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Michael Hardner

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Posts posted by Michael Hardner

  1. Any suggestions what those positive means should be?

    Incentives to retrain, investment in our decaying infrastructure, and general government support in any area that hires higher wage jobs.

    Not at all. But by offering total protection from cradle to grave for everybody, that in itself creates a disincentive for people to take more responsibility for themselves. What I said is true .. a lot of people would save more towards their retirement if it were not for retirement security etc. but that's not saying that these protections for retired people are bad. There are a lot of people that save towards retirement in order to improve their living standards after retirement. And a lot of people that don't because they know they will be taken care of financially. By stating a fact regarding incentives etc does not mean that I am against these protections.

    Ok.

  2. I am referring to the welfare state Canada has become ever since Trudeau came to power. The list is endless but for starters think back to the early 70's when Trudeau quadrupled UI [now EI] payments overnight.

    But what specifically are you referring to ? What current policies ?

    There are no contradictions in what I have said. I support help for people that really need it such as the ill, the aged and handicapped. I don't think any other benefits should be available here in Canada.

    Then why did you state this:

    Part of the reason many people save so little is the assurance that they will be protected from many of the high-cost contingencies, like

    retirement security and medical care in old age, that induce savings in the first place....

    It sounds like you're arguing against retirement security and old-age medical care.

    Compare Canada today with some of the Oriental countries where welfare is virtually unheard of and children are taught personal responsibility at an early age. I think it's a darn shame the way Canada has gone downhill ever since 1968. As the student from Iceland who had been in Canada for 2 years going to university and was now back home working during the fishing season said to an interviewer on television a few years ago - quote "I don't know how you people in Canada expect anyone to work when you pay them for doing nothing"

    I understand your general unhappiness with our culture, but for the purposes of discussion here ( rather than just broadcasting) you should be specific with your criticisms and, hopefully, with your proposed solutions to these problems.

    And it still seems to me that you're giving an emotive response to all of these things that frustrate you rather than a reasoned one. You seem to be saying that we should reward hard work in Canada yet on another thread, you want to "reward" hard-working unionized labourers with a pay cut. Do you think such a policy would encourage people to work harder ?

    I too think that social and economic changes in Canada will necessitate people to work harder for less, and to take more responsibility for their actions but I would like to use positive means to guide people to those behaviors.

  3. That will be a fact of life in the years ahead as wages will become far more attuned to the value of the work being performed than it has in the past. This is guaranteed to widen the gap between rich and poor. I see that a much fairer system when workers rewards are more related to the value of the work they do rather than the present where [in union lingo] a body is a body and everyone deserves the same rate of pay. Certainly more fair to the employer as well.

    Well, we had such a system and it creates a society where more and more can't afford discretionary spending. And if it's already a fact of life, why do you think it's necessary to intervene to accelerate this happenstance ?

    I would think that a government should be concerned about the decreased economic well-being of the people who do the work, ie. the people who work to produce goods and services.

  4. Hjalmar:

    I fully support the social safety net for 3 groups in our society. They are [1] The aged] [2] The sick [3] the handicapped amongst us. It ends there.

    Doesn't that contradict this statement you made above:

    .... Part of the reason many people save so little is the assurance that they will be protected from many of the high-cost contingencies, like

    retirement security and medical care in old age, that induce savings in the first place

    And:

    I do not agree with paying healthy people for doing nothing. It has already created a dependency in this country.

    What are you referring to here ?

  5. QUOTE 

    While I think gays should be treated equally under the law, no religion should forced by law to change their practices, with few exceptions.

    A perfect example of the misconceptions around gay marriage.

    Sorry, Blackdog, I think you misunderstood me. I wasn't talking about marriage, but other areas - hiring practices and so forth...

  6. Yes, this thread went all over the map. I think Hugo's suggestion is a sound one and I have heard support for such an idea on both sides of the (great) political divide.

