Transportation

Skepticism and Small-Mindedness on Cycling Investment

By Jason Leach
Published June 16, 2009

As we've all grown painfully accustomed, a worthwhile investment in Hamilton's infrastructure that doesn't involve four rubber tires is met with the usual skepticism, small-mindedness and the distinct impression that some of our councillors don't explore civilized life outside of their daily trip to Horton's.

We will spend tens of millions at the drop of a hat to resurface roads and build new ones in the former countryside; yet the simple act of painting a white line in a curb lane in order to give non-drivers (gasp) a safe route to work is met with the usual blather and hot air:

Councillor Tom Jackson frequently hears from residents who want more recreational trails. He's not sure if those same people want to bike to work on city streets.

"I'm not detecting a huge clamouring for more commuter lanes."

Flamborough's Margaret McCarthy is skeptical additional bike lanes would be well used given the escarpment, weather, transit improvements and heavy traffic.

"It seems to me an unsafe practice," she said. "For my money, this wouldn't go forward."

I'm hopeful that the majority of council will see the worth of this investment and move the new cycling plan forward. We're decades behind the more progressive cities on the planet, but staff and the cycling committee should be applauded for their great work on this plan.

Now if it can just pass the necessary votes...

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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By C.J. Leach (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2009 at 10:30:34

Margaret has a misconception of safe. Providing space for bike traffic is much safer than having cyclist on the shoulder of the road. Even if the number of cyclist who use the bike lanes are small, they remove some cars from the road, which speeds up traffic and reduces gas consumption that results in lower gas prices for all. This idea may need to be presented in a new light to Margaret McCarthy to state "For your money, this project should go forward." There is no one project that will define a city, but a multitude of small projects that add up to amazing and swift progressive change.

Sincerely,

C. Jason Leach

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 16, 2009 at 11:20:54

ps...I should add a few comments here after reading the piece again.

Councillor Jackson mentions his constituents that have spoken to him about recreational trails. This plan has a fair amount of those types of trails. It's not only commuter trails. The fact is, Hamilton has done fairly well in recent years with recreational trail development. It's the commuter side that we're lagging on. Also, his ward is quite removed from employment downtown and in the west end. I'm sure folks cycle to work from there, but it wouldn't be as high as wards in the lower city and mountain wards that are directly above downtown.

As for McCarthy, she's obviously never experienced the difference between riding a bike on a road with no bike lane and a road with a bike lane. Especially in the rural area where cars are driving very fast.

Those who say there isn't demand for these facilities are also the ones who said there was no demand for bike racks on buses. Last update from the HSR showed bike rack usage much higher than they predicted.

Finally, the $51 million price tag is to be spread out over 20+ years. Council is actually being asked to spend $1.25 million per year, or perhaps doubling that to $2.5 per year. They are NOT being asked for $51 million next year.
Of course, $1.25 million doesn't make for quite as sensational a headline as $51 million.

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By JM (registered) | Posted June 16, 2009 at 11:50:09

i love how they give the option to implement the plan over DECADES.... as it says in the spec article - not just years, but decades

if its going to take decades to create a bike network, how many centuries will it be until we see our LRT? lol

also - i live in tom jacksons ward, up on the east mtn. where are these trails? where can they put them? the only one i see runs alongside the linc, running only between upper ottawa and upper wentworth

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By arienc (registered) | Posted June 16, 2009 at 12:38:07

Hammer Raisers...have your say here...

http://hallmarks.thespec.com/2009/06/is-...

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2009 at 13:19:04

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By z jones (registered) | Posted June 16, 2009 at 13:36:21

^broken record is broken.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2009 at 13:42:24

z jones, you too love the idea of tax cuts, but you're just afraid to go against the RTH crowd. Here's your chance, declare to the world, z jones wants massive tax cuts and you're not ashamed to admit it. Doesn't that feel better?

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By zookeeper (registered) | Posted June 16, 2009 at 14:01:57

@z jones - Don't feed the trolls. You only encourage them.

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By zookeeper (registered) | Posted June 16, 2009 at 14:15:10

^^See what I mean?

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 16, 2009 at 14:56:17

I should add one more thing. Mr. Jackson also needs to keep in mind that bike lanes will become the safe routes for his constituents to get to their recreational trails. It's win-win all around, other than the insanely delayed implementation timeline.

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By a j (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2009 at 15:59:09

"z jones" ...nicely done!

