Immortality (with political analysis)

It’s election time in Ontario! I’ll vote Green again. I heard Frank De Jong (leader of the Green Party of Ontario) the other day on my beloved CBC and found him charming as always. He has some fairly nutty monetary policies, though. One is to tax strictly on the basis of waste – that is, personal and corporate taxes will be based on how much one throws away rather than how much one gains. It sounds good until you consider the potential violations, you know, old ladies unable to afford the taxes dying in heaps of trash, while corporations dump massively in the middle of the night at undisclosed locations. Not to mention the police picking through my garbage, an activity currently restricted to the communally-minded.

One of the things de Jong believes is that if you put a lot of money into encouraging healthy lifestyles, people won’t get sick as much and net savings for the health care system will result. That’s possible, I guess, but his utopian description is way over the top. He seems to see our aging population all maximally healthy and happy until one day, cost-effectively, they bow out.

Or maybe they don’t bow out. I’m unclear on the point. But it’s reminding me of the fiscal calculations of the anti-smoking lobby, which run as follows.

x billion dollars are spent each year treating terminal smoking-related illnesses. So, if we stopped everyone smoking, we’d save x billion dollars/year.

Oh! So, like, if we stopped everyone smoking, these particular people, the ones who otherwise would have died of lung cancer, won’t die! That’s cool. I’d like not to die. And, if it comes down to it, I also wouldn’t mind dying of something so quick and cheap it’s not worth costing it out. But don’t make me any promises you can’t keep.


15 thoughts on “Immortality (with political analysis)

  1. Yeah, I’d let it go. But, given that it’s apparently entrenched in the constitution, can that be done? As for the referendum, I’m yet to be convinced that mpp is better than fptp. Am I missing something?

    Anyway, I only asked cuz I’ve found the attention that the issue got so amusing. And today I finally got what I thought was evidence of what has the majority of those polled so concerned. You may have seen that Bill Murdoch has broken with the leader to say he can’t support funding faith-based schools. The Globe & Mail reports:

    “Bill Murdoch said in his rural riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound that he could no longer defend his boss’s plan to extend public funding to Jewish, Muslim and other religious schools.”

    I’d like to read that popular objection is especially to the idea of Jewish and Islamic education with public money.

    At the same time, the G&M article goes on to say that Murdoch “acknowledged that some residents of his riding are in favour of it, notably those who send their children to Timothy Christian Schools. But he said his job is to defend and fight for what the majority of residents want.” (Though, religious Jews, Muslims and crazy Christians are all otherness of a piece in Owen Sound, no?)

    Funny bit, I saw de Jong on Steve Paikin: he, like McGuinty, went to seperate school.

  2. In a way it *is* Jews and Muslims who started the problem by asking, “if the catholics why not us too?” I don’t think you can blame the secularists for being especially anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim; they just got overloaded when everyone started to ask for equal rights. But maybe, if you were Catholic, you *could* blame the Jews and the Muslims, just for rocking the boat. When everyone wants a piece, nobody gets anything. (But, like I said, this doesn’t bother me.)

    I’m undecided on the referendum. There’s a lot to be said for the current system, and I distrust any movement toward direct democracy that’s also a disassociation of mpps from ridings. On the other hand, I would like to get a Green or two into parliament.

  3. Your points on digitization/technology are taken, here, for what does John Tory say is the key to saving the health care system? Electronic health care records for all Ontarians.

  4. Yep, technology saves. Once you get attuned to the rhetoric you see it everywhere. Sometimes it’s frighteningly grandiose. Other times, like with this John Tory idea, it’s small and pathetic.

  5. Proportional representation always sounds fairer. But, first, it makes for coalition governments who are pulling all ways and can’t get anything done and then fall to pieces and, second, it means no local representatives.

    The only reason I’m considering it in this case is because it’s partial. So there will still be local representatives. But the disadvantage is that the electoral districts get larger. I bet under the new dispensation it’ll be a lot larder to get in touch with one’s MPP. All the politicians will be focused on wider ideological points, and on making alliances, and not on their constituents, of whom there will be too many.

    But the other thing about it’s partiality is that popular vote won’t translate in a one-on-one. It’ll be approximate. Even the Citizen’s Assembly says this. And I’m unclear on how the sliding scale will work. Will they start at the bottom, and bring in one Marxist-Leninist and two Greens? Or will they try to equalize things among the Big Three? And what about independents? They used to have a crack at things, but now they’ll have less.

