Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Christopher Curtis and Stephen Maher break the news that the Cons have falsified donation records, claiming donations to their Laurier-Sainte-Marie riding association from individuals who deny ever making contributions. But it's particularly worth noting how the money collected looks to have been distributed:
From 2006 to 2009, the Conservative riding association collected $583,318.96 from 931 donations, many from people connected with engineering companies and law firms. It also distributed $376,739.36 – mostly to other ridings around Quebec. The Megantic-Lerable riding of Industry Minister Christian Paradis, for instance, received $41,841 in 2009.
The unexplained donations – Postmedia News uncovered 11 – fall mostly into three groups: a group of 150 donations of $666.66, totalling $99,999; a group of 45 donations of $733.33, totalling $32,999.85; and a group of 43 donations of $333.33, totalling $14,333.19.

Postmedia tried to contact all the donors on the riding’s donor list from 2007 to 2009, almost 550 people. Many failed to return calls; others could not be located. Some said they couldn’t recall making donations, and others declined to discuss the issue. But 11 said they definitely did not make donations, and would like to know how their names ended up on the list.
As the report notes, it's not at all uncommon for better-funded riding associations to make transfers to others which lack resources. But it looks rather odd that money was funnelled through falsely-named donors from a riding where the Cons have had no obvious organizational strength (2011 was the first time they finished higher than 5th, and that was with 3.5% of the vote) to substantially fund the party's Quebec apparatus, including the riding of their leading presence in the province.

- Mike de Souza writes about the More Bang for our Buck report suggesting that we could create tens of thousands of jobs by redirecting subsidies away from the oil industries. And it's particularly noteworthy that the oil industry's response is to attack funding for renewable energy as a market distortion, while recognizing absolutely no problem with existing distortions in favour of oil exploitation.

- Meanwhile, David Macdonald rightly describes social impact bonds as the "anti-philanthropy", and suggests that we'll get much better results cutting out the rent-seeking middle man:
In either the traditional model or the social impact bond model, it is always the government that pays. However, for social impact bond, the government now has to pay a middle man mark-up. Not only that, but they also have to make sure that Goldman Sachs’ shareholders are happy. If the shareholders aren’t happy with their returns, they aren’t going to pony up the cash next time around.

It is this change of who government serves that really concerns me. People pay their taxes (and expect corporations to as well) in part because they want the government to deliver good services to the people that need them. However, social impact bonds direct tax dollars to bank profits instead of to a homeless person trying to get off the street. This dramatically changes who is being served by the government: from those who need a helping hand to the shareholders of a bank.

There is an alternative. Since the government is going to pay either way, let’s say “thanks but no thanks” to a middle man mark-up. Instead, the government could create its own fund to push forward ideas that have been proven elsewhere. Again, since the government is going to pay either way, why not borrow at historically low rates of 1% instead the of 7%-15% offered by a middle man? When these projects succeed, we can provide them to more people instead of lining the pockets of a bank.
- Finally, Mark Hume reports on the Cons' shocking move to shut down a research laboratory for the having the nerve to report test results showing infectious salmon anemia in B.C. salmon.

1 comment:

  1. It makes you wonder how many illegal donations are out that that aren't incompetently covered up.