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2009 at 18:58:46

Jason >> It's win-win all around

You're completely ignorant, the only thing that's a win-win is for the city to lower tax rates to less than 0.5%. To that end, start writing some articles on the benefits that tax cuts would produce for this city, rather than where you can ride your bicycle.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 16, 2009 at 19:12:54

why don't you write an article? Ryan has put the offer out there in the past.

You post more than anyone else on here and hijack every thread. Surely, that can all be stapled together into a decent sized, coherent article.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2009 at 12:14:40

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By zookeeper (registered) | Posted June 17, 2009 at 12:22:12

^Jason please don't feed the troll. Just downvote and move on to more honest commentary.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2009 at 12:53:52

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By z jones (registered) | Posted June 17, 2009 at 13:27:30

Quoth A Smith:

"you're stupidity"

QFT for unintentional hilarity. Now please go back to your (not "you're") room. The grownups are trying to talk.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 17, 2009 at 14:13:42

My intention is to be safe, predictable, and visible, but I intend to continue using a whole lane of traffic for safety, otherwise cars pass way too close. Wherever bike lanes are installed I use them and appreciate them. I like getting out of traffic's way. Otherwise I do not care about being in the way. Actually I do feel bad sometimes holding up a lane on my bike because almost everyone is patient and nice ... but this is what the planners are causing with this moronic undermining of social progress while other places just get improvements done. 40 years for the cycling plan? Don't even bother, I'll be an old man ... the 3 meter bike lane called the right lane is very comfortable actually.

Anyway it is encouraging to see larger numbers of cyclists out this summer ... purely observation but I think the numbers are increasing. It is my hope that people do what is best for their situation and lifestyle and hopefully the streets fill with cyclists and they are simply left with no choice but to proceed. Their award winning traffic management will implement a cycling plan for the cars' sake ... to get them out of the way :)

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2009 at 14:17:53

z jones, I'll take my grammatical error over your inability to do more than repeat the same, fearful comment ad nauseum. Furthermore, most adults don't spend their time worrying about where the city will allow them to ride their bikes, or when they'll buy them a shiny new train set. If you want to be considered an adult, stop talking about childish things.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 17, 2009 at 14:21:20

Oh yeah one more thing ...

"I'm not detecting a huge clamouring for more commuter lanes." Flamborough's Margaret McCarthy is skeptical additional bike lanes would be well used given the escarpment, weather, transit improvements and heavy traffic.

Nine out of ten bikes ride on the sidewalk against the law. It is not enforced because it cannot be under present infrastructure. They ride on the sidewalk because the road is terrifying if you are not a type A personality or something like that.

  1. Escarpment : watch a bike go up the jolley cut and tell me if a bike lane is needed for drivers as much as the cyclist.

  2. Weather : there was only one day I did not bike this winter.

  3. Transit improvements : if you want to bike you are going to bike. Nice to have a bus when you need it and most people do need it. But transit is not going to 'force' cyclists to take the bus ... if you want to bike then that is what you are doing.

  4. Heavy traffic : this is EXACTLY why a bike lane is needed. Plains Road backed up in a traffic jam and I moved from the right lane to the sidewalk for two blocks. Passed all the traffic. I NEVER ride on the sidewalk except in awkward spots like that. When there is a bike lane you can keep moving, even in a traffic jam.

Very stupid arguments, either misinformed or deliberately undermining.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted June 17, 2009 at 14:33:06

^^Oh Smitty you never fail to amuse. You complaining about somebody repeating the same comment ad nauseam? comedy gold!

As for whether adults worry about where they can ride their bikes I'd like to see you go to Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Groningen, Trondheim, Portland, Boulder, Davis, Berlin, Barcelona, Basel and other cycle-friendly cities and tell all the people commuting and traveling by bicycle that they're being childish.

Now that's enough outbursts for one day. Back to your room and think about what a naughty boy you've been.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2009 at 15:25:07

z jones, I like a nice bike ride as much as the next guy, but it's not going to make Hamilton a more prosperous place to live. If riding bikes produced wealth, then China should be richer per capita than we are, but they're not, they're much poorer. When tax rates are capped at 0.5%, this city will generate many more wealth creating economic transactions, property values will skyrocket and the city will be flooded with tax revenues. At that point in time, you can call for hundreds of miles of bike paths and I will gladly use them myself.

Tax cuts = strong assessment growth = much higher tax revenues = lots more services.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 17, 2009 at 17:45:05

A Smith : not disagreeing with you within the typically accepted definition of wealth. Building a bike and providing spare parts does not create as much factory employment and throughput as a vehicle assembly and subsequent maintenance. It does not require as much raw material transported, or as much energy consumed, or as much toxic waste disposed of. An automobile does indeed create more jobs in that sense.

