NDP and taxes on home heating

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this_guy
NDP and taxes on home heating

I wanted to start a thread to see what others think of the NDP and and their push to remove the tax on home heating.

As a long-time NDP supporter for their generally strong and progressive environmental policies, I find that their position on this issue contradicts my own beliefs.  They are essentially pushing for reducing the price of fossil fuels, simply because it relates to home heating.

www.ndp.ca mockingly states "This is Canada.  It gets cold here.  Why doesn't Harper get it?" Would it be too much to ask for a more intellectual arguement? I guess one could counter with "Home heating mostly comes from burning fossil fuels.  CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are causing a severe climate emergency.  Making fossil fuels cheaper means Canadians will probably use more.  Why doesn't Layton get it?"

Geoff OB

While I believe in doing what we can to protect the environment, on this one I have to agree with the NDP.  For those who live comfortably enough, I guess they can afford to buy solar panels, windmills or whatever to heat their homes. 

For those who can't afford such "eco-luxuries", fossil fuels are unfortunately the only game in town, and I don't tut-tut them for wanting a break on their heating bills so they can buy some groceries.  That's the point that Layton gets, and it's not a contradiction of NDP policy.  

I'm afraid beating up on people who are struggling to make ends meet will only divide progressive Canadians even more, and probably won't do much for the environment, in the long run.

 

Unionist

Geoff OB, I've read the material and am puzzled. Why wouldn't the NDP recommend making home heating income-tax deductible?

 

Life, the unive...

Making it tax deductible would not help the great many people who do not pay income tax.  Reducing or eliminating the federal portion of the HST, or GST (depending on where you live) would immediately reduce people's costs.  Unlike a tax credit or deduction which could come months later.  The NDP program calls for re-starting eco-Fit and for a major expansion of it, thus helping people reduce their CO2 emmisions and save money on utility bills in the long term. 

This is not going to end poverty, but if we are going to reduce burdens on people- and remember many of the poorest home heating systems are old electric rads and forced air oil- and for many in rural areas that is the best they can hope for -this is a good targeted place to start.

As well, as a long time environmentalist I am sick to effin death of the number of fellow enviornmentalists that sit in their ivory towers and pontificate on what we should do about climate change when the overwhelming majority of those costs are being borne by the most vulnerable in our society.  You need only look to Ontario's Green Energy Act that is simply replacing fossil fuel (coal) for fossil fuel (natural gas) with a major investment in nuclear - just so some folks can delude themselves that big industrial wind turbines owned by large corporate entities (with major sweetheart financial deals) are somehow doing some good.  And who pays the price for that delusion - those with the least in our society and rural areas.  Typical mindset of today's ill-informed.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I read somewhere - can't remember where I saw it - that Quebec is being pressured to raise its hydro rates. That's bad news for us here on the Quebec coast who only have access to electric or wood heat. I'm on disability - and a rise in electric rates will affect me.

remind remind's picture

Exactly correct Life...could not have put it better.

Life, the unive...

That is EXACTLY the exerience of many in Ontario Boom Boom.  Low or fixed incomes coupled with soaring energy bills and most of it to support a deluded Green Energy Act that is driving up costs through guarenteed private profits.  It also shows how stupid energy generation policy has become as it is now geared towards profit instead of at cost, public benefit energy.

 

ETA

Thanks remind I appreciate that.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

 

  Any rise in fossil fuel costs is not going to effect me personally in terms of overall home heating costs, just as a note, because of how I heat my house.   However even though I am not adverse to the argument that lower fossil fuel costs will me people will use more (some likely will) and raising the costs can lead to more efficient use and conservation as general overall principle I feel similar to Life's comments.  Higher heating costs will and already are affecting people that can least afford it and have way fewer options to undertake measures that can lead to longer term savings.   Heat is not a luxary but an absolute necessity for survival.  For many it's not a question of being able to afford to use more but to afford to heat at the most basic of levels.   Many are already in a situation of major conservation and there is only so much that can be squeezed out in different situations.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Geoff OB wrote:

While I believe in doing what we can to protect the environment, on this one I have to agree with the NDP.  For those who live comfortably enough, I guess they can afford to buy solar panels, windmills or whatever to heat their homes. 

