Comment 28789

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 18, 2009 at 17:31:34

Seancb, first of all, thanks for the thoughtful response.

>> Burlington and Oakville hardly have "downtowns".

That is more a function of Hamilton's history than anything it is currently doing correctly. However, even if Hamilton's downtown is larger in scale than Burlington/Oakville, the market is telling us that less people want to live there.

>> Most of what Oakville and Burlington have done right is to be just close enough to Toronto

All the more reason to cut the tax rate. If you are arguing that demand for property is influenced by incentives (shorter commute) and disincentives (longer commute), than unless Hamilton can create a worm hole, we should create incentives elsewhere, like leaving more disposable income in people's pockets. Furthermore, just to be accurate, Hamilton's downtown is 46 minutes from Toronto, while Burlington's is 39 minutes, which doesn't explain the amount of vacant and run down buildings that we see here.

>> If we operated only under the free market, we'd have filled our lakes with toxic sludge and cut down all of our trees by now.

If lakes were owned privately, there would be less chance of water pollution than there is today. Just compare a private home to a public housing building and you can see why that is. When individuals own an asset, they benefit proportionally to the effort they expend to protect it. For a public good, because the government retains ownership and individual effort is not rewarded proportionally, the incentive is to extract as much value from the resource as fast as possible. The same goes for forestry, if private interests sell raw lumber, how does it serve them to not replant? It doesn't. However, if a company can simply take from public lands, you end up with firms doing just that, getting as much lumber as fast as possible.

>> The free market encourages crapping on your neighbour if it increases your own bottom line.

The great thing about the free market is that it deals in reality. In reality, if a company/individual gets a reputation for hurting others, it will be shunned by society. Conversely, if a business deals with people fairly and delivers great products at good prices, people will willingly give them money. That is why companies that are successful in the long term, such as McDonald's, Coca Cola, J&J, Tim Horton's all pay strict attention to the quality of their products and how they treat their customers.

>> We are calling for the city to think harder about how it spends the taxes it's already collecting.

The problem with this is that politicians can't judge how well they allocate capital. At least in the free market, if a company allocates capital in a poor way, the market will tell them this by slow sales figures. However, in government, things don't have prices, they are all free, which means that you never truly know how valuable they are. Only when goods and services have prices can you tell their economic value and whether or not they were a good way to spend people's limited income.

>> Your dream of close-to-zero taxes is a nice one, however your free market economy has put us in an unfortunate situation: every year that goes by, it becomes harder to keep up with current debt let alone finance new ventures.

More details please, I don't know exactly what you are referring to.

>> If you think Hamilton is doing such a terrible job, and if you believe that Oakville and Burlington's tax rates will result in endless property value growth there, then your best bet is to cut your losses now and move to one of those towns.

What I want is to make some money on my investment. I believe Hamilton is a hidden gem and all it needs is to allow the private sector to direct its future growth. The average person knows how to spend money to increase his/her happiness much more than a politician and that is all I am calling for. Allow people to spend their own money. At least at the level of our richer, more successful neighbors.

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