Friday, August 26, 2011

HST results are in

And those that wanted the tax gone won by a margin of 54.73% to 44.27% province-wide. How did it break down in Victoria area neighbourhoods (by electoral districts)?

Turns out only Oak Bay/Gordon Head were in favour of the tax:

No (to keep the tax):
Oak Bay/Gordon Head - 51.4%

Yes to get rid of the tax, go backwards in time to when kids clothes were PST-free and increase the provincial debt by around $3B when all is said and done:
Esquimalt-Royal Roads - 57.96%
Juan de Fuca (Sooke west) - 62.5%
Saanich North and the Islands - 51.35%
Saanich South - 52.52%
Victoria Beacon Hill - 55.76%
Victoria Swan Lake - 57.73%

Get set for more economic uncertainty as the fall-out over the inevitably long, drawn-out process to move backwards in time causes more people to delay buying and selling homes in this great city of ours as they wait to see which way the market winds will blow.

The NDP are already calling on the federal government to let BC'ers have a free lunch and some of their spin-doctors are claiming the $1.6B given as transitional funding by the federal government has not yet been spent. I'll not hold my breathe as I wait to see either one of these "suggestions" work out in favour of those making them.

UPDATE: The HST will exist until March 31, 2013, after which a 7% PST will return (Exemptions are as yet undefined). 

59 comments:

HachiRoku said...

This is an absolute victory for democracy...didn't expect to see anymore of it in my lifetime.

I know it will cost us more but it sends a clear message to the politicians....f*** with the tax payers too much and pay the price.

bah bah bah bah bah....I'm lovin' it

Marko said...

Great victoriy, we will become like California where all tax hikes get referenda and there's a huge fiscal hole.

The next set of politicians will be the same as the old, just different party name.

I get the hate but this is seriously short-sighted.

Watch the PST end up at 9% to balance to budget..

beagle said...

Crap now I got to go back to filing stupid PST every month again. I loved the Hst, was so simple to manage my business taxes . This is bad for BC. Glad we sold our house back in March. On a 1 year RV vacation now, sure opens your eyes when you travel and see real estate prices are elsewhere. I'm thinking a nice waterfront summer cottage in PEI for 169,000 and winters in the RV down in Arizona is sounding good.

Phil said...

Now can we just have a referendum on whether the CMHC continues to expose taxpayers to billions should our real estate bubble collapse?

Introvert said...

Watch the PST end up at 9% to balance to budget.

Marko, a 9% PST would still be a victory (for the people, that is): it's 1% less than the HST was eventually going down to (in 2014), and it wouldn't apply to restaurant meals and bicycles, etc.

Those tunnel-visioned people who only focus on economic impacts need to give their head a shake. Democracy matters more than the economy. If you favour the economy over democracy, I suggest you move to China. You'll feel at home there.

Fiduciary said...
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Marko said...

Is 9% PST victory if I have to go buy a new car in 2 years with 14% tax instead of 10%?

I don't have a problem with democracy nor do I have a problem with tax cuts. The problem is the average Joe wants everything. He or she wants taxes to be low while expecting 90 year old grandma to get prompt open heart surgery (my experiences from working at VIHA). He or she wants to be paid better whether they are a nurse, teacher, government employee, etc. Wants low tutition for their kids. Wants an interchange at Mckenzie.. Some things just don't add up.

Honestly, one VAT vs. 2 different types of sales and VAT? So unnecessarily convoluted.

PS. I bet those buying brand new high-end homes will be happy!

Fiduciary said...

1) 9% PST + 5% GST = 14% sales tax, 4% higher than what the HST would have been.

2) The argument that the negative economic impacts are worth the political message that the citizens still have power is the only valid reason in my mind for voting yes to repeal the tax. This doesn't mean anyone voting no has tunnel-vision, it means they often weighted the positives and negatives and their informed decision was that the economic impacts outweighed the political message. That's valid.

3) Telling people with views that don't match yours to move to China reeks of "ra ra ra" patriotism which is much closer to tunnel-vision than making a democratic choice. As much as it hurts, in a democracy not everyone will share your view, and they still have the exact same rights and responsibilities as you do.

Marko said...

