Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Working & Middle Classes Pay for Charest's Mistakes

Yes, taxes have gone up - but why? Because Charest has cut them by $5.4 Billion while in office. He cut progressive income taxes. Now he's imposing $4.4 Billion in regressive taxes to compensate for his screw-ups (remember the "fiscal imbalance" dividend, claimed because of underfunded services, that was immediately used to cut taxes?). TVQ & Hydro OK, there are progressive compensatory mechanisms in place, and those are smart taxes. But the health taxes are some of the stupidest I've ever seen. McGuinty made his progressive - not Charest. And the user fee is not just regressive, hitting the poor more, and the frequently sick (which the poor are more, so a double whammy for them), it's also terribly counterproductive, everywhere it's been tried: doesn't affect behaviour of the rich, but does discourage the poor from using services, leading to waiting to use services, things getting worse, and eventual treatment, being more extreme, costing more than if used earlier.

Castonguay was quietly critical on Radio-Canada tonight. I figure they're going to have amend the budget, to bring in some progressive compensatory tax credits/rebates.

Cutting progressive taxes, and replacing them with regressive taxes, disproportionately shifting burden from upper-middle class and rich to, in ascending order of burden, middle middle, lower-middle, and lower classes? Atrocious.

Having made foolishly unsustainable cuts in income & corporate taxes, as this budget effectively recognises, Charest is unwilling to admit his mistakes and raise them back up, so he's shifting the whole burden onto regressive consumption taxes of every kind, some which make sense, many that don't. Idiocy. Straight out of Republican & Conservative playbook - see what RNC have done in States, and Harris here.

I know there is some anti-QC resentment out there on fiscal issues, because of transfers, but that is no reason to cheer bad fiscal policy, because it will spread, and hurt everyone. (Well, there's never a good reason for QC-bashing, but cheering when the working & middle classes are getting bashed because it's happening in QC is particularly sick, even for anti-QC bigots).

This is a good summary of the problems: Quebec Budget: Packed with Regression and a Zombie

As is Budget : Charest et le pot au lait though I despise Lisée (crazy & evil: 9/11 Quasi-Truther & Polanski apologist).

Nicholson = Tosh = Enough, Documents & Democracy Now!

Nicholson's reply was so vacuous it's not even worth further comment, Documents & Democracy Now!

Harper Cons Killing Mulroney-Bouchard Cons' Environmental Law

 This subversion of environmental law is ironic, since it was the Conservatives, Mulroney and Bouchard, then Minister of the Environment, who insisted on the importance of Federal jurisdiction and oversight. Attaran has a good footnote, # 27, to that effect. on page 10 of his article: "As Environment Minister, he addressed Parliament's Standing Committee on Environment,...talking of his "department's establish and request national standards." which he supported because "it does not make sense to accept...that we would have a patchwork of provincial regulations". Even after leaving the federal government and taking leadership of the Bloc Québécois, Bouchard preached that, "for the time being, Ottawa has powers and jurisdictions in the environment, and it might be that even some nationalists in Quebec must thank God for that, because Quebec is not taking care of its environment now".

Refugee Policy: Bhutanese > Palestinians? Why?

The announced change in refugee policy is a flawed but seemingly honest attempt to fix glitches. The main problem is that, as Showler notes, there can be real refugees from supposedly "safe countries" - the nature of the appeal system will be crucial to be sure to prevent sending people back to face persecution & death. And the trickiness of refugee policy is illustrated by the different treatment afforded two groups in identical circumstances, the Bhutanese in Nepal, & the Palestinians in Iraq. Their situations are identical, living in borderlands, as persecuted by current host countries, not able to return home. Yet we're letting 1000s of Bhutanese in, which is great, but we only let a handful of Palestinians in back in 2006, and since, nothing. Yet we have frequently pledged, given our history and comparative advantages, that we would be foremost among those letting Palestinian refugees settle in Canada.

This is perhaps the single most helpful thing we can do for Israel, and for peace in the Middle East, by reducing the demographic pressure on Israel. Yet, for some reason, we'll let Bhutanese in, but not Palestinians. It makes no sense. Even the most crazed Likudniks, or should I say, ESPECIALLY the most crazed Likudniks, have always favoured resettlement of the Palestinians in places like Canada. The Left always claims solidarity with the poor and dispossessed, and Palestinians in particular. So this should unite Right & Left, Likudniks & anti-Israelis, and everyone in between. So why aren't we treating Iraqi Palestinians the same as the Bhutanese? Why aren't we letting the persecuted Iraqi Palestinians into Canada? I don't get it.

Age Before Beauty

Some photographic results of a loop through east-central Minnesota. These lovelies are in Tyler.

waka of budo adana: Abuse

AbuseHow dare you strike me,A tiny defenseless baby,Unable to walk,Unable to rememberYet unable to forget?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Men's Conquest, May 1958, Devil Out Of The Deep
Cover painting by George Gross
Found in this collection of Men's Pulp Magazines.

QC-Cdn Culture

Women (and men) can go topless in Cda - SCC said so.
Women (and men) can't get Govt services in QC if their faces are covered.
So if a woman shows up in a QC Govt office topless, but with a niqab, the bureaucrat will say "I'm sorry Madam, but I can't serve you until I know if your face is as attractive as your breasts"?

Reminds me of an acquaintance, years ago, who was rolling a doobie in a Vancouver restaurant while his friend smoked a cigarette. Server came over, said "sorry you can't do that here". Acquaintance started to apologise and hide joint. Server said "no, you're fine. But the smoker will have to leave."

I guess it makes sense. But very Cdn. Very odd.

OC Editorial Board: Self-Hating Citizen Employees?