However, let me be clear, with no change in income (actually a pay cut, we are in a recession) I feel MUCH wealthier since selling the car a year ago when gas was at 1.40. Do not forget that all of the money I am not spending on a vehicle is still being spent or saved (which means spent later). It means better food, more dinners out, more disposable income for clothing, etc. I am spending more money at Hamilton businesses, large and small. Not making payments into the automotive economy does not make my productivity or participation in the economy vanish. Quite the contrary. Riding a bike HAS ALREADY made my tiny little corner of hamilton more prosperous sans car payments, insurance, repairs, etc.

It may be beneficial to more carefully qualify what the definition of 'wealth' is. Seriously! This reply does not address taxes but I'm not going there in this forum :)

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By pben (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2009 at 02:27:13

I think bike lanes are a waste of valuable road space. They are very, very rarely used in Hamilton, and remove lanes from existing roads. In 2009 in Hamilton, all they are doing is causing greater traffic congestion by reducing the number of lanes that cars can use.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2009 at 03:16:39

mikeonthemountain >> Riding a bike HAS ALREADY made my tiny little corner of hamilton more prosperous sans car payments, insurance, repairs, etc

That's like saying, being on a diet will make you more prosperous because you buy less food. True wealth comes from increased output and consumption across the board, not simply shifting consumption patterns. In order to increase real output, you need a way to measure the success of your investments and the only way to do this is to charge people for that good or service, in order to find out how much they value it.

If a restaurant can charge X + $2 for a meal that only costs them X to produce, then $2 in real wealth has been created. On the other hand, if government invests Y in bike trails, how does anyone know if Y + $ has been created. Because the trail is free, the city can't ever know if society values it more than the cost to build it, or whether they value it less.

In the private sector, when a business produces a good or service that only produces value to consumers of X - $, eventually that business goes belly up. However, with taxation, we have a system whereby people (politicians) can invest X and produce X - $, thereby destroying real wealth and yet still be rewarded with more money to invest next year.

Furthermore, when a large percentage of your local economy is based on this type of investing, where the value of the investment to society is completely unknowable, the obvious result is an economy that makes fewer profitable investments and more wealth destroying investments.

Unfortunately, because most people are ignorant of how wealth is created, they fall for the ramblings of "caring" politicians, rather than greedy business owners. It's not a surprise that the pro-worker, anti-business belief system in Hamilton has driven wealth creating businesses from this city, leaving nothing more than welfare cases and government subsidized employees to take up the slack.

Cut tax rates to 0.5%, increase the proportion of economic transactions that create real value to the people of Hamilton and this city will once again be prosperous. Alternatively, keep high tax rates, allow politicians to make lots of investments that destroy wealth and continue living in a poor, run down city. The choice is obvious for anyone willing to embrace the truth.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 18, 2009 at 09:57:24

"Because the trail is free, the city can't ever know if society values it more than the cost to build it, or whether they value it less"

"Furthermore, when a large percentage of your local economy is based on this type of investing, where the value of the investment to society is completely unknowable, the obvious result is an economy that makes fewer profitable investments and more wealth destroying investments. "

The auto bailout is just one example which enables the argument to be inverted, but this time we're talking billions spent with little way to measure whether we got back value to our society. Also highways and roads have budget overruns (Red Hill for example) that are subsidised in addition to the original budget. Even if it is provincial/federal and not local, when our treasuries are broke or in debt they are going to raise our taxes; we pay anyway. Watch how easy it is to substitute just about anything in that paragraph:

"On the other hand, if government invests Y in automobiles/transit/hospital/etc, how does anyone know if Y + $ has been created. Because the subsidy is free, the city can't ever know if society values it more than the cost to build it, or whether they value it less. "

Nevertheless, a moment after I posted I actually realized it's an imprecise comparison because money is being allocated elsewhere, not created, you're right about that.

My intention was not a logic-proof economic analysis which is not my strength anyway, just to suggest that what actual living humans consider wealth necessarily includes but is not limited to currency transactions. It is a matter of perspective. Different individuals consider different things important. It has been suggested many times that our economy is as unjust and troubled as it is, because factors such as clean water, clean air, good health, social cohesiveness, etc, are not factored into ye venerable learned Holy Roman definition of wealth. I consider small business with an emphasis on service and quality a form of wealth. I consider the availability of healthy food a form of wealth. I consider EVERYONE (car/bus/bike/rollerblade/walk/horse/jetsons hovercar) getting to their destination safely, without stress, efficiently, and even having enjoyment from it, a form of wealth. My opinion is not universal, but it is very prevalent. Ok I'm done, cheers!