I shouldn't be complaining because this is really good news for the real estate community (HST will not apply to commissions anymore)...and I eat out quite a bit soooo....

msr said...

As a contractor I have to say I'm disappointed.

HouseHuntVictoria said...

"Marko, a 9% PST would still be a victory (for the people, that is): it's 1% less than the HST was eventually going down to (in 2014)"

This is an example of the kind of factual ignorance on display from many of those who likely voted yes to axe the HST and go back to a PST/GST system.

"Democracy matters more than the economy. If you favour the economy over democracy, I suggest you move to China."

Democracy occurred when Campbell was forced to resign. The people won then. Democracy will also occur when the next election takes place. It'll also occur every day in BC between now and then when people act to influence their representatives' decisions.

The problem with "democracy occurring" on complex public policy issues is that simple sound bites win and the people end up losing, which brings us full circle to the first statement quoted above: ignorance prevails.

Jason said...

I thought we were a representative democracy and the people we voted for made these decisions. Maybe we could skip paying MP salaries by putting a 'yes' 'no' box in every BC home and we can all vote on every question that arises. It could be a nightly TV program - possibly more popular than american idol.

A $1.6B shole to fill will certainly continue the pseudo hiring freeze and wage freeze in the provincial government offices (which must have some effect on RE in this city).

Looks like a teachers strike is imminent now.

chris t said...

It's not true Marko that everyone wants low taxes along with all kinds of 'free' government services. Many of us want far less government and are fed up with all the abuse and inefficiency. I know, crazy to think of Canadians being responsible for their student loans, triple bypasses, etc. But I'm convinced one of the unintended benefits from today's result will be forcing the BC government to begin cutting staff and services. Slashing health and education funding for starters will be a great step to regaining our once productive and enterprising province.

Marko said...

Our health care system is what makes this country a great place to live.

Cutting health care spending and promoting a two-tier system as a result is a horrible idea in my opinion.

Health care in Canada is under 10% of GDP and in the US it is close to 15%. I purpose we keep our publically funded system.

I honestly don't know where you start cutting in health care while at the same time keeping intact the cornerstones of the 1984 Canada Health Act.

EagerBuyer(Not) said...

Three years ago HST was not even on the radar and the public would have been overwhelmingly against it if it was brought up for consultation and discussion. Somehow we got along fine in BC for years without it. It was only due to backroom deals and election lies that it was implemented.

We have referendum legislation in BC and it was used in a democratic manner. Everyone had a fair chance to air their opinions during the campaign and the people voted.

The referendum is over, it was done democratically and we are now going back to GST/PST. Today many NO side voters are really sounding like whiners now that the result is in. Some are questioning the intelligence of their fellow citizens as if they were intellectually superior. Get over it. Its time to move on and stop complaining.

pod_x said...

1) 9% PST + 5% GST = 14% sales tax, 4% higher than what the HST would have been.

Weren't there many exemptions where PST did not apply? HST was a tax increase.

the political message that the citizens still have power is the only valid reason in my mind for voting yes to repeal the tax.

I think it is reason enough. There will be some short term pain and confusion, but doing the right thing, or doing things right to begin with, often means short term pain. Sticking to your principles often does. Democracy is messy and expensive, that is not reason to do away with it.

I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that government will find a way to increase taxes to make up their shortfalls anyways. I don't fear for them with the loss of HST. I know my taxes will go up. If they want to have another go at HST, this time the proper way, power to them. While I support the HST, I still voted against it, for the above reason.

pod_x said...

Democracy occurred when Campbell was forced to resign.

This is a common argument, and this is where we will have to agree to disagree. I do not think the political and democratic process was served by Campbell being thrown out. He's certainly not crying, and will be soon enjoying the Olympics in London from his posh office there. Politicians do NOT have the right to do anything they like after being voted in. Especially going directly against their stated platform on which they were voted in. Voters have every right to repeal the legislation that was foisted upon them under false pretenses.

Craig said...

Many of the people who praise Canadian healthcare haven't experienced care anywhere else. They think it's normal to wait 6 months to see a specialist, a year for knee surgery or wait in emergency for 4 hours.

It's not. And it would be a lot worse if Canadian hospitals weren't using the US as a giant safety valve in sending so many patients there.