    While I think gays should be treated equally under the law, no religion should forced by law to change their practices, with few exceptions.

    ( I don't know of any religion that still allows stoning, but I don't think tolerance needs to go that far. )

  7. KK:

    Kill millions like Russia, China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran. Supress human rights like Saudi Arabia, China, a host of third world countriues or simply hold their population in terror as do a third of the world's nations.

    Killing millions is setting the bar rather low. But I get your point.

    If you will note, the 'hedgmony' that the US strives for is a corporate one. Wherever they go, they make money for the west, and those of the country that they invest in. Where there was nothing, there is now a factory paying low wages. Better than starvation isn't it? When any other idealology takes over, it is with far greater brutal force and gives nothing. Nothing. Leaves nothng in return for the strife they bring and no Cola Factories, no payment, just complete turmoil.

    Well... I don't know about that. Hussein was a good enough friend of the US until the two nations miscommunicated about his intentions on Kuwait. And dictatorial communism, despite its flaws, was successful for a long time in several countries. I've heard an argument that communism can be a bridge between chaos and democracy, although we've yet to see that happen. China may yet succeed down that path.

    How many bad things? Incalcuable. The US has a long way to go to match the list of offenders that have come before. You think the Islamo Fasists will bring prosperity and any kind of freedom to anybody? Destruction, death, enslavement to all that they rule. The fall of the Saudi Family will provide a basis for a country wide pandemic of starvation and terror to the people of SA. Is not the proping up of the Royals enough reason to stop that?

    I thought you said above that Saudi Arabia was an example of a "bad" country. If we're propping up "bad" countries for the greater good, and without a long-term plan for these countries to become "good" countries then I don't see how we're better than "bad" countries that do the same thing.

    If we allow ourselves to stray from a moral argument, then we can't criticize others for doing the same.

    For example, Lybia has recently acknowledged its former role in state-sponsored terrorism. Hence, it was a "bad" country. But internally, Quadaffi did a lot for his people, increased literacy and so forth.

    Shades of grey.

    Reading an article in the Ottawa Sun yesterday about how High Schools are getting uniforms for the kids. Only uniforms made with companies that do not use child labor. Lofty and good, however, I suppose now that there will be some places where they make this type of thing that now will have no money. Places that have no other way to feed the people. It's not right, but that was all they had. Instead of doing good, it did bad. Problems have to be attacked from many aspects, not just from the end where the effect is. A program to stop child labor via boycotting has to made with replacement of money involved. You want to shut a sweat shop down? Provide an alternative, otherwise your good becomes bad.

    I think child labour is a terrible thing. If a country is producing goods through child labour, I suspect they can continue to produce cheap goods without the children. But child labour is another thread...

  8. Hjalmar:

    Again in this thread, my refutations to your last post are hanging there. I'm content to leave it at that if you are.

    Some of the positives about a global economy

    [1] It will force labour unions to work for wages that are

    competitive worldwide.

    [2] It will force a lowering of prices for most products that we in Canada, the USA and Western Europe require for basic survival.

    [3] It will, over time, tend to improve living standards in many of the poorer regions of the world as wages gravitate upward to lessen the spread between wealthy countries and Third World countries.

    [4] It will not lower living standards for people living in Canada, the USA and Western Europe except for people that rely on income derived from union employment.. This is a positive and will help more people than it harms.

    [5] It will, for the first time in history, force governments to compete with one another from a tax standpoint. Any country that fails to do so will lose their most talented and desireable citizens.

    I agree with points 2 and 3. You seem to have some personal grudge against the unions, as far as I can tell, since you just want union workers to make less money even if it reduces consumer spending.

    I think Globalization is inevitable, but the government needs to be careful to balance the new powers of producers to reduce costs, with their responsibilities to keep up infrastructure and make the economy work for everyone.

  9. Hjalmar:

    Since you didn't address the points I made above, can I assume that you concede them ?