I was sent this editorial from someone who thought it would amuse me. Indeed. I can't figure out if it's self-satire, subversion of the OC, subversion of the Likudnik Lobby, or just honest imbecility. I mean we're talking about an editorial which quotes Wikipedia on Fowler's university fraternity affiliation: what kind of argument is that? Taking the man and not the ball is bad, but to be so inept is funny. I mean, citing one's university and fraternity from decades ago invalidates one's argument how, exactly? Who knew the OC hated McGill and fraternities so much - someone should tell some of the McGill alumni who work for the OC. And calling the racist far-right extremist Barry Rubin an "eminent Middle East scholar" is a nice touch, satire-wise. More like "notorious hatemongering crank". Ask those who work in the field of Middle Eastern affairs what they think of Rubin. They'll probably laugh, and say something gently dismissive, or use other words, but scholar is not one of them, nor eminent.

On the surface the thing reads like a hysterical teenage Likudnik rant, written in a Unabomber-like cabin, fist clenched around a crayon, tinfoil hat breathing divine guidance into the unfairly misunderstood prophet-writer's mind, as he sips his own celestial pee for sustenance. Being so over-the-top and funny it must be self-satire. Given some of the cranks at the OC, the writer was probably mindful he had to seem to support a Likudnik position, so he chose to do so in a way that would be so crazed as to best satirise Likudniks, and the OC. It's really quite daring, seen from that perspective. I mean, if one was to take it seriously, it would mean the OC was even more of an open joke than it already is, by all accounts. No, this is definitely the work of one or more self-hating OC employees, who wanted to subvert the OC & Likudniks. I feel their pain, and enjoy their subtle humour. Well played. My only suggestion for next time would be to have the papers printed with watermarks such that one gets the impression there are actual drool marks in the middle of such satiric screeds. Otherwise, beauty job.

Health Tax In QC, But Regressive, Not Progressive

Not a bad idea, or precedent on which to build, tax-wise, but should be progressive, like Kent's superior model.

So while principle is OK, I agree with Marois' & Khadir's criticism: «Les Québécois vont payer 200 $ de plus par année, pour avoir exactement les mêmes services» de soutenir Pauline Marois. «C'est une taxe régressive. Tout le monde paiera la même chose sans égard aux revenus» déplore Amir Khadir, de Québec solidaire.

Trans. But Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois said the government did nothing to improve management of the health system. The new fee won’t improve health care because it will simply cover the expected growth in spending, she said. “Users will pay more but they’ll get exactly the same services,” Marois said.

Khadir: It's a regressive tax. Everyone will pay the same amount without taking their income into account.

Conference Board vs. Pessimism, esp. re. Health Care

It's funny, the headline CBOC spin is pretty negative, yet as Picher points out, the report is very positive, in its details. And on health care, Canada performs better than our 16 peers on six indicators, worse on three, and average on two. Gee, that's TERRIBLE...actually, no it's not, it's really strong. And the whole report doesn't account for Canada's unique challenges of size, heterogeneity and having the American elephant next door, our overwhelming partner, with its crazy system, hideously undertaxed and underserviced, and the pressure this puts on us. In the absolute we're doing excellent, and if one was grading on a curve, we'd be tops, far and away. I mean Canada's challenges and Finland's are not exactly equivalent, eh? The only true weak spot, as always, is with our useless capitalists, with innovation as the best indicator. Take away? Great public servants and public services, weak capitalists. "Capitalists - Must Do Better".

waka of budo adana: Risks

RisksMake fewer errorsAnd be less likely to lose,But avoid losingAnd be less likely to win:Plan, execute, take good risks.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Why Does Anyone Live Anywhere But Montreal?

Price & Line-up in Mirror from
# Store figures about 1,500 came out for signing by #Habs Price about 2 hours ago via
# 2-hour signing for #Habs Price finally went 3:05 till everyone in line got an autograph. Wild meet-n-greet about 2 hours ago
# #Habs Price at Gilbert Rousseau signing ongoing now. Crowd seen in mirror behind him: about 3 hours ago
# Retweet, please: Join Facebook campaign to get Pat Burns into Hall of Fame: #Habs about 3 hours ago
# Store owners (Gilbert Rousseau in St. Hubert) say #Habs Price outdraws by a ton appearance by Huet and two by Roy about 4 hours ago
# Line for #Habs Price has gone twice around the store about 4 hours ago via TweetDeck
# Monster crowd at autograph signing for #Habs Price; people now being turned away at store door about 4 hours ago

A Balanced Approach In Mid-East IS Principled, Obviously

A Balanced Approach In Mid-East IS Principled*, Obviously. That's all.

* Assuming the principles we speak of are:

1. Realism: defending and promoting Canada's National Interest;

2. Liberalism, namely defending and promoting the following, regardless of race or religion:

Life, Liberty, Equality, Solidarity**, Peace, Order, Good Government and the Pursuit of Happiness.


James Bartleman For GG?

He's already done the job, provincially. He's got every other qualification one can think of. And since Vanier, Sauvé, Clarkson & Jean have all broken new ground, recognising the diversity of our country, maybe we could get around to having someone of First Nations' status in the 2nd top job in the country (technically - top is Queen of Canada, of course) - I know it's only been 400+ years since permanent European settlement, and one shouldn't rush into these things, and call me wildly impulsive, but why not now, and not in another 400 years? Maybe a helpful role model and reminder given the problems and opportunities of First Nations and Canada: if their education and jobforce integration rates were similar to general population, that would help a lot, and relieve need for quite as much immigration, with consequent integration troubles, as we note, currently. Canada started with the First Nations, and they are Canada's future. They are our once and future kings. Maybe one of them should get the job, for a while, eh?
Beware The Bright Glowing Terror Of The Squirming Abominations From Dimension X!!!

waka of budo adana: Serenade

SerenadeWith my flute and dog,I wandered up the mountain,Seeking better viewsAnd a bed of pine needlesTo serenade the full moon.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Correction of McKenna & Martin: "But We're Golden Because We're Less F****d Than Rest"

Don Martin has a great anecdote from Montreal: "As former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna whispered to former prime minister Paul Martin halfway through debate on one of the intractable problems: "We’re f****d". Responded Mr. Martin: "The whole world is f****d."" But they're both wrong, and no-one should know that better than Martin, since he was co-architect of our good fortune. Our great advantage is "We're far less f****d than the rest" because our public finances are in relatively great shape. What matters is winning the race, not how fast you run. It's nice to set world records, but it's better to get the gold in a slow race, than set a new record and yet lose to even faster, more record-breaking competitors. Thanks to generations of decent policy-makers, we're the prohibitive favourites to take gold, no matter how fast the race, though it looks to be fairly slow. v-à-v our pertinent competitors.

