Tagged: conservamatism

Harper then and now: Old-stock Canadians.

‘The challenge we face here is the challenge of converting small-c conservatives into big-c Conservatives. It’s certainly not an insurmountable obstacle. I think we will see a growth in support (among ethnic voters). Whether it’s small growth or big growth, these efforts have to continue. We cannot be a party simply of oldstock Canadians. That is not feasible. It’s not right.

-Stephen Harper on courting the ethnic vote, The Ottawa Citizen [Ottawa, Ont] 16 Sep 2008: A.5.

vs.

“…we do not offer [refugees] a better health-care plan than the ordinary Canadian can receive. I think that’s something that new and old stock Canadians can agree with.”

-Stephen Harper, Globe and Mail leaders’ debate, Sep 18, 2015

Maybe he’s [sadly] right people will agree with him. Leaving aside the ethical question of whether one human being deserves less what our medical system can offer over another because of newness,  I’m pretty sure refugees settled in Canada are, by definition, “new-stock” Canadians.

Anyway, the ethnic outreach continues…

P.S. What’s an “old-stock” Canadian? I don’t know, it’s not a term my generation (Generation X) and younger uses, but Barbara Kay, in a May 6, 2009 piece in the National Post, defined it as “Christians or Canadians of Christian heritage.”

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Great moments in timing

Despite having been embroiled in democracy protests for the last few weeks, the Fraser Institute has decided this is an awesome moment to trumpet Hong Kong’s freedom…the only type of freedom that matters to them:

Priorities, people. Priorities!

The war against public sector sick leave

Today President of the Treasury Board Tony Clement proposed slashing the federal public sectors paid sick leave from 15 days a year to 5.

This prompted this tweet from Andrew Coyne:

Which got my interest.

Now as far as I can see the case against the federal public sector having 15 paid days a year in sick leave is that the absentee rate – or days workers call in sick – in the private sector averages to 8 times a year. And thus, ipso facto, something must be wrong with the public sector. Because Adam Smith and other infallible invisible hands.

What it doesn’t tell you however, is whether public sector workers are taking paid sick days on days they aren’t sick or if private sector workers are coming to work sick.

In other words, the public & private sector absentee rate gives us no clue as to how many days a year a person is, in a medical sense, sick.

Which is a question for the medical community, not businessmen or politicians.

Calculating this is very difficult and depends much on demographics and, indeed, the nature of one’s job. Public health workers, who are exposed daily to disease, should be expected to be sick more days than a closed accountant’s office with 2 or 3 employees working in separate rooms.

But the Centre for Disease Control does have some useful, and suggestive, statistics which the kids on the street call Table 2. Mean physically unhealthy days in last 30 by demographic characteristics, chronic disease conditions, and risk factors. Adults >= 18 Years, BRFSS 2009. I encourage you to examine the table in full, as it’s usefully divided into gender, age, ethnicity, economic status and so on. But the gist is this survey found the average person, whether through illness or injury, felt unwell 3.6 days out of 30.

What does this tell us about sick leave? Well, the average [federal] public sector worker called in sick 1.25 days every 21 working days of a month. The average private sector worker, 0.66 days.

Let’s adjust 3.6 days so that it reflects, approximately, how many working days per month a person feels unwell. Which by my calculator is 2.52 days per 21 working days.

In other words, and by extrapolation, public sector workers went to work feeling physically unwell 1.27 days per 21 working days per month and private sector workers 1.86 days.

Which is suggestive that cutting sick leave has nothing to do with public health and more to do with other factors.

Such as, perhaps, spite.

Taking media lessons from Wayne Lapierre

Man who – on multiple occasions – expresses desire to “go out with a bang and take people with him” shoots 3 RCMP officers in Moncton, New Brunswick with 2 long guns that once would have been registered. Wounds 2 more. Still at large.

What is Canada’s National Firearms Association response?

“Incidents like these demonstrate the validity of the mounting evidence that none of Canada’s firearms control efforts over the past 50 years have had any effect on preventing violence, or otherwise stopping bad people from carrying out their evil deeds.  Canada’s excessive firearms control system has failed again.” 

firearms2

Right. That’s the lesson.

The important part of the Rob Ford story isn’t Rob Ford

It’s Ford Nation.