Canadian health costs now take up about half of provincial budgets, are rising just as fast as in the US, and as many doctors will tell you, the system is very close to meltdown.

Introvert said...

Clearly, math escaped me momentarily. 14% is greater than 10%.

Secondly, my tunnel vision comment wasn't intended to be directed at Marko (even though it may have seemed to be). Sorry, Marko!

HHV, democracy did occur when Campbell resigned, but some felt that additional democracy was in order. Today we had a good helping of it. 55% of us think it feels nice!

Trust me, the province won't turn into a savage hellscape now that the HST is dead. B.C. was fine before, and it'll be fine again.

Plus, if the province is short on dough, it could always nix dumb-ass projects like a new roof on BC Place Stadium ($563 million).

Granted it's a few loose quarters in the couch cushions, but the Liberals could also roll back their self-congratulatory 29% pay raise they gave themselves back in '07. That'd be a nice gesture, no?

inglishmagor said...

I seem to have a different take on the HST issue. I have no problem with the HST tax, but voted to abolish it.

I did think the way it was brought in was frightening. The provincial government ran into money issues so the Fedral government used the opening to push through one of their agenda items. The PST is collected provincially and spent provincially. The HST is collected Fedrally and redistributed to the province. To me that is a huge issue that was never talked about.

I just don't like the way Harper works. I think Campbell didn't screw us, he just got out maneuvered.

Leo S said...

He's certainly not crying, and will be soon enjoying the Olympics in London from his posh office there.

So what's your suggestion? Hang him? Pull out his fingernails?
The HST meant the end of Gordon Campbell as premier. That's it for him. Voting down the HST does precisely zero to hurt him now.

SilverSurfer said...

"Yes", indeed!

I will gladly pay $100-$200 a year, or whatever the HST was going to supposedly save me to give a bit of a face slap to the politicos of any party to remind them of whom is boss and put their ego in check.

$1,000 over 5 years, is a great investment to ensure BC politicians think twice or even thrice before rushing any signicant financial decision affecting everyone they were hired to represent for years to come.

Democracy is supposed to be 'free', but I'll gladly pay a small "tax" to clean house of arrogance in government leadership.

Now, yes please do bring on the CMHC referendum. A lot of heads need to roll for allowing that poor excuse of an organization to be backstopped by the tax payer and carry on expanding a massive real estate bubble that will inevitably take Canada and its citizens into the financial ditch. I see no greater Moral Hazard elephant in this country, do you?

Sweetrealtor said...

Bye Bye HST. It was a great day for democratic action. It was a message to politicians that the populace has to be consulted on how their taxes are collected and spent. Finally there is recourse for action against our will. If this happened in Thailand, we would have had a coup already and burned down Campbell's house.

Kevin Falcon is signing a different tune now, about consulting with the public on proposed tax changes. This was the point of the referendum, to get a government scared enough to actually listen to the people. Campbell's stepping down was not democratic action, it was a maneuver for the Liberal party.

March 2013 is a long wait to get back to business as usual. Going to be interesting for the new housing sales to maneuver around this.

Canada has good health care but it is frequently abused. The arguments against a two tiered system never make sense to me. We have elements of private surgery now and all it does is free up the public ORs for someone else. What is the harm in that? At the very least, we should institute user fees so people bringing their kids to ER with runny noses have to pay something for being ignorant!

I worked in critical care for 13 years and IMHO it is too wasteful and broken. Someone asked me the other day how I would fix health care. I said that I would fire everyone from the top down, sparing the bedside staff, and start over. (I also said I would freeze all the computers so no one can waste time on Facebook, etc. Yes, I can be a hardass to the bedside staff too.) Just like the government, this system is far too top heavy and needs a major cull to survive. If we every get the green light for more private care, I will be at the front of the line waiting to open my clinic.

DavidL said...

I was appalled and dismayed with how the HST was introduced. Although I can see the advantage ot the HST for medium and large businesses, I know many small (service-based) business owners who have not been in favour of it. As a consumer, my dislike for the HST was that is applied to many items that were previously PST exempt (energy efficient items, kids clothing, services, etc.). I've also seen that is causes an additional financial burden to low income people who earn just enough that they are not eligible for the HST rebate. Don't get me wrong - I'm happy to pay my taxes - I would just prefer to pay a bit more income tax rather than an increased consumption tax.