We're streets ahead of the USA, our uniquely important competitor & partner, and the EU. No other non-asian nation is as well set for selling to and getting investment from China, India, Korea, Japan, Indonesia etc.. And all those asian states have enormous, brutal structural adjustments to make, politically, environmentally, and yes, economically, that we made years/decades/centuries ago. So if you look at things in context, we're far and away the best-off. The whole world is not about to commit mass suicide. The globe will keep on spinning, and arrangements will be made to deal with things. And whoever is best positioned when those arrangements are made will do best. Take an extreme example, we all mutually cancel all our debt, everywhere. Even if the USA, France, etc., were all debt-free, the conditions that led their societies to ruin persist, they don't have our natural resources (per capita), etc..

We are golden. We can only screw ourselves up with under-investment or over-indebtedness, either one which throws away our advantage. But given our margin for manoeuvre, we're got more leeway for debt and investment, than in the opposite sense, even lower debt and corresponding under-investment. We need investment more than we need even lower debt load. Our debt is fine. But investment to ensure continued future growth is vital. One must never never NEVER forget the relative situation, vs. the absolute. In matters of national competition, the relative is always ALWAYS way more important.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, scaremongering leading to extreme counterproductive policies, which will have perverse effects. Changes, adjustments, renovations must be made, particularly to deal with high-priced hydrocarbon future and climate change. But we have obvious advantages on all these fronts, and Dion having woken us up, we're well placed to take the necessary measures (soonish though, eh boys?).

So buck up fellas, we're golden, as long as we get some decent rational government. The sooner the better.

Good Ignatieff Speech

Credit where it's due. Good policy. Good tone.

PS. Observing the usual suspects' (many NDP-affiliated it seems) slavering delight at Fowler's honest exposition of Middle East importance to Canada & world, and domestic implications, it reminds one of the difficulty of having this discussion. Fowler could do so in Montreal, knowing the crowd he was speaking to, and knowing a lot Jewish Liberal supporters would be in the room, and watching elsewhere, so no question of dirty play. Honest discussion. But once spoken, usual suspects leap on with delight. There's something not kosher about a youtube video titled "Fowler - MPs chasing Jewish Vote destroying Cdn foreign policy". Why not also "MPs chasing Tamil & Sikh vote" or "chasing Diaspora vote", etc.? That was Fowler's larger point, and he was honest enough when speaking about one very important specific situation to say that the wooing of the Jewish vote is a problem in this regard, rather than the usual "pro-Israel" (inaccurate) or "likudnik" or "pro-right wing extremists" weasel words, usually accompanied with an evocation of their fundamentalist Christian supporters.

Fowler called it straight, across the board, and was right about everything. And he spoke right in the face of an audience who would really rather not he said out loud what they mostly know privately, re. Afghanistan, Middle East, Vision, Principle, Misallocation of Resources, Attention Urgently Needed for Africa, etc.. And he did so freely, knowing his audience was up to it, and he was playing fair and they would know it.

But the problem is then all the little, um, dirtbags, who at the very least seem to have existential hate-ons for Israel, and maybe worse than that, maybe for the majority of its population, and their co-religionists in Canada and elsewhere, these little shits then leap on his words to engage in discourse coloured by something a bit off, if not worse.

If we are going to change our policies for the better, and help the parties in the Middle East achieve peace, truth must be told. Pressure must be put. Emanuel is doing so, mostly privately, as Kissinger did, and as many others, of all backgrounds have done, over the years. Canada is off course right now, and that must change, for the reasons Fowler cited.

But every time a man of good will speaks out, there is sick behaviour from anti-State of Israel (SOI) types (I can't presume it denotes even worse attitudes, without evidence - too heavy a charge), and often, to be honest, Likudniks. And so the tendency is to self-censor, because one never knows who's listening, who's in the crowd, and what use will be made of statements.

But the more we censor ourselves, for fear of giving comfort to bigots, the more the Likudniks & the anti-SOI types dominate the discourse. And the Conservatives' policy is so biased, the politically correct discourse now so slanted, that the anti-SOI bunch have been getting correspondingly worse, as well. Sociologically understandable, as they feel excluded, and that's what happens, in those situations.

To stop the cycle, we have to speak out, clearly, from a liberal realist perspective. But we have to choose our moments, so as to prevent its use by the worst elements, as much as possible. But the cycle has to be broken, and that can only happen by speaking out.

Well and good. Fowler got it right. But I can't tell you the number of times I have ended up in the bizarre position of defending Israeli & USA govt actions with which I disagree, as I have found myself in discussions where it was pretty one-sided and decontextualised, and it made me very uncomfortable, although nothing overtly bigoted was said. So I'm a huge critic of Likudniks and USA Mideast policy, generally, and yet I end up seeming like Ariel Sharon's more extreme twin.

It's a tough one, because just to retreat to backroom discussions with sound chaps means no effective pressure is put, politically, in populist terms, and to engage publicly is rife with difficulties, as noted. But we must. We must speak out. No change will come otherwise. But we must pick our moments as best possible, so as not to have our words misused and twisted.

Fowler done good. But the rest of us liberal realists, to follow his example, must be careful. We must be open and frank. But also careful about the time and place and phrasing. It's so much easier with Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Tibet, etc.. But there one is. Different strokes for different folks.

