The Shotgun Blog
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste wants Prince Charles to apologies for what?
According to the National Post, the SSJB want the Queen's heir to say sorry for the following wrongs:
1. Acadian deportation
2. Deporting or executing the leaders of the 1837 Rebellion
3. Uniting Upper and Lower Canada 1840
4. Executing Louis Reil
5. repatriation of the constitution without Quebecs permission.
Some quick notes on these complaints
1. A fair thing to complain about. It was a horrific moment in Canadian history. I'm not sure if the Crown should be saying sorry to Quebec though. Perhaps it would be better to say sorry to the Cajuns inLouisiana.
2. They were criminals who were punished. In general I have a lot of sympathy for the Upper and Lower Canada rebellions in 1837. I think their cause was just. But they were still criminals. As Wilfrid Laurier put is "rebellion is always an evil, it is always an offence against the positive law of a nation; it is not always a moral crime." So as an offence to the law, it was punished. No need to say sorry
3. The Durham Report makes it clear that the Act of Union was meant to stomp out French society, but it didn't. In fact East Canada's culture flourished at this time and Quebec'spolitical influence was substantial. I guess Prince Charles could apologies for having tried and failed, but what purpose would it serve?
4. Same response as #2.
5. There was a constitutional debate about this, the Quebec government lost. Why would you ask the Crown to apologies for that.
I think saying sorry for historical wrongs is silly to begin with. But this is a particularly silly list.
The case for allowing the BNP fascists to speak
The British National Party, a blatantly fascist organization, was recently given a forum on the BBC's Question Time. For the most part BNP's leader's performance was met with ridicule and outrage. There is however an organization that denounced the BNP's freedom to speak.
James Lawson at adamsmith.org, makes the case for why freedom of speech should be defended even for fascists.
Looking back at Question Time
The BNP are an abhorrent body, favouring a dangerous ideology with roots in Nazism. After a recent tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps, my hatred for National Socialism is unrelenting. However, the extended mass hysteria following Griffin’s appearance, itself generated unprecedented publicity for the BNP and allowed Griffin to appear as the victim. Had the BBC denied the BNP a slot on Question Time, the effect would have been to intensify this further and allow the party to garner greater sympathy.
Here is the first clip of Nick Griffin on Question Time:
Will there be a Scottish independence referendum in 2010?
It has long been the stated goal of the Scottish National Party (SNP), the governing party in the Scottish Parliament, to hold a referendum on Independence. Their difficulty is that the SNP are in a minority government. They need either the support of the Liberal Democrats or the Labour Party to bring about a referendum.
The Labour Party is completely against it. The Scottish wing of the party appear content with the current constitutional makeup of the United Kingdom. They would oppose the referendum bill and certainly campaign for the status quo if there is a referendum.
The Scotsman is reporting that several SNP Members of Scottish Parliament are privately giving up hope of a referendum in the near future. This may be premature considering the Liberal Democrats are not completely settled on their position.
The Liberal Democrats oppose Independence for Scotland, but they wish to see the Scottish government receive more powers. By Canadian standards the Scottish government is extremely limited in their powers, and the Liberal Democrats favour a more federalist system in the United Kingdom.
So the Liberal Democrats may be brought on board by introducing a third option in the referendum. This option is being called 'devolution plus' and depending on how it is phrased is most likely to receive the plurality of votes.
On a side note, I must say that the Independence debate in Scotland takes on a very different tone than the one in Quebec. There does not seem to be much rancor or hostility. Scotland is changing and the Scottish seem to be very open minded on the debate of how that change should take shape.
Conservatives are corrupt and no one cares, so what is the solution?
According to this Canadian Press article, a majority of Canadians think that the Conservatives are favouring their own ridings with government funds. This is hardly surprising. The Liberals have been beating this stick for about a month now, and people are always willing to believe the worst about politicians. A lack of faith that is well founded. Pork barrelling is an ancient tradition that goes back to the Romans. Itcertainly has a bases in Canadian history. John A. MacDonald was shameless in the way he handed out government money.
Sadly no one is shocked, no one is surprised, and as far as I can tell no one cares. The Conservatives still flirt with majority level support and the Liberals are still in trouble. If this scandal was going to have an impact it would already have happened. It is not that people don't think theConservatives aren't corrupt, it is that they think that all the parties are corrupt. So it pretty much cancels itself out.
The truth is I don't blame political parties, not really. The true culprit is the decision making process of government. And there is no way totruly reform it. Individual interests will always win out against collective rationality. That is, politicians and civil servants are human too and no human is perfectly altruistic.
So if the problem is government itself, what is the solution? This may shock you, but the solution is less government. You give politicians andbureaucrats less money and resources to play with, you get less corrupt behaviour.
This excellent column appeared at the Libertas Post:
In the Grip of Madness
“Thank God we had the federal government last week to bail out the private sector!” That is what a rather statist friend of mine declared a year ago as the economy tanked, almost gleeful that the financial crisis seemed to be proving how much we all need a massive federal establishment to both regulate and rescue us.
Never mind the federal government’s own indispensable role as an enabler in the crisis, from its reckless monetary policy to its jawboning banks into making dubious mortgage loans. Never mind the long-term danger of its assumption of colossal new obligations and the moral hazard in the message its intervention sends. My response to my friend was of a more narrow focus. “Thank God we have the private sector to bail out the federal government not just last week, but every week!” I exclaimed.
Think about it. Taxes on the private sector pay a majority of the federal government’s bills. For most of the rest, the government borrows by selling its debt obligations, mostly to private-sector entities–including banks, insurance companies, and individuals.
The federal government is the world’s biggest taxer and the world’s biggest debtor. If those of us in the private sector didn’t pay our taxes or didn’t buy Washington’s paper, the feds would have gone belly-up decades ago. We’ve rescued Washington to the tune of tens of trillions of dollars over the years. A big difference between Washington’s bailing out the private sector and the private sector’s bailing out Washington is that the private sector has to work, invest, employ people, and produce goods to come up with the cash. It can’t create it out of thin air like BenBernanke can.
Friday, October 30, 2009
I'm Old. Give Me Your Money.
The whiniest generation enters their golden years. Reach for your wallets folks.
Canada's largest seniors' advocacy group has escalated its pension reform campaign with the release of a paper calling for a new, national pension plan to replace the Canada Pension Plan. A new public retirement savings plan that is "universally accessible, affordable, adequate and sustainable," is need to replace woefully inadequate CPP benefits, says CARP, formerly known as the Canadian Association of Retired People.
The position paper for a new universal plan contains few specifics. CARP says it could be a single national fund modelled on the CPP or a system of provincial and even regional funds. "The focus of debate should be on whether the various options would provide the level of robustness and sustainability that is critical to providing an adequate level of retirement security for all Canadians," says the paper. "The current economic crisis has focused public attention on the need for Canadians to prepare for their own retirement and on the absence of a universally accessible vehicle to do so effectively."
All of which is elaborate code for: We blew all our money, didn't save enough and we're asking our children and grandchildren to bail us out. On behalf of the young taxpayers of Canada: Cut down on your lattes, stop living off your credit cards and get out of my pockets. The word Canadian was once synonymous for rugged self reliance. That was before the Boomers took over.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Soldiers. In Our Schools.
Quebec union and student groups don't like military recruiters (whatever the semantics) in high schools. Hmmm.
The Canadian military has no business recruiting in Quebec schools, argues a newly formed coalition made up of unions and student groups.
If the army wants to recruit, it should open recruitment centres and "leave schools alone," said Réjean Parent, head of the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ).
When it made its debut last month, the coalition called it worrisome to see the army in schools recruiting youths who aren't even 18 yet.