All the news reports are taking about the $1.6 billion that BC must "pay back" to the federal government. Unfortunately, nobody is looking at the balance sheet carefully. Both the BC and federal government are running deficits as they are both spending more that they collect. When the HST was passed, Ottawa transferred $1.6B of debt obligation onto their books. Essentially, this debt that BC redidents were obliged to repay would now be an obligation for all Canadians. Ottawa (Flaherty) is now insisting that the obligation be transferred back to the BC government, and thus BC residents.

News reports of having to "pay back" sound like an asset is being transferred. It is a liability - not an asset!

HouseHuntVictoria said...

$1.6B divided by pop. of BC is roughly $365 each.

$1.6B divided by pop. of Canada is roughly $45 each.

Whether asset or liability, the debt is better shared among the many rather than the few.

I too was "appalled and dismayed" at how the HST was introduced.

But we often talk about the emotional side of owning a house leading to unwise financial decisions around here.

Why is it different when we talk politics and the economy?

There is no sound economic argument in favour of a PST/GST combination rather than an HST.

I weighed the two taxation options, got over my emotion and advocated prudent fiscal policy. It's what a great many of us do around here on things financial.

To be honest, I'm surprised by how many people commenting here couldn't get past the emotional side of the issue. This wasn't the first time politics has been full of BS in this province and it won't be the last. The referendum created far more troubles than it solved IMO.

The best thing that could come out of this fiasco is an adult discussion about tax policy in BC and across Canada. It's woefully complex, inefficient, encourages the wrong financial choices and diminishes the economic capacity of the nation/province.

Mindset said...

Just my two bits, but in a lot of ways sales taxes are more democratic than income taxes, you vote with your wallet every time you buy something. And in a province running huge defecits on social programs like health care and education that we all benefit from, the HST made a lot of sense. The taxes are going to have to come from somewhere. Think we are going to get to vote down the looming tax increases? Its my opinion that any victory here is short term at best.

Russ said...

HHV,

For me it isn't a matter of "prudent fiscal policy" vs emotion, It is reversing an affront to democratic principles vs a large onetime cost.

I'd be willing to (re) pay much more to send the liberals (and all politicians) the message that there are limits to what we are willing to put up with.

HouseHuntVictoria said...

"It is reversing an affront to democratic principles vs a large onetime cost"

Except that it's not just a large one-time cost. It's an ongoing, inefficient, uncertain cost, not just to the taxpayer but to small and other businesses, and their employees, not to mention the consumers and wider economy, who benefit from having single layers of taxation rather than inefficient, multi-layered input related taxation.

You know that person who's business has suffered over the past 8 months because the referendum was looming and the customers were waiting to see if they could perhaps save 7% on their bill? Now that person, and their employees, are going to suffer, and perhaps not make it, while consumers of big ticket items like home renos and the like, sit back and wait for another 18 months because they know they'll save on the tax.

I completely understand that the people sent the government a message. But that message came at a huge cost to the people. A long-term cost that will not only damage BC's economy and the pocket books of everyone living here, be they business owner or employee, government worker, retiree or welfare recipient, but it will also continue to damage BC's economy and drive investment away from the province to jurisdictions that have addressed inefficient taxation better than BC has.

Frannie said...
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Frannie said...

And now we get these on our houses, thanks to the Clean Energy Act and BC Hydro, while the BCUC has been cut out of the equation, so, guess what? No oversight. Oh, and of course, no recourse, no opt out.

patriotz said...

Three years ago HST was not even on the radar ... Somehow we got along fine in BC for years without it.

We got along fine because the BC economy used to be based on something called "industry", not various forms of consumption (RE foremost) paid for with borrowed money.

Rejecting the HST favours consumption over production and is another blow to BC's shrinking real economy, which will make the bust that much bigger when the RE bubble comes to its inevitable end. California, here we come.

Leo S said...

Oh god, don't start with the smart meter conspiracy theories.
Think of how much it costs to have the meters checked in every single household by hand. This makes way more sense.

Health argument is BS or irrelevant. You're already in range of a dozen wireless routers, wireless phones, and hundreds of cell phones throughout the day, this one additional device doesn't change anything significant.

