Friday 19 September 2008

One year of The Peanut

Happy birthday to me. La la la la la.

It was about a year ago that a bouncing goo-covered Anybody Want A Peanut? was ripped from the idle mind of it's creator and thrust into the unforgiving bloggosphere.

Originally conceived as a way to kill time during the infamous New Winnipeg outage of 2007 (hence my first post), The Peanut has since exploded into the little-known regional blog that it is today. Just inside the top 800,000 blogs, as a matter of fact! I, Cherenkov (not my real name), thank all of you who have visited, commented on, or linked to my little corner of the world wide web.

Some stats from year 1

Top 3 visited posts:

  1. Thoughts on the Greyhound beheading
  2. The future of Winnipeg: cookie-cutter condos
  3. Upper Fort Gary: apartments will not destroy gate
what?? Find Your Fetish did not make it?

Most profanity in a post: probably Grab your glocks when you see your ex

Top search terms (not including "cherenkov blog"):
  1. greyhound beheading
  2. friends upper fort garry
  3. leah hextall (heh)
  4. phil sheegl
Policy Frog gets the nod as my top referral site (thx PF)

I think I'll reward myself with a few weeks away from the computer. Sadly, that will mean no election campaign commentary from The Peanut. Oh well. If you want to see my predictions for the election, go here.

Cheers ...

Sunday 14 September 2008

Canada Post Water Park?

Back in January I posted this, regarding the $7 mil donation from the city for a new water park:

Here's an idea though: how about the soon-to-be-abandoned Canada Post building in downtown Winnipeg? Will the near-by Radisson step up to the plate?
Since then, the $7 mil got ear-marked for Leo Ledohowski for one of his CanadInns hotels. Although Sammy's preference was to see a water park downtown, Leo's plan was to build it at Polo Park:
The city will kick in $7 million towards the $56 million project that will be built at the Canada Inns hotel near Polo Park. (ctv)
But now ... with the stadium moving to the U of M, and Leo's recent purchase of the radission ...
"it's too early to tell what combination of restaurants, entertainment concepts, night clubs or water parks will be launched at the hotel" (fp)
... might Leo instead consider building the "world class" water park downtown instead? Possibly in the soon-to-be-abandoned Canada Post building???

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Carbon Tax: Part II

In my first post about the carbon tax we learned that

  1. the conservatives initially seemed to be doing a pitiful job of fighting the carbon tax, but maybe good enough. (More likely, the Liberals are just not doing a good enough job of selling it.)
  2. it takes me two months to draw a single-panel editorial cartoon.
In this post, I intend to talk about the actual program. In fact, I had intended to dig up some of my old studies and notes from Environmental Economics where we discussed this shit, but as usual I'm too damn lazy. It was mostly math anyhow.

If I can recall a few key things from those classes, one on them is that market-based mechanisms are far superior to non-market regulations. It is more efficient because the marginal cost of reducing emissions is determined by the market. Co. A may be able to reduce emissions at a lower cost than Co.B, therefore they will reduce more and Co.B will reduce less, to the point that their respective marginal costs are equal. In the end the same amount of emissions are reduced but at a lower cost than if the government regulates A & B to reduce X amt.

Put one check on the scorecard for carbon tax for being market based. (I should mention here that I am not going to get into the climate change debate. What matters here is that most people believe that climate change is happening, and is at least partly a result of emissions, so the question is: what it the best plan to reduce emissions?)

How well will the Carbon tax work? The plan proposes the following:
  • $40/tonne tax on coal, natural gas, etc.. (after four years)
  • 7 cents/l tax on diesel (after four years)
  • no tax on gasoline.
With no tax on gasoline, the plan obviously will do sweet bugger-all to reduce emissions from cars. I suspect the tax on diesel will do likewise. I don't see trucking companies changing their behaviour for a 7 cent tax, given the large increases that they've already seen in the price of fuel. Indeed, the transportation sector is largely unaffected, even though they are a major source of emissions.

Most of the revenues will come from the $40 tax on other fuels. In particular, a "significant majority" will come from the larger corporate energy users. The degree to which this will cause them to reduce their emissions is difficult to say. It should have an impact, but there are lots of variables.

The "tax less of what we do want" part of the equation is what makes this plan "revenue neutral". While I don't disagree with the principle of a revenue neutral plan, this is hardly revenue neutral at the individual level.

The big losers: businesses. While a large majority of the tax revenue will come from businesses, they will benefit from less than 25% of the tax cuts.

Who are the big winners? Families and poor people. In addition to the lowest tax rate decreasing 1.5%, and the next two brackets going down 1%, we find these other items tucked away in the green plan:
  • a child tax benefit of $350/kid
  • replace $1000 employment tax credit with a $1850 refundable credit for incomes of less than $50,000
  • increase in working tax benefit for low income workers.
  • disability tax credit for low income disabled people.
  • rural credit of $150
  • increase in northern resident reduction
  • increase in guaranteed income supplement ($600) for low income seniors
  • new guaranteed family supplement for low income families (up to $1225)
  • increase in National Child Benefit Supplement for families b/w $21k & $26k
I have to wonder: what is this really about? The tax excludes some of the biggest sources of emissions, has an unknown impact on actual emissions, but includes a big income shift from corporations to individuals. Is this really about saving the environment, or is this a robin hood scheme?