    Your post:

    The biggest cause of the current increase in inequality in North America, and in some other advanced countries as well, is the slow speed at which poorly educated segments of society have adjusted to the dramatic fall-off in jobs that require a strong back rather than a brain.... In the 1950s, in both America and Western Europe, 70 percent of people were employed in jobs where they used their hands.... Just 30 percent were "use-of-brain" workers.... Now the ratio has almost reversed.... In 1973 college graduates made only 15 percent more than mere high school graduates.... By 1982 the differential was 49 percent.... Narrowing the income gap requires narrowing the gap in education and skills between the poor and rich.

    Unhappily, however, this has been very slow to happen...

    Also, it's unclear that some people will ever be suited to "use-of-brain" work. You can't just retrain a 50-year old manufacturing plant worker to be a computer programmer, obviously.

    Part of the reason is that there is too much income redistribution.... Too many programs and unachievable political promises have not only slowed the speed of adjustment to the new realities, they have subsidized the growth of a counterproductive slum culture..

    Another part of the gap in income is due to overindulgence in current consumption, another facet of life in the 1980s that could not be redressed by more income redistribution.... Part of the reason many people save so little is the assurance that they will be protected from many of the high-cost contingencies, like

    retirement security and medical care in old age, that induce savings in the first place.... Too much income redistribution and too much income equality can actually undermine stability.

    Before CPP existed, before the social safety net, old people often lived in poverty. Unfortunately, humans do not always take the prudent tack.

    CPP effectively prevents people from becoming a burden on society later in life.

    I think a society with a healthy and cared-for population is more stable than one without.

    The poor and even much of the middle class, unlike the thrifty pioneers who laid the foundation of North American prosperity, spend every penny that comes into their hands.... This is not a life-style that will stand the test of time.

    In most cases, even today's poor enjoy a standard of real

    consumption many times higher than that of the rich of a few centuries ago.... And the poorer they are, the worse they tend to do.... The poorest people in Western societies indulge in crime, drug abuse, and alcoholism more than productive citizens.

    True. Louis XIV didn't have a CD player. And substance abuse has always been the bane of the poorer classes, mostly because they can't afford it.

    The most urgent need in the 2000s is to increase the payoff from accomplishment and law-abiding behaviour.... The countries that will best adapt to this new Revolution of the 2000s are those with the most productive citizens ... like Switzerland and Japan.... Rather than penalizing the successful, and making it more difficult to become and remain affluent, a rational policy for North America would aim for the opposite result..... It would reduce taxes.... And reduce the unsustainable burdens of transfer payments, income redistribution, and guarantees against failure that are the essence of the welfare

    state..... When you subsidize poverty and failure, you get more of both.

    Only a quick glance at the past is needed to see that this system would never work. When there was no social safety net, there was more misery. There was still alcohol abuse, and vice.

    Ideal systems such as communism, and the one you're proposing will undoubtedly fail because they deny the basic facts of human nature.

  10. I do know that people want to come to the US in droves from the third world. Evidently, the US is not as bad as he portrays. Myself, if something was bad enough to have book after book written about it to tell people how bad it was, I certainly wouldn't want to be part of it. Same with the third world people who line up for blocks in front of US embasies around the world wanting to go there.

    This isn't logical. Just because people are immigrating to the US, it doesn't mean that the country is moral.

    You must agree that the US has done some "bad" things. How many "bad" things does a country have to do before we decide it's a "bad" nation ?

  11. KK uses the tack that I have often seen used when the high ideals of US foreign policy are shown to be tarnished. Namely, fall back on pragmatism.

    But if pragmatism was the currency of discussion from the outset, rather than just a fallback, we would have a far more interesting and honest public debate about these things.

    It would also be difficult, if not impossible to convince the public to support such things as the war in Afghanistan, etc. Can you imagine President Bush telling his nation that the US needs to support terrorism in certain regions in order to keep a foothold there ? Of course not.

