Friday, May 07, 2010

One of the benefits of federalism... that it takes two levels of government to screw up to really tank the economy:

Consider the often-made comparison between Greece and the state of California. Both are in deep fiscal trouble, both have a history of fiscal irresponsibility. And the political deadlock in California is, if anything, worse — after all, despite the demonstrations, Greece’s Parliament has, in fact, approved harsh austerity measures.

But California’s fiscal woes just don’t matter as much, even to its own residents, as those of Greece. Why? Because much of the money spent in California comes from Washington, not Sacramento. State funding may be slashed, but Medicare reimbursements, Social Security checks, and payments to defense contractors will keep on coming.

For a change, Paul Krugman sticks to economics and doesn't blame George Bush for anything. His column provides a lucid assessment of Greece's economic predicament.

Given Dalton McGuinty's economic mismanagement of our province, Ontarians can indeed be thankful Ontario is not a unitary state.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The tissues that bind us

Where does Michael Ignatieff come up with this stuff?

"If this [Conservative] ideology prevails in this country it will permanently weaken the tissues that bind our society together," Ignatieff said.

Is it any wonder he is taking such a drubbing in the media lately.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Perseverance in the face of failure

After thirty some years of toiling in relative obscurity, Canadian heavy metal band Anvil appears to be finally on a roll following the release of the documentary Anvil! The Story Of Anvil.

At the Sundance Film Festival last year the film received a rapturous welcome. Art-house cinemas picked it up for distribution in the UK and US earlier this year, which brought it to the attention of more rapt critics. "The first great film of 2009" - NME. "A hell of a movie" - Empire. "The best documentary I've seen in years!" - Michael Moore. Even the New Yorker's normally hard to please Anthony Lane found it the "most stirring release of the year".

So much for Anvil! the film. But something even more extraordinary has been happening to Anvil the band. I catch up with Lips on the phone on his way to a gig in San Francisco. It is a gig with a difference: the band is performing in a cinema directly after the end of the screening in what is being billed across several US cities as the "Anvil Experience".


When they did the Anvil Experience in Los Angeles recently, Lips was amazed to see Dustin Hoffman standing on his seat doing devil horns and singing along to Metal On Metal. Fan mail has been pouring in from thousands of Americans saying that the band's dogged determination has inspired them.

"I've been getting confessional letters from people from all walks of life who can barely make their mortgage payments saying if you guys can keep going anything is possible."

The 13th album has been selling like hot cakes through Anvil's website, and Lips has all but paid his sister back. Now they are on to the 14th - working title Juggernaut of Justice. Even Keanu Reeves, whose glasses Lips failed to sell, has gone on record saying: "I bow at the feet of Anvil."

Maybe there's a lesson in this. I wonder if the Roll Ons would be up for a reunion.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The great cap-and-trade swindle

It was really only a matter of time before Kyoto morphed into an excuse for protectionism.

The closer the United States gets to adopting a cap-and-trade system to control greenhouse gas emissions, the more frightening it gets.

Not because the plan now under debate in the U. S. Congress would complicate the lives of energy producers, or impose new costs on consumers. Those drawbacks might be bearable if the system was truly designed to reduce emissions, and if the expense was reasonable. The alarm results from increasing evidence that emissions have become a secondary concern of a plan whose main purpose is to serve the partisan interests of the Democratic Party.


The Democrats' evident determination to use global warming to mask a transfer of wealth from one part of the country to another mirrors the ill-starred Green Shift proposed by former Liberal leader Stephane Dion, which began as a means of fighting emissions and ended up as an anti-poverty program financed by Alberta for the benefit of more Liberal-friendly parts of the country.

Barack Obama has his work cut out for him if he truly wants to avoid being called the Depression President.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Making excuses for Somali pirates

Johann Hari of the Huffington Post claims we are being lied to about pirates. Far from being despicable scallywags, they are to be admired for their democratic and egalitarian ways:

Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied against their tyrannical captains - and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls "one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the eighteenth century." They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed "quite clearly - and subversively - that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy." This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.

Similarly, the Somali pirates are but poor, honorable folk fighting against injustice:

Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our nuclear waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We didn't act on those crimes - but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 percent of the world's oil supply, we begin to shriek about "evil." If we really want to deal with piracy, we need to stop its root cause - our crimes - before we send in the gun-boats to root out Somalia's criminals.