"We're not against a military career," said Xavier Lefebvre Boucher, head of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec, which represents 21 CEGEP student associations in the province. "What we simply say is get out of our schools."
The article, oddly, doesn't explain exactly why this group opposes Canadian soldiers providing information to high school students. The most obvious answer is that the province's unions and students lean heavily toward separatism. A bout of service in Her Majesty's forces, meeting people from other parts of the country, might just spark federalist feelings among the Quebecois young. The province's traditional isolationism, which has blurred into a sort of pacifism since the Quiet Revolution, also plays a part. All that monarchial symbolism probably doesn't help.
Nancy Pelosi: Tax increase or not?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempts to make an argument that allowing the sunsetted tax decreases to expire is not a tax increase.
She is correct in a sense, but in a more important way she is not. She is right that the law is that the tax cuts were temporary. Perhaps it should be viewed more as a limited tax holiday than a tax decrease.
Still the truth of the matter is that Americans are going to pay more taxes this year than they did last year. The machinations of Congress matters little to the average American who is seeing the government take a bigger cut of their pay cheque. This is especially bad at a time where the USA's economy is recovering.
Who is willing to argue that taking more capital out of the market will be a positive for the economy.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Paging Sir Edward Coke
When a man's shop isn't his castle:
There are so many things wrong in the case of David Chen, it's hard to know where to begin. Mr. Chen is the Toronto grocer who back in May performed a citizen's arrest on a serial thief, but now faces charges of assault, kidnapping and forcible confinement for his actions. Let's start, though, with the aspect of this case that grinds my nerves the most: Crown prosecutors made a plea bargain with Anthony Bennett, the thief, in return for his testimony against Mr. Chen.
Crown prosecutors always signal who they want most by making deals with the other accused in a case for their testimony against the most-desired target. Mr. Bennett, who has a criminal record for drugs and theft going back 33 years, got a lighter sentence (30 days, plus 15 days time served) in return for acting as a government witness against Mr. Chen. Prosecutors cannot see the distortion of justice inherent in letting go a habitual criminal -- a man who for years has harassed and stolen from shopkeepers in Mr. Chen's Toronto neighbourhood -- just so they can win a conviction against a law-abiding citizen who grew tired of police and court inaction and decided to exercise his ancient rights to self-defence and citizen's arrest.
The message this sends is that the Crown is more determined to discourage citizens from getting involved in local justice than it is in stopping thefts. It is more interested in the rights of criminals than the safety of ordinary Canadians and their property.
The criticism of Mr Chen is that he did not seize Bennett in the commission of the crime, but after he returned to the shop later in the day. First of all, how stupid or brazen does a criminal have to be to -- literally -- return to the scene of the crime? Catching a criminal who returns to your property is not vigilantism. As Mr Chen's lawyer has pointed out, the law regarding citizen's arrest is too narrow, so technically Chen's actions were probably illegal. The law, then, is an ass.
Bennett looks to be a semi-professional criminal. Had he been dealt with properly by the courts over the last three decades, it's unlikely that Mr Chen would have had to resort to such drastic action. To many office workers the actions of Chen and his associates might seem extreme, I'm guessing many have never worked in retail. Petty thieves are a plague for small retail stores, where margins are often razor thin. For immigrants like Chen, everything they have is contained in those narrow walls. Since the value of what is stolen is so low, and petty theft is not treated seriously by the legal system, the cops give such crimes little attention.
A game of catch and release follows, where both cop and store-owner slide easily from frustration to apathy. It's not unusual for Crown prosecutors to strike deals with petty offenders, in hopes of obtaining testimony and evidence against bigger fish. As Gunter is right to point out, it is utterly galling that a productive man is being singled out for defending his property, while a repeat offender is being given the equivalent of a slap on the wrist. Yet the classic comment of the incident has to go to this officer:
He and several other shop owners plagued by thieves argue police aren't doing enough about rampant theft in the area – if they were, Mr. Kheiry said, there would be no need for vigilante actions like Mr. Chen's.
Detective Chris Trites said shoplifting is a problem everywhere. He said it's not fair to cast stones at police for not cracking down enough.
“It's easy for people to say things like, ‘You should do something about drugs' or, ‘You should do something about theft,'” he said. “If people really want to help, then they should be offering some sort of positive solutions or positive ideas.”
Hello? Officer? That's your job, you're the police. This is like a doctor telling a patient: "I'm tired of hearing you complain about being sick, why don't you come up with something yourself." Policing priorities are set higher up than the level of detective, yet what right does he have to shrug off the complaints of people who pay his salary?
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The Tide is Turning
In 1995 Carl DeFaria won the provincial riding of Mississauga East for the Tories, holding it in the 1999 election. The Liberals, seeking to recapture the seat, ran former Olympic athlete Peter Fonseca, who won election in 2003 and re-election in 2007. What do these two men have in common? Aside from having held the same riding? They're both ethnically Portuguese. Mississauga East (Now Mississauga East-Cooksville) has, not surprisingly, a substantial Portuguese demographic. How do you beat an ethnic politician? By using another ethnic politician to neutralize the ethnic advantage.
It's a game as old as Tammany Hall. Canadians whose ancestors arrived with Champlain and Simcoe may snort their contempt at playing ethnic democracy, yet how is this different from what has been practiced in Canadian politics for generations? One of the reasons D'Arcy McGee was so important an ally to John A, was that he brought the Quebec Irish Catholic vote with him. Canada's regionalist politicking is enshrined in our equalization policies. The difference between now and then, is that now you have a harder time of pronouncing the name of the candidates. The Conservatives are beginning to understand this. The Liberals have forgotten it, the Fonseca case notwithstanding.
In a Brampton living room last weekend, Sunny Gill helped seal the conversion of a young Sikh truck driver who claims he can move 300 votes from the Liberals to the Conservatives.
The truck driver was just the latest domino to fall favourably for Mr. Gill, the local Conservative South Asian outreach co-ordinator. It was a satisfying moment.
“When you come here, any immigrant thinks the Liberals are demi-gods. But when you establish yourself, you look at their policies,” said Mr. Gill.
“If we're able to split the ethnic vote, we're going to slaughter the Liberals.”
It wasn't long ago that voting Conservative was considered a cardinal sin in some ethnic communities. But polls now show that immigrants, the unshakeable bedrock of Liberal support, are forsaking Pierre Trudeau's party – the party of multiculturalism, of expanded immigration, of the Charter – for Stephen Harper.
The vital thing about courting ethnic votes is how cheap it actually is. No Sikh Adscam. The elaborate fountains and golf courses have been kept to a minimum in Brampton. For a Tory strategist this is low hanging fruit. Rather than spending billions in the murky world of Quebec politics, a few polite words and some old fashioned constituency work and the votes start rolling in. New Canadians are not natural Liberal voters. The Grits have benefited for decades in having a lock on these voters because, frankly, the Tories failed to market themselves properly. New Canadians tend to be more entrepreneurial and socially conservative than old stock Canadians. They're natural Conservative voters. As Mr Gill suggests, sooner or later the Liberals are going to get slaughtered. The bankrupt party of the urban, professional elite. Their current leader is the perfect, clueless representative of that trend.
Monday, October 26, 2009
"The Howard Roark effect"
As modern India continues to undergo seismic economic and cultural shifts, not to mention the current global recession, Rand is emerging as a touchstone for a new generation. For many Indians, she is a tonic of modernization, helping to inspire a break with India's collectivist, socialist past. Rand's mixture of capitalist boosterism and self-empowerment is an irresistible combination for a range of Indians, from think-tankers to corporate barons to pop stars.