For those who can't afford such "eco-luxuries", fossil fuels are unfortunately the only game in town, and I don't tut-tut them for wanting a break on their heating bills so they can buy some groceries.  That's the point that Layton gets, and it's not a contradiction of NDP policy.  

I'm afraid beating up on people who are struggling to make ends meet will only divide progressive Canadians even more, and probably won't do much for the environment, in the long run.

 

 

Just a bit of an addition.  It's not even a matter of being able to afford 'eco-luxaries' but to be able to afford even the most standard of measures that can lead to lower heating costs.  Things like upgrading old and inefficient furnaces and systems to more efficient models and other fairly standard home basics like good insulation or replacing older windows.   Then there are the renters who have little control on the systems that heat where they live (even if they wanted too) and will see costs passed on in higher rents or just higher monthly payments overall with little that can be done about it.

Unionist

Boom Boom wrote:

I read somewhere - can't remember where I saw it - that Quebec is being pressured to raise its hydro rates. That's bad news for us here on the Quebec coast who only have access to electric or wood heat. I'm on disability - and a rise in electric rates will affect me.

Boom Boom, we discussed it [url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/central-canada/qu%C3%A9bec-budget-makes-work..., after last spring's Charest budget. Québec has the lowest hydro rates in Canada, which makes it a prime target for neoliberal "let's be competitive" fanatics. Charest's budget proposed gradual increases, starting in 2014.

As I enjoy quoting myself, here was my comment in that thread:

Unionist wrote:
Boom Boom, Québec has the cheapest residential rates in North America by far, although Manitoba and B.C. are quite close. You can read about the detailed comparisons here - for example, Torontonians pay 67% higher rates than Montrealers!

Neoliberals can't stand ordinary folks getting anything cheap. It's sort of like a religion with them. So, they've been pushing for hydro rates to rise dramatically (which this budget thankfully will not do) so they can soak everyone in order to increase government revenues and hand it over to their buddies; so as to finance more development so they can export more to the U.S. and other provinces; and ultimately to make Hydro a nice target for privatization (recall that it was the Quiet Revolution which nationalized Hydro in 1963).

Oh, I should mention that one reason the Charest neolibs don't raise them faster is rather selfish and greedy - they're afraid it would correspondingly reduce federal equalization payments!

O Canada!

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Thanks, Unionist. I remember that thread now. I can only afford to live here because of the cheap hydro. If rates increase, I have to adjust my budget - I am living on what is called a "disability allowance" by my former employer, and Quebec pays 1/3 of it. I wonder if the PQ would oppose raising hydro rates here? (I'll go look at the other thread later to see if this was discussed).

 

Fidel

this_guy wrote:
.  CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are causing a severe climate emergency.  Making fossil fuels cheaper means Canadians will probably use more.  Why doesn't Layton get it?"

It gets cold in our Northern Puerto Rico. And our two old line party stooges in phony minority government in Ottawa don't have the political backbone to write made in Canada energy policy. If you think Canadians should freeze in the dark so that private power producers and big oil and gas companies based in the states can sell more Canadian energy to the most wasteful, most unsustainable and most fossil fuel dependent economy in the world south of us, then make sure not to vote NDP. You'll be paying through the nose to stay warm and keep the lights on in no time at all.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

If hydro rates do indeed rise in Quebec, it will be totally an artificial mark-up, because this province has proven it can sell hydro at almost the lowest rates in Canada. I hope the BQ and PQ oppose this neoliberal BS, because don't they speak for the average Quebecer, and not the rich? 

George Victor

Evaluated energy efficiency of a couple of units in a 30 year old townhouse development when my daughter lived there. Early 1970s, baseboard electric heat and little insulation.  A neighbour of my daughter's slept with her border collie on the bed at her feet...for warmth.