The State of Nuclear Medicine and Research

Aside from energy generation, another useful aspect of nuclear fission is its ability to produce isotopes for many medical and industrial uses. Reactors that are designed to create these isotopes are typically called research reactors as they do not have much in the way of power output compared to their cousins, the dedicated nuclear power plants. However, isotopes such as technetium-99, chromium-51, gallium-57, etc. must be produced in research reactors by radiating parent isotopes and many research reactors are also used for nuclear scientific testing.

Unfortunately, many research reactors are badly in need of an overhaul as the world demand for radiopharmaceuticals has increased over the years and the number of these specialized reactors still operating has dwindled as many of them are shutdown over hysteria or age. The few that are still operating are running at full tilt and the increased stress on their components is causing them to wear out even faster and many research reactors are badly in need of major repairs. However, to temporarily shut down a research reactor usually means that it is depriving people of valuable isotopes that are needed for many medical procedures and tests. The shortage of research reactors across the world also means that ones that are still operational have to balance their obligations between isotope production, and the queues of researchers that have lined up to use the reactor for experiments and have been waiting for several years to do so.

The Depleted Cranium blog has an excellent post on the status of this phenomenon and the history of how the world came to be in this mess. Research reactors have not been immune to the same idiocy and short-sightedness that has surrounded nuclear power generation and they have also suffered because of it. The construction of new nuclear research facilities should be a world top priority because both science and peoples lives are being endangered with the status of our current situation. I whole-heartedly recommend that my readers visit the post on Depleted Cranium as it really does show how dire the situation is.
Elizabethan Bestiary: Retold
The Hydra

The Manticore

The Gorgon

Above artworks are from from "An Elizabethan Bestiary: Retold" by Jeffery Beam, illustrations by Ippy Patterson. More information on the book and additional illustrations can be found in this article at A Journey Round My Skull.
Yokai Illustrations

"Long ago, a mysterious sea creature known as the bake-kujira (lit. “ghost whale”) used to appear at night in the waters around an island in Shimane prefecture. The thing looked like the skeleton of a giant whale, and it was usually accompanied by a flock of strange birds when it came drifting in with the tide. Later, when the tide started to recede, peculiar fish would become visible in the water around the monster. Fisherman trying to catch the bake-kujira claimed their harpoons passed through the creature as if it were not there."


"Umi-bōzu are giant black bulbous beings that live in the sea. Sometimes they have glowing eyes and a beak, and other times they have no facial features at all. To survive an umi-bōzu encounter at sea, one should remain quiet and look in the opposite direction. Speaking or looking at the creature may send it into a rage — and that usually ends in tragedy."


"The suiko (lit. “water tiger”) is a king-sized variety of kappa living in and around the Chikugo River (Kyushu), Lake Biwa (Shiga prefecture), and other bodies of water across Japan.

In addition to prowling around at night and making mischief, the suiko has the power to possess people. Those possessed by a suiko descend into a temporary state of madness, but they recover quickly after the creature withdraws.

At least once a year, the suiko drags a human victim into the water, sucks out his blood, and returns the body to shore. It is best not to have a funeral for the victim of a suiko attack. Instead, the body should be left on a wooden plank inside a small thatched hut in a field. If done properly, this course of action causes the flesh of the suiko perpetrator to slowly rot until it dies."

Quotes and images taken from a recent article at Pink Tentacle on Yokai illustrations. See more here.

More Yokai illustrations previously mentioned here.

God Bless Bob Fowler, Or What Happens When One Leaves the Sunlight, Reenters the Cave and Tries to Talk Sense

You wanted the truth? You can't handle the truth. Liberal Realist Meets Cdn Sheep & Mules. Hilarious to watch reactions. Canadians so rarely hear someone speak the truth clearly and openly, the chattering class in particular, we just mouth the usual bromides, playing for praise over interpretation of false shadows of the truth, it freaks everyone out. As noted by squeamish reaction of someone like BCer, which is understandable given mush Cdns are fed and partisan desire not to offend crucial voting blocs, and outright angry mulish refusal of Coyne, which is unsurprising given his history of a completely ideologically blinkered view of foreign policy. Everything Fowler said was a comprehensive refutation of Coyne's simplistic, ideologically rigid view of foreign policy and our interests, about which Coyne has been proven badly wrong, over and over. Iraq? Non-existence of American torture? Remember Coyne holding on to fairytale about links between Saddam & Al-Qaeda? Remember WMD? Remember hysterical Afghan cheerleading? Even now, no matter what, "we must let ourselves be killed, and spend billions, for, well, basically, forever"? Coyne's strength as a columnist, completely rigid principles, coherent conclusions, is enlightening, as one vector of investigation, and also frequently entertainingly mad. But that's what makes him an excellent columnist - interesting good fun. But as a serious voice on foreign affairs? Everything that is good about Coyne as a columnist is what makes him bad at foreign policy.

Every single word Fowler uttered, and Kinsman, was just the plain truth, but as Kinsman noted, our media are so parochial and second-tier, we get coverage of foreign policy that is vapid, when it isn't driven by need to comfort the comfortable and reinforce existing sterotypes.

Fowler's intervention, his open note of the pandering to diaspora politics, Jewish, Sikh, Tamil, etc., and the profoundly negative effect this has, the complete folly that is our Afghan mission, where we have no vital national interest, the cost-benefit comparison with what we could and need to do in Africa, forestalling misery and violent chaos, and the absolute central need to do what everyone knows is needed in the Middle East, and have two VIABLE states, both sharing Jerusalem, will probably be remembered as one of the greatest speeches in recent times, a shock to the system, waking everyone up, from someone whose reputation is beyond reproach, who has actually suffered greatly from Islamic terrorism. I have been sceptical of CAN 150, but this one speech made the whole thing worthwhile. Historic, even.

