Business

Labatt Goes in For Extra Evilness

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 30, 2010

It's not bad enough for Labatt to shutter its Lakeport brewery, ostensibly because the facility is inefficient. (Lakeport was efficient enough to sell a-dollar-a-beer at a profit before Labatt bought it in the wake of changes to federal income trust law.)

No, Labatt has gone in for extra evilness by salting the earth before it leaves:

Labatt Breweries of Canada, which bought the brewery in 2007, says the decision is final and the equipment in the building will be hauled away as Labatt seeks to "improve its operating efficiency in a demanding market."

143 Lakeport workers will lose their jobs when the plant closes on April 30.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 14:19:06

Well, that explains why Theresa Cascioli didn't put her name in the hat to run for mayor.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 14:25:28

do these companies think the public are a bunch of morons? It reminds me of when the Barn closed their Hess St store (because it was a money-loser), but had the city restrict any food or drink selling on the property for the following 25 years.

If the location was so bad, wouldn't the Barn WANT one of their competitors to locate there and lose money themselves??

If the Lakeport plant is so inefficient and such a money loser, why would Labatt care if a competitor bought it and gave it a go?

With one of Hamilton's media darlings involved, let's see what sort of coverage this gets. This was predicted by virtually everyone a few years ago when Labatt bought the plant. Big shock.

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By synxer (registered) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 14:30:02

It's dirty! Seems hauling the equipment away would cost a lot of money. Downright evil.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 30, 2010 at 14:30:20

Well, that explains why Theresa Cascioli didn't put her name in the hat to run for mayor.

My thoughts exactly.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 14:41:48

2010: Official Beginning of Hamilton's 'Bedroom Community' Status!

"Welcome to Hamilton, how may I Service you?"

Comment edited by Really? on 2010-03-30 13:44:37

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 14:44:43

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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By Take back the waterfront (anonymous) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 14:54:49

The connection between industry and Hamilton's waterfront is breaking down and it's going to bring new opportunities for the city. Here's a tip, some people actually like living near the water and will pay good money to do so.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 15:01:00

This is purely an unfortunate business decision Labatt had to make.

Dude, really? I take your comments seriously most of the time but you can't possibly be defending Labbatt here. Was it an unfortunate business decision to buy the plant? Do you live in Hamilton?

I'm a capitalist too - I work and make money - but things like this are exactly why capitalism needs some rules to make it fair.

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By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 15:01:47

It's all part of a Grand Scheme to make alcoholics out of all of us! Good for the bottom line!

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 15:03:48

Of course they're going to sell the equipment, but wouldn't it be worth more working and in a functional plant? Of course that would enable someone else to move in and start making beer in Hamilton, eating into their market share. Maybe they would have to buy the plant again.

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By synxer (registered) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 15:06:03

Capitalist

Of course they are going to strip the equipment. What are they supposed to do let it rot in the plant when they can sell it off for some cash? The money could go to pay some severences.

Really? You don't actually believe that, do you? You believe Labatt attained its wealth without thinking 2, 3 or 4 years in advance?

I would have bought the "unfortunate circumstances" line if they didn't pull out the equipment. It is hard to believe that someone would want to buy "inefficient equipment". Maybe I'm applying logic here. In which case, sorry.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 15:09:03

Take Back -- No one is going to pay good money to live on a quasi-expressway, surrounded by BUNGE silos which apparently give Hamilton it's distinct stench.

The closest thing to residential development down there would be Loft Conversion at the old Otis Elevator/Studebaker Factory @ Victoria & Ferrie -- which is FOR SALE!

It's already in a residential neighbourhood (Keith), and is well connected to transit (4 Bayfront & 12 Wentworth), not to mention many great services along Barton St, and the many service-oriented jobs @ Hamilton General Hospital.

Damn... I sound like a Stinson Ad now :s

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By Trent (anonymous) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 16:01:21

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By PaulM (anonymous) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 16:41:01

Well I for one am done with Labatt products. I do like them better than Molson's but I will never again buy anything from Labatt's. I guess it's time to "Maker A Laker". That is until those pricks at Labatt's decide to buy Laker as well.

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By ccoccolocco (anonymous) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 17:03:55

It is sad to say the least when corporations destroy lives just to make mooore money.