Who [at time of writing] are seemingly standing by their man, in effect flipping the bird to the rest of Toronto as well peeing on their own, you know, purported “common sense, small-c conservative” values – “Hey, he may be a crack-smoker who hangs out with criminals on a regular basis in between drunken stupors and lies about it…but at least he’s not a communist.”

“Communist” is short-hand for anyone “not us.”

Tribal politics. How democracy ends.

UPDATE: Brad Plumer interviews Dennis Pilon, a political scientist at York University, in the Washington Post:

The profile of Ford Nation is a good indication of our political times. There are these alienated populist voters who are often just lashing out. They’re typically not well-integrated into political system, not well integrated into their communities. They tend to not have as much money as median voter and aren’t always as informed on the details of politics.

So one of the things they do is that they end up identifying with politicians personally. So part of Rob Ford’s appeal is that he does make a lot of mistakes, he does speak improperly. And when his critics attack him, that just reinforces the support among alienated populists who also feel that they don’t always speak properly, that they make mistakes.

The [34th] Fall of the House of Ezra

Something inexplicable has happened. Mr. Ezra “Freedom of Speech” Levant has decided to be free of my speech. On Twitter.

He’s blocked me.

Which is quite odd, as he feels seemingly so passionately about the free exchange of ideas, no matter how morally repugnant they might be.

Now the last thing I tweeted about Ezra Levant was this:

Which was a musing to myself prompted after viewing this video…

…in which Mr. Levant speculates – based on name alone – a repeat offender’s ethnicity.

“Now I didn’t see it in the newspapers, but the name Chauncey Elijah Mustard sounds aboriginal to me”

He then goes on about how the justice system “is soft” on aboriginal people all the while in the background loops video of dark-skinned people being arrested. For reference, a photo of the accused can be found at the Winnipeg Sun.

But then I’ve tweeted to Ezra for years and it hasn’t bothered him before. So why the need to shut out critics now? Now, it’s true he might be under a bit of stress these days. But he’s been through lawsuits before. Lots of lawsuits.

Fraser Follies: Kids are cheap edition

Every once in a while the Fraser Institute will write something so sloppy and transparent that even a schmuck like me can see through it. Such is the case with today’s release of their report “The Cost of Raising Children” (also discussed here in the Globe, CBC and by Don Cayo in the Sun.

The big red flags in this report is that they don’t include the cost of daycare or housing.

Yes, you read that right.

But first, based on a 2011 Moneysense article1 that bases its estimates solely on costs in Winnipeg and an “informal online survey” down in 2010 for Today’s Parent magazine (amongst other things) the Institute calculates the cost of raising a child – sans daycare, sans housing – to be $2,264.38/yr for a 4-year-old and $4,115.04 for a 12-year-old. Or $6.20/day for the former and $11.27/day for the latter. That’s not food. That’s everything. Except daycare. And housing.

One thing that popped out for me is the Institute study used average family household income for families with children, rather than median. Which is what you’re supposed to use, really, when discussing non-symmetrically distributed things like income. According to the study, the average after-tax household income in 2009 with 2 parents, 1 child  was $109,412. According to StatsCan, the median after-tax household income in 2007 with 2 parents, 1 child+ was $73,000. Gee, I wonder why they chose to use the average rather than the median. The study also doesn’t include the loss of income if one parent stays home because it’s “difficult”. But that’s easy to calculate from the StatsCan report above – the median income of  a 2 parent, 1 earner with children household is $49,300. So 73,000 – 49,300 = $23,700. Of note, the average cost of daycare in Vancouver is estimated at $1200/mo (which jives with my personal experience). That’s $14,400/yr and certainly not economical for one parent to forgo employment.

So, yeah, daycare. Why wasn’t it included?

Well, says the Institute, based on nothing at all,  “it’s mainly because many families with children will have little or no daycare costs”. For example, “in some two parent (intact) families, one parent may decide to stay at home” which, as we saw above, isn’t actually very economical. How many households are there where one parent decides to stay home? Well the HRDC (sorry only Google web cache available at the moment) says it’s the minority. In 61.9% of 2 parent households with children both parents work. Oh, btw, that’s for 2001. So by “many families” the Fraser Institute actually means “the minority of families”. Oh, there’s this chestnut too: “In other cases, parents may have free daycare at their place of employment or have a close relative who cares for pre-school children.” Yes, free employer-provided daycare. You get that when you receive your T4 and your unicorn. A relative helping out is more reasonable, but again no stats are cited in support. From anecdotes I know some relatives get paid for full-time daycare service or some other cost in kind.

