Vision and Truth

President Barack Obama made his case for a second term last night in Charlotte. Today, opinions vary about its impact, from—commentators are using baseball analogies—a grand slam hit to a swing and a miss. This is hardly surprising in the context of partisan interpretations. However, it is also not surprising that opinions would vary about Barack Obama and anything he says, or does. It is his stock and trade to say one thing and mean another, not unlike most politicians who will utter almost anything it will take to get elected or re-elected. Nothing new there either; politicians lie. A … Continue reading Vision and Truth

Forced Work

“Conservative legislation restricting access to EI benefits risks forcing people into jobs they don’t want…” writes Bill Curry of The Globe and Mail. * (*EI is “employment insurance,” ostensibly a more positive denotation that Canada uses for its unemployment benefits program.) By “forced” labour Mr. Curry probably does not mean to imply that slavery or indentured servitude is proposed but what else does forcing people into jobs mean? No person is forced to work. An employee agrees to work for an employer under certain conditions. If the job is not something he wants to do then he can quit once he … Continue reading Forced Work

Semi-Free Trade

I applaud the efforts of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to promote free trade. Over the course of many months we’ve heard about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with the United States and several Asian-Pacific nations. Discussions are ongoing with specific countries or regions, including Europe, India, China and most recently, Japan. News reports suggest that free trade is a good thing for Canada and for Canadians.  It is indeed, if it is the simple concept of free trade they’re all talking about. Ordinary Canadians however, are distanced from the facts of the “negotiations” surrounding the multiple “free-trade agreements” currently being … Continue reading Semi-Free Trade

The Turmoil of Being Turmel

  Nycole Turmel is the acting leader of the Canadian New Democratic Party (NDP), relieving Jack Layton who recently stepped down to deal with personal health priorities. It did not take long for the neophyte leader of the official opposition in the House of Commons to get into trouble. Nycole From “The Bloc” Nycole Turmel has come under widespread criticism in light of the revelation that she was once a card-carrying member of the Bloc Québécois, a Quebec nationalist federal party on the left wing of the commonly-used political spectrum. “The Bloc”, as it is referred to in most of … Continue reading The Turmoil of Being Turmel

The Spending Crisis

Most media coverage of the main political fight in Washington these days refers to the “debt crisis” or “debt ceiling crisis”. Debt is the result of overspending. More spending, in the absence of sufficient revenue, leads to escalating debt. With the US economy already taxed at levels that can negatively impact investment, further spending can only exacerbate the debt problem. A more precise and fundamental headline would be “The Spending Crisis”. Obama Reveals Spending Crisis Unwittingly, President Obama made some remarks on Friday that really drew attention to the spending crisis. He wanted to emphasize that the reason for the … Continue reading The Spending Crisis

Smoking Hot

Canadians are trapped in an immoral system in which an economic good—medical care—is supplied exclusively by government. Canadians are not permitted to participate in any domestic market for medical care, even as they are constrained by the economically predictable shortages and rationing of care that result from bureaucratic supply. It should not be surprising that under such a system there are elevated levels of stress and conflict. The politicians and bureaucrats charged with “managing” the system are constantly and futilely attempting to get their annually escalating budgets under control. They have their own ways of dealing with conflict. It usually … Continue reading Smoking Hot

Inflation, Prices and Money

Many economists continue to demonstrate their confusion about the subject of inflation. While ordinary people clearly feel the effects of monetary inflation in the form of higher prices for most goods and services, elite pundits labour under a misapprehension of the law of cause and effect. Most recently, economists are surprised by the fact that Canada’s rate of inflation for March 2011 was higher than expected. Of course, they are referring to the effects of monetary inflation: higher prices. Once again, they confuse and obscure cause and effect relationships. The Bank of Canada has now raised its inflation rate forecasts, … Continue reading Inflation, Prices and Money

The Paper Ceiling

The economic bellwether to watch this year is the US “Statutory Debt Limit”. Also known as the “debt ceiling,” it represents the limit the government may borrow to continue funding operations. The present limit was set at $14.3 trillion on February 12, 2010. Congress is considering another increase to accommodate spending which could press against the ceiling by April or May. Given the reliability of government estimates this could happen sooner rather than later. Before 1917 Congress needed to specifically approve each debt issue. For efficiency, legislation was passed allowing debt to be issued funding government operations, provided total debt … Continue reading The Paper Ceiling

Loonie Tunes

The Canadian dollar—the so-called “Loonie”—has been flirting with parity against the US dollar in foreign exchange markets. This concerns some Canadian politicians, regulators and economists. An economy based on commodities relies on exports for economic growth, which bolsters the image of those who attempt to manage trade. A strong dollar makes Canadian goods more expensive to foreigners who must pay more to acquire the dollars needed to pay for Canadian goods. Some economists have suggested that the Bank of Canada should sell Canadian dollars to devalue the currency. This sort of fine-tuning would make exports more affordable to foreign customers. … Continue reading Loonie Tunes

Canadian Copycats

Canadians copy many social and cultural conventions from their North American neighbors. At the same time, many Canadians, particularly those in policy-making roles, agonize over their conception of a Canadian “identity” crisis. The latest manifestation of this trait is now a national economic problem. Canadians are carrying too much consumer debt against the preferences of leaders such as Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney and Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Like their American cousins the policy-makers (politicians and bureaucrats) have been pursuing a low-interest rate strategy in an effort to “stimulate” a faltering economy. The regrettable side effect is that … Continue reading Canadian Copycats