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By Barry (anonymous) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 17:17:14

Could see that one coming as soon as Labatt bought it. It was a cheap way for Labatt to kill off a competitor. Good business decision for Labatt but not good for the community. Also sounds like a nasty way they are treating their employees and Hamilton itself.

Time for people to fight back with a boycott of Labatt products.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 18:16:27

Good business decision for Labatt but not good for the community.

Great business decision for Cascioli too. She's laughing all the way to Burlington.

Of course they're going to sell the equipment, but wouldn't it be worth more working and in a functional plant? Of course that would enable someone else to move in and start making beer in Hamilton, eating into their market share. Maybe they would have to buy the plant again.

They don't own the plant. It's owned by the Port Authority and they have been leasing it. They do own the equipment however, so I suppose it makes sense that they would try to sell it as it's their only asset. How much do you want to bet it goes for scrap? Also, the lease has two more years left on it and they plan to see it out, they aren't saying how.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted March 30, 2010 at 18:17:56

Well I for one am done with Labatt products.

Yep. That means no more Brava, either. Absolutely not.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 21:00:35

The Last Mayor that stood up for the workers of Hamilton

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO8xN6g75...

Sam Lawrence

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By Boozer (anonymous) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 23:17:48

Good Lord, everything Lakeport made was awful. With all the attention craft and micro breweries are building, is there really any surprise that the "choke it down cuz it's cheap" shit has finally fallen out of style?

Me? I'll have a Steam Whistle.

Maybe now the surrounding neighbourhood will no longer smell like rotting potatoes.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 10:58:28

Its time to boycott Labatt across the GHA!! This is not capitalism. What we have is a duopoly. The two largest brewers operate the only retail outlets. what a crock of expletives!!! This is inverted totalitarianism where the large beer corporations tell us what to buy, where to buy it, and how much to pay for it. Of course we're not surprised by this decision. Why should Labatt continue to make a brand that sells for less than the rest of their barely mediocre products? The sale should have never been allowed, and the Brewer's Retail concept needs to be discarded since it is medieval and anti-competitive.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 11:42:26

From today's spec:

"They made the right call. Teresa as a Hamiltonian

FAIL

feels sad but Teresa the businessperson can't ignore the need to look at profitability and increased efficiencies."

FAIL

Comment edited by jonathan dalton on 2010-03-31 10:42:44

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By Island Man (anonymous) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 12:11:34

Flaherty devalued the company shares with his Halloween 2006 Income Trust massacre setting the stage for Leveraged Buy Outs of Lakeport and many other Income Trusts. You can thank Jim Flaherty for these job losses and the loss of good cheap beer in Ontario.
Stop blaming Theresa Cascioli, she had little choice once Flaherty made his dumb move on Income Trusts. And the carnage continues elsewhere as the conversion deadline nears.

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By Skully (anonymous) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 13:03:38

Cripes, any more plant closings and we'll have to rename this website "Raze the Hammer"...

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 13:14:27

I was at an organzing meeting yesterday and almost all of the particpants agreed that CAPITALISM is the root cause of many of the social ills we see in our society.

This include many things: poverty, homelessness, imperalism, globalization, militarism, health, the rise of precarious employment, low wage jobs, lack of benefits and pensions, NAFTA.

The CAPITALISTS forget, that without the workers they would not make their money.

Our commuity does not need more people out of work, considering the job market is already tight and so many looking for work.

More people out of work, means less people spending in the community which affects the small business people. Gee it sounds like the small buisness people, workers, community activists need to be joining together to become one loud voice. We are all in this together, what affects one affects the other.

Stand in solidarity for your fellow community member!

Comment edited by grassroots are the way forward on 2010-03-31 12:16:09

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 13:33:08

I was at an organzing meeting yesterday and almost all of the particpants agreed that CAPITALISM is the root cause of many of the social ills we see in our society.

sigh Capitalism is why all of us aren't living in poverty. The answer isn't to throw out the baby with the bath water, we do need to do more to tame capitalism so we all benefit from it.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 13:44:06

No Brainer: One does have to look at things in their perspective and the social ills were are seeing are the direct cause of CAPITALISM.

While I agree that trade is important, we must all look and be aware of what is going on. Tame them, I doubt that is possible, considering the political climate and the fact that de-regulation has cause many of the problems we see today.

I mean look at this way, if there was actually a thing called the free market and if this brewery had a small niche in the market, then why would the big guy need to absorb their competition.

