For today’s trip into the surreal world of the ImagineCalgary civic plan I am going to have a look into the city of Calgary’s plans to manage our goods and services. This section demonstrates just how intrusive Calgary’s city management wants to get in our lives and businesses.
The first part of the ImagineCalgary goods and services plan delves into food. They really do want to tell us what to eat. That plan inspired the more in-depth; “CALGARY FOOD SYSTEM ASSESSMENT & ACTION PLAN” which is possibly even more crazy than the ImagineCalgary document itself. I broke down the food plan in all it’s loopy glory in last year. I do recommend reading it and will leave the food section of ImagineCalgary alone in this posting.
Now on to ImagineCalgary’s plan to micromanage our goods and services. In this case they start with fluffy statements and then get more specific into the crazy direct interventions as you read along to the point of proposing free land for select business friends.
System Built environment and infrastructure
Calgarians access a wide variety of locally produced goods and services and consume these in a responsible manner. We support and consume responsibly produced goods and services from around the world.
OK here is the broad goal. Not only we are to access locally produced goods (I hear those Calgary bananas are terrific), but we are expected to consume these goods in a responsible manner. Does that mean I can’t eat too many of these locally produced bananas lest I get fat? Does this mean I will be monitored to ensure that I compost the peel?
Now I see below that this “We” does indeed support consumption of imported goods (again only if done so in a manner that they deem responsible) as long as these goods and services were produced in a manner that they deep to have been responsible.
This of course is the sort of garbage that inspired the delusional city councilor Brian Pincott to crusade against legal items on menus in Chinese restaurants in Calgary. The ImagineCalgary people and their flakey proponents like Pincott truly do want to tell us what we are allowed to eat or utilize as consumers in general. Courts in Ontario have already proven that this is totally out of the jurisdiction of civic governments. Despite these legal realities, our ideologues on city council want to waste court and legislative time further trying to beat those legal precedents.
As I have said before, if one has the stomach to delve deeply into the ImagineCalgary plan, one can see where much of the city council lunacy stems from.
1 TARGET By 2036, over 50 per cent of Calgary businesses adopt a protocol for sustainable practices and report on it regularly.
The along with the word “vibrant”, the ImagineCalgary crowd loves to beat the hell out of the word “sustainable”. The word appears well over 100 times in their blueprint alone. The reason that word is beloved by the framers of ImagineCalgary is that the definition of the term is vague and can be bent to whatever need they like. Environmentally sustainable? Ethically? Economically? The word is only limited by the user’s imagination.
Now in light of it being so tough to determine what “sustainable” means in this context, it does make it disturbing to imagine half of our city’s businesses being strong-armed into adopting binding protocols on this that as is said above would have to be reported regularly. Reported to who? The sustainability police? What if the business does not meet the definition of sustainability that day? Will there be fines? Revocation of licenses? Sanctions? Finger waggling?
Business people are ambitious and independent minded. I can’t see even 10% willingly binding themselves into something like this. Clearly the ImagineCalgary creators realize a bit of this as this is one of the few goals that they have with less than 90% compliance expectations. All the same, I fear for how these busybodies plan to get half of businesses to get on board with this.
Oh but wait, they of course do give some indication of their strategies:
STRATEGY 1 Develop incentives to support businesses that operate in an environmentally sustainable way.
Support the attraction and retention of sustainable industry. Support the design of eco-efficient industrial and business centres.Enhance e-commerce infrastructure within Calgary.
Now none of the above strategies needs any help from the city. The free market will decide which industries can be sustained here and efficiencies in consumption come rather clearly through supply and demand.
To allow market choice would be to lose control and the ImagineCalgary gang could not abide by such. Real markets likely would not fit within their definition of sustainability thus must be stunted.
Develop incentives? Attract and retain?
Let’s face it folks, the only way governments try to do this is by taxing the hell out of the successful businesses in order to pad and subsidize the economically non-viable ones.