  12. Balanced budget? Irrelevant. Think. Paul Martin has both a copy of your Visa card and your cheque book. (Afraid of the Internet? Paul Martin is the Canadian Government, and he's got both.)

    Now, does it matter whether Paul Martin uses your cheque book or your credit card to buy something? If he uses your Visa, you'll wisely pay the bill at the end of the month. (Martin's charges, you can't dispute.)

    So, what's the difference? None.

    IOW, when Paul Martin says he paid the national debt, should you be impressed? (He used your cheque book to pay your credit card bill and because of his finesse, he wants you to vote for him?)

    I'll listen to a PM when he says: "I'm not using your credit card nor your cheque book to buy anything."

    The Liberals only starting balancing the budget after political pressure from the Alliance. It was a good idea, and hardly irrelevant.

    I'd rather he pay down the debt, and the interest that eats into the budget. I pay my credit cards off every month.

  13. Dennis:

    If that were so substantive, then why the need for some of the cheap tactics we've seen from the Libs in past days - the quotes plus the Bloc coalition gambit which backfired.

    As for the balanced budgets, they did it with high taxes and cuts to health care and defence. Our productivity is low.

    And you may disparage the American economy, its fuelling ours.

    Withouth its growth we'd be nowhere. We're dependent on them.

    The fact of the matter is that the American economy may be the only one capable of growing out of deficits. Its done it in the past and will most likely do it again.

    And that growth has helped with our own deficits, as well as the tax and spend ways of the Liberals - both highest in the G7 as well, if I'm not mistaken.

    Don't know if the Liberals can run on fiscal management. Its why they're pulling out the quotes. 

    All that being what it is, a balanced is still "substantive".

  14. Democratic government is a market where people can only vote "yes or no", there's no relative "maybe". Corporations, even big dominant ones, deal in markets where people can vote maybe by degree.

    Which is better?

    MH: This is not an argument. Am I wrong? I genuinely want to know what you think. I'm not trying to "win" this debate.

    Well, it seems like we're talking about something new here.

    But, yes, an open market is better for the consumer.

  15. I saw the show. Harper handled himself masterfully, there's no doubting that. I find the comment that he didn't get the questions in advance to be a bit of a whine. He should be able to defend himself on the spot, and he did a fine job.

    As for this...

    They have absolutely nothing substantive to offer to the Canadian people.

    I think the seventh consecutive balanced budget is something to be proud of. Balanced budgets seem to have been a bit of a fad south of the border, but we seem to like them in Canada - especially Alberta. Canada remains the only G7 country with a balanced budget. I would say that is substantive.

  16. Hugo:

    Blockbuster is catering to the demands of its market and it has found that the greater share of its customers prefer a family-oriented store. They can choose to abandon this model at the risk of alienating a large portion of their customer base. Blockbuster is, too, a consumer of films from producers. As its customers expect a family-oriented business from Blockbuster, so Blockbuster expects family-oriented productions from producers. Those producers can either satisfy that or sell it elsewhere, just as Blockbuster can either satisfy their family-oriented customer base or find another one.

    This is exactly the point. Chains like Blockbuster are too big to ignore. There's no "other Blockbuster" to go to. Hence we have non-competition. Hence the mom-and-pop arguments can't be used.

    In any case, this is merely democratic market forces at work. However, your choices are not limited. Some film producers may distribute two titles. Some may elect not to distribute via Blockbuster at all. In any event, your main complaint is that market forces may have denied you the chance of seeing an extra 10 seconds of Nicole Kidman in the nude, and if that's the price we have to pay for the greatest freedom and highest standard of living the world has ever known, so be it!

    You seem to have given up your argument here at the end. Anyway, it's just an example. We seem to agree that large corporations exert more force on society, not only through the market but in the other ways they operate.