The development was part of a market-traded investment group's better-paying, steady income earner...dividends not taxed. The kind of investment that you hope like hell your own savings (past tense) were not a part of.  And that's not exploitation by neo anything...just the evolution of a market system that's absorbed us all since the 1970s.

New Democrats should be campaigning like hell to require complete retrofitting of such hell-holes.

George Victor

And to "this guy"...I'd say that about the only political community still attached to that notion of saving the planet by charging everyone more, without distinction of life chances, would be the Green Party...at least, that element of Libertarians that controls it and collects the dues of the believers.

George Victor

And George Monbiot shows us how hard it's become for folks in the U.K. to keep warm, stay alive:

Cold-Hearted

Posted: 27 Dec 2010 12:05 PM PST

The level of excess winter deaths in the UK is higher than Siberia's. This is why.

A_J

Life, the universe, everything wrote:

Making it tax deductible would not help the great many people who do not pay income tax.  Reducing or eliminating the federal portion of the HST, or GST (depending on where you live) would immediately reduce people's costs.  Unlike a tax credit or deduction which could come months later.

Of course, those who spend the most on home heating fuel (i.e. the rich with their large houses, heated floors, heated driveways, etc. etc. etc.) will get the greatest benefit out of reducing or eliminating sales taxes.  Sure, you reduce taxes for everyone, but you're also handing those who least need assistance a significant cash windfall.  It's a dumb policy (and that's before you even get into the climate change issue).

Tax credits or deductions don't help, as you said, because those who need the most help are playing little or no income taxes.  The best policy wouldn't be to eliminate sales taxes but to give low-income earners additional cash transfers, like they already get via the GST rebate, to offset those taxes they are paying (while still collecting sales taxes from higher-income earners).

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

If Quebec Hydro rates rise drastically, will there be a mass uprising in protest, I wonder. Frown

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I just received my BC Hydro bill and it cost me $44 in HST for two months.  Now $22 a month is not an insignificant amount but I don't see it as a big deal for anyone or the economy.  Doesn't the left have more to say than end taxes?  

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

A_J wrote:

Life, the universe, everything wrote:

Making it tax deductible would not help the great many people who do not pay income tax.  Reducing or eliminating the federal portion of the HST, or GST (depending on where you live) would immediately reduce people's costs.  Unlike a tax credit or deduction which could come months later.

Of course, those who spend the most on home heating fuel (i.e. the rich with their large houses, heated floors, heated driveways, etc. etc. etc.) will get the greatest benefit out of reducing or eliminating sales taxes.  Sure, you reduce taxes for everyone, but you're also handing those who least need assistance a significant cash windfall.  It's a dumb policy (and that's before you even get into the climate change issue).

Tax credits or deductions don't help, as you said, because those who need the most help are playing little or no income taxes.  The best policy wouldn't be to eliminate sales taxes but to give low-income earners additional cash transfers, like they already get via the GST rebate, to offset those taxes they are paying (while still collecting sales taxes from higher-income earners).

A little bit of paradox can come into play here.  I wish I had my regular computer back because I have some bookmarks which talk about it.  Higher income earners with bigger houses don't automatically pay more $$$ in overall heating costs.  It the world of house design and construction bigger doesn't automatically mean more cost.  Mega uber houses sure but in a range of average house sizes someone with living in a smaller house and even apartment  can actually have to pay more in overall costs then someone in a house twice the size in terms of square footage.   This is due to whole number of factors that derive from how the thing designed and built in the first place, the materials used, the heating systems employed and even where the structure is situated.   Heated floors for instance can actually cost  less to run then a 25 year old furnace in a badly designed house (in terms of it's thermal currents and material structure) even though the heated floor one is bigger.

It still speaks to income disparity though because high income earners can better afford to do things, build houses or buy houses that lead to increased efficiency and less ongoing costs. It's just more complicated then saying bigger and richer automatically means more.

