By Jason Kirby, Tamsin McMahon, Rosemary Westwood, Nick Taylor-Vaisey, and Mika Rekai - Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 0 Comments
Disappearing bike lanes, pricy picture-hanging, strip club cash
For taxpayers concerned with out-of-control government spending, 2012 started on a bright enough note. Last January, the Department of National Defence announced it wanted to buy 20,000 custom-printed stress balls for its staff. Once Defence Minister Peter MacKay caught wind of the plan, he quickly cancelled the contract, calling it an “unnecessary expense of taxpayer money.” Noble words, but it was a brief reprieve. As Maclean’s found once again when researching this project, whether it was Ottawa, the provinces, municipalities or the organizations they oversee, governments couldn’t help themselves when it came to doling out cash. What follows is but a fraction of the foolish, wasteful and blatantly stupid ways governments found to spend taxpayers’ money. To uncover this year’s 99 items we pored over press releases and auditor generals’ reports, sifted through proactive disclosure statements and delved into media databases across the country, ferreting out examples of spending that occurred in 2012 or came to light last year. There will be those who take issue with some items on this list, arguing, for instance, that funding rock concerts boosts the economy. But the reality is that at every level of government, we’re in far worse fiscal shape than we were even a year ago, despite all the talk of cutbacks and austerity. And as this list makes clear, those who control the public purse have yet to really change their ways.
By Cathy Gulli - Monday, November 9, 2009 at 11:24 AM - 5 Comments
An economist explains why you shouldn’t buy gifts
Joel Waldfogel doesn’t think we should bother buying Christmas presents. Not because the annual ritual commercializes a religious occasion or goes against the very spirit of the holidays. Rather, the economist says he’s against gift-giving because most of the time we’re just not good at it—and that results in a massive waste of money. “The problem when other folks buy stuff for us is that no matter how well-intentioned they are,” explains Waldfogel, “they buy the wrong stuff.”
The reason, according to Waldfogel’s new book, Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays, is because no one knows our own likes, dislikes and needs as well as we do. Givers are almost guaranteed to fail at finding that perfect present. At Christmas, this affliction is compounded by the throng of people we’re obliged to buy for—bosses, third cousins, the neighbour and the nanny, maybe her dog, too. The result is what Waldfogel calls the “red tornado,” referring to the alpha giver, Santa. “It just lifts stuff up and almost randomly drops it under our tree.” Brass golf tees? Plink. Innocuous scented candle? Plunk. Tribal walking stick? Urgh. Continue…