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Province Taking Over TTC, If You Don’t Like High Prices Go Shopping, And… the Thrashers? Oh, really?

pizzasubway.jpgWill the province take over the TTC? Apparently such rumours are all the buzz in political backrooms. Which are kind of like political bathrooms, except that the backrooms have no toilets or sinks or indeed any serious practical use, which is why they feature so prominently in government. Torontoist’s suggestion, from its own backroom: let Pizza Pizza take over the TTC. Then we would at least get Rip-Off Charity Pizza Days more often.
Jim Flaherty’s plan to help Canadians deal with excessive price disadvantages due to the dramatic rise of the loonie: shop around! That’s right, folks: the federal government’s plan to beat prices down to manageable levels is, and I’m sure you’re shocked here, to let the invisible hand of the market do all the work for them.
More taxes could be on the way for Toronto. Again, this story, with no actual grounding in policy or official statement, comes hot from the political backrooms of Toronto. Does your home have a backroom? Talk to your neighborhood contractor about installing a backroom today!
Today’s global warming news that is horrible: we’re on track for mass extinctions in 100 years if seas continue to warm. In response to this study, the Federal Tories again pointed to the invisible hand of the market, which will do all the work for us. (The invisible hand of the market has been doing crunches with an invisible hand-cruncher machine.)
And finally, the Atlanta Thrashers beat the Leafs last night. Again: the Atlanta Thrashers.
Photo by Alfred Ng from the Torontoist Flickr pool.

Comments

  • x_the_x

    Re: “That’s right, folks: the federal government’s plan to beat prices down to manageable levels is, and I’m sure you’re shocked here, to let the invisible hand of the market do all the work for them.”
    As opposed to what, price caps? If you had read the Globe article on the same subject, you would have found that market competition has already reacted to the price change with retailers in Ottawa selling books at their $US price with $CDN at par. But why let a (perceived) problem solve itself when you can have a politician grandstand and tinker?
    Also, prices are “manageable” as demonstrated by the willingness of people to pay them. But you know better from your arm chair what motivates millions of individual consumer decisions, right?

  • The Explosively Talented Christopher Bird

    Dude, individual businesses reacting to the heightened dollar by jumping to American price points isn’t new (Toronto comic and book stores have been doing it for years) and more importantly it isn’t even close to a valid comprehensive strategy for dealing with the problem, seeing as how that idea just won’t work for businesses with a less intense profit margin than bookstores and doesn’t deal with the real issue at hand.
    Forcing Canadian businesses to worsen their profit margins to deal with a “problem” that exists only because certain sectors of both the American and Canadian economies enjoy artificially increased profits from the heightened dollar means forcing Canadian businesses to become less effective because the Tories just don’t want to deal with the issue.
    But oops, I shoulda read that Globe article, that would’ve set me straight!

  • Ben

    If the province took over the TTC, would they cover all of the operating costs? I assume that they would.
    I really have no idea what a takeover implies.

  • rek

    Why would the province even consider taking over the TTC when it seems reluctant to contribute significantly less funding and support?
    I’m also not sure why x_the_x has such a hard on for capitalism and feels the need to show it off here. Torontoist’s collective editorial bent isn’t exactly a secret.
    Does it help the Canadian economy if I shop around and find it’s cheaper to order online from the US than to buy from a local supplier? No, it doesn’t. But when have rapid capitalists and neo-liberals cared about national boundaries? Freedom is the unrestricted flow of money, no matter who ends up in the gutter, right x_the_x?

  • bigbluebanana

    re: “Torontoist’s collective editorial bent”
    I like hearing other people’s opinions, even if I don’t subsribe to them. It keeps my mind active and sometimes reinforces my own opinion. So, even though I’m not crazy about what x_the_x has to say on this issue, I’m happy to see some diversity in the comment section.
    Do you think there an implication that users should bend with Torontoist?

  • x_the_x

    I put it to you again: solve the “problem”. Price caps (which would likely require wage caps to be “effective”)? Or is there some other invasive and unnecessary restraint that I have forgotten?
    What is a “less intense” profit margin? I also don’t understand your next paragraph. I don’t think I was advocating for government regulation of profit margins, which is what you seem to suggest. Again, how does one “deal with the issue”?
    Re: rek – that’s funny. As the editors have self-servingly said numerous times, this page doesn’t have an editorial bent! It ranges from the extreme left to the soft left, and they can’t be bothered to find contributors with other views because, hey, everyone they know thinks the same way. I happen to believe, perhaps naively, that better policy outcomes and ideas can emerge from discussion among people with different views. If you just want your own beliefs echoed back to you, there are corners of the web that have been made completely inhospitable to reality, and I suggest you go there.
    I’d point to a few web sources that make absolute mash out of your argument that follows, but I know you wouldn’t read it so why should I bother.