Rand's celebration of independence and personal autonomy has proven to be powerfully subversive in a culture that places great emphasis on conforming to the dictates of family, religion, and tradition. Gargi Rawat, a correspondent and news anchor for top tv channel ndtv and a former Rand admirer, says Rand's theory of the supremacy of reason and the virtue of selfishness adds up to "the antithesis" of Indian culture, which explains the attraction for Rawat in her youth and for many rebellious Indian teens today.
Libertarian Party of Canada leader Dennis Young on Freedom Watch
Libertarian Party of Canada leader Dennis Young gets a bit of exposure south of the border, he was interviewed on the state of liberty in Canada (in short, he thinks it's not so good) with Judge Andrew Napolitano on FoxNews.com's Freedom Watch. It's a fairly bland conversation, consisting mostly of Young agreeing with Napolitano that yes, the federal government is way too big over here too.
Benjamin Disraeli famously berated a dissent Tory with the remark: "Damn your principles. Stick to your party." In the nearly four years Stephen Harper has been Prime Minister, he has closely followed Dizzy's pragmatic dictum. It was advice that Gerry Nicholls also followed for more years than he would probably care to remember. Paul Tuns - Editor of The Interim - better known to bloggers as Mr Sobering Thoughts - reviews Gerry's confessions of a redeemed conservative here:
But there is another (unexpected) class of readers who will find Loyal to the Core important reading: anyone who gets involved in politics. Not so much to learn how to do politics, but a necessary lesson on what not to do: sell out.
In 1997, Harper resigned as Reform MP to join the NCC. A year later, he became president of the organization, but after Stockwell Day’s stumble as leader of the Canadian Alliance in 2001, Harper returned to elected politics. And with him, came many in the NCC, Nicholls included.
Nicholls reports on the efforts that the previously non-partisan NCC undertook to help their former leader get elected leader of the Canadian Alliance.
When Harper threw his hat into the ring, NCC staffers were called to help with his leadership campaign, effectively turning the organization into “an adjunct of the Harper leadership machine.” Nicholls says he personally did things that made him uncomfortable, but admits he did it because it was thrilling to be part of the political intrigue and, anyway, if elected, Harper could advance the cause.
You weren't the only one Gerry.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Trudeau and the Women
So maybe it wasn't all that socialist bunk he picked up at LSE. Maybe he was just trying to get laid.
When Trudeau approved testing of cruise missiles over Canadian territory in 1983, one of his paramours at that time – Margot Kidder, an actress and peace activist – took it upon herself to persuade him to reconsider.
While he maintained that Canada had no choice as a member of NATO, Trudeau nevertheless invited Kidder to a dinner during a visit to Washington, in which she "argued vehemently with senior Reagan administration officials while he urged her on by squeezing her thigh each time she scored a point," English writes.
Kidder pressed Trudeau to meet with anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott. She taunted him about being on "the other side" but, as she put it in one letter, "You're a potential ally. I'll get you on our side if it kills me."
"Slowly," writes English, "Pierre began to shift to her side."
So, literally, like a teenager, Trudeau tried to impress his girlfriend by doing something incredibly stupid. In this case it wasn't shoplifting liquor or driving at a reckless speed, it was trying to convince the five official nuclear powers to engage in disarmament talks. Herein lies the ultimate mystery of Canada's longest serving post-war Prime Minister. A man of high education, intelligence and cultural sophistication who was playing Peter Pan well into his sixties. He never grew up. Never grew out of the adolescent fantasies about a socialist utopia. He never grasped that leaders of totalitarian states are never persuaded by reason or argument, only by strength. Ronald Reagan understood this, so did Mrs Thatcher. One of the "wise men" of the Liberal Party was a foolish sophomore trying to look cool. All so he could get past third base with the hot cheerleader.
"Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zone . . . Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual - uninvolved, uninformed."H/T Krazy for the image.
Posted by Richard Anderson on October 25, 2009 | Permalink
Toronto Council makes war on progress
Last few years Ossington has gone from a dump to a happening entertainment district. It is a clear example of how investment and hard work can change a neighbourhood for the better. So of course the City Council has to destroy it.
Among the recommendations made in the report: an ongoing ban on backyard patios, a size limit for restaurants and a regulation that would require every restaurant to provide parking spaces.
I don't think I've ever been to a bar in Toronto that provided parking spaces. And what the hell is with limiting the size of restaurants? Oh sorry you are too successful, we want you to be making less money.
It's Joe Pantelone, the area's councilor, who is leading the charge against progress. Basically he's afraid that the new comers won't vote for him so he's doing everything he can to chase them out. He already succeeded in preventing any new licenses to be issued on Ossington.
Toronto is a great city, I love it there. I just wish the its government would allow it to be even better.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Maxime Bernier back in politics?
All I can say is, welcome back Mr. Bernier!
"Maxime is a great friend and great member of my team," the prime minister told a news conference. "We all know that Max made a mistake a couple of years ago, which he owned up to, and stepped down. He is extremely valued by myself and all of his colleagues in Ottawa. So it's great to have him on the team."
The Iceman agrees:
Despite "cleavage-gate" and "file folder-gate", Mr. Bernier still crushed his Bloc opponent in The Beauce by nearly 25,000 votes in 2008. The Beauce is one of the coolest riding names in Canada from a phonetic perspective. The people that he represents in parliament love the man. ... I forgive Maxime for his error, and I would like to see him in a quality cabinet office. His ex-girlfriend had a screw loose. As a writer I am pissed off that she got a book deal over being good looking and showing cleavage in public. That lowers the standard for book deals. I hope Scott Reid doesn't get a book deal.
[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]
So a seal walks into a club…
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea called Anderson's remarks disappointing and suggested she spend time with East Coast sealers to understand the hunt's importance. "Hollywood celebrities are not going to dictate policy in Canada because we make decisions that are based on science and consultation with Canadians," Shea said in a telephone interview.
One of the biggest arguments I hear from hippies that vehemently oppose the seal hunt is that they are cute and that they kill baby seals. In the world of make-believe, even facts don't take the hysteria out of their argument.
Anderson said baby seals are bludgeoned in front of their mothers before they have their first swim, but Shea said the killing of baby seals hasn't been practised in Canada since the early '80s. Activists focus on it because it tugs at the heart strings, Shea said.
I love you Pam, but you're not exactly the sharpest Crayon in the box. Apparently Perez Hilton is into the craze as well:
[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]
Free speech takes a hit in B.C.
Recently I was browsing through the Halifax Metro newspaper, and was disappointed to read this short little article:
What's beyond belief is that this is a news story to begin with. For one, it's sad that a B.C. chief is picking on a blogger. What's more sad is that his words are considered "inflammatory and discriminatory" to aboriginal people.
Apparently it's a "slap in the face of First Nations people" to list off some of the many things the Europeans brought to Canada. Let me be the first to support Rachel Marsden - for free speech, and for being right.
[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]
Michael Moore's In-Action Plan
I used to be a fan of Michael Moore. I saw his film Roger and Me soon after it was released and liked his style of confronting people that were scuz-balls and putting them on the spot.
Bowling for Columbine was a great movie that took an interesting look at the culture of violence.
The Awful Truth was a fun series that exposed corporate entanglement with government and corruption.
Fahrenheit 9/11 was a disappointment, it seemed like a feature-length personal attack on George Bush, who likely deserved it, but I never saw the film more than once.
Sicko was a decent film, fun, interesting, though his conclusions about the government taking over health care (after he talked about how terrible government was in Fahrenheit 9/11) I think are faulty. Many Canadians who saw it noticed that the negative aspects of socialized medicine were not talked about.
Capitalism: A Love Story I haven't seen yet, though I can guess what the content will be like; moving Moore's editorial content further and further along the path of socialism.