Whether direct exposure to cell phones is harmful is doubtful, with the most evidence saying it isnt (as in, phoning with the thing next to your brain). There is no evidence linking exposure from further away to negative health effects.

omc said...

Sorry to talk real estate. People are telling me that the lower mainland, not necasarilly Vancouver, is heating up again. I am getting the impression that things are starting to move again here. Anyone else seeing this? Marko and SR ca to comment?

Ultra low interest rates,here we go again.

Mindset said...
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Mindset said...

Oh god, don't start with the smart meter conspiracy theories

I'm with you on this one Leo.

Just what is a smart meter going to 'capture' of your private information in comparison to your ISP (Shaw/Telus) tracking your web traffic, Google tracking your searches, iPhones tracking your location, or Visa tracking your purchases? As far as I know, all the smart meter does is track electricity usage. Which they are doing already, just manually.

And worryied about the safety of wifi devices?

Better be willing to step out of the wireless world if that is the concern.

Maybe drink only home brewed coffee (stay away from those wireless coffee houses), work from your house with wired phones and hard-wired internet, on 2 acres so that the neighbours wifi routers aren't reaching your home. Oh, and better skip the Ferries and take your own boat over to the mainland, wifi there too. And, lets not forget all of the wireless ATM's at concerts and corner stores, those wireless visa/debit card readers at restaurants, and those pesky new parking meters.

Who knows, maybe wifi isn't totally safe. But it is absolutely everywhere already. BC Hydro isn't introducing anything new here. Just another wireless device in a world filling up with wireless devices.

Now, the HST getting voted out? That was something truly new in our world that deserved our attention.

Sweetrealtor said...

Can't comment much on Vancouver's market lately. Our market is slowyl coming out of summer sleepiness. I had two listings in Delta last month and it was a different beast altogether. Multiple offers on both in the first days. Very, very different over there.

Marko said...

I would say it is still relatively slow ~ probably around 500 sales for the month. Average and median will jump. I think the rest of the year will outperform corresponding months from last year in terms of units sold - we will see.

jesse said...

"There is no sound economic argument in favour of a PST/GST combination rather than an HST."

There is some argument that BC is better served with a provincially-controlled tax policy. I'm all for harmonizing the collection and administrative portions of these taxes, but why not harmonize them and keep all the old exemptions first? Oh right because the federal government limited the exemptions.

The big thing that irked many people, rage with the incumbent government aside, was that even after Campbell was turfed the no campaigners pussy-footed around the fact the HST was a tax increase. Couple that with stagnant wages, reduced hours, and high unemployment for the lower income tiers and it's not surprising people were suspicious. I think people are honestly looking to have those who benefited most, or at all, from a decade of reduced taxes "give a little back".

Frannie said...

Well, sorry not to be so easily persuaded by the BC Hydro bafflegab, but Smart Meters are not wifi, and they are serious. Here's a quotation from Dr. Olle Johansson of the Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Sweden, writing to California public utilities:

"Many smart meters are close to beds, kitchens, playrooms, and similar locations. These wireless systems are never off, and the exposure is not voluntary. The smart meters are being forced on citizens everywhere. Based on this, the inauguration of smart meters with grudging and involuntary exposure of millions to billions of human beings to pulsed microwave radiation should immediately be prohibited until ’the red flag’ can be hauled down once and for all.

The recent determination of the World Health Organization (WHO) to include radiofrequent radiation on the 2B list of carcinogens also applies to devices such as smart meters. Already September 4, 2008, the European Parliament voted 522 to 16 to recommend tighter safety standards for cell phones (Europ. Parl. resolution on the mid-term review of the European Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010). In light of the growing body of scientific evidence implicating cell phone use with brain tumors, the Parliament said, "The limits on exposure to electromagnetic fields [EMFs] which have been set for the general public are obsolete." The European Parliament "was greatly concerned at the Bioinitiative international report concerning EMFs, which summarises over 1500 studies on that topic and which points in its conclusions to the health risks posed by emissions from mobile-telephony devices such as mobile telephones, UMTS, WiFi, WiMax and Bluetooth, and also DECT landline telephones, and now it is again – and more firmly and seriously - repeated in the form of WHO’s recent cancer classification."

