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Slate fears for Canada. Don’t get distracted.

Christopher Flavelle writes in Slate of his fears for the outcome of our election in Canada.


This is nuts. It is wrong in almost every respect, except for:

  • the Conservative Party’s decrease in financial subsidies for commercial artistic projects like television programs
  • the Liberal Party’s chronic corruption and recent disorder.

And frankly the former is a side issue and the latter is a fundamental disqualification.

I was born during the Johnson administration and I think that the choice of Obama over McCain is the most clear cut and important electoral decision of my lifetime. I used to respect McCain but am appalled by the abdication of everything that is right. I would vote for Obama 100 times if I could. And I will be voting for whatever Conservative candidate is put up in my parliamentary riding. She will lose to the local candidate for the even more left wing New Democratic Party (ignored in the Slate piece) who along with the Quebec separatist Bloc Quebecois and the possibility of Green Party parliamentarians could well hold the balance of power.

This is not like the United States where the contest is between two Establishment Parties, each representing very conventional orthodox policies with the extremes on either end driving a disproportionate slice of the agenda with social issues that serve to distract from the continued entrechment of the ruling oligarchy.

Admittedly Canadian Politics is less interesting. Go figure, this is Canada. In the dictionary entry for “less interesting” there is a line drawing of Canada. But Canadian politics always has been and always will be much more about consensus and moderation. That has its ups and downs. But it generally means little reason for panic about a change of government.

I used to work in the production end of TV/Film/Radio. I have had to fill out Canadian Content logs, and have worked on productions that would not have existed without multiple levels of Government subsidies, tax breaks, or quotas. They may have been a good employment mechanism for media people but they rarely resulted in quality product. Worse, the whole system became a bureaucratic gravy train. It is all about the deal, the package, not the content nor the art. And once you are in the club you get money to make whatever schlock you want. At the expense of better artists with better ideas. I won’t shed any tears about seeing those funds cut.  The biggest losers in this are the producers who make made for cable time filler that occupies time on your Lifetime or USA networks with shows featuring and American star, a Canadian crew and Toronto and Vancouver posing as New York or Chicago.

The “not sponsoring ideas they disagree with” is kind of a sideshow. There are still plenty of arms length sources of Government funding where the decisions are well abstracted from the politicians. And I have a lot more confidence that the left wing types who run institutions like the National Film Board of Canada will continue to produce meaningful films of dissent.

I don’t agree with cutting foreign aid but again it is not an issue like fightig an unnessary and ruinous war, or stripping reproductive rights from women, or lying lying lying.

On the GST tax cut, yes it was stupid. But we are runnig a surplus, and as a sales tax the GST could be seen as regressive, and certainly was railed against as such by the LIBERAL party when the Progressive Conservative Party (sic, R.I.P.) introduced it in the early 1990s. BTW the GST replaced a complex and costly system of hundreds of different taxes applied at a manufacturing and wholesale level and had the immediate result of making canadian companies more efficient and goods manufactured in Canada significantly cheaper to the retail customer. So while it’s regressive nature as a sales tax was mitigated initially by its positive effect on consumer prices when introduced by the Conservatives, and reinforced by the cuts by the current Conservatives.

And Kyoto? Don’t get me started. Kyoto is a sham. It will not do a damned thing about climate change but it would cost tens of billions of dollars to the Canadian economy. And the current Liberal platform on climate change is beyond ruinous. It carries on the nonsense of destroying the economy by paying unspecified entities for Carbon Credits. An IOU for oxygen I guess, often vouched for by self appointed groups controlled by the same people who sell you the credits.

If the government (any government) wants to held the climate and enrgy policy and the fate of the environment they can fund research or provide tax incentives  into  cheaper or more efficient solar cells, or wind power, or wave power or high capacity battery technology or biological sources of energy and consumers of carbon (algae that eats C)2 and produces biodiesel, anyone?)

The Liberals would be a disaster. The Conservatives have demonstrated at least basic competence and even if there is now a contingent of freakazoid social conservatives in disturbingly high positions of power, there is not the quorum, nor power, nor consensus for them to impose the type of Palin/Hagee/Scalia culture war you folks face.

