Crawl Across the Ocean

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Indirect Blogging

OK, It's been a slow week posting wise, mainly because I am lazy, but also partly because I've been writing lots of comments on other blogs rather than on my own.

In particular, Laura had an interesting post about overblown fears of the U.S. 'turning into Sweden' if it raises taxes at all, and mentioned in passing the idea of a tradeoff between equity and efficiency in an economy and how to measure it. And that passing mention, for some reason, provoked me into writing a long rambling comment about equity-efficiency tradeoffs in reply.

note: above paragraph modified from the original to be clearer
Meanwhile, in current events, can anyone explain this to me?

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper is scrapping the idea of a new public appointments commission after opposition MPs rejected his nominee to chair it.

"So what that tells us is that we won't be able to clean up the process in this minority Parliament. We'll obviously need a majority government to do that in the future," Harper said Tuesday."

So the commission would have been a good idea if Conservative partisan Gwyn Morgan had been the chair, but it is a bad idea if anyone else (that at least one of the opposition parties can agree to) is the chair? I mean, I'm not too concerned about the existence of the commission one way or the other, it's just the process I don't get. How does this make any sense?


  • What a big brittle crybaby Harper is. How pathetic.

    By Anonymous nehpets reprah, at 8:24 PM  

  • Ack! Declan -- I loved your brilliant rambling comment and tried to respond to parts of it. But my post wasn't really about the equity-efficiency tradeoff (though thanks for your references on the subject) beyond stating that there is one -- though obviously that's up for debate! My post was about whether the US can afford to raise the share of the economy that goes to taxes without risking lowering growth the way the rightwingers say it will (i.e. without paying an efficiency cost for more equality). Since the US has a tax take a whopping 10% below ours and England's, and basically the same recent growth performance, I say yes it can, and further that waving around the "liberals want to turn us into Sweden" flag is a strawman of the right.

    By Blogger Laura, at 9:26 PM  

  • Laura: Yes you are right. I was taking the part of your post I found most interesting and giving the impression it was the main point of the post, which it wasn't. I'll modify the post to be more accurate.

    By Blogger Declan, at 11:03 PM  

  • It's about going through the motions of reform without actually reforming anything.

    Step 1: Set up a parliamentary commitee to appoint somebody to a new administrative position. The commitee is representative of the parliament's seat distribution so as to look fair, democratic, and all that good stuff.

    Step 2: Nominate whichever partisan hack you owe some patronage to as the candidate for the new position.

    From here there are two outcomes. If the candidate passes, you get a high-level buraeucratic ally who has been inoculated against criticism by a nice, democratic process ("How can you complain about this person's performance? Your representatives on the committee voted for him!").

    If the candidate doesn't pass, you exclaim that you tried to do things in a nice, democratic manner, but those stubborn partisan opponents wouldn't let you. Dang it, I guess you'll have to resort to the good old arbitrary appointments from the PMO after all.

    Harper set himself up with a nice win-win situation using a classic bait-and-switch. It looks like democratic reform, but at the end of the day, the guy who gets the job is still whoever the PM wants to get the job

    By Anonymous famousringo, at 3:35 AM  

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