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Author Topic: Rolling back the State  (Read 628 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« on: July 28, 2010, 12:57:40 PM »

We kick off this new thread with a really good idea from our Canadian friends:

Stephen Taylor: The beginning of the end of the Canadian welfare state

Stephen Taylor July 26, 2010 – 10:45 am

I received a call last week from a reporter around noon about what he
conceded was “the story that just won’t go away.” He was, of course, talking
about the census. He wanted to know if I could pass on a few names of
possible interviews for right-wingers that support the government’s stand to
scrap the long-form census. Of course, there are the folks over at the
Western Standard who are taking up their obvious position against the
mandatory “burden,” but in broader view, it got me thinking about who
opposes the government’s plan and why the story would not just go away.

Every day it seems that there’s a new group of people lining up to bemoan
the Industry Minister’s announcement that the census would forego the
mandatory long-form. Certainly, this illustrates a serious problem that
Stephen Harper faces as Prime Minister. Facing an opposition that can’t get
its act together is one thing, but a nation where the voices of special
interests are louder than ordinary citizens is another.

Indeed in this country, there are two groups of people. In fact, some would
call these groups the haves and the have-nots. This is an not inaccurate way
of describing it, but those that would might have the two switched.
Canadians form two groups: those that receive from the government and those
that pay to the government. Those who form — or are constituent to —
organizations dependent on government policy (and spending) are firmly
against the changes to the census. Those on the other side are largely
ambivalent because they are the large, unorganized and unsubsidized net
taxpaying masses.

The conservative/libertarian Fraser Institute think tank’s motto is “if it
matters, measure it.” The untruth of the inverse of this statement is at the
centre of why this government should follow through. “If you measure it, it
matters” is the motto of those net tax-receiving organizations who only
matter if they can make their case. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has tried
the ideological argument against these groups for years. But ideology is by
its nature debatable; removing the framework of debate is his shortcut to
victory.

If Stephen Harper succeeds in moving in this direction, he will be in the
initial stages of dealing a huge blow to the welfare state. If one day we
have no idea how many divorced Hindu public transit users there are in East
Vancouver, government policy will not be concocted to address them
specifically. Indeed if this group were organized (the DHPTUEV?) and looking
for government intervention, they’d be against the census change. The
trouble is that in Canada, the non-affiliated taxpayers not looking for a
handout have not organized. Indeed, the only dog they have in this fight is
the amount of tax they pay (aka “transfers”) to sustain the interests of
others.

QMI’s David Akin exclaimed surprise that from his cell within the beehive of
special interests that is Ottawa, he was shocked to find that a full half —
that other half — of Canadians aren’t upset about the changes to the census
when it seems that’s the only thing the other bees seem to be buzzing about.
The story that “just won’t go away” is a flurry of activity “inside the
beehive,” because until you go outside, you can’t see the forest for the
trees.

The other recent Lockheed Martin-related news story of the past couple of
weeks was the Conservative government’s huge sole-sourced $16-billion
contract with Lockheed Martin to buy F-35 fighter jets. Perhaps I was a bit
naive to think that every part of that sentence should be offensive to the
Ottawa media… sole-sourced… American arms dealer… flying war machines…
Conservative government. No, this largest military purchase in Canadian
history didn’t even make a significant blip on the Ottawa establishment
radar, simply because it didn’t challenge the position of any special
interest groups. There’s no bevy of community/cultural/government
organizations ready to line up to criticize/laud such a move. If the
government had taken $16-billion out of HRSDC’s $80+ billion annual budget
to pay for it, however, there’d be a swarm.

