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16 MLAs retiring from BC politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation – Chilliwack Progress

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As a number of provincial politicians have bowed out of running for re-election ahead of Oct. 24, a national tax reform advocacy group is highlighting the cost of political retirement– to the tune of $20 million – with taxpayers footing the bill.

“While we thank these retiring politicians for their work, taxpayers need to know the huge cost of these gold-plated pensions,” said Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“These pensions simply aren’t affordable for taxpayers. MLAs need to reform their pension plan.”

According to the government, MLA pensions are calculated by taking the highest earning years of the retiring MLAs and factoring in their years of work. The annual pension payments are capped at 70 per cent of the highest earning years.

That means that for every $1 the politicians contribute to their own pension plans, taxpayers pay $4, Sims said.

“It’s time to end these rich pension schemes,” said Sims, adding that MLAs not seeking re-election are allowed to collect the equivalent of their salaries for up to 15 months while they look for new jobs, and they get up to $9,000 if they need skills training.

The federation calculated the expected pensions for 16 retiring MLAs, and determined that former house speaker and BC Liberal MLA Linda Reid is expected to collect the highest per-year amount, roughly $107,000 annually when she turns 65 years old.

Reid, who represented the Richmond South Centre since 1991, is the longest-serving woman in B.C.’s government history.

Other estimated pension totals for MLAs include:

  • Tracy Redies, B.C. Liberal MLA – ineligible due to less than six years in office.
  • Claire Trevena, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Shane Simpson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Scott Fraser, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Carole James, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $82,000 per year, $2 million lifetime.
  • Michelle Mungall, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
  • Judy Darcy, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $37,000 per year, $647,000 lifetime.
  • Doug Donaldson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
  • Rich Coleman, former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $109,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.
  • John Yap, former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $65,000 per year, $1.5 million lifetime
  • Darryl Plecas, Independent Speaker – estimated $38,000 per year, $714,000 lifetime.
  • Andrew Weaver, former Green Party Leader – estimated $31,000 per year, $764,000 lifetime.
  • Donna Barnett, B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $46,000 per year, $400,000 lifetime.
  • Linda Larson – B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $29,000 per year, $469,000 lifetime.
  • Ralph Sultan, former B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $74,000 per year.
  • Linda Reid, former B.C. Liberal Speaker – estimated $107,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.

@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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Curtis Sittenfeld on Politics and Ambiguity – The New Yorker

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Photograph by Colin McPherson / Getty

In “A for Alone,” your story in this week’s issue, Irene comes up with a kind of conceptual art project based on Mike Pence’s credo that, if you’re a married man, you don’t spend time alone with another woman. The story is set in the fall of 2017. What is significant about that time period, and what does working with recent history allow you to do, narratively?

There are two reasons I set the story in 2017. The first is that it’s not now—that depicting events in a time clearly before the pandemic means the characters can do things that once seemed unremarkable, like meet for lunch inside restaurants, without those actions needing to be explained. The second reason is that when Irene, the protagonist, refers to “an article about Mike Pence that got a lot of attention,” there’s a specific article I had in mind: it ran in the Washington Post on March 28, 2017; it was written by the journalist Ashley Parker; and the headline was “Karen Pence is the vice president’s ‘prayer warrior,’ gut check and shield” (yes, it was actually a profile of Karen Pence). Parker’s article refers to a 2002 article in another publication, The Hill, revealing that Pence “never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side.” I believe that the Post article brought the Billy Graham rule into the wider cultural consciousness.

Irene sets about having lunch alone with various men to ask them their thoughts about the Mike Pence rule, and to have them fill out questionnaires about whether they spend time alone with women. These lunches give the story its structure. Is it a relief to light upon that kind of organizing pattern? Or does it feel somehow constraining?

Well, constraints can actually be a relief. The story’s structure is, indeed, very simple—though possibly misleading in the first half—and I made two choices that imposed additional constraints. I decided to give information about the protagonist only as needed, rather than preëmptively, and I decided to reveal central facts within dialogue, which is often considered taboo by writers. Or, even worse, it’s considered cheesy, the kind of crutch employed by, say, a soap opera: “Bernard, how can I run away with you when you’re the man who burned down my mansion and tried to run over my cousin?!” Naturally, I enjoyed flouting these supposed rules.

This is, in its oblique way, a political story. Much like two of your novels, “American Wife” and “Rodham,” it uses political facts and narrative to go off in its own direction. What repeatedly draws you to politics as a source for your writing? Are there novels or stories that you look to as examples of the form done really well?

In general, I’m interested in the discrepancies between our public selves and private selves, and those discrepancies can be particularly dramatic and intense in politics, which feature literal popularity contests. There’s just so much pressure on politicians, and those close to them, to act a particular way. I suppose I’m also drawn to fiction about politics because there’s an idea (that perhaps no one believes) that, in the political realm, personality is peripheral and policy is what’s being sold, debated, et cetera. But, of course, this pretense just makes personality more intriguing. As for overtly political novels that are done well, “The Line of Beauty,” by Alan Hollinghurst, is pretty perfect.

An irony of Irene’s project is that maybe Mike Pence is right. There’s a sense, though, that, even if Pence is right, that’s not the worst thing in the world. Tell us more about the ambiguity of that ending?