Just to give an example. I and my neighbor have about the same house size in terms of actual square feet.  They're both older farm houses and built around the same time.   They use more to keep their house heated, even though mine is less insulated.  They've redone theirs I'm slowly working at upgrading mine.  The major factor at play though is just basic design.  Their house is spread out more. It takes up more horizontal space. My house is smaller horizontally and stacked vertically.  Heat rises and it takes more to get the heat into the spaces it needs to be and they end up having to supplement with electric space heating.  In mine a single heat source, except on the most bitter days suffices to even heat the floor two floors up.  

  I have other friends who retired and spent a couple of years building their own house. They use the exact same heat source as I do and even though their house is almost twice the size of mine square footage wise we're using the about the same amount of fuel overall.  It's just the way it was designed. In that case taking passive solar, house situation(the side facing the prevailing winter winds is more insulated and has barely any windows) , insulation materials and internal design in terms of thermal flow in mind. 

 

I do think though that the point that removing taxes will give the richer a break when maybe they don't need it is a good one because in many cases it would.  However when looking at possible solutions on how to deal with the overall issue I do think it's important to move away from looking at it from the viewpoint that bigger just automatically means more costs.  Basic structure, design, material use, efficiency of whatever heating system is employed and age that in many cases factor as more important then just size.

 

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

EliQ I agree about house design etc.  We need programs to retrofit and the NDP has proposed some decent ones. I would rather see them really pushing that avenue and have a footnote that they will also take the HST off of heating bills, if that is considered a real vote getter.  As it is the tax reduction is the story and the retrofit is the footnote.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I'll pay my taxes without complaint, but I'll get pissed off at seeing Quebec Hydro artificially raise their rates just so the province can pay off the deficit. I'm on a fixed disability pension - higher rates mean an adjustment in my budget someplace. I hope the people of this province turn out to massively protest this measure, if indeed it comes to pass.

A_J

ElizaQ wrote:

Higher income earners with bigger houses don't automatically pay more $$$ in overall heating costs.

It appears that they do:

 

At the end of the day, we're going to have to pay more for oil, not less.  Making oil cheaper is bad for climate change and bad for government revenues.  People on low incomes do need assistance with the costs though, that's why they should get cash transfers just as they do now with the GST rebate.

Instead, the NDP is proposing to give everyone cash (through tax cuts) - and the rich more cash than anyone else.  It's dumb.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I just received my BC Hydro bill and it cost me $44 in HST for two months.  Now $22 a month is not an insignificant amount but I don't see it as a big deal for anyone or the economy.  Doesn't the left have more to say than end taxes?  

 

Well in my perfect imagined world a number of things would happen. 

  Firstly building codes and bylaws would be changed to foster better designed new builds. Heck make it mandatory.   In general we build stupidily and more for asthetics then thermal efficiency, not that efficient mean ugly. It actually bugs me sometimes to see large scale houseing developments with scores of windows or glass structure on the north side of the structures.  Yes freedom and all that but ugh..it's just bad design.  :)   It's not like we don't know how to design housing with the optimum of passive solar, air flow for summer cooling (taking advatages of prevailing breezes of the plot), natural lighting etc etc  it's just I suppose that's it's easier to cookie cutter or people are after a certain type of 'look' and that's what matters.  Attitudes towards this type of thing are changing slowly.  An no these types of basic design principles which people tend to call 'eco' or 'green' don't necessarily mean more cost.  That's the kicker.  Looking at it from the point of view of design you can take the exact same type and amount of materials, build two structures using pretty much the same methods for both and one just because of it's design be less costly to run over the long term. 

It just seems like such an overall waste and with issue with climate change looming societally dumb to not be building as smartly as possible on all fronts.  The knowledge and examples are out there it just needs the will and the consciousness (or something...)

So new builds are taken care of now onto what to do with what we already have.  Unfortunately a lot of how we've built whether it's at the single structure level or the neighborhood example (such as suburban sprawl) is difficult to deal with and we're stuck with what we've got.  Make the best of it.

