Paying for something you don’t use

Last night, a USA-based company phoned me with a vacation offer. I could stay with my family of five for 7 days in Orlando, Florida and go on a 7-day cruise to the Bahamas for only $899.

After enduring their sales pitches for many minutes, they finally asked me when I will I be going. I told them I am not going. They asked me if I thought it was a good deal. I told them I thought it was a good deal for someone who regualrly travels to Orlando or goes on crusises.

It certainly wasn’t a good deal for me. I would have had to spend $900 (not including travel expenses to get to Orlando from Lethbridge) in order to enjoy a vacation I never do. I never go to Orlando, and I never go on cruises.

It’s like going to the grocery and seeing a 1 L jar of sauerkraut on sale for only $5. If I regularly buy sauerkraut for $5 for 500 mL, then this is a good deal. If I never buy sauerkraut, then this is a terrible deal: I have to spend $5 more dollars than I would have spent otherwise.

This vacation package was the same thing. I took having a “manager” come on the phone to try closing the deal before I finally got it through their heads.

Income Splitting

Some countries allow income splitting when a couple files their tax returns. The idea is that the higher wage earner basically transfers some of his/her income to the lowest wage earner and hopefully drops into a lower tax bracket. This ultimately means the higher wage earner pays less taxes.

The downside is that such a practise is unfair to single wage earners and may discourage some people from entering the workforce (so their partner can pay less taxes).

How do you feel about income splitting?

Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership

Despite not having much to contribute to oil and gas boom in Alberta, southern Alberta still seems intent on cashing in on the energy sector somehow. It seems Economic Development Lethbridge, SouthGrow Regional Initiative and Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance recently joined together to attract, develop and build alternative energy projects, including wind, solar and bio-energy. The new partnership is known as the Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership.

John Kolk, chair of the SAAEP Advisory Committee stated:

“A natural abundance of wind and sunshine in the region (recording nearly 2,400 hours of sunshine a year) provides the needed inputs to use the latest wind and solar technologies to generate an increase in renewable energy. Combine that with the opportunities for crop producers to benefit from ethanol production and improved waste management through bio-mass, and this region is in an excellent position to be a leader in these alternative, clean sources of fuel, electricity and thermal energy.”

Some interesting tidbits I discovered:

  • Wind producers make up approximately 25% of the tax revenue for the MD of Pincher Creek.
  • There are no bio-diesel production facilities in Alberta, despite the fact that within four years 35% of gasoline should have at least 10% ethanol.
  • Current consumption in Alberta of diesel is 5.1 billion litres annually and a 5% bio-diesel blend target for on road transportation will require approximately 255 million litres of bio-diesel.
  • Green heat technologies, including solar thermal technologies, could reduce GHG emissions by 84 MT

Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have a website.