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Politics

Lair of the bizarre, where seemingly simple problems get amushed by complex solutions which end up pleasing no one except those proposing the solution.
20040623(Politics):Spin Cycle
Normally these days I am too tired to care, but this piece of spin is too rich to pass up.

The Globe is attacking the Liberal ad which implies that the Conservatives will run high deficits as they increase spending while cutting taxes.

They say, in part:

Let's give credit where it's due. As finance minister, Mr. Martin solved a big deficit problem that began with the Liberals.

In other words, Mr. Martin solved the problem. While:

If anything, the Mulroney government can be faulted for not acting energetically enough to attack the deficit when the economy was performing well and they had the opportunity, (Bill Robson of the C.D. Howe Institute) says.

In other words, the Mulroney government blew an opportunity to fix the problem.

I find it interesting that the author's take is that we should be condemning the Liberals for succeeding where the Conservatives failed (and indeed, compounded the problem).

20040610(Politics):The Proportional Representation Nightmare
Ahh, elections always bring out the nuts -- one of the usual suspects are those who complain that the current system is unfair, and needs to be changed to some kind of proportional representation (PR) system.

They are not as right as they think they are.

Read More:a modest proposal

20040527(Politics):Election 2004
OK, I have a few minutes here to talk about this ridiculous election.

Read More:Mandatory Punditry

20040224(Politics):Nader 2004: Yay!
If Democrats are so unhappy that Ralph Nader is again standing for President, they need to look more closely at themselves. The excitement seems to revolve around the election being between Bush and Not-Bush, and the presence of Nader threatens to slightly split the Not-Bush vote. If your biggest claim to electability is that you are Not-Bush, then you have a serious credibility gap.

If otherwise-Democrat voters vote for Nader because they are sincerely attracted to his policies, then the Democrats have a problem: how to appeal to these voters without alienating the rest of their supporters. On the other hand, if otherwise-Democrat voters vote for Nader because they wish to protest the two-party system -- the Democrats have a bigger problem.

One of the reasons why we have elections is so that people can participate in government and to make their voices heard. If there are no candidates espousing alternatives that the public wants, then those people are effectively cut out of the process all together. This is even (or especially) if they don't really understand the issues or the mechanisms proposed to respond to the issues, and would prefer something completely hair-brained instead. (Most of the NDP supporters seem to fall into this category.) Their only real alternative is to demonstrate their displeasure by boycotting the polls on voting day, something a large percentage of both Canada and America are doing.

The two party system comes up with situations like this:

Option 1: We shoot ourselves in the head through the ear.
Option 2: We shoot ourselves in the head through the face.

Now, vote.

Wait a minute -- what about those who think that maybe we don't have to shoot ourselves in the head at all? (Like, maybe we can hang ourselves instead.)

Part of the problem of democracy is that everyone gets to have their say. The problem is that some people will say stupid things -- however, limiting choices is a way of excluding people from that process. And it's an awfully short trip from Nader shouldn't run to why even have the Democrats at all?

20031201(Politics):An Un-Subtle Dress Up Game
I see in the media that early returns from the Progressive Conservatives voting is indicating massive support for the amalgamation with the Alliance. This concerns me -- it tells me that the Conservative party members are being blinded by the chance to regain power, when in fact they never will.

Firstly, the resulting party is going to be led by, and have policy formed by, the Alliance working groups. Since the Alliance is the larger party in this amalgamation, they will have most (if not all) of the cards when it comes to making policy. The end result will be the Alliance Party dressed up in a brand new Conservative suit of quasi-legitimacy. I don't foresee any real change in Alliance policy formulation, nor any change in those running the show -- and as a long term Conservative voter I'll be the first to say that this amalgamation will result in the Liberal representative receiving my votes for the foreseeable future. Definitely in April.

Secondly, I doubt that the voters are going to fall for this dress-up game. If voters really wanted Alliance policy they would have voted for them, and only two MPs got elected east of Manitoba.

The only hope for Alliance power lies in the nebulous 'desire for change' vote which sweeps the country every so often. To that I have a stern warning: if you vote for change, don't complain when that's exactly what you get.