I think some of the retro-fit and eco-fit programs were a good start but don't go far enough.  It also doesn't help that they've been slashed at the Fed level either, or they were when last I heard.  I knew a number of people who did take advatage of the grants and convert to things like geo-thermal and do other upgrades.  In two cases the grant money did make the overall retro-fit finacially viable and so far the cost savings are paying for the outlay.  I looked into taking advatage of it as well and unfortunately fell into the group 'that can't afford the intial outlay even though the monthly savings would actually pay for the outlay in the short term.'   In order to take advantage of these programs a person has to have a source of cash whether it's a loan or some other financing to pay for it on the outset.  In the case of geo-thermal which granted up to about 8000-9000 from the Fed and the Province you also had to be capable of doing without that for a number of months, six in one case.   I also know people that took advantage of it and upgraded their furnaces and put in some solar thermal.   Again though a person does need to have the cash in the first place and be able to afford the part the grants don't cover. 

I'd like to see some sort of program with upfront grants as well as some sort of micro-financing program.  These type of programs would go farther to help lower income people do this type of work.   Upgrading a furnace or putting in better insulation can make a big difference on costs but try to get a loan or financing from a bank or pretty much any finanical institution.  Frustrating because in some cases the savings can help pay off the costs but it appears that for many the system is set up that you have to have money to save money even if it's only for the need of a few thousand dollars in your pocket at the same time.

None of this addresses the issue that many lower income people are not homeowners and rent other peoples properties and indirectly or directly if rent doesn't include utilities pay the operating costs.  Although landlords could take advatage of some of the eco-fit programs I do think more should be done in this area.  I'm just not sure what exactly. The only think I can think of now is perhaps things like tax breaks if your property meets a certain standard, which in my imagined world would be high and not loop holey and perhaps some sort of financing program directed at landlords in particular with some sort of control that the savings wouldn't just end up in their pockets.  Don't know if something like that is even possible to control with the way laws are set up now but it would be nice.

 

 

 

Then 

 

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Indeed there are far better ways to help people including a low income heating credit that would reimburse low income households for part of their heating bill.  In the graph above a family with $30,000 in income pays 5.6% of its income on heating.  The middle to upper income family with $90,000 pays 2.6% of their income on heating and from there it drops even more for the rich.  A targeted program instead of a cross the board tax cut is always better in my opinion.  Helping families who pay for their heat whether rental or not get to the $60,000 level of 3.4% would help where the help is needed.  In the meantime we need the gas guzzling upper class to pay more because they use more. At the same we need to be providing incentives to retrofit starting, with coops and private homes and then into the rental market where the government is having to pay subsidies because the retrofits haven't been done. 

I hate boxes.

this_guy

I am glad to see at least some people here agree with me that the NDP could do a lot of better things to help low income people than an accross- the-board removal of the HST from home heating.  What particularily bothers me about the NDP website is that they are only interested in hearing from people that support the policy, but not those who are against it.

With regard to 'skyrocketing home heating costs' from a tax of a few percent, I would expect people to be using less fossil fuels for heating this year anyway since in the next few days 2010 will officially be declared by NASA-GISS as the warmest year in the modern record.

To me the facts are simple, Canadians are energy hogs (relative to Scandanavians for example who have a similar climate) and asking for cheaper fossil fuels is just going add to the problem.  I care about the poor, but mother nature does not. A kg of CO2 is the same whoever it comes from.  We have to burn drastically less fossil fuels to stabilize the climate and best estimates say 80-90% less.

I think efficiency and the switch to renewables to achieve these CO2 emission reductions can only come with higher fossil fuel prices.  I am not a free-market libertarian who thinks the market is the answer to everything, but I think it has to be part of the arsenal in fighting catastrophic climate change.

Most of the arguments against this comcept seem to refute it as if there a suggestion that the change will happen overnight.  It won't, but when gasoline prices were peaking in 2008, sales of SUVs dropped and sales of small cars increased, and most of those cars will continue being used for 10-15 years.  Unfortunately, most people simply follow the money or savings and do not think about the greater good.