Please for the love of God, keep your eye on the ball. Elect Obama. We will be fine up here. Better if the Conservatives win a slim majority, actually.


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Conservative and Christian?

A reader  writes:

Some things I don’t understand.

I thought Republicans, Conservatives stood for fiscal responsibility.
McCain is supportive of continuing the Iraq war.
That is at a cost of not billion, but HUNDREDS of billions of dollars.
67% of Americans opposse this costly war.
Why would anyone support that?

I thought Consevatives had strong religious values.
Yet they support the use of force in Iraq.
What would Jesus say about that?

McCain is now trumpeting the “change” chorus.
But he voted 90% with Bush.
How does that square with you?
That’s not change; that’s more of the same (failed) policies.

I am not sure when I will stop being surprised at the possibility for hypocrisy of  religious extremists – of any religion. We saw it on 9/11 and we saw it this week on 9/3, 9/4, 9/5…

Most of the people I know who are strongly anti religion were either raised as atheists or were raised in an oppressive religion that abused them. Often quite literally, physically and sexually. I was raised a Christian, but in a very laissez faire church and by non-psychotic parents. I have read the entire Bible, won awards in religious studies classes, and  volunteered for religious charities.  I think the message of Jesus, particularly the book of Matthew is a profound moral path. I find the history of religion fascinating. So I come at this not from the perspective of an unwashed heathen or bitter apostate. But I find myself unable to participate today for two reasons:

  • I just cannot believe the mythology. It is just not rational. I can respect someone CHOOSING to believe as an act of FAITH but not to expect rational people to accept their personal truth.
  • As a practical matter most of the ancillary social services that the curch provided in pre-industrial society: health care, education, a social organization for women trapped in the home are obsolete.

I can understand having a moral foundation for a war. Like a war against Hitler. I can understand moral people participating honorably in a war lacking that type of foundation. Like Iraq. But I cannot understand someone using religion to provide a justification for a war that has no basis. Even if you just wanted to enrich Exxon and Blackwater and Halliburton, couldn’t we have just cut them a check and saved hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives?

Yes, it is difficult to take seriously the “conservative” argument that the wealthiest nation in the world cannot afford to fix bridges or provide health care but does have a trillion or two to fight an unnecessary war against Iraq. Unnecessary from any rational point of view:

  • Iraq did not attack the US. Al Qaeda did and there was no connection to Iraq
  • Iraq was not a clear and present danger to the US. There were no WMDs.
  • Afghanistan DID represent a clear and present danger to the US. It’s government DID shelter Al Qaeda and others who did harm.

You don’t have to be a peacenik to think that Bush blew it by launching an unjustified war against Iraq while failing to aggressively prosecute a justified war against the Taliban and their Al Qaeda partners.

The most realistic cost estimates I have seen for the war so far, including direct costs, the cost of replacement for all the materiel consumed and the direct economic costs of so many reservists being deployed for so long is about $2 Trillion. Add another trillion dollars if you want to include the costs of servicing the debt, indirect opportunity costs etc.

Not really fiscally conservative, is it.

Worse is the negative impact on the US, the world, and the US position in the world. After 9/11 the United States had the support and goodwill of almost the entire world. There were street demonstrations in Iran in support of the US. China and Russia shared a threat from similar insurgents. The Arab world (if not the Arab street) felt somewhat shamed. Maybe policies like corrupt family oligarchies attentuated by support for insane religious extremism to distract the dispossessed masses did not seem like such a good idea anymore.

There was a clear opportunity to take this amity and lead in a direction towards tolerance and democratization and against terrorism and authoritarianism.

Instead Rummy and Cheney and their squad dusted off their 5 year old plans to attack Iraq.

The result is a decrease in the stature and economic fortunes of the US, over 4000 Americans dead, over 60,000 seriously wounded, trillions of dollars of debt, an exhausted military that is now not prepared to address new, real threats, a crumbling infrastructure at home, sinking dollar…

I can’t really think of any actions more “Un-American” than what the Bush Administration has wrought.

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