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 18, 2009 at 10:21:42

I'm sorry, but this discussion is becoming useless (as usual).

We're trying to figure out if a bike trail ends up being free, or having a benefit to society??

If we're really pinching pennies this much, perhaps we should look at implementing a true FREE market system when it comes to new development. ASmith could save us hundreds of millions simply by crusading to have homebuilders build and sell their product in a true free market fashion. Instead of 30-35% of the cost of new home projects being subsidized by existing taxpayers, we could get the builders and new buyers to actually pay for their product. We wouldn't be able to spend all the extra money on bike trails if we tried! We'd run out of ideas for new places for trails.

Furthermore, it's been proven that people who develop active lifestyles are healthier and thus need to use the health care system far less than those who sit around, watching TV and eating fast food. Crunch some numbers, and I'm sure you'll see that it only requires a few people getting active to offset the cost of a bike trail simply by them learning to take care of themselves and not be constantly sick.

With so much socialism for the rich going on in our society, it's amazing that someone with a screen name of ASmith would choose the lowly bicycle to oppose.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted June 18, 2009 at 11:11:13

Jason...not only do we save on healthcare costs, but businesses can be more profitable in a non-auto dependent community than in an auto-dependent one.

Just look at the issue of wages. If you run a business that can only be staffed by those who have cars, you have to pay a rate of income which allows empoloyees to maintain their cars as well as the other parts of their livelihood (food, shelter, clothing, etc.). However if your staff can bike to work, you may be able to attract employees whose wage demands would be lower (as they are not burdened with the nearly $10K/year it costs to finance, maintain and operate automobiles). Thereby, having public facilities geared to bicycling helps those businesses to reduce labour costs and increase profits.

With regards to the public vs. private argument...as I believe Ryan had previously posted in an article, profit as a motive does not enable the provision of services that promote quality of life.

For example, a healthcare system with profit as a priority will have incentive to let patients die, since it is more profitable then keeping them alive occupying beds and consuming medications.

Similarly, there is no incentive for "the market" to provide that which boosts the bottom line of others - (i.e. externalities). If society loses these externalities, the overall potential of that society declines. Services that have been provided by the public - education, roads, defense, transit, have created opportunities for individuals and businesses that have far outweighed their financial costs.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2009 at 15:04:06

mikeonthemountain >> On the other hand, if government invests Y in automobiles/transit/hospital/etc, how does anyone know if Y + $ has been created.

I agree with you 100%. That said, we still need to take care of people who truly need the help.

>> what actual living humans consider wealth necessarily includes but is not limited to currency transactions.

You're right, but I think most would agree that economic growth is a good thing, if for no other reason then it gives people more options. If you want to ride your bike, you can do that, if you want to drive, you can do that. Or you can give your money away to charity and feel wealthy through giving.

As to your point about clean water, community health, etc, being important, it is. Does the government need to provide these things? Is it possible that if all consumers value clean drinking water and safe roads, that private businesses can invest in making these things happen? Toll roads are safer than public roads, distilled water cleaner than tap water. Business is all about giving people what they want, as long as people like a clean environment, some smart people will try to sell it to us.

Jason >> we should look at implementing a true FREE market system when it comes to new development.

You're right, fair is fair.

>> it's been proven that people who develop active lifestyles are healthier

When I was young I was very active, so active I broke my knee in 9 pieces and my collarbone in three. In this case, being active was a drain on the health care system. If poor people need health care, give it to them, if people are ill (diabetes, heart disease, etc) because they eat too much/don't exercise enough, they need to make a choice, lose weight or pay for your own treatment. This may scare them into better health.

arienc >> a healthcare system with profit as a priority will have incentive to let patients die

Imagine you run a drug company that can extend people's lives 100 years. How much will people pay you for that drug? In this case, you want as many people to live as long as possible and have as many children as possible, so that your profits are as high as possible. Helping people live a healthy, enjoyable life is something they will pay you lots of money for and it's also good business.

Conversely, letting your clients die at a young age, shrinks your customer base, directly impacting on your ability to increase earnings. Bad for business.

>> if your staff can bike to work, you may be able to attract employees whose wage demands would be lower

If this is the case, then let businesses build housing units attached to their facilities. Better yet, businesses could buy entire condos near their offices and give them to workers as part of their compensation package. All this can happen without the need for politicians to invest in bike trails that may or may not be valuable to society.

>> Services that have been provided by the public - education, roads, defense, transit, have created opportunities for individuals and businesses that have far outweighed their financial costs.

