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Cuba - Land of Potential

As Meg has detailed in two posts, we recently went to Cuba for our honeymoon. She does a great job of detailing what we did and saw, but I thought I'd do a quick post just to lay out some of my thoughts about the country.

US Financial Bailout

The reporting on the potential $700 billion US bailout is driving me crazy. I suppose I can understand why people are upset when they think that there will be a direct federal transfer of money from the Treasury to banks, but really, that's not what should happen.

Get rid of the Penny

Recently, the debate around whether or not to remove the penny from circulation seems to be escalating. Personally, I'm all for removing it. When I went to Australia in 2003, I had a chance to see how their policy works, and I must say, it works well.

Toronto Taxes

My, oh my... Toronto is going to become even more expensive to live in. This article talks about the new taxes that the city is thinking of bringing using the "City of Toronto Act" brought in by the provincial government.

The taxes (some listed below from the Star) include sin taxes like an additional 5% on alcohol and cigarettes, an increase in the land transfer tax (0.5%) and a vehicle registration fee of $40. Not only that, but they want to put a tax on entertainment such as live events and movies. And finally they'll really nail drivers with fees for parking spaces (paid by the owner, but of course passed on to the consumer) and possibly a toll or congestion charge for using the DVP or Gardiner.

Hmmmm... maybe the CPP will be around when I retire.

Wow, the markets (especially the TSX) are doing great, and hence, so is the CPP. The CPP made some comments yesterday about their last fiscal year (ended in March) and they had some impressive gains year over year. 15.5% in fact (compared to industry avg. of 14.3), for 13.1 billion added to their holdings. At this rate they say that the CPP fund should be upwards of $250 billion in the next 10 years.
Previous estimates I've seen on when the fund will actually need to be drawn down (when payments out exceed contributions in) is sometime around 2022.

Gotta Increase Productivity

Alright, so Canada is enjoying the good times right now, especially Western Canada. But these commodity fueled times won't last forever, it's time to ensure the competitiveness of value-add industry. The Conservatives have shown us that the deal they negotiated for Free Trade way back in the day (and that the Liberals extended to include Mexico) doesn't really mean free trade, but rather, free when it's convenient for the elephant, and managed trade when it's convenient for the mouse. (My, the Conservatives are pretty entertaining, they even succumbed to a bill C-48 that they voted against last year. Hypocrites.)

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