That brings me to a recent blog post that Mr. Moore recently made. "Michael Moore's Action Plan: 15 Things Every American Can Do Right Now"
I'm going to focus on the first 5 things in this list, which would more accurately be called
"5 Things We Can Do to Control Other People and Businesses Against Their Will"
1. Declare a moratorium on all home evictions. Not one more family should be thrown out of their home. The banks must adjust their monthly mortgage payments to be in line with what people's homes are now truly worth -- and what they can afford. Also, it must be stated by law: If you lose your job, you cannot be tossed out of your home.
Mr. Moore doesn't believe in personal responsibility it seems, of course it the fault of the evil banks that people took out mortgages they couldn't afford. If your home is worth $200,000, but you can only afford to pay $300 a month, perhaps you should move into a less expensive home. If you lose your job, live within your means.
2. Congress must join the civilized world and expand Medicare For All Americans. A single, nonprofit source must run a universal health care system that covers everyone. Medical bills are now the #1 cause of bankruptcies and evictions in this country. Medicare For All will end this misery.
The civilized world is realizing that "free" health care is a laborious, bureaucratic system that is heavy on top end management and low on getting results, like any other government program. 50% of all health dollars in the U.S. is spent by the government already, increasing that closer to 100% won't make it better. The answer is to get government out of health care completely and let the free market handle it.
3. Demand publicly-funded elections and a prohibition on elected officials leaving office and becoming lobbyists. Yes, those very members of Congress who solicit and receive millions of dollars from wealthy interests must vote to remove ALL money from our electoral and legislative process. Tell your members of Congress they must support campaign finance bill H.R.1826.
So he wants to tell people what they can and can't do for work. Hey Michael, butt out and let people make their own decisions! He also wants the public to pay for the campaigns of the various parties. Ummm, no thanks, I have no interest in paying for the campaign of some politician who wants to run my life. If you want to remove the influence of lobbyists on government, reduce the power of the government and the lobbyists have less incentive to lobby.
4. Each of the 50 states must create a state-owned public bank like they have in North Dakota. Then congress MUST reinstate all the strict pre-Reagan regulations on all commercial banks, investment firms, insurance companies -- and all the other industries that have been savaged by deregulation: Airlines, the food industry, pharmaceutical companies -- you name it. If a company's primary motive to exist is to make a profit, then it needs a set of stringent rules to live by -- and the first rule is "Do no harm." The second rule: The question must always be asked -- "Is this for the common good?"
Message for Mr. Moore, SOCIALISM DOESN'T WORK! Eventually you run out of other people’s money! If the rule if "do no harm", then how about the government quit forcing the people of North Dakota to fund a bank that they may or may not have any interest in funding! Forcing people to fund your pet projects IS harming them. As for the common good, it is a meaningless statement. EVERYBODY is part of the common, some things that iare good for some may not be good for others.
5. Save this fragile planet and declare that all the energy resources above and beneath the ground are owned collectively by all of us. Just like they do it in Sarah Palin's socialist Alaska. We only have a few decades of oil left. The public must be the owners and landlords of the natural resources and energy that exists within our borders or we will descend further into corporate anarchy. And when it comes to burning fossil fuels to transport ourselves, we must cease using the internal combustion engine and instruct our auto/transportation companies to rehire our skilled workforce and build mass transit (clean buses, light rail, subways, bullet trains, etc.) and new cars that don't contribute to climate change. (For more on this, here's a proposal I wrote in December.) Demand that General Motors' de facto chairman, Barack Obama, issue a JFK man-on-the-moon-style challenge to turn our country into a nation of trains and buses and subways. For Pete's sake, people, we were the ones who invented (or perfected) these damn things in the first place!!
More socialism. How far above the ground do we own all of it? How far beneath the ground? Who decides what that number is? Do you own the sunlight above my house that I collect with solar panels? If so, do I need to cut you a check for having harnessed that power. This idea of "collectively" owning resources is silly. It is a matter of private property.
So Michael Moore's answer is "let the government take it over and run it", because of course the government has such a great history of running things smoothly, and on budget, and on time, without being influenced by lobbyists and special interests, etc. That was sarcasm BTW.
I welcome feedback and I ask for civility in the exchange of comments. Vulgarity is discouraged. Please express yourself creatively with other language. We discuss ideas here, attacks on a person are discouraged.
Michael Moore says 12 stupid things in about 2.5 minutes
This clip lasted 2 minutes and 36 seconds. In that time I counted 12 ways that Michael Moore is an idiot.
Stupid things Michael Moore said:
1. Capitalism is a legal system
If you are going to make a movie about something shouldn’t you know what the word means? Just as a beginning point at least. A quick Wikipedia search of the word tells you that it is an “economic and social system,” not a legal system. To be sure there is a legal structure that is needed to make capitalism work properly, but that doesn’t make capitalism a legal system itself.
2. Regulation and rules that use to keep them in check are no longer keeping them in check
There are no more regulations? That’s news to me. I think it would also be news to the thousands of small and large companies that have to suffer increased costs due to mind numbingly dumb regulations.
3. Rich having more is anti-democracy
What is anti-democratic about someone having more stuff than me? Or even having a lot more stuff than me? I guess it is only democracy if we all have the same amount of stuff...oh wait isn’t that called something else?
4. Not only against democracy but against his personal values
This I admit is a bit of a cheap shot, but did you notice how he made a distinction between his values and democratic values?
5. Against the values of people
Yes because lord knows that capitalism goes against the very fiber of America society. The free exchange of goods and services is universally condemned by every right thinking American. The USA hates freedom and capitalism that’s for sure. That’s why they were so friendly with the Soviet Union.
6. Jesus wouldn’t approve of a hedge fund
How the hell does he know what Jesus would think? Capitalism wasn’t even an abstract concept when Jesus was alive, so how can we possible discern his opinion on that never mind his opinion on hedge funds. You know what, 2 can play at this game. Jesus hates tax collectors therefore Jesus likes capitalism.
7. Replace capitalism with democracy
What the hell? Democracy is a political system. It isn’t even a legal system. So how can he even conceptualize replacing capitalism with democracy? What do we do? Vote on what job someone will get, how much they get paid, how much his groceries will cost, and so on?
8. How can we call it a democracy just because we vote
Because that’s what democracy means? Sure there has to be a couple more requirements to fully qualify as a democracy in most people’s minds; such as competitive elections and the rule of law. But voting is the fundamental core of every democratic system.
9. Don’t want to lose his democratic rights when he goes to work in the morning or go to the bank
At this point it is pretty clear he doesn’t know what the word democratic means. Even the Greeks wouldn’t stretch it to include commercial activity. He is just using it as a buzz word to avoid using the word socialism. This kind of demonstrates just how stupid #5 is.
10. Stop the debate between capitalism and socialism
Umm...okay? One system is based on voluntary individualism and the other is based on coercive collectivism. There may be a wide spectrum between two extremes but how exactly do you propose breaking this paradigm? Wouldn’t involving democratic voting in commercial activity just lead to the coercive model? Or did you think people wouldn’t notice?
11. We are smart enough to come up with a new system that is fair to all people
Demonstrably untrue; people have been trying to do this for thousands of years. Why do you think just because it is a new century we are suddenly smarter? I’ve seen no indication of this increased intelligence.
12. It’s time to start sticking up for the little guy in this country
This isn’t so much stupid in itself but stupid in the context of the rest of the clip. Socialism does not benefit the little guy. And let’s be real here, it is socialism and not some sort of commercial democracy that Michael Moore is advocating. Every socialist system has shown that it ultimately benefits a select group of elites. You want to protect the little guy’s interests? Protect capitalism.