20031031(Politics):Shocking Reality Check
Theory: if you fix the price of electricity at an absurdly low rate, you can average out the highs and lows and at least break even in the long run.

Reality: The Ontario government's net loss over one year doing this: $700,000,000

Theory: You can fix this with a 10% rise in the fixed price of electricity.

Reality: Our fixed price is $0.043 per kWh. The long-term cost is closer to $0.06 per kWh. And this doesn't cover additional costs which will be incurred, such as closing down all the coal-fired generating stations and replacing them with... what?

The prices, they are a-risin'.

20031001(Politics):Call It Like It Is
The National Post is calling this year's Ontario provincial election the World's Worst Election. How's that for a ringing endorcement?

Ten years ago, there was much talk in political circles of a new era in Canadian politics. Buying voters with their own money was thought to be a waning and corrupt practice, and pandering to special interest groups an unacceptable and craven political game that voters would no longer tolerate. From Ontario, home of the World's Worst Election, the evidence is clearly to the contrary.
20030930(Politics):What's that odor?
Hold your nose, it's election time in Ontario.

This time around we have a wonderful selection of choices: the insane cutters, the insane spenders, the deluded, plus a handful of nobodies.

As you can guess, I'm not impressed with any of the alternatives this time around.

Read More:it's rich and creamy this time

20030923(Politics):The Reality Train
Ontario is not running a balanced budget: it has a $4.5 billion deficit.

Other items of note:

  • Health care spending increases on average 8% per year, while revenues increase only 4%
  • The conservative plan calls for more tax cuts without adequate spending cuts
  • The liberal plan involves more spending without adequate tax increases

There are probably calculations as to how the NDP plan would affect things, but let's face it they would only be of academic concern.

20030708(Politics):ESR on al Quadia
Eric Raymond (of Open Source fame) has a weblog. He writes very well, even if I don't agree with him. Last year he wrote a series on Islam and al Qadia where he states:
We will not be prepared to win the war against Islamic terror until we understand the following things:
  • Islam is a religion of war and conversion by the sword, not peace.
  • The primary threat of terrorism comes from Arabs and middle-easterners between the ages of fifteen and forty, and we must summon the will to profile accordingly.
  • We are dealing with religious fanaticism rather than rational grievances against America or the West.
  • Our enemies cannot be reasoned with or appeased anywhere short of surrender and submission to shari'a law.
  • Apologists for mainstream Islam are systematically lying to us about Islamic doctrine in order to shield terrorists who they know are acting in strict accordance with that doctrine.

I don't feel qualified to comment on the specifics of this, but the implications are disturbing in the long run -- especially as someone close to a non-state-sanctioned religion.

Anyways:

  • Part 1
  • Part 2
  • Part 3
  • Part 4
  • Part 5

    Read More:Always More.

  • 20030630(Politics):Happy Canada Day 2003

    Photo credit: Public Works and Government Services Canada's Hill Cam

    20030620(Politics):Same Sex Marriage In Canada
    Watching the controversy surrounding Canada's sudden decision to legalize same-sex marriage, I have this to say:
    • The courts have not usurped democracy. The court was presented with a situation where one law (the marriage act) and another (the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) appeared to be in conflict. The Court merely agreed that there was a conflict, and declared that the Charter's provisions to trump those of the marriage act. This is what courts do. A rejection of the case would effectively be saying that the marriage act in question trumps the Charter, which is a ridiculous position.

    • I personally think that the government should appeal the decision. (I know this won't be a popular opinion in some of the circles I am a member of). I think that this is a major change to the fabric of society, and the government has an obligation to force the courts to examine all possible ramifications of such a change before accepting it. I'm not against same-sex marriage per-se, I just think the issue needs to be studied. I think it is important that a friendly government like the Liberals be the one to appeal (as opposed to a more hostile government formed by the Reform) so that at the end of the process such a law can be enacted. Look at it this way: appealing the decision gives the issue more public exposure, and repeated decisions from multiple courts in favor of same-sex marriage gives the whole thing credibility. Otherwise, some government down the road is going to turn around and stomp on the law because it was not properly appealed.
    20030124(Politics):Funny Pages
    There's a howler in the Ottawa Citizen today. Letter writer Darren Cameron, from Calgary, says that the reason why democracy does not work is because Central Canadians are committed to the Liberals, and have such rejected the 'ideals, positions, and opportunities offered by the opposition parties'.