 

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I don't know about 2008 but here in Burnaby I paid $1.21 the other day.  It is peak time now as far as I can tell.  The number of Prius Toyotas on the road in the Lower Mainland has grown exponentially in the last three years.  Our taxi fleet is almost all converted over to hybrids because the companies have been replacing their aging cars with them for a few years.  

The price of gas does change behaviour.  I would rather see programs of support for struggling families targeted to heating costs rather than tax breaks that will provide a greater benefit to middle and upper income families. 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Gas is $1.51/liter here, and the reason is that we do not yet have a connecting road to the outside world - someone has to go and get a gas supply by boat or barge, and, when the winter is cold enough and there's snow on the ground, by skidoo and komatic. The higher price here reflects the difficulty in getting gas to this isolated community. Further down the coast, some communities get gas directly from tanker ships.

For home heating, the only choices available to us are wood and electric, usually a combination of the two.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Boom Boom we not only have connecting roads we have the vast majority of the west coast refineries and oil and gas transportation hubs in Burnaby. When I lived in the East Kootenays I loved the fact that the cheapest gas in the province was serendipitously in Invermere where the rich Calgary oil players have their summer homes.

George Victor

Question, Boomer.  What's the generator for. Backup?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

George Victor wrote:

Question, Boomer.  What's the generator for. Backup?

Yes, exactly. Many folks here have their own. Fortunately, I only had to use mine twice in 2010. Last winter I did not have to use the snowblower or skidoo at all, as our winter was the mildest in our history.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

We're still two years away from the road opening here, and that's if the bridge over the river gets built. We haven't heard anything yet about that getting done. Gas in the next two communities is much cheaper than here, but with a connecting road, prices should drop here.

 

ETA: with the likelihood of cheaper gas here in a few years, that just might offset the higher price of electricity being planned by Quebec Hydro - at least in my personal budget. I have to fuel a generator, skidoo, snowblower, lawn mower, and a small truck.

Life, the unive...

It never fails to amaze me how little people understand the reality of not having much money.  I had to live that way several times over the course of my life.  Choosing not to heat to the same standards as others happens now all the time and would only get worse under the kinds of things some are proposing.  In Ontario we have had an additional 8 per cent burden placed on those with the least through the HST implementation for all manner of heating types from oil to wood.  Those are significant burndens.  Reducing someones costs by 5 per cent at time of use is a significant help.  Is it the total answer, of course not.  But it is a help.  And one that could be easily acheived.  And that acheiving easily is key for restoring faith in government.  It is not anti-tax, or any of the stupid nonsense I have read on babble over the last year.  It is anti-bad government policy. 

And all that graph above demonstrates that those with more can afford to heat their homes to a higher standard.  There is no attempt to determine how those with lower incomes are heating their residences.  Do they drop the tempurature down really low at night and try to sleep under piles of sleeping bags.  Do they use of their electrical box payments (many housing units now have pre-paid hydro meters where you can literally watch your meter tick down to zero) earlier in the month and basically have to live in winter coats in the house until the next cheque.  Do they just leave the heat on at about 16 and spend much of the winter cold and sick.  I have seen all of these and more in my activism work over my lifetime.  So that graph is completely and utterly meaningless for determining how a small part of the larger NDP policy on energy use might benefit those with the least.

As well I can not believe that people who would be so blais about those who are the most vulnerable in our society and basically seem to suggest they should just suck it up for the greater good can still call themselves progressive on anything including the environment.  An  evironmentalist believes in sustainability - that also means sustainable communities that work for all.  The kind of systems some propose are anything but sustainable - they drive wedges of greater inequality between the haves and the have nots.   These schemes are as corrupt to the core as anything I see from conservative circles.

Unionist

Boom Boom wrote:

I have to fuel a generator, skidoo, snowblower, lawn mower, and a small truck.

Thread drift: Is your generator gasoline or propane? and how many watts? Reply by PM if you prefer.

 

Fidel

this_guy wrote:
 I am not a free-market libertarian who thinks the market is the answer to everything, but I think it has to be part of the arsenal in fighting catastrophic climate change.

