Monday, November 17, 2008

McGuinty sucks big time for this one.

Hugh MacIntyre over at The Shotgun just blogged about some horrendous new teen driving laws being proposed by the McGuinty government. They include:

- Zero tolerance for any alcohol while driving. This includes 19 year olds who have attained a G license.
- A complete ban on more than one teen passenger.
- Zero tolerance for speeding. One ticket for a teenager means a revoked license.

Go read and comment and be suitably horrified.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

CPC Convention 2008 Disappointment

By far the most disappointing news to come from the 2008 Conservative Party of Canada convention is the failure of the delegates to pass resolution P-106, which would signal that the party is supportive of encouraging experimentation with private delivery of health care within a universal system.
P-106: To encourage provinces and territories to “further experiment with different means of delivering universal health care utilizing both the public and private health sectors.”
The motion was hardly ideological and I would argue was actually a very modest and pragmatic proposal that would have allowed the Conservatives to work towards ensuring Canadians actually *do* have universal access to health care (as opposed to universal access to waiting lists) without going so far as to controversially call for privatization of the system.

Kady O'Malley blogged at MacLeans on the policy sessions, and made an astute observation on the debate of the proposal on the floor:
[Stephen Fletcher spoke] against the resolution - and, as the former parliamentary secretary for health, I think that is the closest we’re going to get to a signal from PMO as to how the government feels about it.
I think she's right there, and I have a hard time believing that that signal wasn't meant to tell the clapping seals and party hacks which way they were to vote on this motion. ("Grassroots?" Whats that?)

There's been a lot made of Harper coming out on Thursday to urge Conservatives not to let ideology get in the way of... whatever. Power or something. (After all, you can't make sure there's blue on the government websites without power!)

I'm not masochistic enough to kid myself into expecting Harper to call for smaller government or fiscal restraint, so I wasn't surprised at all. I also wasn't surprised to see a story this morning in the Toronto Star reporting that the Conservative government isn't opposed to bailing out the failing automotive companies.

What I am surprised by is the fact that while Conservatives won't let their ideology get in the way of bailing out dying and often mismanaged industries, they also won't let it encourage them to help dying Canadians.

So much for "compassionate conservatism."


This is a copy of my post at The Shotgun Blog.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Economics and Government Seminar in Waterloo on November 22!

The Institute for Liberal Studies will be hosting its newest seminar on November 22 at the University of Waterloo on Economics and Government.

The seminar will be a one-day discussion on an economic analysis of the role of government, but you don't have to be an economist to want to attend.

Do you wonder what's going on with our economy? A lot of people have been blaming the government for not regulating, but that's not the only theory out there. Come hear George Bragues' talk on The Panic of 2007-2008: Not the Free Market's Fault for another perspective.

Ever wonder why people generally think that everyone is out for what's best for them (for better or for worse) but seem to assume that the government, which is run by politicians and bureaucrats - and they're people, too! - is assumed to do what's best for society? Peter Holle from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy will tackle this topic with his talk on Public Choice and Public Policy: Overcoming Self Interest in Government.

And finally, what happens when government far oversteps its natural reach? Come and hear Yuri Maltsev, a former advisor to Gorbachev and defector from the USSR, talk about The Fall of Communism and the Rise of 21st Century Socialism, which should be a real treat.

As is typical for our events, we like to celebrate afterwards, so all attendees and friends who couldn't make it are invited to come and see Lindy, great friend of the ILS and phenomenal musician (seriously - check him out) perform at Maxwell's in Kitchener on the evening of the 22nd.

This is shaping up to be a really great event, and there are only 12 spots left, so register now!

Economics vs. Monopoly

Another blog post from over at The Shotgun:
After writing my post on the deadweight loss of Christmas, I checked the front page of the Undercover Economist blog and found another fun one. I figure since I'm writing posts sucking the fun out of things that should make us happy, why not go after board games, too?

Hartford has written a (semi) tongue-in-cheek piece about how Monopoly might have fostered the values that led to today's financial crisis for the Washington Post.

An excerpt from the Post's article, Econopoly:
The game is one big property boom, funded by an overly generous central banker – a diagnosis many economists would also apply to the sub-prime crisis. Alan Greenspan, the Fed chairman who presided over the boom, was nine when Monopoly was widely published. It is not known whether he played the game as a child, but he seems to have taken inspiration from it somehow.

Read the rest.

Economics vs. Christmas

Here's a post I did for the Shotgun Blog the other day. I've been posting over there most frequently, if you've been wondering where I've gone, but I'll try to cross-post more often.
If you're like me, you can really only enjoy Christmas in the time immediately surrounding the holiday. I'm filled with a sense of dull rage through most of the fall and early winter starting when I see that people have Christmas lights up and on while their Jack o' Lantern still sits at the road. I would rather chew glass than listen to Christmas music for two months starting November 1st, but that's the day it starts.

Yep, for people like me, this time of year can be stressful.

Well, there's a solution. Take some cold, hard logic and suck all of the early joy and magic out of the ever-expanding season with economics! Undercover Economist Tim Hartford wrote a few years ago on the deadweight loss of Christmas.

Here's an exerpt:
But giving isn’t the only example of seasonal waste. While some Christmas cards are sent out of genuine goodwill, many Christmas card exchanges are sub-optimal equilibria. In other words, both parties are only sending cards to reciprocate last year’s card. Both would happily agree to stop, but it is embarrassing to be the first after so many years of mechanical exchange.
Economics: 1, Christmas: 0

Enjoy, and bah, humbug.

h/t, Libby