Comment edited by grassroots are the way forward on 2010-03-31 12:44:39

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 14:23:41

"sigh Capitalism is why all of us aren't living in poverty. The answer isn't to throw out the baby with the bath water, we do need to do more to tame capitalism so we all benefit from it." - nobrainer

Modern Capitalism is why we all have money, not necessarily why we aren't in poverty. Are Mennonite communities poor? What about people who live in the eco-villages of Europe, are they poor? Both groups have rejected modern capitalism. The exchange of goods has been with us for many millennia, people obtained everything they needed to live long before capitalism. Were they all poor?

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with your "don't throw the baby out with the bath water statement" nobrainer, after all capitalism is the current way of doing things in the majority of the world and a complete overhaul would frankly require a revolution many people would not be able to cope with. I'm just trying to make the point that capitalism and even poverty, are not issues of absolutes. It isn't as simple as "capitalism is good" or "capitalism is bad". Take poverty out of the context of money. If I have everything I need for survival, (e.g., food, water, roof over my head, etc…) a family that loves me, some homemade/grown brew or smoke, good friends and conversation, but I have no money… am I poor?

I don't believe capitalism is to blame for all of society's ills, (I believe it is people). But capitalism without morals certainly isn't helping. Unfortunately some companies may not realise it until they are finally left wondering what happened to the middle class who use to buy all their products.

There is a great quote from writer Ian M. Banks: "Money is a sign of poverty", I think he was right in more ways than one.

Anyway, like I said, I don't disagree with your statement; I'm just putting something out there for discussion.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 14:40:23

Kiely writes: . If I have everything I need for survival, (e.g., food, water, roof over my head, etc…) a family that loves me, some homemade/grown brew or smoke, good friends and conversation, but I have no money… am I poor?

Someone did this blog:

http://poverty.thespec.com/2010/01/whats...

As you read the comments, there are many different viewpoints.

So Kiely to answer your question if you have your basic needs filled such as you describe, no I would not say your are poor in a sense, since you have other things, that are of more value then money.

The problem lies that many in our community do not necesarily have all those basic needs fulfilled, and here lies the contraversy.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 15:55:43

"The problem lies that many in our community do not necesarily have all those basic needs fulfilled, and here lies the contraversy." - grassroots

Absolutely true grassroots. I would say a big part of that controversy is what is perceived to be the best method to get people out of poverty. Proponents of capitalism argue it is the best method to get people out of poverty. I would say it is an effective means of monetary wealth creation but that is not synonymous with lifting people out of poverty. After all, capitalism without morals does a pretty bang up job of forcing people in to poverty (or just plain keeping them there).

I have a crazy notion that poverty will not be solved until we examine what it truly means to be poor and if we just look at it through the lens of capitalism (i.e., poor = a lack of money) I think we're missing the bigger picture we need to see to solve the problem. Unfortunately the discussion of who is poor, how, why, etc... is one that is often sabotaged by both sides of the debate. For example, poverty advocates believe all poor people are well meaning people who simply have no opportunity, many on the polar opposite end of the spectrum believe the poor are simply no good loafers, or "welfare bums" who have no sense of personal responsibility. The reality is a bit of both.

Same goes for capitalism, when the one side only says it has to go and the other says it is the be all and end all, we fail to find ways that capitalism can help solve our problems. Like it or not capitalism is the way the system works and throughout history, if you want to change how the system works it is often a bloody affair with one set of elites getting swapped for another… the poor rarely if ever benefit from wholesale system change. So the revolutionists need to be careful what they wish for.

As long as we are in our entrenched opinions we'll never solve the problem. That's why I said capitalism and poverty are not issues of absolutes, they can't be or we'll never solve the problem.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 16:16:42

^No argument at all Kiely. I'm not saying capitalism will solve all our problems, only that capitalism is what creates wealth. Without capitalism we don't have wealth and everyone's poor. But capitalism by it's self doesn't create justice, it concentrates wealth in the hands of a small elite, that's where Democracy comes in. The problem these days isn't too much capitalism, the problem is not enough Democracy to balance the capitalism and spread the wealth more fairly.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 16:33:28

Kiely: Thank so much for the interesting debate. I agree with your view of things and that much more discussion needs to be done. That is why I advocate along with many others in our community, that those who do struggle, have the opportunity to tell their stories.

