Costs must be competitive

Some HST and carbon tax musings. In the scheme of business input costs, if listed in cost priority, the HST issue would be down the list somewhere and not close to the top. There are many input costs that consume a much higher percentage of total costs than the PST tax regime. I also do not believe we will have any kind of major collapse of the economy if we revert back to the PST. Having said that, I am in favour of the HST or a VAT (value added tax) system as the most equitable method of taxation.

Some HST and carbon tax musings. In the scheme of business input costs, if listed in cost priority, the HST issue would be down the list somewhere and not close to the top. There are many input costs that consume a much higher percentage of total costs than the PST tax regime. I also do not believe we will have any kind of major collapse of the economy if we revert back to the PST. Having said that, I am in favour of the HST or a VAT (value added tax) system as the most equitable method of taxation.

While it is fair to say that the PST system of tax is lower in proportion to other costs, it is still a cost that impacts the bottom line. In today’s global economy, competition is stiff and all input costs are scrutinized for reduction to gain a competitive advantage, or just remain competitive to survive. Just ask the past employees of RV manufacturing, saw mills, furniture manufacturing or call centres to see how important competitiveness in cost is. With most tax jurisdictions having moved to or moving toward a VAT system, we will be bumped off the level playing field. We will survive, but with a lower potential for competitiveness and growth.

Recently, a few Liberal leadership candidates have suggested we revisit our carbon tax by not increasing it as scheduled and postponing the cap and trade system. No one likes to pay a tax. Most because it leaves less coin in one’s own pocket. It is clear though that the thought on pulling in the horns on these carbon taxes is not a questioning of global warming being real or not, but rather are we pushing ourselves off the level playing field and shooting ourselves in the foot by increasing our own costs and competitiveness in the noble cause of environmental stewardship while other jurisdictions do not? It is truly a bad position to be in. No one wants to lead as it is economic self flagellation, yet universal consensus eludes us. It is not a huge impact on the bottom line just as the PST is not, but it is still significant for competitiveness when business is squeaking out five to 10 per cent margins. I find it interesting that most people seem to “get” the competitiveness issue of the carbon tax, but fail to “get” that the PST/HST issue is essentially identical with reference to input costs.

As I stated before, I believe we need an HST. Just not like the one we have now and not shoved down our throat. I hope whomever becomes the next government will have the wisdom and the nads to sit down and discuss this with the population so they understand what is on the table and come up with a VAT that the people can buy into. One that is fair to the lower income segment and beneficial to the businesses that are the job creators without all the negative rhetoric of lazy union bums or greedy corporate rapists. Remember that unless you work for the government, you work for a business or corporation that must be able to compete in order to employ you. Employment generates taxes and taxes enable social programs. As someone once said, “The social cart is pulled by the economic horse”.

Ed Bastac

Penticton

Taking a hit on housing

My wife and I arrived in the Okanagan in the winter of 1980 after selling our home in Surrey, which we purchased for $65,000 with a $30,000 down payment. It was only seven months old in a new subdivision.

I had a good-paying government job, quartermaster deck hand with Wacky Bennett’s Navy, running from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, 10 days on, five days off.

Life was good. A secure job, new home, $400 month mortgage, a two-year-old son and another on the way. Now, one day, eight months later, after we had moved into our new home, a realtor came knocking on our door with the news that he had sold several homes on our street for $100,000-plus and was looking to list ours. My wife and I did a lot of soul searching that evening and thought, OK, just for fun, let’s list it in the Vancouver Sun for $100,000.

When the ad hit the paper the next day, it looked like our home was in the midst of having a yard sale. That evening, with the help of a notary and lawyer, our house was sold.

A quick phone call to a friend who had just relocated with his family to Penticton, from good old Surrey. He recommended a doctor, dentist and a realtor. In less than a month we were new residents of Twin Lakes and paradise (with abundance of domestic water I might add). And to cap it off, a new job with the school district — talk about four leaf clovers and horseshoes. Now the down side. Our two sons had no playmates except the odd bull snake, rattlers and yapping coyotes to lull them to sleep at night. Our problems began with our boys not being able to attend school kindergarten program for a half day. There was no school bus to bring them home at noon.