Buy American kills free trade
The Toronto Star is reporting that talks to exempt Canada from the “Buy American” provisions have "bogged down." The article points out that if the talks take too long the damage would have been done to Canadian industry. Yet it is more the long term damage that I am concerned about; the long term damage to the reliability of free trade.
If all it takes is a single economic downturn to loosen America's commitment to free trade, then Canadian companies should be more hesitant in doing business in the US. They never know when the tides would change and they will lose their investment at a time that they need it most.
I doubt that this will mean a complete withdraw from the American market; that would be absurd. Caution, however, would mean less trade and perhaps less profit.
Once again the USA Congress has accomplished nothing but short term damage and long term harm in their efforts to fight this recession.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Like airbrushing a blemish, really:
But the B.C. Civil Liberties Association says what the city and province are trying to do with a bill that grants municipal workers the power to enter private property and remove illegal signs with 24 hours' notice.
People are only allowed to display signs that already exist or new "celebratory" signs that foster a festive spirit around the Olympics in a designated 40-block zone, said the association's David Eby.
Offenders could face fines up to $10,000 or six months in jail, he said.
Amazingly Stephen Harper, who gave tacit sanction to Section 13 last year, makes some of the right noises:
"I would not support any actions in the name of security that stifle political free expression.
"That is what our country is all about," Harper said in Vancouver.
You betcha Stephen. Canada is free and freedom is its nationality. One of your predecessors said that, you might want to look him up. He won far more votes in Quebec that you ever did or will. Just a suggestion. The statist paranoia about Vancouver not being absolutely perfect this coming February is as futile as it is obscene.
The City Fathers are fervently praying no one notices just how awful the downtown east side really is. Vancouver is one of the world's most livable cities with a stunning natural setting. Not good enough. It has to be perfect. No obnoxious poor and sick people being poor and sick. No addicts being addicted. No vagrants, except perhaps ones that have been thoroughly Disneyified. The unpleasant ends of the social spectrum don't have to just keep to themselves, they have to be kept out of the way completely. Out of sight, out of camera shot. Dissent? None in Vancouver the Perfect. Happy smiling people in a happy smiley land. For what? So that Canada's third largest city can play host to a statist boondoggle with a sporting competition attached.
The Worst Education Money Can Buy
In a recent New York Times column (“The Uneducated American”), Paul Krugman writes that, “for the past 30 years our political scene has been dominated by the view that any and all government spending is a waste of taxpayer dollars.” As a result, Krugman continues, U.S. education has been “neglected” and “has inevitably suffered.” Readers who put their trust in Krugman might thus conclude that per pupil spending has stagnated or declined. In reality, as the chart below reveals, it has more than doubled since 1970, after adjusting for inflation.
Paul Krugman may not be an “uneducated American,” but he’s certainly a badly misinformed one.
So America spends twice as much now as it did nearly forty years ago on education, in real terms. Whereas free markets produced better products at lower prices, the government seems to accomplish the precise opposite. A counter argument to this is that teachers salaries have risen due to opportunity costs. Higher salaries help retain teachers who might otherwise drift into the private sectors. This is predicated on the assumption that a sufficiently large number of teachers have skills that private employers would want. I can see this being so for math and some science teachers, but are drama teachers getting bombarded with calls from headhunters? Are English majors really in such high demand in American labor markets, so high that teachers are willing to give up the comforts of near guaranteed unionized employment?
Why is Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach afraid of Danielle Smith?
In the next couple of weeks expect rumours to surface like monsters from an algae-covered slough. A caucus rebellion or a floor fight against the premier remains possible, but conspiracies, as Machiavelli said, are always risky and unlikely to succeed. Instead, the smart money will quietly support Danielle and abandon the drifting, factionally divided, self-destructive hulk that the Stelmach party has become.
Today the initiative belongs to Smith and the Wildrose, much as it belonged to Peter Lougheed in the dog days of Social Credit, and largely for the same reason: the newcomers practice a politics of conviction. As Margaret Thatcher said (and demonstrated) they are the only politicians who deserve our admiration.
The style of Smith and the Wildrose is diametrically opposed to that of the Stelmach Conservatives. Wildrose members know that their mission will determine a successful electoral coalition, not the other way around. That is always the easy part for populist movements.
So Dr. Cooper has a lot of talk, but my high school English teachers always advised me to to show, not tell. So why would Stelmach be wise to keep a close eye on the blooming Wildrose? Watch this clip from Danielle Smith's leadership acceptance speech at the party convention in Edmonton:
Maxime Bernier comeback?
Susan Delacourt makes the case that Maxime Bernier may be taken off the back burner soon. If this is true it would be a great thing for the government and for Canada. Put him in an economic profile where he belongs and can do the most good.
The Wildrose and the Conservative Party
Don Martin writes his column about Conservative MPs being warned to stay away from the Wildrose Alliance Party and Albertan politics in general. I agree with Mr. Martin's analysis. The federal Tories are likely in a wait and see position. Personally I think that the WAP has a better chance than the ADQ did, but Mr. Harper does not want to be burned twice.
The more pertinent question is how things are shaping up on the ground. To what extent are the Conservative EDAs (Electoral District Association) leaning towards the WAP or staying loyal to the PCs? Sadly this is not a question that I am in a good position to answer, but it could be vital to the success of the WAP.
The greatest disadvantage to an upstart party is a lack of experienced operates. Luckily Danielle Smith herself is an experienced operator, and many such party elites have abandoned the PCs and signed up with the WAP.
The second major issue is a strong, experienced, and widespread volunteer base. If the WAP is able to borrow federal Tory volunteers than it could make the difference in some close ridings.
You should not underestimate the importance of the ground war.
George Jonas: A bizarre twist in Canadian liberalism, from individual equality to parity for groups.
George Jonas' keynote address on democracy, freedom, rights and identity politics in Canada at The Canadian Constitution Foundation's 2009 law conference on "Race, Religion, Equality and Freedom" (delivered by CCF Executive Director John Carpay) followed by a Q&A with vir ipse:
After describing the political developments and degradation of values since his arrival in Canada 53 years ago, Jonas concludes his prepared remarks with his pessimistic take on liberalism: "anarcho-libertarians are optimists, they believe that the state is an unnecessary evil; classical liberals are pessimists, [we] think the state is a necessary evil."
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Draw the Line
The GOP takes on ACORN:
Conservative Republicans are capitalizing on the troubles of community activist group ACORN—ranging from charges of voter registration fraud to embarrassing videos of its employees—to revive their long-standing fight against a federal law that grades banks on their investments in poor and minority neighborhoods.
The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act was intended to end redlining, a practice in which banks in effect walled off many inner-city neighborhoods from mortgage loans. But some GOP lawmakers say it has outlived its purpose and is being used inappropriately by ACORN to shake down banks for money. They want to repeal the law, scale it back or at least block a Democratic proposal to expand it.
This is classic story of controls breeding further controls, and parasites living off the proceeds. Just another day in the mixed economy. The CRA was intended to end redlining. Yet redlining was not some bigoted policy of the evil capitalist banks, it was a policy imposed on them by the New Deal. In an attempt to revive the Depression era housing market, the American Federal government offered loan guarantees to private banks. The guarantees were conditional not on the credit worthiness of the borrower, but where the property they wished to purchase was located. It was thus virtually impossible to get a mortgage in many impoverished areas, many of which were predominately black. It was agencies of the federal government that imposed the geographic requirement, not the banks.
With Conservatives Like These.....
My, what a big bureaucracy you have Mr Harper:
As Canada's deficit mushrooms, the size of the federal public service and its shadow bureaucracy of temporary workers keeps on growing.