Not everything is black and white, there is a lot of grey.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 16:41:36

"...that's where Democracy comes in." - nobrainer

Oh don't get me started nobrainer, that one is a real can of worms : )

"...there is a lot of grey." - grassroots.

In abundance grassroots.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 18:35:45

Rally for the workers at Lakeport tomorrow morning 10:00 am

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By Take back the waterfront (anonymous) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 18:58:02

In the quest for jobs (money), the people of Hamilton are allowing Hamilton's best asset to be tarnished and it is sad. It's almost the equivalent of a pimp who sells a beautiful girl just to make a few bucks. If people and politicians would stop worrying about money and just did what was in their hearts, which would be to create a waterfront where people could swim, play, shop and live, the jobs and tax revenues will take care of themselves.

In other words, there is no need to compromise quality to get quantity. That's why the "best" athletes get paid millions, even though they are not millions of times better than college athletes. People do and will pay a premium to live in a Hamilton designed for people, rather than making money.

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By Take back the waterfront (anonymous) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 19:41:57

Imagine a public waterfront park that would run from the west harbour all the way to Woodward Ave in the east, completely free from large industrial zoning. This park would be filled with bike paths, sports fields and perhaps some natural areas.

If you wanted to live near this super park, how much would you be willing to pay? How much demand would there be for condos and homes in the area? In other words, how much more valuable would the land be after it was designed for humans rather than steel companies?

What else would happen if the city started focusing on quality living rather than on industrial jobs? Well, the jobs that we would start getting would be ones that don't rely on destroying the local environment. Jobs where people work in offices and small commercial buildings. Jobs where people use their brains and skills to build new products, rather than just burning things in huge ovens.

The time for steel to leave Hamilton is getting near. If and when this happens, the area around the waterfront will be some of the best real estate in the city.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 09:55:05

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 10:08:18

Do you really think any of what you have just written is constructive Capitalist?

It reads like a 3 year old having a tantrum.

I would welcome an educated and enlightened opinion from the pro capitalism side in this debate. But when I read what you have written I don't want to agree with you simply because you are so disagreeable.

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By Real Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 10:23:24

Kiely, you took the words right out of my mouth.

Capitalist you have a few valid arguments but you sound like child and can't be taken seriously. I take Jason's rants more seriously than you. Grassroots my be naive but at least shows some passion and deserves some respect.

To everyone else, don't assume all capitalists are like Capitalist.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 10:34:38

I take a hard tone with Grassroots because he insulted me in the past on this website (calling me a moron etc). In later posts, when insults were exchanged between the two of us, I offered my apology to Grassroots and offered him some constructive advice on the situation facing him. Basically, I was trying to reach out. Grassroots did not offer me any apology and was dismissive of my efforts (unfortunately I can't find the link).

I have no respect for him.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 01, 2010 at 10:43:32

Capitalist, when you restrain your insults and maintain a civil tone, you often bring valuable and insightful perspectives to bear (and they tend not to get downvoted). I really wish you would try to continue communicating respectfully, not only because it raises the civility of the overall discussion but also because it exposes people to your contributions who might otherwise be put off by your tone.

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By Real Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 10:46:39

Still childish.

I've read most of your posts and although a few do have merit for the most part they come across as condecending and rude.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 10:53:16

In any event I apologize for my rant to those who are offended.

This whole capitalism versus socialism/communism is a VERY personal issue for me.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 12:23:33

No worries Capitalist.

I do understand it can be hard in response to personal insults and such when you just want to flail away at the keyboard to give that so-and-so a piece of your mind, but people are more inclined to agree with (and be persuaded by) the person who takes the high road.

Oh, and I have a hunch grassroots may be a she???

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-04-01 11:24:37

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 16:52:05

I just wanted to thank those who stood up for me today, I really do appreciate that my words though at times are opposite to many on this blog, that you can see that I do speak with compassion because I do really care. I do not want to see anybody without shelter, food, clothes and maybe the opportunity just to have a fun day once a month or so.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 17:46:29

Capitalist: You espouse the capitalist ideology, yet with your family coming to Canada which espoused many socialist attributes allowed for you to have an education, libraries, medical and opportunity, which workers fought for. If we lived in a true capitalist society, where do you think you would be. Be realistic.

So please answer a question the US has the highest number of people in prison and they also have the highest number of serial killers in the world. Something tells me, that their dog eat dog world is wrong on many levels.