 

The problem with private enterprise solutions is that there is little incentive for any private company to sell less of anything. Transnational energy companies selling Canadian fossil fuels and electrical power will never want to sell less. Conservation and efficiency are bad for fossil fuel company profits. And guess what? The Tories and Liberals sold the environment to Exxon-Imperial and friends some time ago. The only way we could possibly have made in Canada national energy policy is to either abrogate or renegotiate NAFTA in the interests of ordinary Canadians and the environment. And this is one more reason why I vote NDP.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Unionist wrote:
Thread drift: Is your generator gasoline or propane? and how many watts? Reply by PM if you prefer.

We can't get propane here (except small BBQ cannisters), so that answers one question. It's a small generator, I'll have to check when I have more time.

 

George Victor

LTU: "I can not believe that people who would be so blais about those who are the most vulnerable in our society and basically seem to suggest they should just suck it up for the greater good can still call themselves progressive on anything including the environment"

 

Right on. And with a little more effort at understanding THE MARKET and who is benefitting from prevailing inequality, the NDP can propose FORCING those investing in REITs to bring their older housing units up to insulation and heating standards so that tenants can afford to heat AND eat!  As far as I know, REITs are the only remaining Income Trusts not taxed (the one decision of Jimmy's that this citizen could agree with, ever, was to require taxes on all the other desperate, vote-seeking Liberal creations. )

There are many more ways in which growing inequities could be tamed by the taming of a market in which, unfortunately, ALL seem now required to be "coupon clippers." 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Unionist wrote:

Thread drift: Is your generator gasoline or propane? and how many watts? Reply by PM if you prefer.

It's a 3500 watt gas generator from Home Hardware. I wanted a Hyundai 5000 watt with electric start - it has wheels to move it easily - but was twice as expensive as the 3500. I use it during a hydro outage just for the freezer, fridge, stove, and my computer.

Unionist

Thanks, Boom Boom.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Most folks here with generators have much larger generators than mine, but my needs are simpler - I live alone. And the hydro has been reliable in 2010 - usually just goes down for mantenance, but a couple of times a small transformer blew. Quebec Hydro uses a helicopter from nearby Natashquan to get their maintenance people here. If the weather is lousy when the power is down - that's when we need the generators, as it'll be a while before the problem is fixed. If we get our connecting road to the mainland finished in 2012 as promised, well, that obviously would be better for us with regard to hydro folks getting here faster.

Unionist

We were visiting friends in the Laurentians on New Year's eve, and we had a power outage from about 9 pm to about 1 am. They didn't have a generator (they're weekend/summer cottagers), but most of their neighbours did, of varying kinds and capacities. That's what got me wondering - especially when you use hydro for heating (or even, I guess, for pilot lights?). The 1998 ice storm left many people freezing.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Oh - you reminded me. I also use my generator to run the furnace fan in cold weather!   Most folks here have small wood stoves used for  heat and sometimes cooking. I have a big wood furnace that has to be run with the furnace fan on. Next summer I am adding a 'mud room' to my house that will be heated with a small wood stove - which will also heat the house if it's not really cold, instead of the much bigger furnace.

As for a generator for the house or cottage, I strongly suggest a 5000 watt minimum - the smaller ones are delicate and in my opinion not worth the money. For about $650 you can get a new 5000 watt generator with wheels and electric start, and six outlets for power cords.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

 

I have a small generator just 1400 watts for use in power outages.  It is enough to run the freezer, refrigerator, a few lights and the water pump.  Can't get water right now without power because we're on a well.   Right I just have it set up to use the plug ins on the generator but I'll be setting up the electrical system so that with the flick of a couple of switches the necessities will be powered in a long term outage.  A larger generator would do more and any time you add heat production as a necessity the power needs goes way way up.   Heat at my place is wood supplmented by some electric heating.  The electric isn't necessary when the power goes down.  