    I can't see it happening. If you find any places where it has, I'll reconsider, but I find it amazing that no matter how close any company comes to dominance some competition arises, often seemingly from nowhere. Take the computer industry. IBM used to dominate it, until a three-man operation called Micro-soft (it was hyphenated then) turned up and took their dominance away from them. Now everybody is worried about Microsoft, but suddenly Apple is turning profits again and stealing market share and the open-source software movement has gathered tremendous momentum suddenly and is stealing even more market share.

    IBM still dominates the computer industry as it existed back then. Microsoft dominates a new market (the home computer) that didn't exist back then.

    IBM has as much control over your life as Microsoft (they're both hidden taxes) but it's less visible.

    Yes, and this is precisely what democratic capitalism is all about. True capitalism depends upon law and ethics as well as economics. Pure capitalism, as leftists put it, doesn't even exist. It's a system of impurities, as we live in an impure world.

    But we are way, way off topic, and I think we are essentially in agreement anyway, so...

    More or less. I think if we got down to the brass tacks and had some examples posted here you would agree that "yes, this is an example of abuse of the system and it's wrong etc. etc." but further than that I would like for you to consider the complexities of modern global economics as being evolutionarily different.

    Ok. The future will give us more to argue about. Onwards...

  17. If you are referring to cuts made to achieve a certain rating so that "family" chains such as Wal-Mart and Blockbuster will carry the title, you should note that the MPAA imposes these ratings and demands edits, so in this case it is the government, not Blockbuster, that is supposedly limiting your freedom of choice. They decide the ratings and often for highly questionable reasons.

    No, I'm not referring to that. I'm referring to content changes within the film itself. I'm referring to changes to CD content and covers.

    It is Blockbuster's decision not to carry ratings above R, and apparently that business decision seems to be working for them. There are plenty of outlets who carry NC-17 titles. I got my Criterion Collection DVD of Robocop from Amazon.com. It is the original director's cut, before they edited it for an 'R' rating. I didn't have any trouble finding it and I didn't pay over the odds for it.If not, I'd like to know what you are referring to. This statement was extremely vague.

    Sorry. It's my understanding that these large chains mandate changes in content of CDs and videos - not to change the rating - but to carry the film period.

    Ah, you don't know of any. Well, let's be charitable and assume that you are right anyway, and there is some town somewhere in North America that only has a Wal-Mart. Is Wal-Mart charging them more than they charge people in big cities? Does this town have no mailboxes so that it can receive mail-order catalogues and goods? Does this town have not a single phone line so that it can order goods to be delivered, or a single computer to be hooked up to a phone line so that it can use Amazon.com, Ebay or Netflix? don't think so. ?

    You set the bar for non-competition rather high. If WAL-MART drove every store out of town, you would be satisfied if consumers' only other option was buying over the internet ?

    How Soviet does that sound ?

    The irony of your argument is that you are attacking capitalism for apparently not providing that which it provides in far, far larger quantities than any other economic system: choice! Controlled and planned economies give far, far less choice than capitalism. If it's consumer choice you want, you are already in the best system to provide it.

    Please don't make the mistake of thinking I'm against capitalism.

    As I have already argued, it's obtuse to argue capitalism vs. socialism because these are arguments of yesterday. As I've already stated, we need to think of government and big business in a different context today. No one is arguing for complete government control, nor for anarchy.

    I'm asking for people to NOT think of these corporations as being in the same class as mom-and-pop businesses. As such, there are certain controls and responsibilities associated with them.

  18. Goes without saying if there were no unions. But unions won't be disappearing. We need to find a way to eliminate, or at least reduce, the disparity between union and non union workers. Not fair at all that they should be earning twice as much as the non union worker and the non union worker has to pay the inflated prices for most goods and services [private sector] and taxes [public sector] which is a direct result of exorbitant wages and benefits for unionized workers. Is it fair that 25% of the workforce should have the power to harm society to this extent?

    You're saying that in order to make the situation "fair", we should cut union wages to that of non-union ? Would you find it "fair" if somebody decreed that YOUR wages should drop for doing the same job you've been doing ?

