Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Church of Economics

Great article from Caplan:

Imagine a so-called scientific discipline based on the proposition that humans invariably act on the basis of rational calculation and complete knowledge. This is not science; it’s blind, irrational faith.

Imagine promoting an economic system that busts as often as it booms and that always leaves an abundance of losers in its wake.

Imagine belonging to that fraternity of maven who are responsible for the economic and financial meltdown of the past two years.

Imagine that your “science” proffers wrong answers as often as right ones. Imagine that you make weather forecasters look prescient.

Imagine insisting that in return for much-needed loans, poor countries must agree to exactly the same kind of reckless de-regulation that enabled Wall Street to trigger the global economic meltdown.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Polanyi on Liberalism

I'm sure I'm among the last to read Polanyi's classic The Great Transformation as I never actually took much of any political theory in undergrad. I've been exposed to it here and, for anyone of a conservative mind, or socialist for that matter, it really is a fantastic book. In particular Chapter 12 The Birth of the Liberal Creed examines the argument made by liberals concerning the collapse of the market economy in the late 19th Century (and more generally made by liberals about everything since then). Stop me if you've heard this one before: the market economy would have sorted it all out had it not been for the collectivist conspiracy that forced intervention.

Polanyi accepts that there was intervention, but he rightly points out that it wasn't a collectivist conspiracy at all. It was upper middle class legislators, all laissez-faire faithful, who enacted these horrible laws that interfered with the free market. So what were these laws that ruined everything and prevented the utopian society we would surely be enjoying today? Polanyi takes them straight from the horse's mouth, 19th Century liberal Herbert Spencer, in his criticism of fellow liberals for abandoning their principles:

Analysts of food and drink to be paid out of local rates
The inspection of gas works
making it penal to employ boys under twelve not attending schools and unable to read or write
Power to poor law guardians to enforce vaccination
Local boards were authorized to fix rates of hire for means of conveyance
It was made illegal to have a single shaft coal mine
The creation of a Pharmacopoeia at a rate fixed by the Treasury
Extension of compulsory vaccination to Scotland and Ireland
Establishment of inspectors for the wholesomeness, or unwholesomeness of food
A Chimney-Sweeper's Act to prevent the torture and death of children
A Contagious Diseases Act
A Public Libraries Act

That was the damning evidence liberals used to show a collectivist conspiracy over a hundred years ago. You'll see a similar, slightly updated, list from liberals nowadays. Polanyi's entire point is that the countermovement against the free market is the most natural thing in the world. When business tortures children, sells fake drugs, destroys rivers, and is completely unable to provide education for a society's poor, the government has to act. No conspiracy. Just commonsense reactions to very real problems brought about by the free market.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just a Friendly Reminder...

That it's the Liberals who are the party of corruption, nothing to see here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Canadian Partisanship (in 1984)

David Akin posts about the nature of Canadian partisanship, citing a study that suggests Liberals inherit their partisanship while Conservatives think about their's. Problem: the CES he cites uses data for 1984!

The authors suggest the study still has valuable information because the Liberals and NDP still exist. It's an absurd argument, and one that should keep you from sending your children to UWO.

Canadian politics has experienced massive changes since 1984. Events in Quebec especially would probably invalidate the bulk of the article's conclusions. Indeed (and this might be in the piece, I haven't had time to read it) I'd be curious about how much of the inherited nature of the Liberal Party comes (came) from Quebec federalists.

I think their conclusions about the NDP are probably still valid, but the rest is just useless. Besides, we know the CPC has an official policy against thinking.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Good Stuff

This is a good creative. Play stuff like this against the preschool crap that comes out of CPC HQ and I think we'd have a pretty interesting election.

UPDATE: And for something completely different.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Canadian Abroad II

While I'm able to remove myself from domestic politics a little bit, international affairs is tough to avoid at a place like The LSE. The expats feel our embarrassment at the UN keenly. We're attending a school where the international leaders of my generation are being trained, and the simple fact of the matter is that my country is no longer a leader. You don't have to be a flag-waving nationalist to grasp the importance of the unfortunate reality that your country just doesn't matter anymore.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

All the best to you and yours back home.