 Last year I think the power went out briefly a couple of times.  The year before it went off a lot.  At that time I was totally dependent on grid power for heat.  During one outage I had 20 week old chicks under a heat lamp in the dining room, a puppy and two kittens.  I could have likely survived an extended outage but the animals were another story.  When it became apparent that the power wasn't going to come on any time soon and no one seemed to know when it would come back,  I ended up calling around  to find some heat.  I drove the menagerie an hour an half away to house in town which had gas heat and the chicks spent a couple days in front of the gas fire.   My family still gets a kick out of that story.

 

 

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Boom Boom if you don't mind me asking what's the going rate for a cord of wood in your area?

George Victor

You can always tell its a farmer or a fan of Robert Frost when "bush" cord is assumed.  Wink Few city folk can afford those any more.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

George Victor wrote:

You can always tell its a farmer or a fan of Robert Frost when "bush" cord is assumed.  Wink Few city folk can afford those any more.

 

:D

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Boom Boom wrote:

ElizaQ wrote:

Boom Boom if you don't mind me asking what's the going rate for a cord of wood in your area?

 

I have no idea. I buy wood by the komatick load for $25 - $30 a load - pulled by skidoo.  My guess is that's slightly more than half a cord of wood.

I have enough firewood stored for the next two winters plus this one if we continue to get unusually warm winter weather.

That sounds similar to where I am.   A cord is just a rough estimate here too.  It's roughly what would measure as  cords but it's more like what fits in the back of the truck of the guy who has a bush lot up the road.   It's around 75 to 80 bucks split, delivered and stacked.

this_guy

George Victor wrote:

"I can not believe that people who would be so blais about those who are the most vulnerable in our society and basically seem to suggest they should just suck it up for the greater good can still call themselves progressive on anything including the environment"

Well that is an interesting interpretation, but perhaps I should remind you that taxes are what pay for social services, health care, education, transit, etc. which do benefit everyone.  To me lowering taxes is not progressive, but the taxes have to be levied in appropriate ways.  Although a lot of lower income people smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol in quantities above the national average, most people would not advocate lowering taxes on these during difficult economic times.  I am not saying that the most vulnerable in society should be left to just fend for themselves, but tax relief or other forms of financial assistance should come in a better way instead of tying it to how much fossil fuels are consumed for heating.

And from another perspective... Is it progressive to give the Canadian poor the ability to burn more fossil fuels when those emissions will cause catastrophic climate change mostly in the third world, where people are much much poorer?

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

George Victor wrote:

You can always tell its a farmer or a fan of Robert Frost when "bush" cord is assumed.  Wink Few city folk can afford those any more.

 

I just looked up the prices in Toronto.   Full cord of mixed hardwood...495.00.  Face cord 150-200 dollars.  Stacking is extra too.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I have my own woodsplitter - electric - now in its fifth year, works like a charm. Best $300 I ever spent.

George Victor

this_guy wrote:

George Victor wrote:

"I can not believe that people who would be so blais about those who are the most vulnerable in our society and basically seem to suggest they should just suck it up for the greater good can still call themselves progressive on anything including the environment"

Well that is an interesting interpretation, but perhaps I should remind you that taxes are what pay for social services, health care, education, transit, etc. which do benefit everyone.  To me lowering taxes is not progressive, but the taxes have to be levied in appropriate ways.  Although a lot of lower income people smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol in quantities above the national average, most people would not advocate lowering taxes on these during difficult economic times.  I am not saying that the most vulnerable in society should be left to just fend for themselves, but tax relief or other forms of financial assistance should come in a better way instead of tying it to how much fossil fuels are consumed for heating.

And from another perspective... Is it progressive to give the Canadian poor the ability to burn more fossil fuels when those emissions will cause catastrophic climate change mostly in the third world, where people are much much poorer?

 

If you look very carefully, you'll see that you are quoting LTU...although I am in agreement with his sentiments, and made the same case in an earlier post.

And I'm afraid the tenor of your thinking : " Although a lot of lower income people smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol in quantities above the national average, most people would not advocate lowering taxes on these during difficult economic times" leaves me cold, unable to say more, lest I break into nasty language.

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