There are few better recipes for market collapse and corruption than the empowerment of government to pick and choose businesses that they will “support” at the expense of others. We can’t let Calgary city hall get any more deeply into this game than it already is.
STRATEGY 2 Develop a sustainable business ethic that Calgary businesses can sign on to.
Promote sustainable business and products (through labeling, associations, etc.).
This kind of gimmick is neat. It is a form of public shaming that local governments can use to push businesses around.
First, bureaucrats at city hall draft a “sustainable business ethic” of their own definition. An business association of sorts is created that of course only allows businesses who have bound themselves into this sustainability definition. The city will use tax dollars to promote and advertise that consumers should try to only go to businesses that display such and such sticker to indicate they are part of this association.
While I am sure the city would never outright tell us not to go to a particular business, they will happily imply that you perhaps are not a good citizen should you take your money to one of those icky businesses that refused to sign on to their protocol and join their new association.
Now we start to see how the ImagineCalgary folks expect to get as many as 50%of businesses to sign on to their “protocol” thus losing choice in operating their own enterprises. Sneaky but effective. Not really a new strategy, think back to the “look for the union label” campaigns only imagine a powerful government doing it.
STRATEGY 3 Ensure Calgary businesses adopt cradle-to-cradle responsibility of products. Ensure businesses think longer-term when selling goods and services.
When they go from “encourage” to “ensure” one rightly hears alarm bells. This is the sort of statement that leads to legislation and penalties.
What is “Cradle-to-Cradle” you say? In short it is a flakey environmentalist ideology that would demand profound market intervention to enforce and would put the cost of consumer goods through the roof. It is an ideological theory that businesses are welcome to willingly embrace but we would be crazy to allow our city busybodies to enforce such practices as they would like to.
STRATEGY 4 Encourage the trade of locally based goods and services.
Ensure businesses think longer-term when selling goods and services
This one starts with “encourage” but ends with “ensure” so again we see the barrel of the government gun-to-the-head peeking out.
In this case “encourage” when it comes to protectionism means tariffs. Of course such things usually only apply to countries. Now we can see part of why Naheed Nenshi and many of his compatriots are so eager to expand the taxation powers of the city. Taxation is not simply a way to raise government funds, it can be and often is used as a punitive form of control over citizens and enterprise.
The ways of “ensuring” along with targeted taxation are limitless and who defines what is thinking in the longer-term? Will this be a license requirement for business? Another mandatory-but-not-mandatory business association?
Alas though, we are still only at the tip of the iceberg with where these people want to go in building their ideological utopia out of Calgary.
TARGET By 2016, Calgary has a strong and diverse portfolio of locally based businesses.
This one has a very short timeline and really is a fluff statement with no measure. Most of the targets in the plan have those ridiculous targeted percentages attached to them. I guess we should be happy that this one lacks this.
The entire goal above can be reached simply through having a good environment in which to do business. That means reasonable (needs reduction) red-tape and regulation. Reasonable local costs for real-estate, taxation etc. and free consumer and business mobility to ensure that services develop to fit the needs.
Sadly, the ImagineCalgary goal is to massively increase market intervention through regulation and raised taxes as well as raising cost of operation due to explosive real-estate prices through mandated density targets. This will only backfire with catastrophic consequences but despite so many world examples of why government needs to stay clear of business the likes of the ImagineCalgary gang plan to push forth and micromanage our lives and endeavors.
Now on to the strategies. It is not an exaggeration to call the strategies below socialism. This is the definition of it, only the degree is in question.
STRATEGY 1 Provide incentives to diversify our economic base.
Provide seed money to help support the establishment of local businesses and industries in strategic sectors.
Explore options for utilizing publicly owned land to help support/incubate locally owned businesses.
Explore the option of using vacant and underutilized buildings as local business incubators.
Support tax incentives for local business.
Create economic development programs to diversify local business.