And then there’s housing, also known as “shelter”. Well it shouldn’t be included either. Home ownership, you see, is a “financial investment that yields a rate of return over time.” The “over time” part is the key one. Oh sure, when you’re 65 you can sell your house and make, perhaps, a nice profit. But that really doesn’t help you in the here and now, does it? Also suggested by the Institute: Housing costs don’t have to rise if you have extra children – you can just make them sleep in the closet under the stairwell.

So what’s it all about then? Well, concludes the Fraser Institute:

There are vested interests in having high costs for raising children. The social welfare community, a broad coalition of public service workers, social activists, academics, and many journalists, is active in lobbying the state for more resources for families with children. This agenda, associated with left-liberal and social democratic positions, is part of a redistributionist perspective and it would be naive to ignore the influence it has on public policy. A high cost of children is consistent with this agenda.

The infamous Childcare-Industrial Complex. Also, and: Socialism.

Similarly, child support schemes that compel non-custodial parents to pay custodial parents [more in child support]

Nothing angry white man about that.

So, people of Canada, stop being afraid and start having more babies. Canada needs a good source of future cheap labour a boost to the national birthrate.

1 The author of which stated “I found that some of the costs we calculated were a little low” (Cornell, 2011: 6)”.

UPDATE: Edited for clarity.

UPDATE 2: RossK explains why some of the peer reviewers at the Fraser Institute might still be dead.

In unexpected news, a vainglorious ex-con writes something delusional

Conrad Black, Lord of  Coleman Federal Correctional Complex Crossharbour pens an op-ed – Public sector unions are a blight on our society. Yes, I’m a public sector worker who belongs to a union, but I think any who have the stomach to read this work of fiction will find that it is top to bottom filled with that intoxicating combination of chutzpah and delusion. One could weigh in, for example, on this passage…

Collective bargaining is a defiance of the free market, which is efficient and meritocratically fair.

…and comment that written by a wannabe aristocrat  who also happened to have been born into a wealthy family and thus by accident of chance a recipient of advantages most do not share  – and a man who thought himself so meritorious he helped himself to a little bit extra from the corporate accounts this is…silly. One could mention also that the market is not “meritocratically fair”. Wealth begats wealth. Social mobility – the ability of those born in lower income levels to rise to higher ones (and vice versa) – is lowest in the two advanced economies that have embraced so-called “free markets” the most: The United States and the United Kingdom.

Or one could mention that the teachers whom he labels as sloven philistines seem to perform quite well, thank you very much:

Canadian students are among the top performers in the world, according to an international educational survey of half a million 15-year-olds in more than 70 countries.

Etc. But it’s this statement by Black that really caught my attention:

During the 20th century, as government legislation progressively equalized the rights of the worker with those of the employer, unions became surplus to the requirements of the employed person.

It caught my attention because the above was written on the anniversary of this:

127 years ago today, the Governor of Wisconsin ordered the National Guard to fire upon a crowd of 14,000 workers who had gathered for one simple demand: that their workday be shortened to only 8 hours of physical labor. Seven people died that day and several more were injured in what would come to be known as the Bay View Massacre.

Over the course of the week, there would be several more demonstrations around the country in places like New York, Chicago, and Cincinnati. The battle over the 8 hour workday would last another 30 years and cost many more lives. But, their sacrifice bought us more time to spend with our families and to live our lives our way.

An American example, true. But government didn’t “legislate equalized rights of the worker” out of kindness in Canada either.

The rights workers both public and private sector enjoy today were fought for, and won by, unions. And paid for all to often in blood.

These rights the Conrad Blacks and Stephen Harpers would very much like to roll back.

Ethics Absent: A Grand Unified Theory of Political Scandal?

Yesterday three stories dominated my Twitter feed.