Perhaps the point of ambiguity is that it’s ambiguous? And a story should speak for itself? With that disclaimer out of the way, I definitely, unequivocally don’t think Mike Pence is right. I can’t imagine any adult disputing the fact that sometimes some individuals who are in monogamous relationships are attracted to people other than their partners. But that’s not Mike Pence’s insight any more than America was Columbus’s discovery. The part specific to Pence, Graham, et cetera. is how to behave in reaction to that fact. And their choice is wrong for a bunch of reasons, foremost among them that they’re imposing their will on other people in a way that (professionally and financially) disadvantages the others. They’re also ignoring the existence of anyone who isn’t heterosexual. Even as she tries to dismiss the Billy Graham rule, Irene is implicitly giving credence to it rather than simply ignoring it—and perhaps her inability to ignore it is due to her being a married heterosexual woman. But I actually don’t think the salient question is whether adhering to the Billy Graham rule achieves its goal. As Irene’s friend Maude reminds her at the end, that’s one way to live a life, but there are many others.

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A look at stock market history around elections and whether politics really matter – CNBC

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden answer a question during the second and final presidential debate at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, October 22, 2020.
Morry Gash | Pool | Reuters

Does it matter for stocks who wins the White House? Is there anything unusual about the candidates this year that could impact the markets, regardless of who wins? 

For answers, we turn to Ed Clissold, chief U.S. Strategist for Ned Davis Research, who has studied elections and the impact on markets going back to 1900. 

This Q&A was derived from written research and an interview with Clissold. It has been edited for brevity.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about this election and the impact on the markets. What’s your take?

Part of the problem is that this is an unusual situation. The incumbent is in the middle of a recession and a big drop in the market, even though that occurred earlier in the year. I don’t mean a “recession” as technically defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); I mean that a large portion of the U.S. believes we are in a recession.

Why is that perception important?

When those conditions are in place, the incumbent is a serious underdog.  Since 1900, the incumbent party has won five times and lost nine when there was a 20% decline in the DJIA or a recession in the election year.   But the last incumbent to win under these circumstances was Truman in 1948.  Since 1952, no party has retained the White House when there was either a 20% decline in the markets or a recession, and both have taken place in 2020. 

But isn’t this a unique recession?  This was caused by Covid-19.

Yes. Because the cause of the 2020 recession is an exogenous shock, one of the biggest questions heading into the fall is whether voters will blame President Trump for the economy. Most recessions have a more complicated genesis than this one, and Trump is certainly trying to make the case that he is the better one to handle this.

Is there anything unique about Biden?  He is proposing changes in the tax code on both a personal and corporate level.  That matters to Wall Street, doesn’t it?

Yes. The main concerns we have heard from our clients is that higher taxes and more regulations would be detrimental to stocks.

OK, you’ve made it clear the circumstances are unusual this year.  But what about the historical record?  Does the stock market do better or worse when a Republican or a Democrat is in the White House?

The markets tend to go up whether there is a Democrat or a Republican in the White House. When adjusted for inflation, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained an average of 3.8% annually under Democrats since 1900, versus 1.1% under Republicans.

Why is that?

The President is not as influential on the economy as many people think. There are many factors that drive returns and who is in the White House is only one of many factors, including the fact that the U.S. is a capitalist society, where the means of production is mostly in private hands, and that there is a court system that enforces contracts.

What about when one party controls both the Congress and the White House?

When Republicans control both the Congress and the White House, returns have averaged 7.09% a year.  Under Democratic presidents, the market has risen faster when there has been a check on their power. When Democrats control the Congress and the Presidency, the market has risen an average of 2.96% a year, but 5.21% with a Democratic President and a Republican Congress.  

What about immediately after an election, going into the end of the year?

The market tends to perform better when the incumbent party wins than when the incumbent party loses.

Why is that?

It’s likely because the market often reacts to uncertainty, and a change in party leadership represents an additional unknown.

Does it matter for that short period whether it is a Republican or Democrat who has won or lost?

The strongest gains going into the end of the year occur when incumbent Republicans win, and the biggest losses when incumbent Republicans have lost, on average, likely because Republicans often positioned themselves as pro-business.

Does that outperformance when the Republicans have lost extend into the following year?

No. That relative performance has reversed in post-election years, with the strongest average gain in years following incumbent Republican losses. 

So what does this tell us?  Seems like this debate about the Republican vs. Democrat impact on stocks is a lot about perception.

Yes. Party control may be more about sentiment than fundamentals in most cases. Also, once the election is over, investors can focus on other things, like earnings, economic growth, or interest rates, so whatever sentiment-driven market action that occurs in the election year tends to fade and reverse itself.

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US VP warns Dems against playing politics over vaccine – Anadolu Agency

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ANKARA 

US Vice President Mike Pence has warned Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris against playing politics with COVID-19 issues. 

Biden, Harris, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, need to “stop playing politics with people’s lives by undermining confidence in a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine,” Pence told Fox News on Sunday.

“The president has speeded up the process through Operation Warp Speed, but we cut no corners on safety, and we are not going to distribute a coronavirus vaccine until the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] and independent evaluation say it is safe and effective for the American people,” he added.

The FDA approved Thursday Gilead Sciences’ Remdesivir, a drug touted by President Donald Trump who received it earlier this month after contracting COVID-19.

On Friday, the FDA also gave the green light to Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca to continue their vaccine trials after both companies earlier paused their trials as some participants in trials became ill.

Some Democrats have claimed Trump was acting reckless in coronavirus treatment options, arguing the president has been expediting trials to have a vaccine ready before the election on Nov. 3.

“I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump,” Biden said last month.

The US administration implemented Operation Warp Speed, which offers to pay Pfizer and BioNTech $1.95 billion for 100 million doses if their vaccine proves “safe and effective”, and a $1.6 billion deal with Novavax to manufacture and deliver 100 million doses by next January.

The US has more than 8.63 million cases and over 225,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to latest data from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, figures show over 43 million infections and more than 1.15 million deaths.



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