If government can't know the direct benefit of providing goods/services to the people who actually use them, how can it know the much more opaque secondary benefits. That's like saying I don't know how much money I have in my bank account, but I know I will be able to buy that new car I want.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 18, 2009 at 16:02:35

"As to your point about clean water, community health, etc, being important, it is. Does the government need to provide these things?"

In the case of the Commons, government MUST provide a framework laws, and funding if necessary, to facilitate this, yes. In fact that is the whole point of HAVING a government of any kind. To maintain order with respect to whatever is considered the Commons. Otherwise what is the difference compared to anarchy.

The definition of Commons is whatever is shared and of value to everyone. In private control, the few who do not care will ruin the commons for everyone. The entire twentieth century is an example of this - just about every large corporation finds it easier and more profitable to pollute (externalize their negative effects). Unless you just returned from a deep space voyage, you know what corporations and deregulation (private for profit interests) have done to the environment. You know the saying "the right tool for the right job"? Government is the tool that is designed to get these protections met. Private might or might not get it done. A paperclip might or might not turn a philips screw. Again, right tool for the right job.

The reciprocal is true. Private investment provides TONS of benefits that government cannot. Absolutely, variety, diversity, and healthy competition yield countless positives that government is not the right tool for.

Thus it is all about balance. Oh yeah and agreement, sensibility, and genuine concern.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted June 18, 2009 at 16:28:12

A Smith > Imagine you run a drug company that can extend people's lives 100 years. How much will people pay you for that drug? In this case, you want as many people to live as long as possible and have as many children as possible, so that your profits are as high as possible. Helping people live a healthy, enjoyable life is something they will pay you lots of money for and it's also good business.

Not necesssarily. The drug company will price that drug at the price which maximizes their profit, not the price which maximizes the welfare to the people who need it.

For example, lets say that a drug company comes up with a drug which is demanded by 1 million people to keep them alive and healthy.

If 10 people can afford to pay $10,000 per pill, 1,000 people can afford the drug at $1,000 per pill, and 500,000 people can afford the drug at $1 per pill, the drug company would (assuming little or no cost just to make it simple), offer the drug at $1,000 per pill, thereby maximizing their profit. The 999,000 who can't afford the pill...what happens to them? they aren't the drug company's "clients" so why would they care?

Self-interest and public interest go hand in hand. For those areas where individuals or groups' self-interest conflicts with the public interest, limited government (public) intervention is necessary.

A Smith >If government can't know the direct benefit of providing goods/services to the people who actually use them, how can it know the much more opaque secondary benefits. That's like saying I don't know how much money I have in my bank account, but I know I will be able to buy that new car I want.

I don't understand what this has to do with my comment? Do employers not benefit from the education that was provided by the public schools to their workforce? Do road users not benefit from easier commutes due to having fewer cars on the roads? They do not pay directly for these things, but they benefit from them. These are the externalities I was talking about.

In a fully private "user-pay" system such as you seem to advocate, these external benefits would be absent. These are benefits which make society richer - financially as well as in less tangible "quality of life". To me, a fully private ecomomy is equally tyrranical and just as inefficient as a fully public economy. There has to be a balance between the individual's role and society's role.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2009 at 18:14:54

mikeonthemountain >> In fact that is the whole point of HAVING a government of any kind.

The history of government in Canada is that of a monarchy, a ruling family who treated the people as subjects, not equals. The point of a government, if there is any, is to maximize individual freedom, harnessing the power of the many to ensure that all individuals can enjoy a life free from bodily harm, destruction of property, or theft. That's it.

These services could be delivered using less than 10% of GDP, which would free individuals and businesses to spend the other 90% of their income on things THEY value, as opposed to the 60% of our incomes we currently get to spend.

>> you know what corporations and deregulation (private for profit interests) have done to the environment.

Compare private property with state owned property and you will realize that land owned by private interests is much healthier and clean than that owned by the government. Have you heard of the Aral Sea (tinyurl.com/mdvuqg)? Or how about Chernobyl? As for water pollution, you do realize that bodies of water are owned by the government, not private companies?

Don't you think that if Lake Ontario was owned by a private corporation, that it would not take much greater measures to ensure the safety of it water (valuable asset), much more than the government? Of course it would and it would do that to ensure that it's capital was not put at risk by criminal behaviour. Shareholders would make sure that the water wasn't being polluted, just as farmers ensure that their crops are protected from destruction.

arienc >> The drug company will price that drug at the price which maximizes their profit

Abolish government backed monopolies on information and this won't be a problem. Some company will simply produce a knock off drug and will serve the low income market as long as it can cover it's costs. Once again, government is the cause of the problem, not the private sector.