One commenter even suggests:

The pirates are totally justified in their actions, no questions asked. I don't care who they pillage or plunder, it's only for their own benefit provided that we don't start killing them like the Israeli's did with the Palestinians.

The more crewmen they hold hostage, the more ransom they collect, the happier I feel seeing that the common peasant still wields a weapon over even the most powerful of governments and corporations.

With pirates as their model, it is little wonder that Barack Obama is their hero. Kind of puts the recent tea parties in a new light.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Environmental protectionism

Environmentalists are not going to stop until they get their way. The latest lever to impose their designs on an unwilling population is the threat of trade protectionism:

The most immediate problem Canada faces from greenhouse gas emissions is economic rather than environmental. At least that was the message at a news conference on Thursday held to unveil a report from a government advisory body on carbon pricing.

Bob Page, the chairman of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, said that if Canada does not introduce an effective, national carbon emissions control program, it will face potentially ruinous trade retaliation from the United States once Congress and the Obama administration introduce their own emissions control programs.

Just what we need – another pretext for trade protectionism. As if the problems of the current global economic crisis are not great enough. Great Depression II anyone?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Barack Obama: The Depression President?

The recent news that U.S. public works projects funded by the stimulus package will be required to use only U.S.-made iron and steel was not entirely unpredictable. On issues of trade, the Democrats are bad for Canada, and by extension global trade. If Barack Obama lets this stand he risks becoming known as the Depression President.

Thus far, the temptation among nations to shield their economies from the ravages of the global credit crisis has largely been limited to backstopping their financial sectors or bailing out struggling industries such as autos. To be sure, these efforts are at root protectionist, but it is still possible to believe that the primary intention is not to beggar thy neighbour.

The recent U.S. stimulus package approved by the U.S House of Representatives rips away any pretense of adherence to the principles of free trade. It is as if the legislators slept through their history lessons on the catalytic role of the Smoot-Hawley Act in the Great Depression.

So instead of standing up to the entreaties of Big Labour, Congress now looks to it for its marching orders.

"We've got manufacturing in America in a total and complete freefall. ... It's about time we had some economic patriots," said Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers union.

And to make matters worse, Congress is not content to stop there:

Senators are working on an expanded version that would also include other materials such as cement, Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, told reporters.

Fortunately, Obama is on record as being opposed to protectionism:

By a cruel irony, President Obama used the steel business as an example of the futility of protectionism in his book The Audacity of Hope, where he wrote that "A tariff on imported steel may give temporary relief to U.S. steel producers, but it will make every American manufacturer that uses steel in its products less competitive in the world market."

Encouragingly, even Iggy sees the threat, although Jack remains true to form.

The Obama Administration is said to be "studying" the rule introduced by the House; meanwhile, our opposition leader, Michael Ignatieff, is asking pointed questions about it in the Commons when he might be better advised to form a united lobbying front with the Conservatives. (And Jack Layton is exemplifying the worsening international mood by calling for immediate countervailing action.)

We can only hope that there is substance behind Obama's rhetoric. Otherwise, things are going to get a lot worse.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

10 Years Later

Today is the tenth anniversary of the National Post. Say what you will about the MSM, but can you imagine what Canada would be like if it had never existed?

From the beginning, the Post provided intellectual support to a Canadian conservative viewpoint that was sadly lacking in other Canadian media. The headline on the October 27, 1998 first edition was "Klein backs unite-the-right movement". Well it turns out they did. And now we have a Conservative government.

Happy birthday National Post!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Diefenbaker's Manifesto on Freedom of Speech

In my days as a young lawyer, I began the drafting of a Canadian Bill of Rights. The 1938 election manifesto of the Conservative Party in Saskatchewan, authored by me and issued under my leadership, began with the following statement:

"The Conservative party pledges itself to maintain the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press, reaffirms its implicit belief in democracy and democratic institutions, and its absolute opposition to the principles of both Fascism and Communism."

One Canada, Memoirs of the Right Honourable JGD, The Years of Acheivement 1957-1962, MacMillan of Canada, 1976 pg 252

That was 70 years ago.

In 1960, after winning two landslide majorities, the Rt. Hon. John G. Diefenbaker and his government prevailed, and passed the Canadian Bill of Rights.

That was 48 years ago. Have we "progressed"?