Thursday, December 22, 2005

It May Be Happening

The movement the Conservatives need to win this election just may have begun.

George Bush's poll numbers are up in the US: up eight points in two weeks, apparently because of the success of the Iraq election.

This is what was needed: it has been Bush's unpopularity that was the main drag on the CPC.

And, Bob's yer uncle, up the CPC poll numbers are coming already. Or rather, the Liberals are coming down. Liberals 33, Conservatives 29. Within striking range now. I think Harper is also very clever to be pushing the idea of the Conservatives as a federalist alternative in Quebec. Surely there's an opportunity right now to take over that banner from the discredited Liberals. And, perhaps, an obligation, for the sake of Canada's future. If he can close a sale on that in Quebec--something that can happen quite quickly in Quebec--it could have massive implications for Ontario as well. Ontario bases its vote in large part on who it thinks can "handle" Quebec.

Remarkably, seat projections based on the latest poll suggest Paul Martin could actually lose his own seat. Should that happen, even if the result of the vote was not otherwise decisive, he would probably have to resign. And that too would be good news for the Tories. Frankly, Paul Martin seems to me to be the best they've got.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Paul Martin Comes Out in Favour of Canada

“I will defend the Canadian position and I will defend our values and I will defend our interests against anybody." Paul Martin.

"You are not going to take my country away from me with some trick, with some ambiguous question." Paul Martin.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." Samuel Johnson.

Jean Chretien was a past master at wrapping himself in the flag. But the growing tendency to do this, to dwell on supposed "Canadian values" and anti-Americanism, growing through the Chretien and now the Martin years, is a direct measure, as such nationalism and anti-Americanism is in the Third World, of the growing corruption in Canadian government and in Canada's elite.

How long are the Canadian people going to be suckered by it?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I Can't Bear to Look

Sorry, folks, I'm still too depressed to comment much on the Canadian election. Still no sign of movement in the polls.

I think the problem is that the current unpopularity of George Bush is actually hurting Canadian Conservatives. Canada follows the US politically in lock-step, with about a five to seven year delay, except, if by that point the American move is not looking like a good idea, Canada balks.

Canada is balking on swinging right.

Meantime, I'm vacationing in an undisclosed secure location in Sri Lanka, and trying to forget about it all.

Worst case scenario: this election ends almost the same as the last. Stephen Harper will probably have to step down as leader. I suspect Ralph Klein will be waiting to take over, and he could be formidable federally. There is nobody else on the Liberal side as strong as Martin. If he steps down instead of facing another minority-- doubt he will--that would be all to the good for the CPC.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Concerned Voter Writes

A recent discussion on an email list brings out some popular misconceptions:


Concerned voter:

Unless you want to be paying for health care out of pocket, tax cuts are undesirable.


Abbot:

If there were no government health plan, it is unlikely that most Canadians would be paying for health care out of their own pockets. Anyone who was employed, and their family, would probably be covered by an employer’s plan. This is the case in other developed countries that do not have government-run health care plans.

We’ll get to taxes a little further on.


Concerned voter:

People argue that government is wasteful; but if these services were performed by for-profit businesses, we would not only have to pay for the basic cost of the service, but also for the profits collected by a corporation's shareholders.


Abbot:

Sounds good in theory, perhaps, but the proof is in the pudding. When, in the past, we’ve had government-owned enterprises competing directly with private concerns--Air Canada vs. CP Air, CBC vs. CTV, CN vs. CP, and so forth—the government entity has usually required big subsidies to hold its own in the marketplace. How come?

The discipline of the market forces efficiencies that more than make up for the profit margin. The profit taken by shareholders is nothing compared to what an established bureaucracy can squander in empire building and feathering its own nest.


Concerned voter:

What about the cost of running their marketting and advertising departments which, in a for-profit company, suck a good portion of the operating costs to ensure profitability?


Abbot:

Advertising is not a drag; it is a legitimate service to the public. It is educational; what you do not know about is not available to you.

As to the cost, do you really find that the cost of long distance services has gone up, and the quality declined, since Bell Canada lost its monopoly and the various providers had to start advertising and marketing?

Discipline of the market.


Concerned voter:

It is meaningless to speak of tax cuts without talking about program cuts. If you want to pay lower taxes, then look at the federal budget and decide what you would like to cut out.


Abbot:

Not so, according to the current “supply side” economic theory. (Not so according to Keynesianism, either.)

First, if the government has been running surpluses, as it has, it follows that you can cut taxes immediately without cutting services.

Second, according to the theory, if you cut taxes, you stimulate the economy. Greater economic activity means that your revenue stream does not go down—it is more likely to go up, over time. You will collect more, not less, money in taxes.