>> Do employers not benefit from the education that was provided by the public schools to their workforce?

If I took $100 from you and buy you a sculpture that you would have only paid $50 for, would you consider that a benefit?

>> In a fully private "user-pay" system such as you seem to advocate, these external benefits would be absent.

When a person gets an education from a private school, is that not a positive externality? Or if a woman buys a hot looking dress for herself, does it not produce positive externalities for men who get to see her walk by? Or if a hockey player works like a bastard to become rich and famous, does that not help society at large? All of these scenarios produce benefits for society, as well as the individual and none of them require the government to make them.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 18, 2009 at 23:54:02

Just to conclude my thoughts on this thread ... the government is deeply imperfect, that is obvious. I don't disagree that 10% of our GDP may pay for public assets and 90% could be thriving investment and economy building the life of the society. Eliminating waste and thoughtfully getting objectives met efficiently would do wonders to that effect. That is why some are suggesting fixing self propelled transport with amounts of money less than what the government drops between the couch cushions so to speak. If they don't waste money our money, sure it is very possible taxes can decrease while maintaining service levels. Of course we're not equal to those more powerful than us. I don't think there is anywhere left on earth where that is not the case. Sad but true.

Government run stuff is subject to waste and corruption. But there is more accountability to the public which is good respecting critical life support assets. Private corporations are accountable to the bottom line and having clients which is not the same as everyone's well being. Arien illustrated this point with the pill-vs-affordability analogy.

Chernobyl ... negligence, accident ... government. Polluting water ... paper mills, coca cola, oil industry ... private. Ocean dredging and overfishing ... private. Clearcutting ... private. These are examples only. Remember nothing is absolute.

I will also point out what everyone knows anyway which is that private interests accumulated enough wealth to undermine the protections that the government did attempt, via lobbying and other even worse methods. One became powerful enough to largely hijack the other which should not be allowed to occur.

You need a rational balance between control (laws) and freedom (private investment). Agreed that the former should be the minimum necessary and the latter should be the maximum possible. But this argument is going nowhere fast precisely because there are no absolutes, a logical framework will include the right mix of solutions. Ok I'm done :)

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 19, 2009 at 14:50:12

mikeonthemountain >> Polluting water ... paper mills, coca cola, oil industry ... private.

I agree that private companies will try to pollute if it's cheaper, but if another private corporation owned the land that Coke, oil industry, paper mills wanted to pollute on, my argument is that they would do more to prevent this than the government currently does. The reason why private landowners would stop pollution from taking place on their land/water, is because not doing so would eat into their long term profits.

Conversely, politicians don't stand to gain monetarily if they keep public land clean, so why should they stop it. Think about it this way, who stands to gain more from combating pollution, the guy who will lose millions if it takes place, or a politician who gets a bigger budget when it takes place?

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By artistinhpvs (registered) - website | Posted June 19, 2009 at 17:23:30

Hi all, these posts VERY interesting but I will read more or all rather before I post.

I posted before I am strictly commute by cycle so I do know things.

I do have ideas and suggestions and do understand Jason. I have to read every post so I understand clearly on this bike lane issue and will be involved.

Actually username supposed to be "artist on hpvs" means Artist On HPV's but am I "on" my bikes or "in" them?

Richard

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By artistinhpvs (registered) - website | Posted June 19, 2009 at 18:23:47

Hi again,

time to comment. But some to most are very well written and explanitory(sp?).

I'm admitting not so great at explaining but I do know this if we cycle more and leave cars home especially during high gas prices, then the prices go lower and lower. In turn, more room for cycling less cars/drivers. It costs more now for road repairs primarily caused by the automobile and big heavy vehicles. And it's got to be BULL S that drivers cover road costs(?) yeh right!

So that means not happening, poor excuse to tell any cyclists they don't pay road taxes.

And less vehicles(cars0 on the roads less stress and happier individuals. Almost like Sundays well few yrs ago no rush hr but another point I want to make is the road conditions. far worse than previous yrs less repairs. I do far more maintenance on my hpv's than previous yrs is gone too far. I found most cyclist the same.

It's a rotten thought that the automobile is the main key for employment. Or is it real estate? How about food prices? we can buy less meat and the price go down but we need protein and even fish has gone up.

Yes I have and will again write my view or point of view opinion to Spec but somebody else always gets in makes me happy because as long I or some1 else tosses an idea spreads around to other thinkers. We need national not just local but that works anyway.

the trick in cycle less not drive is if this works for many like myself don't need car for commute same lifestyle but the savings.