So one thing I watched was the Tinamein Square battle. The people stood up, in a non violent way, yet in the end, the government resorted to violence instead of negoiating. I suggest you look at the Winnipeg general strike or many other workers battles in the previous century and you will find that in many cases the system used violence.

the Massacre of 1913

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aJJhtJ0H...

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 18:11:36

Capitalist: Can you explain this story and the many others like it, sold into human slavery.

http://www.thespec.com/article/740257

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By More roads (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 21:04:51

Capitalist, a strong private sector is the result of a strong government. Look around Hamilton and you will see that where there are lots of public assets, there too will be valuable homes and healthy business activity. If you look at Hamilton's waterfront, there are very little public assets but many private rail lines and private land.

If the private sector produces wealth, why is this area of the city so poor, both in terms of home prices and commercial activity (Barton St)?

How do you explain Toronto's financial district? This area has one of the highest concentrations of public assets anywhere in Canada and yet the private sector is also very strong.

The reason why communist societies are bad at producing wealth is because they don't leverage the power of the people. Instead of allowing merchants to do what they do best, which is to know what people want to buy, they take on this burden themselves. In other words, centrally planned economies make the government work too much.

Allowing the private sector to make decisions is not the same as allowing the private sector to own all the wealth. The former makes life easier on the government, the latter makes life more difficult.

Same goes for public debt. This debt is not debt owed by the people, it's owed by the government. When governments take on debt to give free health and education to people, it's a burden they take off the private sector and put on themselves. The result is that the private sector is not taxed and therefore does not grow.

The role of the government is to make the private sector stronger by thinking selfishly. When the government does this, like they do now in China and like they did in the mid to late nineties here in North America, the private sector gets stronger. When the government tries to coddle the private sector by giving them tax breaks, selling off government owned assets, or allowing themselves to take on debt, it makes the private sector weaker.

That's why George W. Bush had such a bad economy under his watch. He cut taxes on the private sector, handed out freebies and did this by burdening the government with more debt. This coddling of the private sector led to slow growth rates and it was punctuated with a near economic depression for the very people he was trying to help.

In terms of Hamilton, the goal of the government should be to think selfishly. This means higher tax rates, more investment in assets the city owns, things like roads, sidewalks and buildings, plus debt reduction. By focusing on making it's own balance sheet strong, the government will create the environment for the private sector to get stronger as well.

Think of the government as a personal trainer, taking money from the private sector while at the same time allowing the private sector to do all or most of the work. If he/she does this well, the client will improve their fitness, if they coddle their clients, they will remain fat and weak.

The question then becomes, do we want to get fat and weak, or do we want a government that will force us to get stronger. If we want the latter, this means paying enough in taxes to allow the government to build up it's own balance sheet. This will include fixing all the roads, sewers and any other infrastructure the government owns. It will also include paying down the $900M in debt that the city is obligated to pay back.

If we can understand that economic strength and wealth is derived from accepting a heavier burden, not looking for freebies, Hamilton can and will be the economic powerhouse of this country. No longer will we need to beg for jobs, employers will flock to us because of our first class infrastructure and great public amenities.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 13, 2010 at 09:26:50

This story just gets better and better. Despite the fact that serious buyers are lining up to purchase the Lakeport Brewery, Labatt's would rather remove the equipment and leave the building empty until its lease runs out than sell it.

That's right: the facility that was too inefficient to operate is not to inefficient to let sit empty.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 09:58:08

It seems the plan all along was to kill off a competing brand. I will never touch another Labatt product again; hope a boycott has some impact. Besides there are many good beers that are still union made. Can't really criticize a legitimate business decision but it shows they're being deliberately evil.

Ferengi Rule of Aquisition #89 : Ask not what your profits can do for you, but what you can do for your profits.

Ferengi Rule of Aquisition #10 : Greed is eternal.

Ahhh ... All Hail unmitigated capitalism with no controls or social conscience. It's working out well for our planet and species, isn't it? After all, ANY concern for your fellow man would be Communism. And you're not a Communist, are you son?

/headasplodes

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By synxer (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 13:02:41

Occupying the lease (costing them money) while they remove the (inefficient) equipment and move somewhere else in their "network" (to other inefficient plants?).

If they just came out and said "We are looking to kill the buck-a-beer market." I would at least give them an honesty badge.

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By SWITCHING TEMS (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2010 at 09:50:11

Not only will I stop buying Labatts I will encourage everyone around me to do the same.

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