Crawl Across the Ocean

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Blog - Undisciplined Thoughts on Just About Everything

Sometimes I feel as though my head is a giant tub filled with various thoughts about politics, the economy, society etc. and by starting this blog I have created an opening in the tub which allows some of those thoughts out. The problem is that the opening is tiny since, due to the effort required by choosing topics, finding links, organizing thoughts, constructing paragraphs, editing and so on, the amount of stuff which can actually be posted on is pretty small. And of course it doesn't help when your internet provider (Telus) leaves you disconnected for a week.

Besides this, spending a few days away from the internet made me want to have more variety in my posts. So I decided to do a little experiment and just type for a while on whatever topics have been on my mind lately with no discipline or real organization whatsoever.

Important! This last sentence was a warning that, even if you've made it this far into this self-indulgent post, you probably shouldn't really continue on. Proceed at your own risk of wasted time, keeping in mind that you're only young once.

So anyway, I've been thinking about the upcoming battle to (maybe) bring down the federal government. Is it just me or is it ridiculous that the health of some MP's could be a factor, since they may be too ill to get to the House of Commons? What century is this? I'm not keen on seeing the government fall since I'd like to at least see the legislation on Same Sex Marriage pass first, but I don't want to see it continue on because someone was too sick to vote.

Meanwhile, if this is true it's really sad - not to mention likely counter-productive. Bad enough when parties bribe their own members to keep them in line (did I mention we should shut down the Senate) - now they're bribing the opposition as well? Of course if it's not true, it's even more sad. I guess we'll see.

It seems like a bunch of people are re-considering voting Liberal under the sponsorship scandal circumstances but can't bring themselves to vote for the gays-are-separate-but-equal, made-in-Canada-solutions-to-Global-environmental-problems, cut-taxes-increase-spending-but-don't-worry-about-the-budget, ask-how-high-when-Americans-say-jump-and-tie-ourselves-ever-more-closely-to-their-dangerously-unstable-economy Conservatives or the surplusses-are-bad, fifty-point-government-plans-will-solve-every-problem, electoral-reform-is-was-will-be-our-#1-priority NDP party.

I'll probably explore my thoughts on the NDP in greater depth and more fairness in a later post (it's half written in draft already). For the Conservatives it seems like there is a disconnect between what voters want (a clone of the Liberals) and what the Conservatives want (a clone of the U.S.?). The time honoured approach would seem to be for the Conservatives to just pretend to be a clone of the Liberals for the purposes of getting elected and then do whatever they feel like once they are in charge. For now, while I welcome their move to the centre, I'll probably treat any Conservative promises on Child Care or Kyoto with a grain of salt or two.

Anyway, I invite people looking for alternatives to join me in voting Green in the next election. In moving to the Centre the Green party has positioned itself as being similar to the Liberal party but more innovative on the revenue/environmental side and more libertarian/easy-going/less-uptight/not-so-puritanical/call-it-what- you-will on social issues (such as marijuana legalization).

Moving on to provincial politics, B.C. votes in two weeks. The most important thing is for people to get out and vote 'Yes' to the referendum on switching the electoral system to the Single Transferable Vote. As a voter, I can't see why someone would favour a system which gives them very little choice over one which gives them a lot of choice. As a democrat I can't see why people would favour a system where there is a huge disconnect between the votes cast and the representatives elected over one where the distribution of seats in the legislature bears some resemblance to the votes cast.

Aside from the referendum, the 3 main parties contesting the election are the Liberals, NDP and the Greens. I've read all the platforms but need a couple of days to digest it all before posting in detail. A quick thought for now is that I wish (like always) that I could go for the 'make your own pasta' option where I get the Greenolini noodles with a creamy NDPfredo sauce and chunks of roasted Liberal on top.

On issues like RAV and the Olympics I favour the Liberal approach of supporting big projects that will make B.C. a better province long into the future. But then stuff like the ill-fated Coquihalla privatization plan shows how the Liberals get carried away with their ideology in the face of common sense.

Plus their attitude to the environment, the provincial park system, First Nations and Unions is way too extreme for me.

On Health Care everybody wants to spend more so there's not much to choose there. I do like the Green plan of shaping the tax system to lower taxes on stuff good for your health (i.e. sports equipment) and raise taxes on stuff bad for your health (like junk food). This will be a far more efficient approach to preventitive medicine than ad campaigns urging B.C. residents to eat their vegetables or whatever it is the NDP and Liberals seem to be planning on this front. The Green platform has a number of ideas I think are terrible (such as reducing university tuition to 0 eventually) but is also filled with a number of really good ideas (campaign finance reform being a standout).