I carry trailer bigger than most cars for shopping. Ok, the upside/downside, how U see this is...not every1 is fit (like myself) I ride fast pedaling over 100 Lbs. Or should I say my ave speed is roughly 25 kph. My max over 40kph. I have exceeded 65 down hills but record 80 one yr. What's the rush? Well, when I have frozen foods on a hot day?......but i can carry freezer containers.

the more U cycle the more fit U get and more endurance.

Richard

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By arienc (registered) | Posted June 19, 2009 at 21:24:35

A Smith...I understand your point of view regarding full private ownership. What you describe is a utopia...The utopian ideal of an entirely private economy, with no public participation.

Like Karl Marx's utopian ideal of a 100% public economy, movement to a utopian ideal of 100% private ownership sounds like a good thing in theory, but when applied to the real world is impractical and unwieldy. In your ideal, unless every individual in the economy is equally skilled and capable in all aspects, they stand to be taken advantage of by others seeking to gain advantage at their expense.

For example if I own land, and my neighbour wishes to dispose of garbage, and can increase his profit by doing so, this thereby forces me to know how to prevent the neighbour from taking advantage, or some other method by which I may convince my neighbour that disposing his garbage on my land is not free. Maybe I have to hire a guard. Maybe I have to take time away from working to stand guard. By doing this, it causes me (and every other landowner) to ensure others do not interfere with their enjoyment of the land. Multiply that by the number of interactions that every individual has with the economy, and you end up spending so much time verifying and checking up on others that your own productivity is zero. Only if no individual can impose negative consequences on another does such a system work, which requires absolute trust in one another.

A system which balances public interests with respect for private property, rule of law human rights is far preferrable to either of the far left or far right utopias.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 20, 2009 at 02:01:30

arienc, if I own land, and my neighbour wishes to dispose of garbage, and can increase his profit by doing so, this thereby forces me to know how to prevent the neighbour from taking advantage

I am not arguing against government laws against pollution, since that is destruction of private property. What I am arguing against, is the idea that bodies of water, or 90% of all land in Ontario needs to be owned by the government. If this land/water were sold off to the private sector, they would do a much better job ensuring it remain clean and utilized to best effect, simply because they would stand to lose millions/billions if they did not.

Think about the land that has been sold to the private sector on the Hamilton beachstrip. Whereas before, it sat empty, producing no benefit to society at all. As soon as it went back to private owners, that whole area started to see a revival.

When people own property, they take care of it, because they stand to lose money if they don't. When government owns land, there is far less reason to be vigilant in taking care of it, because there is no monetary incentive to do so. As I said before, it actually pays government to not be vigilant in protecting land/water from pollution, because they can then use that as a reason to ask for more money from the taxpayers.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 20, 2009 at 10:13:27

great concept on paper, except it was the city of Hamilton that intitiated the redevelopment of the beach strip. And they had strict design guidelines (I'm perplexed as to why they don't have guidelines downtown still) as to how the new homes could be built. They didn't want a suburb by the beach. They wanted homes with some cottage elements and design style. Not suprisingly, those "heavy-handed" guidelines have led to impressive home values and a robust real estate market on the beach strip. Had they simply turned over all of that land to private developers to do what they pleased, we all know what the result would have been. More blandness, and more shoddy sprawl construction.

Same goes for our Great Lakes and wonderful land resources in this province. You talk about protecting us from pollution, and then advocate for turning over those two resources to private industry?? Pollution would skyrocket under that scenario. History is a fine teacher...put away your ideological books and pay attention to real life once in a while.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 20, 2009 at 13:29:09

Jason >> it was the city of Hamilton that intitiated the redevelopment of the beach strip

That's right, they initiated private investment by handing back to the private sector what they shouldn't have purchased in the first place. What a success.

>> They didn't want a suburb by the beach.

Why is it relevant want THEY want?

>> Had they simply turned over all of that land to private developers ... More blandness, and more shoddy sprawl construction.

You're argument is that developers build crappy homes that nobody wants and yet many people still fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy them. Furthermore, it is only the politicians who can force developers to produce homes that people want to buy, because they have superior insight into what the consumers want. Yet for some reason, even though politicians have this great insight into what home buyers want and could therefore put the established developers out of business, make a fortune in the process, they remain as low paid public servants.

You say some really funny things, Jason.


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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 20, 2009 at 13:32:46

Jason >> Pollution would skyrocket under that scenario.