So we had to consider the fact that our boys needed schooling. We sold the farm, so to speak, and moved to town. We traded up to an $80,000 home with a swimming pool on Cornwall and Brandon. We now had a $64,000 mortgage and a larger home.

The boys were having trouble adjusting to the big city. Our first indication of this was the postman informing us that our lads were peeing on the junipers at the end of our driveway and acting like Neanderthals.

No sooner than the ink dried on our contract, I was bumped from my job due to cutbacks and low seniority. Talk about “easy come, easy go.” Now comes the cruncher: no income, no mortgage payment and the threat of foreclosure.

So to overcome this predicament we were led to believe we should sell, by a money-grabbing commission realtor. He professed to be saving the day by lightening our burden. He had brought a friend who would offer us $68,000 cash for the house we had just purchased for $80,000. This would pay off our mortgage, leaving us debt free and $4,000 to go on a wonderful holiday. So under duress the deal was struck, one that we never financially recovered from. If only that realtor had been truly compassionate we could have rented out until my job had stabilized. To this day we could have owned our own home twice over. That home would list for $500,000 in today’s market.

Does anyone out there have some sharp cheese to go with my whine?

Andy Homan

Penticton

Police conduct in question

On Jan. 7, Kelowna RCMP Const. Geoff Mantler was caught on tape delivering a kick to the head of Buddy Tavares. What other brutalities have occurred that haven’t been caught on video?

I can think of one. RCMP Cpl. Andre Turcotte convicted of assault causing bodily harm for a 2007 off-duty, road-rage attack, and still collecting his $74,000 salary. It makes me wonder if the bullies from the school yard are seeking employment in the B.C. RCMP, where there seams to be no substantial consequences for their actions except to have them suspended with pay either at home or behind a desk. And you have to ask how many more corrupt police officers are we paying to do this, while we have Supt. Bill McKinnon asking time and time again for more funding for more officers.

Of course they can’t be all corrupt, or can they? There are members who turn a blind eye to wrongdoing of fellow officers, aren’t they just as much of a problem? With the implication of the .05 drinking and driving law, do you really want the B.C. RCMP to be the enforcers and judge and jury?

If you would like a say and sign a petition for public consultation before the B.C. RCMP contract is renewed in 2012, go to www.gopetition.com/petition/41556.html or to get rid of them altogether go to www.gopetition.com/petition/41557.html.

Or, you can just sit back, and the next time you see a RCMP officer wonder if you’re next.

Michael Gregoroff

Penticton

Thanks from the animals

As we jump into 2011, we (at the dog pound) look back on previous years and are amazed at just how fortunate we’ve been.

Thankfully, times have changed and now we can say that most of the impounded dogs left unclaimed, here at the dog pound, are placed into new homes. Often we can provide this service ourselves — providing vet care, advertising and screening potential homes for these dogs. However, our space and manpower is very limited. When the need arises, we turn to others for help.

For at least 11 years, a wonderful relationship has thrived with Critteraid — a non-profit animal rescue group. Again and again, they have stepped up to assist an unclaimed impounded dog by providing vet work, foster care and ultimately a new home. Critteraid also sponsors the cremation for any unclaimed deceased cat we remove from municipal properties and roads in both Summerland and Penticton.

Okanagan Small Dog Rescue Society has taken many small-breed dogs in that were absolutely terrified in our kennel environment, only to find that each of them were quiet, affectionate, healthy dogs. Excellent candidates to be adopted into new homes.

Hug-a-Bull Rescue has not only opened their arms to some of our dogs, but has generously donated food, toys, bedding, etc. during the Christmas holidays.

The Penticton branch of the BCSPCA has helped by taking in several unclaimed dogs, and giving us towels, blankets and bedding from time to time.

There are other “breed specific” rescues that assist us, as well as a few private citizens that open their hearts to our unclaimed “strays”.

I would like to extend a heart-felt thank you with gratitude that words cannot express.

Rose Gingras

Dog Control Services

for Penticton and Summerland

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