It's a pity that such basic truths, which should be uncontroversial, will stir up so much reaction. But there you are, that's Canada. All the more credit to Fowler, and Kinsman. It shows just how necessary these interventions were.

Malcolm Tucker Says #@*%@#!!!! (Hello)

I'm probably not the only one, but just in case I am, so far, FYI. I agree with his view of the political (non-)impact of budgets, by the way (there are occasional exceptions, though).

Saturday, March 27, 2010

O Iggy, Read Jim Curran, TWDIKG, Before You Speak, SVP

I read this article, and this Iggy comment in particular “I think we’ve renewed our democracy this weekend.” Look, I try to bite my tongue as much as possible these days, in the interest of defending Parliament and democracy, but C'MON! DUDE! Have you completely forgotten how you got where you are? So all those resolutions by the membership over the years, after all the work and debate that gets them to national conventions, mean less than some 300 of the chosen? Holy puck! Listen, read Curran and comments, OK? And reflect before you speak, OK?
Buddhist Hell Statues, Burma

Pictures found here.

Grand French Bargain For Health Care? 3rd Best, But Better Than Destruction

I know France very well, having lived there, East to West, North to South. There are a lot of good things about their health care system. There are also an awful lot of bad things. I know that the peverse effects of the very French Republican approach to public policy, health care specifically, is that when people pay for insurance, they maximise, as one would expect, according to economic theory. "I've paid for it - I might as well get as much as possible out of it". So France has most hypochondriacs, most over-prescription of drugs, most over-use. Similarly, allowing medicine to be a free liberal profession like any other mean there are far too may doctors in high revenue areas, and not enough in less glamourous ones, and just too many doctors, all in all. Misallocation of resources, waste. And all this means its specific health-fund, la SECU, is deeply in debt, as is country, as a whole, far more than Canada. And also, that introducing a modest user fee for seeing doctor has only discouraged low-income folk from visits, who probably need visits more, and had no effect on middle classes and upper classes. And were they to raise it high enough to discourage many, they would end up with worse health treatment, and later, too late, when conditions worse, and more complicated and costs more to fix. And I've already mentioned how some 5% don't have private "complementary" insurance to cover their 1/3 of costs, and they are of course the working poor, don't qualify under welfare etc., but too poor to buy insurance, and so try to save. Just as in USA. And then the number of insurance plans is so complicated that although fine for educated folk, ie. middle classes and up, generally, confusing for less-educated, generally working class, who buy "wrong" insurance for their situation. Etc..

But it is true that 2/3 - 1/3 funding system, State paying for 2/3 of expenses, you/your insurance paying other 1/3, COVERS EVERYTHING, TEETH, EYES, DRUGS, as well as doctor care. So while I consider French system less efficient than Cdn, more wasteful overhead and transaction costs, it does at least cover everything, as we promised we would, all parties, over the last century. I prefer Tom Kent's tax recovery of social benefits plan which would extend benefits to include everything, as we should, starting with children first, as most politically powerful opening move, being obvious moral imperative. This way, we retain the administrative efficiency of our system, while building it further.

But should that prove a hard sell, another option, 2nd or 3rd best in my view (best is increasing general taxation, corporate and individual - most efficient, most equitable - while extending benefits to cover everything) would be to propose a grand bargain: We will go to French System, ie. you, the citizen will have to pay for 1/3 of your non-hospital care (hospital still 100% State covered, as in France) but Govt will pay 2/3 of everything, in return.

I don't particularly see how this makes things cheaper, given the French example, more the opposite it seems to me, but since everyone is all het-up about co-payments and dedicated health taxes and the like, and there is some mystical delusion taking control that leads people to think private involvement will everything better, despite all evidence to the contrary, but "the problem is selling it to public", then one way would be to offer public this grand bargain, which would be great for middle and upper classes, and suck for working and lower classes and poor. But at least Govt could say it wasn't a simple case of making people pay out of their own pockets, but rather a way of extending needed additional services (eyes, teeth, drugs, etc.) to everyone, while finding a way to pay. That would probably fly.

But best is to keep our excellent system, expand it to cover everything, do best practices and encourage healthier lifestyles, and pay for it, most wisely, by increasing taxes on corporations and individuals. Figure out what you need, and then tax to need. That's smartest, and best. But if we ever get to the point that we absolutely are going to change things because elite opinion is in lockstep, despite public's rightful pushback, then the French Grand Bargain is better than simply going two-tier, or user fee, or cutting services.

Mais quant à moi, je dis : Vive le Canada! Vive son excellent système de santé! Vive les impôts!

"Taxes are the price we pay for civilised society." - Some Republican

PS. Subsequent to a couple of comments, I include the following in the main post:
I suggest all read the following CMA report on health systems, their strengths and weaknesses, to get some perspective, particularly the tables right at the end, re. $ vs. outcomes, and cost/debt and efficiency:
Background report on 5 European health systems (April 2009)

Also, shamelessly, I recommend my previous post re. point about geo-historical specificities and limits/opportunties to and for change:
Bless The Obama USA

My Denticare proposal, referenced above, also offers a good quick review of our health care history and future challenges and opportunities, with this proposal:
Now is the time to make this vote-winner a reality, by leveraging Canadian pro-Obama sentiments and Canadians' awareness & approval of the Democrats' desired "public health care option" to propose a similar "public dental care option", to cover the 40% of Canadians without dental insurance, and help the even greater number who struggle with the costs of profiteering insurance companies and "gourmand" dentists. (...) A public dental insurance option, modelled on the Obama plan, free for the poor, working- & lower-middle classes, subsidised on a sliding scale for all others, would save Canada a lot of money, reducing extreme costs of hospital emergency demands, and forcing dentists & insurers to be less "gourmand", and more efficient. It would also make Canadians healthier, happier and more productive.