  • beth maher

    Ok, as someone who was hired to write for Torontoist, and does so no longer, I’m gonna set the record (rather unnecessarily) straight so that David doesn’t have to, and you don’t have to whine about the editor feeling the need to defend himself when his baby is attacked wah wah wah.
    Torontoist doesn’t hire their friends. I knew absolutely no-one here before I applied. Most people who are hired don’t.
    They hire pretty much anybody who can show that they have an aptitude for blogging and a passion for the city.
    If you can do that, and you have a right leaning tendency, you should apply. They will probably hire you. It is a simple as that.
    But if you’re cranky all the time, you might not have the best shot. Although Marc seems to make a pretty good go of it.

  • Marc Lostracco

    We’re always looking for writers and if someone is good at it, has something to say, and is able to make the serious commitment, it doesn’t matter what political/social bent they are. Aside from hate speech or libel, anything goes if it’s interesting to Torontonians.

  • Lands Down

    I really would like to know what Chris Bird would like the conservatives to do too. I take it you’re implying that the suppliers are maintaining artificially high wholesale prices? What would you have the government do? What CAN they legally do?
    I wouldn’t call myself a proponent of laissez faire capitalism but this doesn’t seem to be a situation conducive to government interference. Consumers should speak with their wallets.

  • The Explosively Talented Christopher Bird

    I put it to you again: solve the “problem”.
    Some form of statutory law prohibiting or at least limiting what amounts to risk-free currency speculation? Negotiation and/or meetings with prominent industry leaders to try and politely point out that in the information age, “it takes a long time to change price points” is kind of dumb, not to mention unresponsive and thus unhealthy for their business model?
    x, there are always solutions beyond your intrusive-government nightmares. The point is that the federal Tories really aren’t interested in finding them.
    (As for your “Torontoist is just a bunch of lefties,” argument: yes, it’s a predictable response, but “look, if you want more righties writing for Torontoist, sign up” is predictable because it’s pretty much the only reasonable course.

  • The Explosively Talented Christopher Bird

    Lands, that’s pretty much expressly what suppliers are doing, which in turn hurts both distributors and consumers.
    The “consumers should speak with their wallets” argument just doesn’t hold true as a useful argument in this scenario, because this simply isn’t an area where consumers can effect change through the power of choice, and distributors mostly can’t either (the supply-distribution chain is, in a lot of areas, even less choice-efficient than the consumer-distributor chain is).

  • x_the_x

    I don’t know how you miscontrued my response to rek as a job application. It wasn’t. Whether you are open to diverse views or not (and you have said before that you promote “alternative” views (you know, the same underepresented ones spouted by the other city blogs and the weeklies), as the commentator above me charged, the results speak for themselves.
    You have decided not to employ libellous writers anymore? Standards are up …

  • uskyscraper

    I’m not sure there is another major city anywhere in the world that tries to pay on its own anymore for its transit operation. Most areas have regional transit authorities that over time have absorbed city subways, commuter rail, bridges, toll roads, ferries, etc. This change happened in New York in the 1960s and was a great saviour for the underfunded subway, since new revenues from toll bridges began to cross-subsidize transit. Ontario is doing the responsibile thing; they are just a few decades behind the times. It does introduce constant tension in balancing service and fares across urban and suburban districts, but it’s an appropriate setup for an age where metro areas are the new model for the distinct cities of the past. There is a reason there are so many acronyms out there — BART, TRIMET, MARTA, DART, MBTA, SEPTA, RTA, LACMTA…
    Most likely Toronto will follow the Chicago model, where the RTA funds the CTA, Metra and Pace, but they all maintain distinct identities. Translated to Ontario, this would equate to the GTAA funding TTC, GO and Viva.

  • bigbluebanana

    x, I may or may not be interpreting this correctly, but I think the suggestion was simply lighthearted and open to all readers (I did not see a specific reference to you), and it is now clear that you are not interested in writing for Torontoist. It is a shame, though, because you criticize its left-leanings yet refuse to help balance it out by writing.
    Re: your comment about libellous writers, is there something specific you had in mind when you wrote that?