I'm just about to take my specialty, tortiere, out of the oven and head over to an expat meal. For the occasion, a special beer.

Kriek 100% Lambic Bio
Brussels, Belgium

The last time Ontario saw this beer, it was refused by the LCBO due to chemical similarities with cyanide from the cherry pits. It was a sad sad day. No such concerns in London, where I'm apparently free to kill myself with this prettiest of beers.

A kriek is a Belgian lambic (beer created from wild yeast) brewed with cherry pits. There are alot of beers out there claiming to be kriek, but many are sweetened with sugar. A kriek shouldn't taste like candy.

It pours a beautiful cloudy rose with a nice big pink fizzy head.

The aroma has some sweet cherries up front with a slight tartness lingering behind, hinting at what's to come.

Again, you get subtle cherry flavours at first, but that's swiftly thrown aside by an almost puckering tartness. This lambic flavour can be off putting to some (most), but it shouldn't be. I don't think it's so much a matter of taste as it is of something unfamiliar. With any lambic I think you should let the first few sips roll around and your mouth. Let your tongue get accustomed to the "wildness" of the beer so that you can see beyond it. Once you've done that, the tartness sort of fades away towards the end and you're left with lovely cherry sweetness.

A classic, simple as that.

Enjoy your turkeys folks!

EDIT: By the way, halloween releases should be out so keep an eye out. Muskoka Harvest ale is a special release that I hear good things about. Sam Adams Octoberfest is out for a limited release so grab it if you can.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stupidity in the OLO

This is dumb. What upside is there to this? I think it shows a complete lack of understanding about how the "average" Canadian feels about different types of government spending. You will not get any traction (especially in flipping Manitoba!) attacking defence expenditures.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's with the CFIB?

I don't get these people, or, probably more accurately, I don't get Catherine Swift's bizarre obsession with the public service.

As the article states, the public service has agreed to an average annual increase of under 2% for the next 3 years, which is below the projected wage increase one might expect in the private sector. You're hardly keeping up with inflation. I think that qualifies as "belt tightening".

This isn't the first time Swift has stomped her feet in anger over public service job benefits. She's fixated on what civil servants make and how generous their pensions are. I don't think Canadian small businesses are hard up for staff, and as far as public expenditure go, the Canadian Public Service salaries are a drop in the bucket. I think someone might be angling for a career in politics.

Friday, October 1, 2010

When Business School Grads Strike...

It's never pretty (emphasis mine):

"The redesign is not just about design, or paper quality, or our new online navigation, or social media groups. It's about confidence."

"Our part of the bargain was to create a newspaper that was equally daring – one that did not seek to prolong the past, but burns to invent the future."

"As the young woman – our future – says on our TV ads, let's celebrate things not yet done or dreamed. Let's reach for what's beyond our grasp. "

"In today's Globe, you get your first taste of what's to come. I hope you find it delicious."

"One, we're a visual medium, showcasing outstanding pictures and colours.
We're also a medium of words and ideas..."

" that dares to lead the entire newspaper with an editorial because the first task for the new Globe is to deliver insight to Canadians." (Shiner: Front page editorials huh? That sounds familiar...)

"We're also striving for new voices and insights, to help Canadians seize the 21st century rather than yearn for the 20th."

"Our outstanding Ottawa Notebook – nominated this week for best blog award by Canadian Online Publishing Association – finds a new companion in print, coming this Monday with a political file that will set the week's agenda in Ottawa and every provincial capital." (Shiner: A political agenda set by Jane Taber!?)

"But we're also shifting strategically, with much more content, in print and online, to help us all enjoy and understand the personal sides of our lives. Today’s Life section launches as an expanded daily, glossy section that probes everything that should matter to you personally."

"If you don't push yourself, if you don't dare to make today better than yesterday, if you don’t believe in progress, you're doomed to defeat."

"Are you ready to begin?"