The Public Service Commission annual report shows the public service continued its steady growth of the past decade and added another 9,072 jobs last year -- a 4.5-per-cent increase over the year before. That included everything from full-time, permanent work to student jobs.
The growth has been fuelled by a number of factors, including the Conservatives' spending spree, plowing billions into several federal departments -- even before opening the spending floodgates with its stimulus package. The report shows significant new job growth in departments such as Defence, Public Safety, Health, and Border Services.
Perhaps time to admit the obvious. The boys have gone native on us.
"Then the Canalettos go"
What is Gordon Brown doing now?
Brown was to outline details of initial sales that could raise three billion pounds, including the Channel Tunnel linking Britain to France; the 33 percent stake in European uranium corsortium URENCO; the Tote bookmakers; the River Thames crossings at Dartford, east of London; and the Student Loans Company. Britain is still in recession and has a forecast deficit this year of 175 billion pounds.
More than twenty years ago Harold Macmillan. recently elevated to the peerage, criticized Mrs Thatcher's privatization policies thusly:
When I ventured the other day to criticise the system I was, I am afraid, misunderstood. As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism. I am sure they will be more efficient. What I ventured to question was the using of these huge sums as if they were income.
The size of government is growing
Anyone who still believes that the deficit is temporary and not systemic should take a look at this Ottawa Citizen article.
The size of the bureaucracy in the federal government has grown by 4.5%. That means that there are now 4.5% more people with an interest in keeping the current spending levels. This means to cut back on spending the Conservative Party is going to have to fight the interests of more people.
Civil Servants hardly ever get fired. So how is the government going to get rid of this expansion? How are they going to get government back down to the size of the good old days of Paul Martin?
Explaining the US national debt: drowning in red
This is actually scary. Ending the deficit is going to be hard enough, I don't know how this national debt will ever be paid off.
Watch this video:
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Convicted of a dead law.
In 1983, New York's high court struck down as unconstitutional a 1960s-era provision that made it illegal to cruise—that is, to hit on someone in a public place. And yet in the 26 years since, on thousands of occasions, the New York Police Department has continued to enforce the defunct law, historically used to target gay people.
Whatever one may think of cruising and whether it should be prohibited, the court's ruling should have killed off the statute. Instead, in the 26 years of this law's odd posthumous career, district attorneys brought 4,750 prosecutions and judges convicted 2,550 defendants. For violating an imaginary law, these defendants paid a decidedly non-imaginary $70,000 in bail and $190,000 in court fees and fines. In the last 10 years, NYPD officers also issued 9,693 citations, forcing citizens to pay $71,000 in fees. The criminal records of these victims have never been expunged and the fees and fines have not been refunded.
Poland fights totalitarianism by attacking free speech
According to The Scotsman, the communist images of Che Guevera will soon likely be banned in Poland. This is to go along with the bans already in place against Nazi imagery. I'm glad that Che is being compared to Hitler (this can tell you my opinion on that), but I'm saddened that Poland hasn't learned the lessons of the totalitarian regimes they have survived.
The oppression of ideas and speech means the oppression of the people. Even if those ideas are horrible and nasty they should be allowed to enter the market of ideas. The truth is there is no way to prevent them from entering the market of ideas anyway. Just because you get rid of some t-shirts doesn't mean you have wiped out the concepts that they represent.
Alberta Liberals take a shot at the Wildrose Alliance
Check out this video:
I like how selective they are on who they choose to be on their list. Mike Harris is also a fiscal conservative, so is Ralph Klein for that matter. Just because others have claimed that mantel then screwed it up doesn't mean that Ms. Smith will do the same.
Besides that I find this to be an interesting ad. It is certainly more lively then what I'm use to from the Alberta Liberals, though I'm uncertain of the logic of attacking the WA.
Liberals are pinning their hopes on the "right being split." They think that they can go through the middle of a three way race. If this was going to happen, which I doubt it would, shouldn't they be hoping for a strong WA? Why are they taking the time to attack them? (thanks to John Collison for posting this in the comments)
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
More Top Political Mistakes
Gerry Nicholls here provides a list of the top five political blunders in Canadian political history. Good post. Odd thing is that its oldest blunder dates only to 1979. What? Canadian politicians were smart and well behaved before the dying days of Disco? Surely not. Here's my list of Five Top Biggest Political Blunders in Canadian History pre-Joe Clark.
1858 - George Brown, founder of the Liberal Party, The Globe and Father of Confederation, was Premier of the Province of Canada (modern day Ontario and Quebec) for four days in early August 1858. Huh? How does someone head a government for less that a full work week? By grossly miscalculation his opponent, John A Macdonald. Plagued by corruption, accusations of patronage and internal dissension John A (not yet a Sir) decides to call the opposition's bluff and engineers his government's defeat. Brown, his great nemesis, leapt at the opportunity and accepted the commission to form a government. Only one catch: He's doesn't have anything close to a majority. The GG appoints him Premier but refuses to dissolve the legislature and call an election. Brown is quickly defeated and is forced to hand the government back to John A. Macdonald, who continues as Premier for another four years. Macdonald later remarked that his ability to outwit George Brown was due to the fact that he was simply more patient.
1872 - Now Sir John A Macdonald had a dream of building of a transcontinental railroad. After not so careful consideration he decided the best man to build this massive piece of infrastructure was Sir Hugh Allan, Montreal shipping magnate and the richest man in the young Dominion. This wasn't too much of an issue, the problem was that Sir Hugh contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars - well into the many millions today - to the Conservatives' re-election campaign. The greatest corruption scandal in Canadian history might never have come to light if an employee of Allan's lawyer - Sir John Abbot, our third PM - hadn't broken into his safe and stolen vital documents. The smoking gun was a telegram from Sir John A to Sir Hugh that read: "I must have another $10,000. Will be the last time of calling. Do not fail me. Answer today." The kicker was that the Liberals were horribly disorganized in 1872. There was a fairly good chance of the Tories winning without the spending spree with Allan's money. A backbench revolt forced Macdonald from office in late 1873.
1891-1896 - This was not so much one boneheaded decision but a series of boneheaded decisions. The result was placing the Conservative Party in the political wilderness for fifteen years, regaining power only after a political miscalculation by Wilfred Laurier. After Sir John A's death in 1891, basically from sheer exhaustion, the Conservative had no clear successor. Over the next five years they blundered through four leaders.
John Abbot 1891-2 - Chosen for the simple fact he was the most senior man in the government and a Protestant. He was famous for saying "I hate politics." As a relatively uncontroversial figure he was practically forced to accept the position, which he resigned a year later on the grounds of ill health.
John Thompson - 1892-4 - Talented, able, honest and hard working. He had two disadvantages. Being Catholic he was deeply suspected by many members of his own party. He was also grossly overweight. After physically overextending himself on a visit to the Vatican he died while having lunch at Windsor Castle.
Mackenzie Bowell - 1894-6 - Almost universally regarded as the worst Prime Minister in Canadian history (excluding non-starters like Campbell and Turner). He was chosen because he was the most senior man in the cabinet, even though no one - including the GG or his cabinet - trusted him.
Charles Tupper - 1896 - Holds the record for shortest term as PM in Canadian history at 96 days. An able cabinet minister and diplomat under Macdonald, he spent virtually all of his time in office getting beaten senseless by Wilfred Laurier. Tupper attempted, with little skill, to exploit the Manitoba Schools Question. The act which had created Manitoba guaranteed French Catholic schools in the province. By the mid 1890s there were few French Catholics left in the province, and the government wanted to abolish the separate schools. Tupper, in an attempt to curry support with Quebec, tried to stop the Manitoba government. Laurier finessed the issue, eventually agreeing to allow French in schools only where warranted by the population. Tupper's base, which was often highly anti-Catholic, abandoned him. Many English speaking Canadians admired Laurier's willingness to defy Quebec in an effort to maintain national unity. Laurier won a majority.