And the point is, I have a choice how, when and if to use my cell phone, etc., but Hydro isn't giving us a choice about this. And by the way--those savings? Other jurisdictions have discovered they are non-existent. The state of Idaho chose a wired version of the technology, and it looks like California will soon have court-ordered opt out.

And yes, this is about real estate, because those of us who are renting will be much more vulnerable, and have less of a voice, than those who own. This is a civil liberties issue, for all that many people are buying into the government's current attempt to paint dissenters as "cranks."

So, any blog readers who would like to learn more, and consider refusing their consent to this unproven technology can visit the Citizens For Safe Technology site to find out more.

Frannie said...

Oh, another little thing about Smart Meters is that the Clean Energy Act, which requires them, removed the program from all oversight by the BC Utilities Commission.

Sorry, am I being a conspiracy theorist? I just think establishing a billion dollar program with technology that has not been proven safe, and about which there are indeed very grave scientific concerns, and removing it from any level of public oversight is WRONG. If that makes me a conspiracy theorist, so be it. I'll wear it proudly.

jesse said...

I heard smart meters are linked to a higher risk of autism development in newborns. Actually I didn't her that, but it hasn't been completely refuted either. Think of the children, people. Say no to smart meters.

Leo S said...

but Smart Meters are not wifi

Correct. Wifi is exposing you to much more radiation. Your smart meter is not even transmitting anything 99% of the time.

and they are serious.

Nope.

Dr. Olle Johansson of the Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Sweden, writing to California public utilities

It appears being a Dr of Neuroscience does not make you an expert on electromagnetic radiation. Surprise surprise.

And the point is, I have a choice how, when and if to use my cell phone

Not really. Assuming you own a somewhat modern cell phone, it will be emitting radiation throughout the day, no matter if you use it or not. Same with your wireless router. Hope you don't have a microwave, now that's really bad.

I just think establishing a billion dollar program with technology that has not been proven safe, and about which there are indeed very grave scientific concerns, and removing it from any level of public oversight is WRONG.

I agree. Except in this case there is no credible concern at all. It has been proven safe, at least as safe as any other low-power wireless device we are surrounded by every day. They don't need to be individually proven safe, because they comply to FCC regulations that have been deemed safe. Just like anything else. http://www.sdge.com/campaigns/smartmeter/rf_concerns.html

Leo S said...

@jesse. Oh yeah I heard that too. Well maybe it was just now from you, but it sounds right.

Also this guy on the internet had a smart meter installed and the next day he had a headache. That's all the proof I need.

Frannie said...

Actually Leo, Dr. Johansson's field of research expertise is electromagnetic field radiation. So yes, he is an expert in it.

And where is the "proof" that this is safe? In Hydro's press releases? And as many who study this have pointed out, this is both a matter of load (as in, we are all exposed to more and more radiation of this kind all the time), and spikes, which the smart meters produce. It is the spikes that are the concern. In addition, the Itron and Hydro-cited radiation levels are not what people going out to field to measure these things are finding. the radiation being emitted is far higher than what is being quoted.

Again, it's your choice whether to give all this evidence any credence. But it is not my choice, apparently, to be able to say no to this technology, when I do take such evidence seriously.

Frannie said...

One of things one observes, if one follows blogs, is how easy some find it to use sarcasm to denigrate, dismiss or attempt to humiliate those who think differently from themselves, from behind the safety and anonymity of a computer screen. There's a great show about this very thing going on at the Victoria Fringe Festival. It's called "The Disinhibition Effect."

It is, of course, simpler to do this than to take the time to do the research oneself. Or perhaps it's a matter of not wanting to have one's faith in something one believes to be honest, good or benign, like, for example, the BC government, or wireless technology, challenged. (Oh my goodness, was that sarcasm?)

It's not unlike the reactions one often gets when one suggests that housing prices in Victoria might not go up forever.

Introvert said...

I completely understand that the people sent the government a message. But that message came at a huge cost to the people. A long-term cost that will not only damage BC's economy and the pocket books of everyone living here, be they business owner or employee, government worker, retiree or welfare recipient, but it will also continue to damage BC's economy and drive investment away from the province to jurisdictions that have addressed inefficient taxation better than BC has.