It happened at Big Timber

Some really crazy mountains

At some landmark along the 914 mile-long carbon footprint that I routinely smear on one or another path connecting Basin with Elkton, it always dawns on me:

Some two hundred years ago, in what took a REALLY intrepid pathfinder at least three weeks on a horse (or more likely, two months on foot) to traverse, I'm going to do in about fifteen hours. I-90, now just another American entitlement, stalks the Yellowstone River between Livingston in the west then abruptly abandons her just east of Billings and plunges southward into the Crow Nation.

The middle-aged Saab, looking and smelling like just another battered whore of European machina negotiating her way through the holy lands of the Fourth World, oozes off the slab at the Bighorn Battlefield where US212 diverges to become the Warrior Trail. After Busby, Rosebud Creek, Lame Deer and, while the Tongue River carves the west side of the red shale tribal hills that so conspicuously dissolve into the relentless white muds of the Powder River pressing from the east, Wyoming Public Radio briefly weighs in at 91.5.

There's espresso in Broadus and an IGA whose pharmacist, a self-proclaimed Christian patriarchalist, has infamously refused to dispense those prescriptions that he says violate some cultist tenet that metacedes American constitutional law. They sell beer and cigarettes, though. Broadus has the look of one of those western towns where you know everybody is packing.

The crossing at the Little Missouri River punctuates a sighting of the Bear Lodge Mountains and forecasts the appearance of Alzada, the hardscrabble frontier hamlet on 212 where Henry Weinhard's Blonde Ale can (at this post) still be found. Maybe, Rob and Diane would consider the permit that would pioneer Montana's Stoneville Saloon as South Dakota's closest medicinal cannabis dispensary. One of the most beautiful drives in the Wyoming Black Hills beckons from Hulett and the Tower, south.

At Colony (Halliburton, really), an apparition of Bear Butte erupts from the roadway as Crow Peak and her sisters blacken the southeastern horizon. Soon, the highway sign that no longer bears the warning that Bill Janklow is governor welcomes another contestant into the Thunderdome.

Leaving 212 at Belle Fourche is bittersweet, as joining it is a savored passage westbound. A loyal vessel gears onto SD34, winds wistfully through St. Onge, then forces its way onto I-90 at Whitewood, nine hours from the Odd Goddess of Basin. Six hours to go.

waka of budo adana: Oz

OzThere is no wizardOther than the little manOr little womanStanding behind your curtainPulling the strings of your life

Friday, March 26, 2010

As Habs Fan, Humanist & Politically Attune Cdn, I'm With Harper In This Comparison

I've noted the snarky tone of Akin's How to win votes and influence people: Harper versus Ignatieff and many responses and retweets of it. They are all badly wrong. I'm with Barton, fellow Habs fans and all feeling Cdns on this. Barton: "I almost cried on air. RT @carolesaab: I have to stop watching the newsloop with Pat Burns' tribute.. making me misty eyed every time." And if y'all think Cdns are more down with elites repeating their well-known positions in luxury hotel in downtown Mtl or with naming of rink in Stanstead after much-loved hockey icon and former cop who's battling cancer, Pat Burns, then you've got serious problems, not just as politicos, but as Cdns and human beings.

Why Layton Is Not A Worthy National Leader

Everything you need to know about Layton's poor judgment and flighty bandwagon leftism is in this passage: "Forty years ago, I was studying at McGill University when Pierre Laporte was murdered by the FLQ. Like so many, I found myself carried away by the popular impulse to applaud Trudeau’s drastic crackdown on the threat that the FLQ seemed to represent. Then Tommy began powerfully condemning the suspension of civil rights under the War Measures Act – risking terrible ostracism to give sober voice to principle: we mustn’t use fear as a smokescreen to trample basic rights. As the vans plucked hundreds of peaceful separatists from the streets of Montreal, something clicked and I rushed to become a New Democrat."

Coderre Right (une fois n'est pas coutume), Brison Wrong

I've mentioned this before, Brison's idiocy & this new amendment is worthless, without 3rd party evaluations and real consequences. A bad joke. So find myself in strange position of strongly approving Coderre's coherent and principled position (yes, that's right, I used Coderre and coherent & principled in same sentence!). But it really is, and he is completely right.

From Coderre, starting here:
# Pour votre info. Je vais voter contre le projet de loi du gouvernement conservateur pour une entente de libre-échange avec la Colombie 11:13 AM Mar 25th via web
# @yvonturcotte malgré ton cynisme... je suis contre le projet de libre-échange avec la Colombie. 11:14 AM Mar 25th via web in reply to yvonturcotte
# I will vote against the conservative Bill on free-trade with Colombia 11:15 AM Mar 25th via mobile web
# @wyvess je ne crois pas mais je peux te dire que je ne suis pas le seul 11:17 AM Mar 25th via web in reply to wyvess
# @geraldfillion je ne sais pas mais la réponse insignifiante du Min. du Commerce International sur cette question aujourd'hui a choqué 1/2 11:26 AM Mar 25th via web in reply to geraldfillion
# @geraldfillion de députés aujourd'hui de notre côté. Mon idée, à titre d'ancien Ministre de l'Immigration était déjà faite.. 2/2 11:27 AM Mar 25th via web in reply to geraldfillion
# @jocelynlegault la situation en Colombie notamment sur les droits de la personne et la situation politique demande reconsidération 11:28 AM Mar 25th via web in reply to jocelynlegault
# @geraldfillion je n'ai pas lla position officielle des autres partis. le reste c'est c'est mathématique 11:36 AM Mar 25th via web in reply to geraldfillion
# @pourkwa droits de la personne notamment et je ne suis pas convaincu de la situation politique 11:37 AM Mar 25th via web in reply to pourkwa