  • x_the_x

    “Some form of statutory law prohibiting or at least limiting what amounts to risk-free currency speculation?”
    I’m not sure what risk-free currency speculation has to do with this. Are you responding to retailers’ claim that their prices are insensitive in the short-term to currency fluctuations because they have hedged their currency risk? And you want to legislate to prevent them from hedging? I’m not being cute, I really don’t understand what you are going on about here. And you think this isn’t intrusive?
    “Negotiation and/or meetings with prominent industry leaders to try and politely point out that in the information age, “it takes a long time to change price points” is kind of dumb, not to mention unresponsive and thus unhealthy for their business model?”
    Gee, that seems kind of similar to the Finance Minister’s course of action. Its just grandstanding. Both you and the Finance Minister must have some omnipotence to know the cost structures of a range of industries, their terms of trade with suppliers, their exposure to currency risk, their inventory levels, their pricing stragies, etc. etc. ad infinitum. If only we could get a bunch of omnipotents together in government, we wouldn’t need uncoordinated business activity at all. The whole thing could just be managed at the top.

  • james a

    On the TTC thing..
    Miller calls it: “incredibly short-sighted.”
    It seems to me that the incredibly shortsighted things here is automatically denouncing a move like this without having any idea what it means. If the takeover includes taking over funding, would the city still object?

  • Patrick Metzger

    No worries x. Tomorrow’s news round-up could easily take an entirely different POV.

  • rek

    x_the_x – Regardless of what the editors claim, we agree there is an obvious bent. Given that, I don’t see why you waste your time here moaning and taking swipes at armchair pinko welfare hipsters — and that’s about all I’ve seen you contribute to the [site-wide meta] discussion recently. It’s definitely not to harvest superior policy solutions from the back-and-forth of ideas.
    I digress.
    I vote NDP for what it’s worth, but I don’t see a reason for the government to get involved in the parity despair at the moment. If it’s in violation of trade agreements and economic policy, sure, fine, but people can’t wait a few more weeks for magazine prices to drop a dollar?
    Imported goods have price trails going back months, so yeah it’s not as easy as it sounds to change the price point on something that was manufactured 7 months ago for one price, shipped 6 months ago for another, taxed and tariffed when the dollar was below parity, and then marked up enough for the store to keep its doors open. Who would take the brunt of immediate forced cuts? The stores, not the industry.

  • the goggles do nothing

    RE: “Negotiation and/or meetings with prominent industry leaders to try and politely point out that in the information age, “it takes a long time to change price points” is kind of dumb, not to mention unresponsive and thus unhealthy for their business model?”
    I didn’t realize the government was a better judge of what is good for a business model than the ownwers of the business itself.
    RE:”The “consumers should speak with their wallets” argument just doesn’t hold true as a useful argument in this scenario, because this simply isn’t an area where consumers can effect change through the power of choice, and distributors mostly can’t either (the supply-distribution chain is, in a lot of areas, even less choice-efficient than the consumer-distributor chain is).”
    Please provide a basis for this assertion. It sounds like you are saying do not generally have choice as to where to purchase.
    If there is no collusion, then what is the public policy concern that you are asking the goverment to address? Is freedom to set prices (subject to consumer reaction) something that we as a nation should be seeking to eliminate? What alternate regime for price setting should be implemented?

  • spacejack

    I advocate eBay activism. No government stormtroopers needed.

  • Skippy the Magical Racegoat

    Surprised there aren’t more comments about this amazing news: that the province might actually bail out the mismanaged money pit that is the Teets.
    Some pressing questions I expected to hear:
    - They’re not gonna stop using that wicked-kewl font, will they?!
    - Wouldn’t all our problems be solved if the TTC just sold more of those little buttons that announce my affinity to the drab, characterless subway stop that’s somewhat nearby to the only neighbourhood I can afford to live in?
    - Hey, let’s not forget about all those poor unionized employees! They won’t be getting pay cuts, will they?
    - Funding, schmunding: Can I or can I not bring my bike and my three dogs onto the streetcar?
    - This is all Harper’s fault! What’s the topic again?

  • Skippy the Magical Racegoat

    I forgot to mention the website redesign, but you see where I was going with this. You guys are hipsters, and your concerns are inconsequential in nature.
    Good day.

  • warmflash

    From what I’ve heard, the Province does not plan to take over the TTC.
    In fact if anything, the Province and the Federal Gov’t have basically decided to abandon Toronto and let it go completely to seed. ( You have only to look around to see the strategy is already at work. )
    Which explains why it looks like it does. And why, no matter how loud the complaint or begging, nothing here every improves.
    No one in the Provincial or Federal Government has any intention of up loading or doing anything for Toronto.
    As I understand it, they want to invest in Calgary. And basically say good night to Toronto.
    Apparently Toronto has proved to be too much of a burden, too unpredicatable, uncontrollable and of zero national interest.
    If you live in Toronto, you know the Canadians hate you. So much so, they made a movie about it. And now, my fellow Torontonians, you know what the Canadians intentions are.
    We may share the same passport as them. And not much else.

  • n0wak

    ^^ Ready to begin the campaign for secession.

  • rek

    Province of Toronto. Should we annex the 905 and Greenbelt?