I believe that this Prime Minister has a few objectives in mind as he
integrates seemingly transactional initiatives into something
transformative. First, he merged the Progressive Conservative party and the
Canadian Alliance to challenge what seemed to be entrenched Liberal
electoral domination. Through initiatives such as financial starvation via
election finance reform and ideological force-feeding on the policy front,
Stephen Harper seeks to diminish or destroy the Liberal Party to replace
them with the Conservatives as Canada’s default choice for government. His
greatest challenge is to dismantle the modern welfare state. If it can’t be
measured, future governments can’t pander. I imagine that Stephen Harper’s
view, Canada should be a country of individual initiative, not one of
collective dependence “justified” through the collection of data.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2010, 12:18:41 PM »

Could use a little roll back here:

McClellan: Small-business owner stands up to government

Gary Heffernan has been a tuckpointer for 35 years. For the last 20, he has been in business for himself. He operates Heff's Tuckpointing out of his home in south St. Louis.
Heff's is a small company with two employees — Heffernan and his nephew. Still, it's a successful operation.
"We stay busy. We have about all the work we can handle, and it's all referrals," Heffernan told me.
It's almost all residential work. The occasional commercial job is usually a small, storefront business.
In April, Heffernan and his nephew were working on a house in the 6400 block of January Avenue. Heffernan had finished rebuilding the chimney and his nephew was finishing up the job when Heffernan left to bid a job in West County. While he was looking at the prospective new job, he got a call from his nephew. There was some kind of a problem with an inspector.
Heffernan returned to the site on January Avenue and found that an inspector for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had shut down the site. In other words, she had told Heffernan's nephew to stop working. Heffernan was taken back.
"I've been doing this for 35 years and I've never seen an OSHA inspector before," he said.
He said the inspector had written several citations. The first thing she told him was his scaffold wasn't level. He said he pulled out his level and put it on the scaffold to show that the scaffold was level. He said the inspector then wrote down the brand name of the level, as if there might be something wrong with his equipment.
"Truth is, you could have put a horse on that scaffold," Heffernan said.
He said he offered to let the inspector walk on the scaffold, but she declined and said she was afraid of heights.
The inspector told him his nephew needed a helmet and a safety harness.
"We have safety harnesses. If the job requires it, we wear them," Heffernan said. "But my nephew was only about 11 feet off the ground. I told the inspector I didn't know what I was supposed to attach the harness to. She told me I could rent a lift and run the main pole above the chimney and have the safety line from that hooked to my nephew. A lift costs about $750 a day. It made no sense."
Eventually, the inspector left. Three months later, in the middle of July, Heffernan received notice in the mail that he had been cited for three violations.
He had "not developed/implemented a Hazard Communication Program for employees engaged in tuckpoint operations using such products as, but not limited to, Portland Cement, Sand, Solomon Colors Concentrated Mortar, and Miracle Morta-LOK Type 'S' Masons Lime." Nor did he maintain an inventory list of these items. The fine was $1,050.
The second violation was that "employees were not protected by protective helmets while working in areas where there was a possible danger of head injury from impact, or from falling or flying objects, or from electrical shock and burns." That fine was $1,050.
Finally, the employees were "not protected by guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest system." That fine was $1,500.
Heff's Tuckpointing is a successful operation, but it cannot afford $3,600 in fines.
"I've got good credit. I could borrow the money," Heffernan said. "But this is ridiculous. I'm very safety conscious. Also, my insurance agent said my rates for workmen's comp might go up if I have these violations."
So Heffernan requested a meeting to contest the violations. He said he spoke with an OSHA compliance officer who offered to drop the first violation and reduce the fines of the other two by 40 percent. Heffernan refused the offer. He has now requested a formal hearing.
I called the St. Louis OSHA office Tuesday and spoke with William McDonald, the agency's area director. He said he could not discuss the specifics of the case because it is being contested.
Could he tell me how the OSHA inspector got on the case in the first place?
"Generally speaking, somebody calls. We had a referral in this case. I can't say much beyond that," McDonald said.
What happens next?
"If an informal conference does not resolve the problem, the case gets referred to an administrative judge," McDonald said. "The great majority of cases get worked out before there is an actual hearing."
Perhaps this one will get worked out, but at the moment, Heffernan seems determined to fight it all the way, and he has a safety record with which it's hard to argue.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/columns/bill-mcclellan/article_ab9ae524-f4f1-51eb-86eb-a35d4ce783e3.html
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