    But like all good humorists, he leaves the punch line for the end of his letter.

    Read More:it's better than dilbert!

    20021219(Politics):Americans Ignore Laws, Create More Anyways
    Two US Senators claim the State Department holds partial responsibility for failing to prevent the September 11 2001 incidents. The senators say that if the State Department had followed their own rules in place at the time, at least fifteen of the nineteen hijackers would have been denied non-immigrant visas as they were "single young men with no visible means of support". While this might not have prevented a September 11 type of attack from being carried out, it is clear that had the State Department followed their own rules the attack's composition would be vastly different.

    This fits in with what I have been saying for ages: the problem is not a lack of laws or regulation; the problem is a lack of enforcement of existing laws or regulations. I've always said that if a law's enforcement is undesirable, the problem is with the law, not with the enforcement -- so change the law. Inconsistent enforcement exposes "equality before the law" as the fiction it is...

    It also makes one wonder why the US is falling over themselves to effectively curb civil liberties -- when existing laws get ignored, where is the guarantee that these new laws well get enforced?

    More on all this at a later date.

    20021217(Politics):Judge Swats Minister's Nose
    Finally, some good news about local government, even if it is merely words and not deeds. A judge has ruled that the Ontario Minister for Municipal Affairs had no legal leg to stand on when he suspended the Ontario Municipal Board's hearings into redrawing the ward boundaries for the City of Ottawa.

    I say it might be merely words because even with this ruling, there is precious little time for the city to complete the process for next November's coming elections.

    Read More:It is about time

    20021109(Politics):Chiarelli Doesn't Get It
    Mayor Bob Chiarelli is 'mad as hell' over high hydro prices, and even stooped to calling Energy Minister John Baird a 'loser' over the issue.

    Read More:Always More.

    20021020(Politics):Electrickery Bills
    The Ontario Government has transformed the hydro system into a pseudo-market driven system. Since market forces are at work, this has led to predictable results: the kilowatt-hour cost of electricity has fallen, risen, skyrocketed, and then fallen again. Interesting how a market works, eh?

    There is a fundamental flaw in the "marketization" of the hydro system -- the purchasers do not have access to current market data, nor do they have a reasonable way of accessing their current and past usage levels.

    Read More:shocking observations follow

    20020617(Politics):Bill Who?
    Manitoba MP and complete unknown Bill Blaikie today declared his intention to seek the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party. In his remarks to the three reporters who showed up for his announcement that since Canadians understood there was more to life than money, his platform would maximize the use of taxes to relieve Canadians of the burden of having money.

    One of the reporters later commented that he was actually looking for the men's room when he happened upon the press conference. "It seemed more polite to stay", he said. "Besides, something newsworthy might have happened after the annoucement."

    Outgoing NDP leader McDonough later said that while she couldn't endorse any candidate at this point of the proceedings, she was delighted that someone had finally noticed that she'd quit.

    20020216(Politics):...I mentioned that...
    I heard something incredible on the radio about a week ago (OK, I'm not exactly the News at Noon, or even News Of The Month -- if you are using this site for current events you'll probably have a distorted view of the world similar to mine) -- Roy Romanov, the politician put in charge of the national inquisition into the future of Canada's health care, has made preliminary rumblings of what he expects to find. After two years and about fifteen million dollars (Canadian dollars, true, so that's about US$6500) Romanov will produce a recommendation that we have a series of public hearings on the matter.

    Presumably these hearings, designed to tap into the average Canadians deepest wants and desires, will cost another ten or fifteen million dollars. Well Mr Romanov, I can save you and your employer (no no, not the government, I'm talking about the people of Canada) a few bucks by telling you in advance exactly what they are going to say.