    As for harming society, the money that union members earn goes back into the economy in the form of spending.

    Again I'd like to point out that lower wages are a problem for our economy.

    We need to reduce the power and leverage of labour unions plain and simple. Because of the militancy of labour unions here in Canada we need to reduce their numbers to a manageable 10 to 12% of the workforce. Right to work laws would bring this about over a period of time and would be much fairer for everybody.

    You have that backwards. The most successful countries in the future will have low taxation, low wages and high education.

    As I've pointed out, 2/3 of the economy is consumer spending. Lower wages hurt the economy in this way.

    And your constant use of the term "fair" isn't appropriate for this argument. Personally, I find any plan that creates a greater gap between rich and poor - as this one does - "unfair".

    But let's you and I drop these value judgements in the interest of trying to make this an objective argument - agreed ?

    I don't agree with your vision that union wage rates should be higher.

    I didn't say that union wage rates should be higher.

    You make reference to consumer spending. Isn't it far better that wage rates throughout the country be more equalized so that 100% of the population become consumers rather than increasing union wage rates further in order that 25% of the population can continue to be consumers?

    100% of the country IS consumers. But by decreasing the buying power of 25% of the population, you're making a significant dent in consumer spending.

    Of course, everyone needs to buy food, clothing and so forth but the economy is also built on discretionary spending on things such as cars, electronics, and furniture.

    If union wages were brought down to the level of non union wages then it goes without saying that all prices and taxes would drop accordingly.

    Prices would probably drop, yes. In fact, prices have been quite flat recently as producers compete for the diminishing wages of the earner. We're buying cheaper goods made in places like China. Things are very good for the consumer right now, but I don't think you can say the same for those employed in producing these goods.

    Would taxes really drop ? Those who earn less would pay less in income taxes. The reduced payroll earnings would go to a corporation that pays a corporate tax rate, gets write-offs, and other government perks. Less consumer spending generally means less tax revenue from sales taxes, etc.

    So tax revenue would probably drop, IMO.

    A poster on these boards recently stated that low-wage earners actually cost the government money, ie. the taxes they pay don't match the amount of money the government spends on them and their famlies.

    I'll address this further -- A lot of the products we purchase today are now manufactured in lower wage jurisdictions. If Canada is producing the same product paying union wages and sells the product at a modest profit this then becomes the market price for the product. This is what enables these corporations to max out their profit when the manufacturing takes place in lower wage jurisdictions. As you can see, if Canada discontinued the manufacture of these same products utilizing unionized labour, then the higher market price would disappear and that would benefit everybody in the country.

    This seems to be a restatement of what you already wrote.

    My main argument has been that consumer spending will suffer and you haven't really gone after this argument so much.

    I challenge anyone to refute this. In essence, corporations manufacturing offshore utilizing lower labour costs have become the biggest cheerleaders for organized labour in our country. I challenge anyone to refute that as well.

    What do you mean they have become the biggest cheerleaders for organized labour ? You stated that they're using offshore labour - doesn't that mean they're NOT cheerleaders for organized labour ?

  19. Then what is your complaint - that Blockbuster sells and rents videos exactly as the producer intended for a reasonable price? That doesn't sound much like an indictment. They make separate versions for Wal-Mart sometimes, but as I've shown, that by no means forces you to buy them.

    No. That Blockbuster dictates the content due to their clout as a distributor. They limit my freedom of choice.

    Which cities and towns are exclusively served by Wal-Mart? Name some.

    I don't know of any, but my understanding is that WAL-MART has pushed out many small businesses such as hardware and grocery stores. I read about the phenomenon of the one-store town a few years ago, but I must admit I no longer have the source.

  20. don't think that's a valid complaint at all. There are 22 independent video stores and 11 independent music stores listed in my Yellow Pages and I don't live in a big town! Wal-Mart and Blockbuster only control the media as long as you buy from them, and thanks to the capitalist system there are plenty of options for you if you don't want to.