    Finally, though, I’m mostly drawn to the new idea because it strikes me as so Canadian to be unable to decide and to go half and half. I’m really quite moved by this.

  6. Sounds fairer because it is fairer! And I demand cites for all these useless coalition governments. Canadian coalitions and stable minorities have gotten lots done, most notably under Pearson and Douglas.

  7. Well Canada never had proportional representation. We don’t know from coalitions. Look at Israel or Italy. Anyhow the main issue is constituent representation. I want my MPP answerable to me and my neighbours, not to some abstract notion he has of how the country should work.

  8. Israel and Italy always get used as examples, but their politics and situations are completely different from ours, and they don’t use mixed member proportional. They are not relevant to what the Citizens’ Assembly recommends.

    The representation question is an interesting one. I think the MPs would be answerable to the entire province. That’s a lot of pressure that can come to bear on them.

  9. I agree, more or less. I was only citing Israel and Italy because I was asked to provide examples of why proportional representation doesn’t work, despite the fact that it sounds fairer. I believe, with you, that mmp might be different. I might well vote yes.

  10. Alright, with e-day tomorrow, I’m going to take one last kick at this can. Say no to MMP! I’m pretty sure that I’ve got enough information to conclude that it represents zero improvement over the present system.

    First, the CBC tells me that, in a comparable jurisdiction, one with MMP, New Zealand, the results have not been as proponents in Ontario have hoped.

    Small parties might get themselves into parliament, but they’re soon gelded if they try to force any issues for otherwise they get punished at subsequent polls. So the Greens and the NDP will likely both have to give up that sanctimony that makes them oh so charming.

    And, as everyone expects for Ontario, MMP has produced more minority governments in NZ. In fact, they’ve all been minorities. And those minorities had to find partners to form coalitions, which they did. Those coalitions have been very stable for the rules of the game have been that they agree on confidence issues but debate everything else. No NZ government has fallen on a matter of confidence since the system was introduced.

    So – and I’m no constitutional expert – it seems that the Principle of Representative Government is abrogated for the sake of making more votes of hoi polloi count. And that strikes me as worse than the not-entirely-representative stability of the present.

    Now, this report said nothing about party lists (I don’t even recall if the report said that’s how the Kiwis do it). But, I draw your attention to today’s G&M and “First-past-the-post is still a winning formula” by Patrick Monahan (Dean at Osgoode Hall) and Finn Poschmann (of C.D. Howe).

    They affirm what I fear:

    “The 39 ‘list’ seats would be inhabited by party elites, untied to any particular community or geographical area, further distancing politicians from the electorate. The familiar in-house battles over nominations, which now occur among riding executive committees, would instead take place at party headquarters, as party faithful jockeyed for a position near the top of the list.”

    I cannot see how these 39 will be, in any way, “answerable to the entire province.”

  11. For my own records, and because Jack has a long history of arguing with my mother, here is her comment (received via email), entirely in agreement with his.

    I can’t find Jack’s comment. Here’s an observation. The Tao says:
    in dwelling, live close to the ground. Which I interpret to mean: in voting,
    stay close to the individual voter.

    The proposed electoral reform would allow the political parties to pick some
    – quite a few – of our representatives in the Ontario legislature. The
    chosen would go on a “list” of party desireables and depending how high they
    were on the list they’d stay on year after year. The leaders of the Greens,
    leaders of the NDP, leaders of the Tories, would have jobs for life. With
    pensions. Free meals at the Prytaneum.

    There would be precious few ways to get rid of them. One could join the
    party and hoot and holler. Or take to the streets. Or write to the papers.
    Grumble to family.

    It’s one of the best things about parliamentary representation that the
    great and the good in each party have to run in a constituency, just like
    ordinary candidates. And one of the very best things that they sometimes
    lose! Or have their majority cut. Get a kick in the pants.

    An elective Senate, yes. An appointive legislature, no. And one last thing.
    An elected member represents everyone in the constituency, every last child,
    woman and man. Not just the voters. And – note – she also represents
    everyone in the province, everyone affected by the laws. She – and her party
    – are required, by law, and in light of their hopes for reelection, to
    consider particular demands in the context of the common good. Sure they
    don’t always get it right. But there’s no system of representation that’s

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