Feschuk Inspires Me To Write Down Immodest Proposal

There are one year "exchanges" between business and government already, and I've always thought there should be some between academia, political "scientists" in particular, plus political media, and government AND POLITICAL PARTIES. It is striking how much such alterations of positions is positive. Frum, post-government, is a lot more reasonable, for example, as Gherson became. And similarly, pols who try out academia & media become more understanding, openminded, and interesting (cf. Snobelen). Feschuk's response above is the kind of generous, mature response one gets from someone who has been in the wars (and what wars, Martinites vs. Chrétienites & Cons, NDP, Bloc, Greens, Media, well everyone else, really). Would Feschuk have had as cool a response if he had never engaged in politics? Maybe, but I doubt it. If it was an established thing, and like five poltical commentators were in the running, for a one-year term, and assigned to the five parties by random draw (to avoid insinuations of post-exchange bias), to help with press releases and speeches, and see the thing from the inside, I think things would be a lot healthier. Same with political "scientists". And corresponding number of partisan bigshots could go other way, and see things from media and academia viewpoints. Good for all, no? Anyway, I agree with Feschuk's comment, and think it reflects usefulness of my idea.

NB. Note For Jack Mitchell, Macleans Commenter. Although I am only an occasional outside commenter, I am sad he has retired from the field. There was more wit and wisdom in one of his comments than in 1000 of others. Pity. But probably for the best. Excessive commenting is a waste of time, and he's too smart for it. He's got a blog, articles to write, classes to teach, epic poems to write, etc.. But I'd like to think he'll still read the boards sometimes - we all need to believe at least one sentient being is reading us, to make it worthwhile. Arrivaderci Mitchell, ciao bello - “Se segui tua stella, non fallirai a glorioso porto.”

Carey Price Is a Philosopher - Seriously

Price on mask switch: "Ask me complicated questions and you'll find I'm a pretty uncomplicated guy" Occam, anyone? Price for Sochi 2014!

PS. Education for Idiots.

Public Prefers Higher Taxes & Better Services To Same or Lower Taxes & Services

What Canadians Want:
Investing in social areas such as health education and jobs 59%
Keeping taxes as low as possible 23%
Keeping the deficit as low as possible 18% (Ekos)

One must examine taxation with maturity, in terms of fiscal situation and vision for Canada. Public always wants impossible, excellent services and low taxes, but if forced to choose between higher taxes-better services and lower taxes-worse services, time and again, they go for former, by hefty majorities, into 70s+. But they must be forced to choose, in clear, open debate. Otherwise, confusion & sophism allows bad fiscal & social policy through the back door, pleasing some important opinion-making elite interests, but contradicting and hurting vast majority of Canadians.

Ekos is but one example among many, one always finds the same results, and it makes sense, according to classic political economic or class analysis. Better services, despite the increased taxes needed to finance them, are a net positive for virtually all Canadians, and only a negative for about the richest 5% of the population, and even then, only if you take a short-term accountant's view and not a long-term social-cohesion, lower crime and good government view. You'll be struck that the split between services & taxes is 3-1 not just nationally, but in every province/region, age & education(income) group. And that among Opp voters, more like 4-1.

Public opinion is not in and of itself an argument for any option. Everyone has to analyse and make their minds up on their own. But very relevant - this is still a democracy, supposedly, eh?

Given the thinking going on, it's worth remembering this basic truth. I said so to Scott Ross, a while back: "I agree with your basic point about need for adult policy discussion, though I disagree on the details - people of good faith can disagree."

I said this before, to BCer, and it applies to Ross and everyone else, too.

Vive Sarko!

Une fois n'est pas coutume, mais bravo Sarko, pour ceci : "Les dirigeants de l'Union européenne se sont une nouvelle fois divisés vendredi sur l'opportunité de muscler leur position dans les négociations internationales sur le climat avec la menace d'instaurer une taxe carbone aux frontières. Le chef de l'État français Nicolas Sarkozy a appelé à «la fin de la naïveté de l'Europe» et plaidé pour utiliser cette menace comme arme de négociation après l'échec de la Conférence de Copenhague."

Correcting Spector, Again: CARBON TAX COMING 2 USA!

When Spector asks What Happened to Climate Change he should actually read the article he links to: "That (bipartisan US Senate) plan, still being written, will include a cap on greenhouse gas emissions only for utilities, at least at first, with other industries phased in perhaps years later. It is also said to include a modest tax on gasoline, diesel fuel and aviation fuel, accompanied by new incentives for oil and gas drilling, nuclear power plant construction, carbon capture and storage, and renewable energy sources like wind and solar."

Gee, I wish someone had already noted this...oh, that's right, I DID, a couple of days ago.
Mexican Pulp Paintings

A few more previously posted here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

E+R = I Miss Frank

This does not compute on a couple of levels, ethically of course, but also, ummm, mathematically: A + B? Really? As an innocent outsider, one can only assume a or b or both is/are suffering from some sort of hitherto unknown and unnamed psychological complex. This sort of thing makes me miss Frank, again, which fulfilled a necessary role. (ht Capstick)

PS. Fagstein is awesome: "CBC announced today that reporter Krista Erickson has been punished for breaking journalistic ethics in the most horrible way possible: They're sending her to Toronto."

Yes, Parliamentary Secretary - Needed: Transcript of Hawn on PrimeTime Politics Today

I just heard some of the best unintentional Yes Minister humour ever from Laurie Hawn, with a long incomprehensible, incoherent ramble about previous redactions and current redactions, and how the latest redactions are far superior to the previous redactions, and this not by mistake but intentional, but this is also not evidence of Govt interference, and while they may have previously said they couldn't present any docs, or unredact them further, they now can, although they can't, and everyone should be glad Govt has made these better redacted docs available, but that's not saying the Govt exercised any influence over bureaucrats, and in any case it's all much better and everyone should stop worrying and just be happy. It was completely mad, and hilarious. The thing will be available online tomorrow (March 25 edition of PrimeTime), but if it's possible, I'd like to see a transcript to fully enjoy his unusual preroration.