    I don't think they make a separate version of CDs and videos just for Blockbuster.

    Consider the problem with state-owned industry. Up until very recently, electricity here in Ontario was state-run (now it's about 70% state-owned). The service was terrible. There were frequent brown-outs due to poor maintenance of equipment and the age of the generation hardware, and sometimes total black-outs. This service was also expensive. I pay about 3 times per month what my mother, in the UK, pays her privately-owned power company. What are my choices? None! I can take what they want to give me for whatever price they want to charge or I can start looking at very expensive and inefficient methods of generating my own power.

    Well, there's some good points here, but that would probably require a whole other thread.

    There is a wide, wide gulf between state-owned business and corporate oligopoly.

    Remember Winston Smith's Victory Cigarettes in 1984? Don't turn it filter-side-up, all the tobacco will fall out. That's what state-run industry gives you: a poor product, expensive prices and no consumer choice.

    Once again, there are still plenty of independent papers, magazines, films, books, record labels and so forth. What's the alternative, one state-owned publishing company? You might dedicate such a company to producing good content but pretty soon it would descend to becoming another Pravda. The CBC is almost there already.

    With WAL-MART, there is no alternative. That's the only store that serves some cities and towns. That seems a lot like a state-run monopoly to me.

  21. There's Jack Layton and the NDP, who want to spend spend spend and, presumably tax tax tax in order to pay for it all. They also want Canada to resent American foreign policy, and say nothing about Canada's role in the world - except to be stong on 'soft' issues like foreign aid and such.

    FYI the NDP has pledged that they will balance the budget. Presumably, this puts them to the right of the Republicans... :lol:

  22. Hmmm. I think you're right. I'm still thinking about the Mom-and-Pop business and Microsoft and government and lobbying. You're right: Wal-Mart is not the same as my local depanneur. But what? And how does this change modern government?

    Well, for one thing things should somehow be simplified or made more transparent.

    I abhorred the Harris government, but in retrospect the omnibus bill enabled the legislature to do things quickly for better or for worse.

    Or as one leftist told me in Toronto City Hall: "They talk and talk and talk about these things, but in the end you know how they're all going to vote."

    What's the title of this thread again ? Oh yeah... ;)

  23. I'm not a true-red Liberal, but I concur with the above comments. He doesn't have that PM aura yet, (PM meaning Prime Minister, not Paul Martin ) but he's getting better.

    I suspect both he and Harper will get better at it in the coming weeks.

    The public is a little confused right now by all the new faces (Martin, Goodale, Harper, McKay, Layton) but I suspect they will re-elect the Liberals anyway.

    But it could be a minority government. If so, the NDP would be the obvious choice to team up with the Liberals.

  24. No, mercantilism, and the Bay came well before the industrial revolution. With reason. There was autocracy to buy.

    Hmmm. You're right. But I still think things were different. Let's see... there must have been fewer huge enterprises back then. Certainly there seems to have been more small business as large scale production wasn't yet conceived of.

    But I must concur that there did exist large entities, probably with even more influence with the powers that be than any single entity today.

    If that were the case, you would see billions - not millions - spent on TV advertising. The winner of the White House could easily pay off "investors" several times fold by tariffs, regulations or Justice investigation. None would require getting difficulty legislation through Congress.

    Well, there are limits to these things. I wouldn't say that the democratic process has completely collapsed or that corporations are free to trounce anyone in their path. Quite the opposite - corporations are very finely attuned to the public's perception of them.

    But with that kind of power, they can and somes do hold influence to the detriment of society as a whole.

    The Left thinks ordinary people are stupid, Madison Avenue is smart, and the world needs more teachers, social workers and journalists. The Left is wrong.

    There certainly are shortages of good people in those professions. :P I don't think people are stupid, but I don't expect the average person to be able to sift through the details of trade legislation and determine the plusses and minuses of it.

    I don't think I'M stupid and I couldn't do it, even if I had the time.

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