This characterization is blatant fear mongering.

jesse said...

"how easy some find it to use sarcasm to denigrate, dismiss or attempt to humiliate those who think differently from themselves"

Apologies, Frannie. We usually reserve sarcasm for the most inane of arguments. I guess your treatise citing one physician, never mind the mountain of peer reviewed evidence to the exact contrary, must have fallen through my mental cracks.

Oh was that sarcasm again? I can't tell any more.

Leo S said...

Actually Leo, Dr. Johansson's field of research expertise is electromagnetic field radiation. So yes, he is an expert in it.

Indeed. Along with the dangers of smart meters he also talks about how you might get "screen dermatitis" from sitting in front of a computer or TV. Hope you don't have one of those.

And where is the "proof" that this is safe?

In that the smart meters have been FCC approved to fall within the guidelines for emitted radiation.

this is both a matter of load (as in, we are all exposed to more and more radiation of this kind all the time)

Ok, but smart meters will add only a tiny additional load. The proliferation of wifi and cell phones added thousands of times more. So why the exaggerated concern about this?

It is the spikes that are the concern. In addition, the Itron and Hydro-cited radiation levels are not what people going out to field to measure these things are finding.

Then those people out in the field are either measuring incorrectly, measuring signal from another source, or full of poop. The devices would not be FCC approved if they emitted "spikes" above the allowed levels.

Again, it's your choice whether to give all this evidence any credence.

The thing about this kind of evidence is that you can find it for anything. Commercial airliners are spraying mind-control chemicals on us? There are thousands of sites full of "evidence" for that. The illuminati control the banking system? Again, thousands of sites full of all sorts of evidence. Obama is born in Africa? Absolutely, there are hundreds of hours of youtube video proving that to be the case, based on expert analysis of his birth certificate.
There are people out there to support just about any nutty idea you could think of. Perpetual motion machines, cars that run on water, cold fusion. All those things have been demonstrated by so-called experts and documented with excruciating detail on the internet. And yet all of them also never seem to be scientifically tested by a third party (inevitably there's a good reason for this).

One of things one observes, if one follows blogs, is how easy some find it to use sarcasm to denigrate, dismiss or attempt to humiliate those who think differently from themselves

Actually I'm using sarcasm to denigrate and dismiss the concept of smart meters being dangerous to our health. You might feel personally offended at that, but it's not directed at you at all.

jesse said...

Here is Hydro One's commissioned report on the radiation hazard. It's not about what I personally "think" or "feel" about the situation; the body of scientific evidence indicates there are more pressing things to worry about, as Leo has indicated.

Amazing though how the internet is littered with FUD on the matter, though if one follows 95% of the links against smart meters, they seem to point to the same 2 or 3 reports. The single link I provided above has a slightly larger citation base at its disposal, by an order of magnitude.

But please continue the debate.

jesse said...

I should clarify that an "order of magnitude" is a factor of 10.

a simple man said...

So...828 Hampshire finally sold. The owner must be relieved. And for almost 100K than they initially wanted if I remember correctly.

JustWatching said...

HHV,

Please post a new REAL ESTATE topic. WiFi and HST debates are taking over your blog.

omc said...

828 is very lucky. My impression is that oak bay sales are picking up, which is the opposite of what usually happens this time of year.

Frannie said...

"The thing about this kind of evidence is that you can find it for anything."

So that means, evidence means nothing? We can just dismiss all of it because it's all meaningless?

When evidence continues to build and build, and credible sources, like academic researchers, and the World Health Organization, ring the alarm bells, I believe it's time to pay attention. But of course, if Hydro and the FCC say it's OK, then, it must be OK, right?

A recent CBC report indicated how divided the scientific community is on this. Hydro is relying on partial and old research.

As I said, it's easy to dismiss arguments and evidence you don't want to see, and say, "Oh, the scientific community says X," even when that is clearly not true. And I am not personally offended (like anyone would care what an internet commenter said about them). I'm just pointing out that it's not a very effective strategy.

Dismissing all the arguments of others because "you can find evidence of anything if you look for it" doesn't make the points they make less valid.