1911 - Wilfred Laurier was a rare politician, highly skilled at the dark arts yet having actual principles. When winning his first election in 1896 he had hedged his free trade beliefs, arguing that tariffs should be kept up to protect domestic industry. In 1911 a reciprocity - free trade - deal was struck with the Americans. After winning four straight majority governments - 1896, 1900, 1904, 1908 - and having beaten the Tory leader Robert Borden twice, Laurier felt confident enough to go to the country with the deal. He grossly miscalculated. English speaking Ontario, who had adored the dapper and skillful Laurier, feared the competition of cheap American manufactured goods. French Canadian nationalists saw his weakening in Ontario as an opportunity to strike vengeance on the anglo-philic Laurier. Borden, to everyone's surprise, won a majority.
1926 - The King-Byng Thing. William Lyon Mackenzie King, the Great Equivocator, was minding his business running a weak minority, propped up by the Progressive Party, a western based party. Disgusted with a corruption scandal, as well as the Liberal Party's refusal to surrender natural resource powers to the government of Alberta, the Progressives pulled the plug. King tried to get the Governor General, Lord Byng, to dissolve parliament. Byng refused as this was against constitutional practice, instead asking the Tory leader Arthur Meighen to form a government. He did but was defeated in a confidence motion shortly thereafter by one vote. According to legend one of Meighen's supporters has half asleep when he mistakenly cast a vote in favour of non-confidence. Whining about interference from a British appointed official, the GG, King played the nationalist card and won the following election.
Find better things to attack Harper with
It's no surprise Stephen Harper thinks libertarians are naive; Brian Gardiner proves this like no other. Besides the horrible writing style and butchery of the english language, the post is riddled with mistakes:
After all, the Conservative Party just put much the same logo (sic) on the Olympic clothing to be worn by our athletes this year.
It doesn't take much effort to find out that the Conservatives had nothing to do with it:
Gary Lunn, the minister of state for sport, said any resemblance was purely coincidental.
"I can assure you that no one in the Government of Canada was involved in any way, shape or form in the design of any of the Olympic clothing. In fact the first time I saw it was (Wednesday)," Lunn said in the House of Commons. "The clothing was designed by the Hudson's Bay Company in consultations with the Canadian Olympic Committee and with an athletes' panel."
[The Liberal Party] is known as “Canada’s natural governing party,” and have branded themselves so well that Canada’s flag is Liberal red.
This was debunked by a simple comment by a reader:
Small correction: The Liberals never “branded themselves so well that Canada’s flag is Liberal red”.
During the Great Flag Debate, Mike Pearson’s proposed flag was a branch with three maple leaves (representing the English, French and Aboriginal founding nations) and bordered by two blue banners representing the two oceans. It was referred to as the Pearson Pennent.
In committee, the NDP, the Liberals, the Social Credit member of the committee and all of the Progressive Conservatives voted in favour of Gordon Stanley’s proposed flag, the one we have today (the maple leaf itself and the dimensions have changed somewhat).
Moreover, Stanley’s proposed flag had nothing to do with the Liberals. He got the idea from the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada.
Perhaps libertarians can gain more respect if they take more time to make their posts accurate rather than using a dead issue as ammunition to attack the Prime Minister (both sides of the political spectrum are against using partisan logos on government cheques). Though it should be obvious this wasn't a federal move and was not approved by Harper, measures have been taken by our leader to ensure fairness in the future:
Speaking in Edmonton at an unrelated announcement, Harper, criticized recently by his political opponents for mixing government and partisan advertising, said Keddy's move was a "mistake that is not going to be repeated."
To ensure the message got through to Conservative troops, a memo was emailed Wednesday to Conservative caucus members urging them, their staff and constituency workers not to cross the line.
[Gerald Keddy] has apologized for plastering a Conservative Party logo on a giant "prop cheque," admitting it was "inappropriate" to highlight a partisan connection to the expenditure of taxpayer funds.
Finally, I want to mention that Coca Cola is a corporation while the government is not. To compare the two (which Brian does twice in his post) doesn't make much of anything other than a pretty simile. Try comparing our government with, you know, an existing or former government - it may strengthen your case better than a pop company can.
[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]
Top Political Mistakes
Ever wondered what were the worst political mistakes in Canadian history.
Well wonder no more -- Here's the official list.
Order of Merit is not a knighthood
I was momentarily puzzled by the news that Jean Chretien had received the Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth the First (I'm in Scotland). For a bit there I thought that meant that Mr. Chretien was the first Canadian Prime Minister (or former Prime Minister) to by knighted since Sir Robert Borden. This would fly in the face of several historical developments regarding Canadians and British honours. (for more information just ask Baron Black of Crossharbour)
Five seconds of research (thank god for Wikipedia) proved that this was not the case. I thought I would share with you my public the results of that extensive research (in case you were too lazy to take the five seconds yourself).
According to Wikipedia:
As the Order of Merit is open to the citizens of sixteen different countries, each with their own system of orders, decorations, and medals, the order's place of precedence varies from country to country. While in the United Kingdom, members rank below Knights and Dames Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, it has been claimed by Stanley Martin, in his book The Order of Merit 1902-2002: One Hundred Years of Matchless Honour, that the Order of Merit is actually the pinnacle of the British honours system. Similarly, though it is not listed in the Canadian order of precedence for honours, decorations, and medals, except relating to those who were appointed to the order prior to 1 June 1972, ChristopherMcCreery stated in his book The Order of Canada: Its Origins, History and Development that the Order of Merit was the highest civilian award for merit a Canadian could receive.
I take the phrase "members rank below knights" to indicate that is is not an actual knighthood.
Also of note is that Jean Chretien is the only Canadian to currently hold this honour.
With Conservatives Like These.....
Joseph Ben-Ami asks some hard questions of Prime Minister Harper:
The plain fact of the matter is that although the government has had to make difficult compromises due to its vulnerable position, it has also adopted some practices and policies that cannot be explained away in this manner.
The mammoth increases in program spending in its first two years are a case in point. Nobody at the time was clamouring for these increases and there was no possibility that the Liberals would have forced an election if Mr. Flaherty had failed to provide them.
Another, more recent example that I have written about is the decision to resurrect the former Court Challenges Program under a new name – the Language Rights Support Program. Government apologists continue to insist that this new initiative is fundamentally different from the Court Challenges Program that was cancelled in 2006.
Do these apologists not know that their talking points were written by bureaucrats who opposed the government’s decision to shut down the CCP in the first place?
And then there's the wheat board and the gun registry. At least the Tories went to court to smash the CWB monopoly, albeit unsuccessfully. That the long gun registry still exists nearly four years into "conservative" rule is a mark of shame. This isn't to say that Iggy would have done a better job. Certainly not.
That assessment probably has less to do with ideology, and more to do with the growing sense that he's Stephane Dion with better English skills. In practice the proposition to the electorate, next time the writ drops, from the Tories will be this: You could do worse. Perfectly true. Yet shouldn't we be holding a Conservative party to something like conservative standards? Otherwise truth in labelling demands Stephen Harper run for the Status Quo Party next time around.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Every big government needs a gimmick:
A new addition to the House of Commons today will be an interactive robot. At a time when only 3% of young people have ever contacted their MP, the robot – nicknamed Voicebot - is a very modern twist on writing a letter to your MP. Until Thursday, young people can visit a website, put in what they care about and the robot will write it out, stroke by stroke, word by word, directly to the politicians. The study, carried out by v, The National Young Volunteers Service, showed that over 70% of young people thought they did not live in a fair society and that 60% thought the world was becoming a worse place. Young people, though, did not see the political system as the answer, with less than half of all young people saying they were interested in politics.Now why would some of the richest and luckiest people on earth feel they don't live in a "fair society." To most of the children in the world, the tots of England, Wales, Scotland and Ulster live in a heaven on earth, albeit a rather rainy and cold one. It's not just children of other lands, it's their own ancestors who would have regarded the life of modern British children as envious. More than a few of the great grandparents of the children polled entered the workforce in their early teens, working in conditions no adult would be allowed to work in today. Materially, to paraphrase Harold Macmillan, the children of Britain have never had it so good.