PPS. re. PS. on Public Finances: Kirby Spoke 1st, But Made Classic Mistake

Just read Kirby and realised at least part of my point had been made already. No mea culpas and revision of thinking as yet, from what I see, though. But Kirby does misuse the word "competitive" at one point, when he should have simply said "lower". The incorrect and misleading word choice is revealing: "By 2012, Canada’s corporate tax regime will be more competitive lower than most other developed countries, including the U.S." He means to say lower taxes, relative to others, make us more competitive. That is a partial and misleading statement, as investment decisions take far more factors into account (ex: Japanese carmakers' affection for better educated, healthier Cdn workforce). But even so, if that's the argument he wants to make, he should divide it in two, if a, then b. But instead he says a=b. Bad writing, a product of bad thinking, laziness or implicit assumptions as a result of unconscious brainwashing? Who's to say? But should be corrected.

Dowd on Obama & Dems = Advice For Iggy & LPC on Parliamentary Democracy

Hail the Conquering Professor has the following advice for Iggy & LPC re. making Harper & Cons submit to Parliament, the will of the majority of Canadians: "But at long last, when push came to shove, he shoved (and let Nancy push). He treated politics not as an intellectual exercise, but a political one. He realized that sometimes you can’t rise above it. You have to sink down into it. You have to stop being cerebral and get your hands dirty. You can fight fear with power. The Chicago pol in the Oval has had to learn one of the great American universal (ed.) truths: You’ve got to slap the bully in the face."

Given the Govt's self-admitted "fulsome" behaviour this advice is as on target and of the moment as can be.

NB. fulsome

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Loi 94 et Charest : bien fait, dans les circonstances / Well Done, All Things Considered

Étant donné tout ce que j'ai dit sur le sujet, je dois féliciter M. Charest d'avoir bien dosé la réponse du Gouv. du QC, dans les circonstances. Je crois que ces limites seront jugées constitutionelles, des "limites raisonnables" et justifiables dans le cadre d'une société libre et démocratique. C'est ainsi que le gouvernement a su éviter le piège de distinguer entre classes d'employés d'État, ce qui aurait certainement été renversé, étant donné les précédents; c'est précisément pour cette raison que le PQ et les plus déchainés proposaient, consciemment, des limites qui seraient nécessairement inconstitutionnelles : ils cherchent sciemment à délégitimer le cadre juridique, pour leurs propres motifs ignobles et pour avancer leurs propres agendas, dans le court, moyen et long-terme. Une virgule, une phrase de plus, et le Gouv. serait allé trop loin. Et je suis convaincu que ces limites auront le soutien et la légitimité populaires requises afin de demeurer durables. Cela dit, je demeure d'accord, philosophiquement et politiquement, avec Fo Niemi : le précédent est plus que troublant.

La création d'une telle loi, étant donné l'infime nombre de cas, si peu que si on les arrondissait ils mesuraient zéro, représente essentiellement l'emploi d'un canon pour tuer une mouche afin d'apporter un remède à l'un de nos psychoses nationaux. Il fallait le faire, vu l'extrémisme des abrutis tels Boileau, et leur récupération et leur manipulation de quelques faits divers pour effrayer le monde et mettre le feu aux poudres. Nos élites (j'emploie le terme légèrement, vu leur comportement) nous ont terriblement desservis dans ce soi-disant débat, oubliant à quel point il est facile de provoquer les pires et les plus dangereux instincts chez le peuple, et à quel point il est difficile des calmer par la suite, après que le montage d'une crise ait servi les intérêts propres à ces soi-disant élites et qu'ils désirent passer à autre chose. Ignobles, infames, immatures, égoistes, disproportionnelles, ces derniers ne sont dignes de leur soi-disant statut social, et ils méritent d'être perçus comme ils sont, tout cru : DE GROS COLONS D'MARDE!

Bien fait M. Charest : menez la campagne pour la tolérance avisée avec zest, nous vous soutenons. Et j'espère, quand même, que certains parmi ces soi-disant élites retrouveront maintenant le sens de leurs responsabilités et sauront accueillir la Loi 94 avec l'enthousiasme et la perspective nécessaires à son soutien populaire, à sa légitimité, et donc à la paix et à la cohésion sociales.

PS. Don't Hear Much About Celtic-Baltic-Eastern European Tigers Anymore, Eh?

PS. to yesterday: Are all those who told us we should follow genius of the low-tax tigers going to issue mea culpas, soonish? Given these countries are almost uniformly disasters now, it would be appropriate no? They should spend as much time and space acknowledging foolishness as they did extolling nonsense for years. As I always said, hey, just as soon as the EU is willing to give us hundreds of billions of dollars for decades in "structural adjustment funds", I'm all for lowering tax rates, since services will be paid for by others.

PPS. 25/03/10 5pm: Just read Kirby and realised at least part of my point had been made already. No mea culpas and revision of thinking as yet, from what I see, though. But Kirby does misuse the word "competitive" at one point, when he should have simply said "lower". The incorrect and misleading word choice is revealing: "By 2012, Canada’s corporate tax regime will be more competitive lower than most other developed countries, including the U.S." He means to say lower taxes, relative to others, makes us more competitive. That is a partial and misleading statement, as investment decisions take far more factors into account (ex: Japanese carmakers' affection for better educated, healthier Cdn workforce). But even so, if that's the argument he wants to make, he should divide it in two, if a, then b. But instead he says a=b. Bad writing, a product of bad thinking, laziness or implicit assumptions as a result of unconscious brainwashing? Who's to say? But should be corrected.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hansrudi Wäscher - Nick Comics

Hunreds more Nick comic covers can be found here at the excellent comic collection of Mickey The Pixel on Flickr.

An article on the artist can be read at Lambiek.

It appears that there is another artist involved in the covers posted towards the top, if anyone knows their name I'd be interested in knowing it, thanks!