Third, by privatizing the provision of some services, thereby introducing market discipline, you can probably provide the same services at lower cost. This would be an argument for things like school vouchers, the Conservative plan to remit money for child care directly to families, or allowing more private provision of medical treatment.



Concerned voter:

We need more, not less, money in government services. Look at the long waits for medical care.


Abbot:

Simple rule of economics: when you fix prices, you get shortages. You are short-circuiting the supply and demand equation.


Concerned voter:

True, in a private hospital, you won't wait as long. Then again, unless you're well off, you won't get inside either. That's what makes them "efficient".


Abbot:

No, it isn’t. A survey in Manitoba actually showed that the wealthy are no more likely than the poor to resort to private provision of medical care. Again, it depends on what is covered in your employer’s plan.


Concerned voter:

…Promises to cut taxes are cheap. Promises to cut spending better reveal the true intentions of a candidate.


Abbot:

There’s truth in that. But to be fair and balanced, you need to remember the corollary. Promises to improve services are cheap. Promises to raise specific taxes better reveal the true intentions of the candidate.

The Canadian Election

Now is the time, no doubt, for all good men to come to the aid of the party. Yet I am still silent. My apologies. This has a lot to do with getting ready for Christmas and more to do with getting ready to go off on vacation to an undisclosed location in Sri Lanka.

But it is also that the Canadian election is just too depressing. As the polls sit, it will just be another Liberal minority about as before. The only movement I've seen so far is between the Liberals and the NDP. And the media have begun their usual full-court press against the Conservative leader and his message.

Of course, things could change after Christmas, once people begin focusing more on the election.

Hey! That could go for me as well!

But even if Harper gets a minority, it isn't enough to break through. He'd have to count on the support of the BQ for legislation, and there is very little those two parties have in common. I can see the Liberals losing the election, yet still hanging on to power by making a formal coalition with the NDP. Or another short minority like Joe Clark's.

I have already voted, by the way. Kudos to Elections Canada for making it possible. The ballot arrived from Canada by courier.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Filipinos for Harper

The Liberals may have trouble this time playing the racism card.

A recent Globe poll points out that support for the two parties among visible minorities is now just about the same as it is in the general population.

It’s about time. In terms of policies, those of the Conservatives have long been more favourable to recent immigrants than those of the Liberals. And the Conservative stance on moral issues is much closer to the views of most immigrant and visible minority families.

The Globe theorizes that the ongoing Tory-ward shift among visible minorities has a lot to do with the corruption issue. It could well be. Nobody knows better than folks who have grown up in the Third World how devastating government corruption can be.

Personally, I suspect a lot of it has to do with what was called, in the recent American election, “values.” Not just corruption, but gay marriage, abortion, and secularization.

I also think visible minorities must have become sick of being patronized by the Liberals, with their “Boys’ Book of Empire” concept of smiling brown natives dancing in colourful traditional costume that was “multiculturalism.”

The Globe story is here:

http://tinyurl.com/dsme8

The Family Compact

If anyone doesn’t believe that the Canadian political elite is a small, incestuous clique, note that Jack Layton’s Liberal opponent in Toronto Danforth in this election is Pierre Trudeau’s former mistress, Deborah Coyne. Layton’s wife, Olivia Chow, is running in nearby Trinity-Spadina. Layton is the son of former Mulroney cabinet minister Robert Layton.

I won’t get into the McKay—Stronach—Desmarais—Chretien—Mulroney crossovers.

This kind of intermarried clique is just not healthy in a democracy. It tends to the establishment of an aristocracy, and a government neither by nor for the people.

We need fresh blood. I’d say Alberta, the West, and the Tory Party is our greatest hope for that. The old Red Tories are as nepotistic and elitist as anyone; but the CA faction is pretty open to newcomers. Of the three main leaders outside Quebec, Stephen Harper is the only one whose father was not also a prominent politician. And the Tories have the most diverse caucus.

Romantic Love Lasts One Year

Romantic love is a crock. Real love comes only after marriage, and with time. The following story confirms this yet again:

http://www.insidebayarea.com/portlet/article/html/fragments/print_article.jsp?article=3268292

The sad thing is how many marriages break up because one or the other partner has been swindled into thinking that romantic love is essential, and the real thing. Then when it fades, they think something is wrong.

Here's the kick: romantic love is a delusion based on a misreading of Medieval Christian allegories. They used romantic, or erotic, love as an allegory of the love between the soul and God. Eros was used as a metaphor for agape. Too many took the whole thing literally, and missed the referent.

Romantic love is a type of mental unbalance. They might as well have used the allegory--and did--of wine, or the dream.