70 % of Globe and Mail readers are Wrong

Would you ever key a car that is purposely parked across two spaces?

* Yes, the inconsiderate jerk deserves it
* No, but I’d leave a sternly-worded note
* No, I’m afraid I would get caught
* No, two wrongs don’t make a right

12% 1953 votes: Yes, the inconsiderate jerk deserves it

12% 2021 votes: No, but I’d leave a sternly-worded note

6% 1080 votes: No, I’m afraid I would get caught

70% 11820 votes: No, two wrongs don’t make a right

The appropriate answer is that it depends on the condition of their paint job. Sadly not an option.

Policies that make you

I went to a party last night and I realized the remnants of Canadian social democracy brought up a generation of refugee children who came here throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s, and who are from the Horn of Africa and who are A M A Z I N G, sassy, strategic, progressive, funny and insightful. Now that our little H of A community has come of age I especially want to say “All praises to the young Idil. Toronto, you did all right”.

Straddling the gap between charity and social justice, lost lives, and a changing immigration system bent on penalizing social citizenship and rewarding cold hard cash, last night’s party also reminded me that remnants of Canadian social democracy also gave us Baby Blue Sound Crew (Sean Paul and Lil X) plus Kardinal Offishall and Jully Black.

“Beyond their shared talents, what these names have in common is a little-known initiative of Ontario’s NDP government: a program called Fresh Arts. Fresh Arts was developed under the umbrella of JobsOntario Youth, part of the larger JobsOntario training and employment program the NDP government introduced to address the labour market fallout of the early ’90s recession.

Fresh Arts attracted young people of colour from areas the city now designates as “priority neighbourhoods.” Then, like today, these neighbourhoods were characterized by large immigrant populations, racialized poverty and high unemployment — most strikingly, youth unemployment.

[…]Yet, like other efforts to address systemic racism […](such as the Anti-Racism Secretariat), Fresh Arts fell victim to Mike Harris’s Common Sense Revolution. Harris ended JobsOntario Youth, and with it, Fresh Arts.”


Institutions make and break us. But sometimes the remnants of once ambitious institutions can make us, long after the real thing has departed the scene.

But all the same let us banish all talk of gravy trains and a common sense revolution. There is sense in the commons, but to know it means we have got to get down with the commons, not atomize it into a million seemingly fragmented pieces.

On War

If the body has its own language it is because limbs and lungs are also a repository for events long forgotten by conscious memory. Peel away the walls of the body and you are bound to remove the place holders that keep the past from spilling out towards you.

It is also true that in Addis Ababa the stray dogs beat out an endless tap-tap.

Pressed against a sky filled with the colour of cyan and occasional streaks of red, what this signals to me is that no one wins in a war.

The mongrels are all cross-bred with a Russian genus.                                                             Not quite made for this climate but still roaming the streets.                                           Sediment of another subterranean moment that is in fact world-historical.

The paws scratch the surface of rocks and pebbles.                                                                 You dream that our elbows will interlock.                                                                                     But what happens instead is that your spine keels backwards towards incapacity.

It is also true that you cannot take in that which you want to see pour out.

I would advise you to refrain from challenging my rigidity.                                             Rather, retrace the cups that hold your pain, watch how the body can stand still for years. And the dogs beat out an endless tap-tap.

No one wins in a war.

Macroeconomic policy; Canada: Some interesting observations from the RGE monitor

Nouriel Roubinni makes several interesting observations in today’s RGE newsletter.  First off his research team made a survey of the countries that preformed the best during the Financial Crisis and then summarized what these different national cases shared in common.  Almost all the shared characteristics indicate a macroeconomic profile (in terms of both policy and structural form) that is contrary to the received macroeconomic wisdom.   Inter alia they summarize their findings as follows:

“What commonalities are visible among these countries? One major theme is that they tended to have lower financial vulnerabilities due to more restrictive regulation and less developed financial markets, as well as larger and stronger domestic markets that sustained domestic demand. Moreover, they had the resources to engage in counter-cyclical fiscal and monetary policies, actions that were not possible in past crises. In contrast, countries that borrowed heavily to finance domestic consumption in the days of easy money are now facing sharp economic contractions. Despite the relative strength of these countries, however, their ability to return to sustained growth will depend on structural reforms that support consumption.”

Strong internally orientated markets with a well subordinated financial sector.  Indeed hardly the neoliberal litany.  The RGE monitor goes on to note that both

“Brazil and Peru stand out for their relatively healthy fundamentals and financial systems. Both countries have benefitted (sic) from being relatively closed economies and from having diversified export markets and products. They also took advantage of the boom years (2003-2008), reducing external vulnerabilities and increasing savings (fiscal and international reserves). By the time the crisis hit, both countries had well regulated financial systems that saved them from being contaminated by toxic assets. The fact that their domestic credit markets are at an early development stage, so consumption is not very dependent on credit, helped them shelter internal demand.”

But outside of these rather poignant observations about emerging markets the RGE monitor also made some interesting observations about Canada. In particular, they note the potential pitfalls of relying on resource exports to stimulate the national economy.  Going forward in to 2010 they note:

“Yet the nascent revival in consumption may be weaker than the Bank of Canada expects. The rebound in commodity prices is mixed news. Higher commodity prices and greater demand for metals, if not yet for oil and cheap natural gas, should contribute to an expansion of mining and energy output–but too strong a surge could boost the Canadian dollar, exacerbating Canada’s manufacturing weakness as it boosts labor costs.”

In other words Canada could be in for a rough ride as the nascent recovery in the commodity sector could triggers futher declines in the manufacturing sector.  What Roubini and Co. do not mention is the potential long term effects on the structure of the Canadian economy this could have.  Each successive recession since the 1980s has been witness to relative permanent shaking out of Canada’s manufacturing sector.  If commodity prices were to recover for an extended period of time before demand for our manufactured products picked up we could expect a relatively more severe and permanent shaking out of our manufacturing sector.  When I get some more time I will drag out the manufacturing series and take a look at the relative magnitudes of the shake out during the last three recessions.

Why is EI different than unconventional monetary policy?

Apparently because bankers are more trustworthy than the newly unemployed.  I would call it irony but that would require a sense of naïveté that even Pollyanna could not manage. So these days we have monetary authorities contemplating negative interest rates but we are suppose to get our collective skirts in a knot over whether or not some workers might take advantage of a relaxed EI system.  So let me get this straight 20,000 workers bilking the system for a billion dollars is a moral outrage but five banks bilking the system for untold billions is good policy?

Monty Python comes to mind. To wit: “who is the king around here?” Demands the newly arrived aristocrat.  Oh “that is simple” says the peasant.  “He would be the one with out shit on him.”

Why don’t you ladies (ahem and gentlemen) finally go to bed?