My personal opinion is that, if you want to reduce emissions, tradeable emissions permits are the way to go. Like carbon tax, they are market-based. Unlike carbon tax, they can produce specific results. What tradeable emissions permits do not do is give the government an opportunity to buy off low income voters under the guise of saving the environment.

Saturday 6 September 2008

Pullin' for Palin

I feel maybe I was a little bit hard on Palin with my last post, so I will now list some reasons why she is a good VP pick:

1. She is a gun-totin', oil-pumpin', pro-lifer. Yes, that's right. I'm covering all my bases. In my last post this was a negative because it will scare away Hillary-supporting democrats. In this post, it's a positive. You see, McCain is naturally a social moderate. He's being torn between his personal views and the demands of the republican base, and is being forced to publically support a more conservative social agenda, but the evangelicals he is trying to woo (did I really use that word?) can see through that. Palin is a legit social conservative and therefore will take a lot of the pressure off McCain to get those bible-thumpers out to vote when it counts.

2. She's a working mom. That will help secure some of that hockey/football/ultimate frisbee mom vote, from mom's who don't have strong loyalties to either party.

3. She's young and inexperienced. Why is that an advantage? Because it assures voters that she had absolutely nothing to do with the war in Iraq. She never influenced the decision to go to Iraq. She was never in the position to vote on any bill related to the war, or any other federal bill for that matter, and therefore cannot be critisized for it. She's a clean slate, as far as Washington goes. Sort of.

4. She's a bitch. As Tina Fey says: "bitch is the new black". This works out well, when you're going up against Obama. Plus, bitches get things done. Also, being a chick is important because McCain's a dude. A corner has been turned south of the border, and a tandem of two white guys would just look so old fashioned competing against Obama. Diversity is a must now. You have to show that you're willing to draw from the entire pool of candidates. This also suggests there might be a diversity of opinion in the government -- which is a good thing. This is something the previous administration was lacking.

There you go. All of the things that used to be negatives are now positives. Goes to show that it's a matter of perspective. We here at the Peanut have never been big on providing balanced commentary on anything, but we'll make an exception in this case.

Friday 5 September 2008

Impalin' the VPILF

I admit that I am not the keenest observer of US politics, but I feel compelled to comment on John McCain's choice for VP, and it's my damn blog so I can comment on whatever the hell I want.

Now, a lot of people have had a lot of things to say about Sarah Palin. Me, I think John McCain picked her for two simple reasons: she is young and she has tits. Because she is young, the average age of the President/VP tandem will be somewhere in the high 50s (58 by my calculations) which should be acceptable to most voters. Because she has boobies, she will automatically capture the disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters.

I think McCain is wrong. Palin may look a little bit like your sexy high school teacher, but on the inside she's a gun-toting, oil-pumping, vengeful bitch with a knocked-up teenage daughter and a mentally handicapped newborn who she apparently wants nothing to do with1. She's more of a redneck than Ted Nugent. Aside from the bitch part, she has little in common with Hillary. Vengeful Hillary supporters may vote republican, but otherwise I imagine they will be scared off by the creationism, anti-abortionism, and poor environmental record -- vagina or no vagina.

There. That's what I have to say about Palin. I think it was a gutsy pick by McCain, and I expect an interesting and nasty race to the finish line. But I think, ultimately, the gamble will not pay off because, aside from helping to secure the social conservative base, Palin will not pull in the votes that McCain needs.

1 I should explain this statement. Palin has 5 kids. The oldest - Track (named after the marks on the inside of her arm?) - is going off to college, which leaves four. Those four include her daughter Bristol who is pregnant and a newborn Trig (named after the course she flunked in high school? Ok. I'll stop now) has Down syndrome. Now, I'm not saying that a woman cannot work and raise a family at the same time. Far from it. But US VP is no ordinary job. Most working moms would still be able to squeeze in some time to help their kids with their homework, help their daughter plan her shot-gun wedding, help change the diapers, etc. With the responsibilities and learning curve that Palin has ahead of her, she will have ZERO time for her family. So the husband does it, right? You mean the husband that works for BP and also owns a commercial fishing business? Ok. Sure. At least they'll have enough income to hire some really nice surrogate parents.

The group to watch

I know what I'd be doing if I were in St.Louis:

The same group tees off tomorrow (Saturday) for 36 holes due to Thursday's round being cancelled. I can think of worse ways to spend a Saturday than watching these three fight it out.

edit: they did not play together on Saturday. Just Friday. I misread the text on the PGA site.

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