Why would water pollution skyrocket if the the lakes were sold to private interests? Do farmers allow their land to be destroyed by pollution, or how about shopping malls, do they allow people do dump garbage in the parking lots? Really, why would owners of a valuable commodity allow it to be polluted, thereby decreasing it's value to the consumer? Explain why that would happen.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 20, 2009 at 14:15:56

You dimwits are funny, you are too stupid to present a logical argument to defend your commie ideals, but just smart enough to know the difference between an up or down vote. Do you ever get embarrassed knowing that just a few people on this board have made you look so stupid and become so frustrated, that you have to resort to non verbal forms of communication in order to defend your position?

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 20, 2009 at 16:19:04

at least we don't resort to childish name-calling.

Answer one question - where does most of the world's pollution come from? Watch the film 'Addicted to Plastic' sometime. Currently there are government agencies that help and encourage the public to refrain from polluting and help clean up our waterways. Imagine the very water companies that produce all this crap being in charge of the water too?? More important than pollution is the basic human necessity for water. I recall an incident in South America a number of years ago where when of America's mega-corps claimed private ownership of all water, even rainwater.

Little old ladies trying to collect rainwater to clean their dishes would have their buckets kicked over. The only way to get any water was to pay the company that owned it.

Sounds like a great idea eh??

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 20, 2009 at 17:37:01

Jason >> where does most of the world's pollution come from?

I would say most of it comes from the production of goods destined for the consumer market. Therefore, it's the average person who is responsible for any pollution problem we have.

>> Currently there are government agencies that help and encourage the public to refrain from polluting and help clean up our waterways.

That's fine, I have no problem with government enforcing anti-polluting laws, things like Dofasco spreading it's dust to the surrounding community. However, as for direct government ownership of water, why do you think a politician would have more concern in keeping Lake Ontario clean than would someone who could sell that water for money?

If clean water is as valuable to people as you say it is, then the owners of that water would not want to do anything to make it dirty. When things have value, businesses will protect them, however this only happens when this part of this value can be returned to the owner in the form of profits. In the case of public water, there are no profits, therefore nobody has a strong interest in keeping it clean.

>> More important than pollution is the basic human necessity for water.

I agree with you there, but do you really think that public ownership of water leads to it's most efficient use. Most items that the government delivers are in short supply precisely because they are given away for free, or at less than market rates. By charging market rates for water, people would use less on their lawns, install more efficient toilets, washing machines and embrace other technologies that extend the use of water.

If poor people were still unable to purchase the minimum requirements for life, then the government would be justified in providing this to people in need. The market should not leave people to die.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 20, 2009 at 22:54:02

ASmith said: "The market should not leave people to die."

This statement is profoundly accurate, yet sadly it happens everyday around the world. I'm with you in wishing it weren't the case.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted June 22, 2009 at 12:46:15

A Smith > When people own property, they take care of it, because they stand to lose money if they don't. When government owns land, there is far less reason to be vigilant in taking care of it, because there is no monetary incentive to do so. As I said before, it actually pays government to not be vigilant in protecting land/water from pollution, because they can then use that as a reason to ask for more money from the taxpayers.

Tell me, Mr. Smith...what corporation or group of individuals should be given the right to look after this asset and charge us for the privilege? Should it not be the responsibility of us, the citizens, to protect the resources upon which we base our survival?

Perhaps the issue here is to create the proper incentive for the group of individuals who are charged with the responsibility of looking after our collective water resources (the government) to do what they're supposed to do.

However we as citizens have failed to do our jobs in maintaining checks and balances on our representatives. We have been brainwashed to believe that only liberals and conservatives (with the odd NDPer thrown in there) can gain enough public support govern our affairs. We listen to their rhetoric, and are not even surprised when we get the same old thing regardless of party affiliation.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2009 at 13:26:04

arienc >> what corporation or group of individuals should be given the right to look after this asset and charge us for the privilege?

It really doesn't matter, as long as someone with the ability to profit from it has control. An easy way to do it would be to simply issue an equal amount of shares for each resident of Ontario of Lake Ontario Inc.

>> create the proper incentive for the group of individuals who are charged with the responsibility of looking after our collective water resources

I agree. This would include paying managers based on how much value they bring to the owners of the lake, rather than a flat salary (as with cabinet ministers).

Furthermore, the Ontario government should sell off the 90% of all land that exists in the province, because there is no need for this much land to remain under the control of bureaucrats. Businesses create value from land, politicians buy votes. If we want a wealthier province, we need more profit seeking businesses and less bullsh!t artists.

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