As I said, believe what you choose. But I think people deserve to see all the evidence, all the arguments, and decide for themselves. And regardless, Hydro is still forcing this technology on people who don't want it, and we are the ratepayers. Going off grid is just not an option for most. And again, where were those savings we were supposed to get? Oh, nobody else who has put them in has experienced any savings?

Pity.

Frannie said...

One interesting thing to consider, when people insist that because current evidence of harm is not conclusive, therefore something is safe, is history.

For instance.

Asbestos
Lead Paint
Leaded gasoline
Cigarette smoking
Taking drugs while pregnant (many women in the fifties and sixties had some pretty interesting prescriptions)
Drinking while pregnant (as recently as the 80s, doctors were suggesting wine with dinner to pregnant women--it was perfectly safe)

I'm afraid I'm not persuaded by the "they must have been doing it wrong" argument regarding the higher-than-advertised emissions readings.

Leo S said...

like academic researchers

Unlike the pope, academic researchers are not infallible. Especially when its just a couple against the majority.

the World Health Organization, ring the alarm bells

That would be interesting if they were, but they aren't. Please link to the WHO report where they ring the alarm bells about smart meters in particular.

But of course, if Hydro and the FCC say it's OK, then, it must be OK, right?

Not must, but it's a pretty good indication, since the FCC regs are based on the prevailing scientific consensus about safe exposure levels. But by all means, believe some lone researcher out of left field instead.

A recent CBC report indicated how divided the scientific community is on this.

Your argument would be helped if you actually linked to things you reference. All I could find was this: Clever use of smart meters saves energy

Dismissing all the arguments of others because "you can find evidence of anything if you look for it" doesn't make the points they make less valid.

True. The point was that just because some guy with a phd makes a claim, that doesn't make it true.

"Smart meters cause health problems" is an extraordinary claim to make, since it goes against the consensus on safe radiation levels. So to make that claim you need extraordinary evidence. The burden is on the anti-smart meter side to provide that evidence, not the other way around.

And again, where were those savings we were supposed to get? Oh, nobody else who has put them in has experienced any savings?

That's at least a sensible point of concern. I don't know anything about what studies have been done so can't argue one way or another whether that claim is true or not.

Mark said...

Frannie,

The scientific consensus is still that smart meters are not dangerous. Further, people opposed to smart meters are doing themselves a huge disservice by allying themselves with The Crazies.

There are actual reasons to oppose smart meters but they are never brought up. Oh no, it's always they cause cancer, autism and bed wetting. They will let BC hydro monitor your sex toy usage. Hackers will be able to break into your computer and see if you are on vacation. Blah, blah, blah.

Tell you what. Come up with some sort of plausible basis for why they're dangerous and what they're doing. Throwing every disease at the wall and seeing what sticks isn't going to cut it. Then show actual harm in an animal model with typical doses. Bet you a beer that any studies showing any effect would follow Crislip's Law

HouseHuntVictoria said...

"This characterization is blatant fear mongering."

In your mind, sure, whatever.

In the minds of us who have done some math, read some actual economic reports, the kind real economists wrote, it's just the closest thing to the unemotional truth available.

But I already well know how much you value that, so let's move on...

pod_x said...

@Leo S: See, that's what I'm talking about. It's not about "punishment", or petty revenge. Framing the anti-HST view as a bunch of angry vengeful people, or people who are upset about "how the HST was introduced", or who are upset about the "bad optics", or are financially illiterate, is demeaning, patronizing, and misses the point.

There was real affront to democracy here. Legislation enacted in direct contravention of the election platform (which handed the government a majority), pushed through what can be charitably described as an abridged process, something that we now can see was clearly planned way ahead of time... voters have the right to get rid of this legislation, and have it run through the proper process we have in place to pass new legislation, including debate in the legislature, public consultation, and economic studies, BEFORE it is signed into law, not after.

Why do we even have the trappings of democracy, when we happily ignore them on such a major issue? Get rid of the whole thing, save billions of dollars, because it's all about the bottom line after all, isn't it? We can just have the nice smart people in Victoria tell us what is good for us, and then go ahead and do it.

Like I said earlier, sticking to your principles is rarely cheaper or faster than doing it the easy way, but it is always in your long term best interest.

And this topic is about HST and HST only, so I don't think it's unreasonable that HST discussion dominates.