PoliticsLair of the bizarre, where seemingly simple problems get amushed by complex solutions which end up pleasing no one except those proposing the solution.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
- The liberal plan involves more spending without adequate tax
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.
Read More:Always More.
|20030630(Politics):Happy Canada Day 2003|
Photo credit: Public Works and Government Services Canada's
|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.
There's a howler in the Ottawa Citizen today. Letter writer Darren
Cameron, from Calgary,
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
|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
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
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
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.
Read More:Your Tax Dollars At Work.
|19971024(Politics):A Matter Of Principle|
Commentary on the Ontario Teacher's Strike of 1997