As someone who remembers only too well the Reform Party's early days I'm hardly fazed. Those with long enough political memories will recall that every time Preston Manning opened his mouth in the 1990s the Liberal government, aided and abetted by the MSM, would denounce him as a racist. CBC camera crews would visit nomination meetings in Ontario and film the old white folks, while ignoring the visible minorities and youth who were interested in hearing the Reform message.
Conservatives are heartless racists, Dippers are pinkos and the Grits are corrupt and arrogant. These are time honoured smears with a modicum of truth. Yes the crazy racist white people, a rapidly shrinking minority, do tend to vote Conservative. There is no doubt that a significant section of the NDP caucus are hard bitten socialists itching to nationalize the banks. The Liberal tradition of corruption is practically a cliche.
Yet if we step back the picture becomes a bit more nuanced. For every crank old white racist in the Tory fold there are probably 10 darker skinned immigrants. For all the socialist rhetoric the typical Dipper wants a hazy utopia and a free ride from the state, the rest is just theatre. The Liberal Party outside Quebec is no more corrupt than the other two major parties. The Liberal Party inside Quebec is no more corrupt than the other parties operating in La Belle Province. When the Tories actually had a significant presence in Quebec the party was routinely rocked by scandal. Between 1993 and 2011 the Grits were the only federalist party with a real presence in Quebec, so naturally that's where the sludge flowed. Give it time and the Quebec wing of the NDP will generate its own Adscam. Oh, wait.
The Grits have used this sinister looking flyer as a fund raising tool. Their e-mail is written in gigantic lettering and asks for $3. Liberal supporters apparently have a hard time reading or understanding concepts not explained in 50 point font. Accompanying the e-mail is a huge picture, it's a big e-mail, with Justin and his kids in a car while wearing Montreal Canadiens jerseys. I'm sure the party office has a hard drive full of these images. Just in case.
With less than a year to go before the election it's a coin toss. Tory fear mongering or Trudeau's adorable family. What will the gullible Ontario electorate fall for in 2015.
Pamela Wallin believed Conservative senators had placed a spy in her office as part of a plot by members of her own party to “get her,” a new book alleges.
“Wallin believed, as she told me in October 2013, that hard-core right-wing elements in the Conservative caucus had it out for her because she didn’t ‘have an “R” branded on my forehead’ — she was not Reform enough,” writes Patrick Boyer in Our Scandalous Senate.
Apparently the vast Right-wing Conspiracy has reached the Canadian Senate.