Category: Musings

Consumption Taxes – It’s time to show us the full cost up front.

It appears that consumption taxes are a preferred way of raising money and encouraging behaviour change.

One very aggravating problem with the way this type of tax is administered is that things cost much more than advertized. Consumers (even those of us with mathematical minds) are surprised how much we have to pay.

During the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (which replaced the hidden Manufacturer’s Sales Tax in 1991) citizen groups wanted us all to know now much tax we were paying. This was a very good demand. We should know how much of what we pay is tax; something that eluded us with a hidden tax. We got a visible added on tax. To the GST was added any provincial retail sales taxes that may have been in existence. The retail sales taxes whether harmonized/combined with the GST plus environmental surcharges on certain products and now the possibility of a carbon tax/fee will all added to an advertized price. The results have become substantial and incredibly irritating.

Since the introduction of the retail sales tax (1961 in Ontario) and the GST the abilities of equipment creating a receipt/invoice has increased exponentially. With this ability, couldn’t things be set up so that the advertized price is the total price paid. The cash register could then show the various components making up the total.

Instead of

TV advertised at               $399.99
Environmental Fee            39.50
HST                                             57.13

So we pay                               $496.62

We would see

TV advertised at               $494.99   (and pay that amount with the invoice showing)
Taxes Included

Environmental Fee            39.50
HST                                             56.95

We have the technology. Full price advertizing with component recording is already in place.
When we purchase vehicle fuel our invoice/receipt shows total price and taxes.

The advertized price (say)    99.9 c/litre is what we pay,

Our invoice                        50 litres @ $0.999    $49.95

Taxes included in fuel

  • Federal 5.00
  • Provincial 7.35
  • Carbon 3.34
  • HST 5.75

This already existing style of receipt fully informs the consumer of the retail taxes included in an advertised total price.

Those who are required to have HST/GST/PST information for tax purposes will have the necessary information and the rest of us won’t have the aggravation of incurring unexpected costs.

Once again; think of how you’d feel pulling up to an outlet advertizing Gasoline at 56.9 c/litre; put 50 litres in the tank expecting to pay $28.45 but actually having to pay $49.87.
Throughout the retail sector, advertise the full price; show the retail taxes/fees on the printed receipt/invoice

The Plaidneck

The Whites

Over time, there have been a number of changes in North America for the correct term(s) for the various peoples who comprise our citizens..

All of us here either migrated from or are descended from someone who migrated from elsewhere.

Yet we insist on terms like Black, Brown, Red, White, Yellow to put us into somesort of category or other.

When I was quite young, negro seemed to be acceptable. Because of a southern a disparaging slangy corruption of that word, and very derogatory use, it has became not correct.

The term then became black. It was used by everyone and if my memory is correct, promoted by those to whom it referred. Remember “Black Power”.

However, black as means of identification has also became not correct and the term is now African American.

The term brown to describe people whose ancestors has evolved in a number of different places. A famous Canadian comedian has used this term for himself and his family. Is it “correct”. Not too sure. But, it sure is better than some of the more derogatory terms that have been used. The problem with brown is that it can be used for some very disparate people (middle east through south Asian to possibly Oceania).

Using red to describe people again encompasses a large variety of cultures.

We now use “first nations” or “native Americans”.

These terms; however, also tend to lump together people and together who can be quite different. Do the Inuit, Innu, Iroquoian, Cree, Dene, Siouan, Salish, Aztec all see themselves as the same.

The term “the yellow peril” was used to incite fear. Again, this is a term that encompasses a wide group of cultures.

People who have been lumped together as yellow have been very instrumental in building our country. In the wisdom of those who seem to decide these things, the term “Asian Americans” is in use.

We don’t use Black, Brown, Red, Yellow but the remaining group of people who have chosen to settle in North America are lumped together as White.

Whites are of predominantly of European descent but they to come from a vast array of cultures and backgrounds that include among others, Anglo, Slavic, Nordic, Germanic, Celtic, Saxon, Romance, Mediterranean (at least some) cultures.

Why is it OK to lump one group together by colour but not others? In the immortal words of the late George Carlin, “It’s a mystery”..

Should people be considered under any broad common identifier name?

Why do I have to be lumped together with a bunch of others I don’t know, might not like and probably disagree with just because I may sort of look like them?

Why can’t we all just be thought of where we live and our given name?
The Plaidneck (from the County)

(see also: Culturally inspired team names April 2012)

Do Speed Limits encourage law breaking?

How often do you drive the posted speed limit? If you’re like most drivers, not often.

Why do we speed?

This is probably a more complex question than my short summary will answer, but in the following is a lot of truth.

People drive their vehicles to just under their tolerance of risk. If a road is in great shape and the geometrics (curvature, sharpness of hills and sags, curve super-elevation, etc.) are good, we drive according to these conditions. We often complain about the slow driver (who is obeying the posted speed) clogging up the roadway.

In the political jurisdictions where I live, highways and a lot of roads are purposefully designed to a higher standard than the posted speed limit. The advisory speeds are also set lower than the geometric design.

I’d say typically. Freeway design speeds are 20 km/h above posted. Trucks are speed limited to 5 km/h above posted and probably the majority of cars drive close to 15 km/h above posted. Secondary routes are a bit trickier. Primary two lane highways most likely have the 20 km/h cushion. Regional roads will be designed with anywhere from speed limit plus 20 km/h to as low as speed limit plus 0 km/h.

There is a clause in the Ontario Design Manual that states “A design speed equal to the maximum posted speed is acceptable …. for minor collector and local roads.” A common Canadian design manual recommended posted speed plus 10 km/h. Assuming you can safely drive 20 km over the posted speed is not a given.

At what speed do the police ticket speeders? This probably varies depending on time of month, traffic, etc., but I heard from the horse’s mouth that often freeway speeds up to 19 km over the posted limit are not bothered.

It appears that the condition of our roads, the allowance permitted by our law enforcement, the fact that truck speed limiters are set higher than our posted speed plus our propensity to drive to the edge of risk all lead to most of us breaking the legally established speed limits. Speed limits as presently set do encourage law breaking.

There are some jurisdictions that have increased freeway speed to somewhere just below the road’s design speed. The actual average speed increases less than 2.5%. This is as a result of those who actually obeyed the lower speed limit now moving at the new “reasonable” speed limit. Also, the accident rate has not increased.

With the speed limit was set properly, there would be no assumption that a driver can speed safely.

In order not to promote law breaking, speed limits should reflect the road’s geometrics. If the speed limit is reasonably set, the police then should enforce it. No exceptions. With cruise control, we can keep a steady speed. With the low cost of GPS units, we can know our speed accurately (I have a vehicle where I think the manufacturers set my speedometer wrong on purpose).

There is no need for anything but say 3 km/h leeway. The police should be out there, visible (ie no hiding – entrapment) and tagging anyone speeding.

Speed limits should encourage compliance not promote law breaking.

The Plaidneck

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