Overall it's going to be a tough decision for me and may require some thought on various vote deciding methodologies (strategic voting, vote my conscience, marginal voting, flip a coin etc.). That's probably a topic for a post in itself as well.

Let's see, what else. This is kind of sad. The corporate battle to fence off information and charge people access to the info-petting zoo is continuing on all fronts. I'm guessing that public libraries will be the final victims of this trend. Rented a movie the other day (A Series of Unfortunate Events - great artwork on the credits but otherwise disappointing - Jim Carrey was especially irritating) and there was a big message at the beginning about how you wouldn't steal a TV so why would you download a pirated copy of a movie. Of course if my neighbour had a 60 inch TV and I could make a free copy for myself leaving his TV perfectly intact, I *would* do that. Any my neighbour wouldn't stop me. Talk about a lame analogy. Still, the whole copying=theft meme is the big media corporations' biggest weapon in trying to make people feel guilty about something they really shouldn't.

The NY Times had a long article last week about how TV makes you smarter (it's in the pay archive now). Basically the article took about 3,000 words to say that because years of intensive practice has made people better at watching TV (so now we like shows which are more complicated, have more storylines and explain things less than in the past) it must be making us smarter. No mention was made of how smart we could be if all those hours spent watching TV were spent reading. Or how much less fat people would be if they spent some of that time exercising. Or the implications of TV watching for consumerism, erasing the line between childhood and adulthood, levels of social capital, etc. etc. etc. If only Neil Postman was still alive he could have given that waste of space the smackdown it deserved.

Here's a question, does it seem logical that the person appointed by the U.S. to be ambassador to Canada should be someone who actually has some interest in the country? Is it better to have someone who knows nothing and thus comes in with no preconceptions? I think if I was appointing ambassadors I'd try to pick people with some knowledge of where they're going, especially for my country's closest neighbours. Maybe ambassadors are just irrelevant patronage appointments like Senators and I should just ignore them. Of course if I'm going to take this approach, I'd like our mainstream media to go along as well and not treat every pronouncement by the U.S. ambassador as front page news.

And finally, on a lighter note, some advice for all you blogging kids out there: don't walk between parked blogs, don't blog with your mouth full, wait at least an hour after eating before blogging, and never, never cover more than one topic in a single post.

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  • i really dig the new style of post! haha, i have to stop coming to cato and waxing poetic... people are going to start to think im some weird declan groupie

    By Blogger ainge lotusland, at 3:47 PM  

  • "does it seem logical that the person appointed by the U.S. to be ambassador to Canada should be someone who actually has some interest in the country?"

    logic? nah.

    i remember in grade 10, we had to build a trudeau-era cabinet by analyzing a list of "cabinetable" liberal MPs, their ridings, and their pre-MP jobs/education. naturally, we all did crazy stuff, like matching up the ministries to their past expertise as well as we could given regional representation constraints. then, our socials teacher showed us who really got each post.

    in the end, our formula was way off the mark. i wish i could remember which parliament we were working with, but grade 11 was oh so long ago...

    so yeah, logic doesnt really have a place, i guess.

    By Blogger ainge lotusland, at 3:52 PM  

  • *reaches in and draws out a quote*

    "and what the Conservatives want (a clone of the U.S.?)"

    No - not at all. Sure, some CPC policies are closer to the US model than to the Liberal model, however to say that there are only two ways of doing things (Liberal vs US) and that the CPC is picking the later is an over-simplification.

    (and yes, I'm beating on a flippant remark that was probably meant half in jest)

    By Blogger Andrew, at 5:18 PM  

  • thanks ainge - it's nice to know at least one person likes the new style!

    i'll let you know when we come out with the cato t-shirts (atlthough since you're the resident cato artist laureate, i think the design is technically your job) :)

    "i remember in grade 10, we had to build a trudeau-era cabinet by analyzing a list of "cabinetable" liberal MPs"

    i'm thinking that this would be one of the tougher things you could try to predict in politics.

    it's hard to know who the PM owes favours to and once one person is in the wrong spot it can lead to a chain reaction of errors. i.e. you thought x would get defense but they didn't and they got health care instead, so now the person you thought would get health care got bumped to environment and so on.


    Andrew - beat away (hmm, perhaps I should have rephrased that). Anyway, I left the question mark on my 'U.S. clone' remark since I knew it was a little unfair. Still, I'm hard pressed to think of any CPC policies which won't make Canada more like the U.S. Of course this only shows they want us to be more like the U.S., not a U.S. clone - so your assessment that I was oversimlpifying is certainly valid. I guess that's what you get when you spare the rod and spoil the blog. :)

    By Blogger Declan, at 9:06 AM  

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