    Read More:Blindingly Obvious Insight Follows

    20020126(Politics):This Is Our Future
    I was lying awake this morning in bed, slowly waking up from some dream or other, while pussy cats scampered around trying to encourage me to come down to feed them, when suddenly out of nowhere the thought hit me: this is the beginning of the future, the first signs of the legacy that the boomers have left their children.

    Read More:hold on to your wallet

    20011014(Politics):Unwise words
    The American government has recently permitted itself the unforgivable sin of believing its own press. The representatives of the government, from the president on down, has taken a no-holds-barred, no-compromise view towards the policy which it will apply to the rest of the world. In the process of doing this, the Americans have said some things which do absolutely nothing towards a resolution of the current crisis while simultaneously putting long valued relationships with allies under new pressure.

    Read More:consider what you say before you say it

    20010726(Politics):Leave Me Alone
    I hate telemarketers.

    This probably stems from an intense dislike of the telephone as a technology, and the way that it has inserted itself into our lives and culture.

    Read More:the number you have dialed is NOT FUCKING INTERESTED

    20010709(Politics):Alliance Party Woes
    Is Stockwell a bad Day for the Alliance? Maybe -- but I think that the problems are much, much deeper than the current leader.

    Read More:two cents from the gallery

    20010701(Politics):1 July 2001
    May I have your attention please:

    Happy Birthday, Canada.

    Even for all the crap that goes on around here, this is still the best damn country in the world and I wouldn't live anywhere else. We are not shooting each other because our skin colors are different like some places in Europe. We are not shooting each other because of religious differences like some places in the middle east. Heck, we are not shooting each other 'just because' like many places in the States. I think that we need to remember that sometimes.

    Thank you. As you were. Carry on.

    20010622(Politics):Apathetic Youth Today
    A letter to the Ottawa Citizen.

    Update: Published! 27 June 2001

    Read More:Sure! Why not!

    20010405(Politics):Opposing Drug Legalization
    There seem to be a lot of articles floating around these days which are in favor of legalizing some, if not all, of the 'recreational drugs' which are currently illegal. I decided that I had some thoughts on the issue.

    Read More:Sieze the moral high ground.

    20010329(Politics):Religion In School
    State-sponsored religion in schools? I don't think so. Based on a post I made to Slashdot.

    Read More

    20001023(Politics):A letter to Alliance Leader Stockwell Day
    An open letter I wrote to Stockwell Day, leader of the Alliance Party of Canada. Although written during the Federal Election campaign of 2000, it was never actually sent.

    Read More:A concerned citizen writes on

    20000821(Politics):Democracy Inaction
    One of the discussions which seems to surface with an almost monotonous repetition is the decline of manners in society in general, and in cyberspace in particular. Most often, a thread on a public site such as Slashdot will start to discuss the abusive, insulting, and off-topic posts that are added to the "discussion". So far our little site has been exempt from such an incident, but I'm sure they lie in our future.

    The lines are drawn in the debate in a predictable manner. There are those who cling to the broadest possible interpretation of the American First Amendment, who insist that each and every anonymous "LiNuX ruulZ!" post are Free Speech at its purest. Arrayed against them are those who clamor for accountability and civility, even if it has to be enforced.

    Originally published to NerdPerfect.

    Read More:Vote with your feet.

    20000809(Politics):Privacy and Anonymity: Splitting Hairs?
    We've all read the press announcement where Seagram declares war on copyright violators and anonymity. More recently, avogato posted an article Against FreeNet which also challenged some of the libertarian underpinnings which saturate those loudest at the debate.

    I agree with the Seagram position that anonymity and privacy are different things, that one is desirable and the other is not.

    Originally published to NerdPerfect.

    Read More:A close shave follows.

    20000630(Politics):Tax Cuts - Just Say No
    A letter to the Ottawa Citizen on the topic of debt reduction. Unsent.

    Read More:Your Tax Dollars At Work.

    19971024(Politics):A Matter Of Principle
    Commentary on the Ontario Teacher's Strike of 1997

    Read More

     
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