"Fair" is code for poor. Too many people in Britain don't have enough of whatever is defined as their "fair share" of the wealth. Logically, well logically for British statists, the solution is more government. That Britain has one of the most lavish welfare states in the world, and that a vast class of dependents has been generated - see the works of Anthony Daniels - does not phase the fair mongers. They dutifully propagandize children entrusted to their care that they live in an unfair world. They don't bother teaching much history to modern school children.
An even half honest exposition of British history would show how tremendously fortunate they are to be living in this time - at least materially - and that once upon a time the country was a byword for civility, decency and restraint. They might start to question, the more independent minded of them, why Britain was once a world power and is now on the fast track to becoming a satrap of Brussels. They might begin to understand that the Britain that once ruled the waves was a much freer, much more economically dynamic society than the one they live in. That their wealth and comforts were won for them by many brave and dedicated men and women over the centuries. They might remember their names and what they fought for. It was not the Britain of New Labour and the surveillance state.
Post American? Not Quite.
The end of the "American Empire" has been gleefully predicted for some thirty years now. It is a prediction based more on hope than facts. America is still the "indispensable power" and will remain so for many decades to come.
On the other side of this debate are a few--notably Josef Joffe in a recent essay in Foreign Affairs--who resist the current fashion and insist that America remains the indispensable power. They note that declinist predictions are cyclical, that the rise of China (and perhaps India) are just the current version of the Japan panic of the late 1980s or of the earlier pessimism best captured by Jean-François Revel's How Democracies Perish.
The anti-declinists point out, for example, that the fear of China is overblown. It's based on the implausible assumption of indefinite, uninterrupted growth; ignores accumulating externalities like pollution (which can be ignored when growth starts from a very low baseline, but ends up making growth increasingly, chokingly difficult); and overlooks the unavoidable consequences of the one-child policy, which guarantees that China will get old before it gets rich.
And just as the rise of China is a straight-line projection of current economic trends, American decline is a straight-line projection of the fearful, pessimistic mood of a country war-weary and in the grip of a severe recession.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Johnny's Doing Swell
The National Post--read it now before it goes under--has a fine editorial lamenting Ontario's bizarre report cards:
In 1998, the Ministry introduced a province-wide policy for the form of report cards and the precise information they are supposed to contain. The framework of recommendations was somewhat loose, but it led school boards to adopt canned commercial solutions for report card production that provide quick, automatic output from a pre-selected list of phrases.
In many cases these phrases were taken directly from curriculum documents and contained heavy doses of the educational jargon normally meant to circulate, more or less privately, within the world of teachers, bureaucrats and academic researchers. Parents were left trying to decode euphemistic verbal tags ("Your child can do X with assistance" translated into English: "Your child can't do X on his own") and unnecessarily elaborate or even baffling descriptions of particular cognitive skills ( "can fully apply and discuss patterning strategies in problem-solving situations").
None of these assessments tell parents what they want to hear. The answer to the age old question: "Can Johnny read, add, subtract and multiply?" Beyond the basics perhaps some grounding in geography and history. "Johnny can find Saskatchewan on a map. Johnny knows that Sir John A Macdonald did not found a chain of fast food restaurants." The Americans have fifty states and sundry outposts like Puerto Rico and American Samoa. Just ten provincial capitals to memorize kids! Why memorize stuff when you can Google it? Because you won't know to look for something if you don't know it might be there.
Background knowledge allows people to function in society. We live in Canada, this is roughly what it looks like, this is roughly where people live. I recall one clueless classmate asking a teacher from Regina what country that was located in. His family had been in Canada for generations. Modern education is still heavily influenced by the theories of John Dewey, who believed education was less about facts and methods, and more about socializing students to be good citizens. Facts and methods get in the way of making "good citizens," i.e. ones willing to serve the collective. If Johnny is taught to think, he might just start to think for himself. When he grows up, who knows, he might start asking why his children should spend the first two decades of their life learning very little that will make them productive, independent, and happy.
Scott Reid and Maple Syrup
Living in Scotland for the year, I really miss maple syrup. I guess that makes me truly Canadian because my favourite MP, Scott Reid, unveiled a plaque that says maple syrup is an important part of our history and identity. I've seen Mr. Reid talk about Canadian history, and believe me he knows what he is talking about.
Danielle Smith becomes leader of the Wildrose Alliance Party
It was an exciting leadership race and I only regret that I could not have followed it more closely from Ontario/Scotland. It is also a very exciting victory that has brought fiscal conservatives and libertarians a new hope, not just for Alberta but for Canada as well.
The best description of socialism
What Happened to Arnold?
This is what happens when you go into politics, you get morally corrupted.
Hard to believe that this clip of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the early 1990's talking about free markets is the same man who recently pushed to ban plasma tv's in California that are over 40".
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Saturday, October 17, 2009
Andrew Coyne is right, but Ignatieff is not the new hope
Andrew Coyne writes that Michael Ignatieff could come back from his political collapse with a serious and adult attack upon the deficit. If Mr. Ignatieff, argues Mr. Coyne, talks seriously about what can and should be done to combat the deficit, then he is likely to find a great deal more support. Indeed he can hearken back to the Chretien years of deficit fighting. You want a good fiscal manager? Vote Liberal!
Mr. Coyne is right. This would be a fantastic strategy and it would be great for the country. The sad thing is that it is already too late. The Liberals have taken weak pot shots at the budget and focused on how they would spend billions of dollars. Michael Ignatieff has already presented himself to the Canadian public as a big Liberal spender, and you can be sure the Conservatives will make that title stick.
I sympathize with Andrew Coyne. He and I have the same problem. We are both sports fans with no team to cheer for; dedicated fiscal conservatives with no party to put our hopes behind. The Conservative Party, once the great hope of conservatives, has betrayed itself.
But I would not hold my breath and hope that Michael Ignatieff will take up our cause.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Mother of the Free
It's as if one day, circa 1960, the British woke up and decided to junk it. Junk everything that once made them the envy of the world. The rest of the world still views Britain though the lens of BritComs and BBC dramas. In some corner of some Prague sound studio, is a drawing room that is forever England. The place itself, well I'll let the Steyn explain:
It’s hardly surprising that a coarsened world produces a coarsened culture, or even that the fruits of heavy-handed feminism and political correctness should be a nation of 12-year- old booze-sodden tarts and middle-aged blokes jerking off at BBC licence-payer expense. I wrote a few weeks back that an increase in sexual liberty had provided a cover for the shrinking of all other kinds. Likewise, if you can make jokes about the Queen’s pussy, why surely you are freer than your forebears. And it’s true that, say, a North Korean stand-up would be ill-advised to proffer jests about Kim Jong-Il’s meat-and-two-veg. But licence is not the same as liberty. And the British nanny state’s rearing of a generation of snarling, brutish, eternally arrested adolescents slumped in Hogarthian depravity seems not an unfortunate side effect but an all too foreseeable consequence. The BBC’s motto is “Nation shall speak peace unto nation.” Not in prime time. As David Cameron might say, nation shall speak pissed unto nation.