Well in this one they come right out and say it: “provide seed money” and in “strategic sectors” of course. I imagine organic hemp-shops and bicycle repair shops will be determined as “strategic” thus worthy of being lavished with “seed money” that will be taken from the pockets of the productive through taxation. This is corporate welfare even if the recipients may indeed to be from some smaller businesses. This is direct market intervention and this will fail at monumental cost to us all as it invariably does.
While these folks are in love with the term “sustainability” the concept is completely lost when the word “economic” is placed in front of it. There are reasons why certain businesses do not exist. Usually it is because nobody wants the damn things. Supply and demand have been proven infinitely more effective in determining what businesses we need or do not need than any government ever has. It is ridiculous that our City Hall wants to go down this insane road.
Google MagCan or Novatel Alberta to see to relatively recent and local examples what happens when idiotic bureaucrats determine that they can create local industries with “seed money” from taxpayers.
Of course just giving money to friends and preferred businesses is not enough for these utopian urban-planners. This plan calls for giving land to certain businesses as well. Why dedicate civic land to things like parks and paths when it can be given to vibrant, sustainable, handpicked business ventures with some tax dollars on top?
Oh but as we see, land and money are not enough alone. The plan here also says that buildings that they determine (by what measure) to be underutilized can be given to the business friends they have gathered as well. This does not even specify if these are public-owned properties or not, only that they have determined that these have been underutilized by some unknown measure. What sort of utilization quotas are we speaking of now?
If free money, free land and a free building are not enough for the Chosen Ones to flourish as businesses, we can see that there are plans for “tax incentives” as well. In other words, these businesses that are determined by the tall-foreheads will get tax breaks in order to ensure that they may directly compete and possibly eliminate other businesses that do not offer the practices, goods and services that ImagineCalgary deem to be good for the collective.
STRATEGY 2 Develop information that promotes locally based businesses in Calgary and its region.
Create a directory of locally based businesses.
Create economic development programs to diversify local business.
I guess one should go farther into the ideology of what these people consider “locally based businesses” as are not all businesses in Calgary based locally by their very nature? You see, this is another of those ambiguous terms that can be used when they begin to pick and choose between the businesses that they feel are good for us or bad. WalMart while employing thousands and providing affordable consumer goods for example is bad as they are multinational and sell foreign produced goods. A small shoemaker who considers himself an artist and only uses organic leather from nearby cows that were massaged daily and put to sleep with poems from Calgary’s poet-laureate would be a good local business and must be preserved and promoted at all costs.
Create a directory of locally based businesses? With all of the money and time spent on this documents and these assholes suddenly have decided that they can invent the Yellow Pages???
The framers of ImagineCalgary while being ideological zealots are not complete idiots. They know that countless directories on paper and online list local businesses. What they are getting at is that they will determine their own list of worthy businesses and advertize them in order to create yet another competitive edge for their Chosen Ones.
Money, land, buildings, tax breaks and now free advertising for certain businesses. As one can see, it can pay very well to be connected to the right folks in Calgary City Hall as these plans develop.
STRATEGY 3 Support flexible standards to encourage a wide variety of local businesses. Enable buildings that can adapt to a wide range of business types.
Provide land use districts that facilitate the development of flexible spaces.
As with many portions of the ImagineCalgary document, this is a bit vague.
Like the sudden discovery of the yellowpages though, it looks like ImagineCalgary has stumbled across the concept of the shopping mall when speaking of buildings that provide a range of business types.
Of course all of these things can and will come into being without the direct manage of City Hall. To allow nature to take it’s course in these matters would be to lose some control. That clashes directly with the goals of ImagineCalgary.
There is so much more to cover in this blueprint of madness. I have hit all I can for today. In finishing on the theme of control though I do want to hit one more target.
TARGET By 2036, all Calgarians consume more responsibly.
It is the short and sweet targets that scare one the most. How will they get us all to consume in what they determine to be a responsible manner? Not just some, but “all”.
Lofty and scarey goals indeed.
Remember, Naheed Nenshi some members of our current council took part in making this document. These people believe in the goals and means within ImagineCalgary and intend to pursue them.