The first was the news that the Government of Malaysia had employed a conservative writer of my acquaintance, Joshua “Tacitus” Trevino, to write stories (or subcontract out to others) favourable to the Malay government and/or critical of opposition [and pro-democracy] figures. And that he did, failing to disclose to the publications he wrote for that he was operating as a marketer rather than as a journalist. Failing to register too, with the US government that he was serving as a foreign agent (ie. someone in the employ of a foreign government) – a serious offence that could lead to jail time (they allowed him to retroactively register to his great good fortune). He even lied when confronted by another journalist.

His tweets after the story broke indicate a lack of remorse. Or an awareness he had betrayed his [extreme] conservative values by advancing the interests of a repressive [and Islamic!] government. The only thing wrong, to Mr. Trevino, was that he got caught.

The second was the continuing fallout of Tom “Conservative Godfather” Flanagan.

He demonstrates the fundamental flaw in libertarian thinking with his involuntary reductio ad absurdum. Let the marketplace decide, goes the mantra, but there are markets that simply should not be created, and child porn is obviously one of them.

“Obviously?” Not, it seems, to an ideologue like Flanagan. As Michael Harris asks, where does he think child porn comes from? It’s just pictures, right? The radical immorality at the heart of libertarianism is brutally revealed.”

The last is closer to home – the “ethnic-gate” scandal, which continues to unfold. Now the ethically challenged nature of the B.C. Liberal government is well-documented but what is interesting is the reaction by the Vancouver Sun’s editor Fazil Mihlar which is, more or less, there is no wrong-doing here.

I will outsource to Ian Reid that appropriate response to Mr. Mihlar’s lack of understanding of the law, the rules that govern the B.C. civil service and ethics in general.

But it really struck me that these three stories are related and are rooted in a certain strain of conservatism. You can add in the foibles of the federal Conservatives too – Bruce Carson, Dean Del Maestro, Tony Clement, the F-35 affair.

They all display a similar set of ethics. A set of ethics that stands apart from the traditional maintream understanding of what ethics means.

And I am beginning to believe there is a sort of grand unified theory out there that explains it all. I can’t really express it coherently yet, but I don’t really think it’s “mere corruption”. The philosophy of Ayn Rand plays an important part and it’s view that it’s the market and not the state or society that determines morality and ethics. Whether any of the figures mentioned above are direct devotees of Rand or not, her ideas have infected modern conservatism and modern conservative political parties. Certainly, in this country, through the Fraser Institute and certainly through the “Calgary School.”

UPDATE: Paul Krugman

Think Tank’s Ideas Shifted As Malaysian Ties Grew:

For years, the Heritage Foundation sharply criticized the autocratic rule of former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, denouncing his anti-Semitism, his jailing of political opponents and his “anti-free market currency controls.”

Then, late in the summer of 2001, the conservative nonprofit Washington think tank began to change its assessment …

Heritage’s new, pro-Malaysian outlook emerged at the same time a Hong Kong consulting firm co-founded by Edwin J. Feulner, Heritage’s president, began representing Malaysian business interests. The for-profit firm, called Belle Haven Consultants, retains Feulner’s wife, Linda Feulner, as a “senior adviser.” And Belle Haven’s chief operating officer, Ken Sheffer, is the former head of Heritage’s Asia office and is still on Heritage’s payroll as a $75,000-a-year consultant.

Hmmm.

It seems that some years ago Malaysia’s ruling party took a good look at leading pundits and policy intellectuals in the conservative movement, reached a judgment about their personal and intellectual integrity or lack thereof, and acted in accordance with that judgment.

The market at work in the fields of morality.

The Conservative Party of Canada’s worldview, in one sentence

Last Friday,  Human Resources Minister Diane Finley outraged the opposition and organized labour in a response to Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain, NDP), who condemned the Conservatives for reducing EI eligibility at a time of widespread job cuts.

“With respect to the employment insurance program,” Finley replied, “It is very important to note that, once again, the NDP is supporting the bad guys.”

Got that? Forget fluctuations in world markets & the business cycle. If you lose your job it’s not only your fault, you are also a moral failure and may in fact be evil. And you deserve to be punished.

And your children.

Because economics is a morality play of good guys vs. bad guys.

This was a common 19th century worldview, if not an 18th century one.