New Canada-US border crossing fee ‘a bad idea’

“Margaret Atwood once remarked that if the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia. But is paranoia towards the United States justified? Not usually. Take a closer look at reports of a new border-crossing fee that are creating a lot of noise,” Colin Robertson wrote for The Globe and Mail today. Robertson continued, “This is not protectionism. Rather, the across-the-board budget cuts mandated by U.S. laws (the ‘sequester’) have obliged all departments to become more creative in funding. Within the 2014 Department of Homeland Security budget is a recommendation to conduct a study on whether to collect a fee from pedestrians and vehicles crossing between the United States and Canada by land. The new revenue, Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress, would pay for the hiring of new customs and border officers. There might be something for us in the scheme as without new staff, the chances of getting pre-clearance at Toronto’s Island Airport are slim. But the first call will be to staff the southern border because enforcement will be a key part of any new immigration deal. Unlike budgets in Canada, however, what goes into the congressional legislative process bears little resemblance to what comes out the other end. This is why the U.S. legislative process has famously been compared to sausage-making. The checks and balances inherent in the U.S. system mean that regional and sectoral interests can also be counted on to block such initiatives. A new toll ‘is the absolute last thing we should be doing if we want to grow the economies of Western New York and the U.S.,’ warned Buffalo Congressman Brian Higgins. ‘To slap travellers here with onerous fees is a bad idea,’ argued New York Senator Chuck Schumer. ‘We don’t need a study to tell us that.'” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Computer-assisted trading examined after Twitter hacking affects stocks

“The bogus tweet that sent markets plunging yesterday is raising serious questions about the vulnerability of social media and computer-assisted trading,” Michael Babad wrote for The Globe and Mail today. Babad continued, “U.S. authorities are investigating in the wake of the fake tweet from hackers using the Twitter account of The Associated Press yesterday afternoon. A group that calls itself the Syrian Electronic Army – it says it backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – claims it hacked the news agency and sent the tweet that falsely reported explosions at the White House had injured President Barack Obama. This group has previously hacked others, such as CBS News. While markets quickly recovered after the initial shock, U.S. stocks lost some $136-billion (U.S.), according to some calculations, commodities such as oil sank, and currencies like the Canadian dollar were briefly rattled.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Infighting Liberals ‘united, jubilant and renewed’ for Trudeau

“Four decades of civil war that took it to the brink of ruin are over. Justin Trudeau will inherit a united Liberal Party. A week of voting lies ahead before the next Liberal leader is revealed Sunday, after a weekend showcase dominated by Trudeau supporters who whooped it up in celebration of his certain victory,” John Ibbitson wrote for The Globe and Mail this morning. Ibbitson continues, “A party famous for factional infighting appeared united, jubilant and renewed. It also appears to have become Mr. Trudeau’s personal political machine. That machine runs without the bile that fueled so many earlier campaigns. Mr. Trudeau’s most senior advisers played little part in the fratricide that plagued Liberals as the party descended from power to official opposition to also-ran. Team Trudeau has recruited tens of thousands of supporters who are loyal only to him, who signed on as supporters simply to vote for him. And the campaign is expected to donate nearly $1-million to party coffers beyond campaign expenses, finally bringing the Liberals into the modern age of political fundraising. A party that appeared bereft of money, of organization, of leadership, is finally renewing itself under the presumptive leadership of a 41-year-old outsider who has banished the old guard and who is bringing the Liberals both generational change and internal peace.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Which is stronger B.A. or trade certificate?

“Three Canadian economists have written a new paper that tries to answer some of the questions around the great skills debate. Is the value of a B.A. really declining and is the value of a trade certificate increasing?” Simona Choise posed the question in a The Globe and Mail article today. Choise continued, “Since 2000, coinciding with the dot-com bust, the demand for highly-skilled workers has declined even as the number of university graduates has increased, they write. Instead, the American economy – and the paper is about the U.S. – has produced more lower-skilled and service jobs. Because employers have had their pick of university graduates, however, they’ve hired above the qualifications of the job while ignoring less qualified workers. The paper, however, is dependent on a hypothesis about employer behaviour: Companies only invest in new technology and the people to make it work up to a point after which they are content to rest on their laurels. But if an economy has lots of university graduates interested in innovation who are starting up businesses or want to work for tech-driven “fast” companies, then companies that want to succeed should be looking for highly-skilled graduates – particularly those in sciences or engineering. Exactly the disciplines that are most in demand in the marketplace.” To find a link to the full study and the original article please visit The Globe and Mail. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

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