Let Us Now Praise Stephen the Cautious

March 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have a couple of favourite conservatives – David Frum is one. I can occasionally see a compassion inherited from his Mom – heck, more than occasionally. Frum praises Harper’s caution in the last Federal budget – don’t cut too much, gradually get to a balanced budget.

For the centre left to ignore the debt and deficit is dishonest. Maybe voters are tired of being lied to, that they can have supportive social programs and low taxes, which essentially means debt and deficit. We might, however, recommend modest tax increases and straightening out the tax code.

Can we return to the greatest political slogan of all time? “Corporate Welfare Bums”

My argument with Harper is that in addition to welcome gradualism, there does have to be some shift in emphasis so that we are doing better over a 5 to 20 year time line. This means an emphasis on research and development, infrastructure, and education for employment.

Almost all social problems get addressed by emphasizing those three things.

If you’re getting your underwear in a knot, just remember that Harper isn’t Ryan.

Still, I’m Glad I Studied English Literature

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

An opinion piece in the New York Times does a nice summary of why we no longer live in our parents or grandparents economy (1950 to 1970) and why we will likely never have the chance. A worthwhile read. I’d add several ideas.

The best argument, economically, for a liberal arts education is that it should teach you to think and write. These general skills are invaluable when you need to respond flexibly to the changing job market.

I believe it’s also true that what drives opportunities for high skill work is research and development – including basic research. But that would be long term thinking, which isn’t valued much these days.

An unpopular opinion

October 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

European Americans – heck, most westerners – are quick to assign precontact aboriginal populations a life in a state of grace – something “natural”. However, this simply isn’t true. Most were “nations” with a distinct economic foundation. For those nations living in the northern forest, trading in furs was fundamental. It became even more so with the original invasion of Europeans. Those fur trading nations were not passive victims of the Hudson Bay company. With the decline in the popularity of fur the basic support for traditional life styles put them in a dependent relationship with national governments.

Note that this applies only to wild fur – not farm raised. Revitalizing the fur market would be one small step in providing northern aboriginal populations with an economic support for a traditional life style.

The Right Resume

June 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Employers Spend on Equipment Rather Than Hiring – NYTimes.com. This is a very nice explanation of the unemployment dilemma. I think we could take a couple of things from the situation. Lowering taxes on corporations doesn’t affect unemployment levels. Using the increased tax revenues for more effective and efficient education will make the biggest difference to unemployment in the long term – it won’t solve the immediate problem. What isn’t mentioned in the article is the long term advantages of increased research and development (and the precursor of increased basic science research funding). Finally, our neglect of developing and replacing infrastructure also needs to be part of the equation.

I’m now employed at a job that doesn’t exist

May 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Star Phoenix:
Sask. unemployment rate remains lowest in Canada, but province loses third-most full-time jobs. Now this is a confusing situation: unemployment down but full time jobs also down. So, did someone at the Star Phoenix actually look at the numbers? They must be hard to find…oh, no, a little Google and here it is. So, it is true, the number of full time jobs is down, but so is the labor force participation rate – hence the drop in the unemployment rate.

Now, here’s what happens when you check out the facts: Cam Broten of the NDP says that we lost 3,500 jobs. However, the way I read the table it’s 1,800 jobs year over year and 1,800 jobs March to April. Am I missing something?

I remember years ago that the Economist magazine rated government statistics agencies all over the world and decided that Canada’s was one of the best. I can believe it. If you go to the report, it suggests further, more detailed charts. If I actually sat down and brooded on them, I might learn something.

Also, would it hurt the Star Phoenix to add a link to the actual report?

So, again my question, did the reporter simply look at press releases from the provincial government and then get some quotes? I would guess not, because most readers don’t want to think in numbers because it makes their brains hurt. It’s better to have someone else tell them what to think.

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