Monday, February 28, 2005

Lettner for SU President

If I were an undergrad student rather than a grad student, I'd vote fo fellow Gateway columnist Graham Lettner in this year's SU elections. He has a good campaign that hits the main issues well, and the Bolshevik-Communist image paints him closer to Mike Hudema than the previous Business students who have been driving the campus bars into the ground.

Pharisee Nation

I hope to write an article soon on this theme so well-expressed by an American Jesuit Priest named John Dear. It's so well-put that there is no way I could improve on it. Excellent analysis.

Pharisee Nation

by John Dear

Last September, I spoke to some 2,000 students during their annual lecture at a Baptist college in Pennsylvania. After a short prayer service for peace centered on the Beatitudes, I took the stage and got right to the point. “Now let me get this straight,” I said. “Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ which means he does not say, ‘Blessed are the warmakers,’ which means, the warmakers are not blessed, which means warmakers are cursed, which means, if you want to follow the nonviolent Jesus you have to work for peace, which means, we all have to resist this horrific, evil war on the people of Iraq.”

With that, the place exploded, and 500 students stormed out. The rest of them then started chanting, “Bush! Bush! Bush!”

Gateway Articles

A list of my articles for the Gateway Student Newspaper at the University of Alberta.

‘Media sketches’ must not be taken at face value

Where is the media at Bilderberg?

Tsunami disaster forces us to ask bigger questions

The world is going to end this summer, and I can prove it

The government should be buying us all Xboxes

Scrap the GDP-based accounts system

Paul Martin not a ‘deficit dragon-slayer’

Ukraine, US have very subtle differences

Manji is the perfect intelligence asset

Kerry did democracy disservice by conceding

Jesus may have been a daddy

I’m going to miss America

Groupthink spawned women-only space

Grandin apartment stabbing an attack on the entire community

Don’t dismiss the ‘Boolah Boolah Troika’
A series of disasters await the next President of the United States

Debt relief should be tuition debate focus

Bush-Hitler comparisons are ‘irresponsible’

Bush sent mixed messages with horn signal

Cellucci Misspoke on Flight 93

Now call me crazy, but wasn't flight 93 taken out by some brave men who wrestled the Hijackers for control of the airplane and then accidentally crashed it? There's a wide range of theories. Paul Cellucci seems to think that the President gave orders to shoot it down. Well, he might want to inform the people who are constructing a memorial that re-enforces the "brave men" theory.

Washington had hoped Canada would would go further and participate in building the continental defence shield, an elaborate system that some worry could lead to weapons in space and an international arms race.

Cellucci compared the situation to one that occurred during the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. He noted that it was a Canadian general at Norad who scrambled military jets under orders from Bush to shoot down a hijacked commercial aircraft headed for Washington.

Had that plane been flying over Canada, it would have fallen to the prime minister to make the decision to shoot it down, Cellucci said.

That's why Americans were "perplexed" as to why Canadians would want to leave it up to the Americans to decide what action to take in the event a missile was aimed at Canada.

Maybe though, Cellucci misspoke on the subject. Well it turns out that Rumsfeld also had a similar slip of the tongue and later re-tracted his statements, changing his position to coincide with the crash theory:


"Was it a slip of the tongue? Was it an error? Or was it the truth, finally being dropped on the public more than three years after the tragedy" asked a posting on the Web site

Some people remain skeptical of U.S. government statements that, despite a presidential authorization, no planes were shot down September 11, and rumors still circulate that a U.S. military plane shot the airliner down over Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

This Flight 93 story is getting harder and harder for these guys to get straight - or is it just that - a story?

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Bono, World Bank Prez

Maybe someone who actually understands Debt Forgiveness will head up the World Bank. What a thought.
 "Don't be fooled by the wraparound sunglasses and the excess hipness," the Los Angeles Times said. "Bono is deeply versed in the issues afflicting the least-developed nations of the world. . . .  Los Angeles Times editorial page Editor Andres Martinez said the suggestion of Bono to head the World Bank was entirely serious, although he said the newspaper was also making an effort to "take chances" and be "less predictable" on its opinion page in recent months. "
Captain and kings
In the ships hold
They came to collect
Silver and gold
Silver and gold

Seen the coming and going
Seen them captains and the kings
See them navy blue uniforms
See them bright and shiny things
Bright shiny things

The temperature is rising
The fever white hot
Mister, I ain't got nothing
But it's more than you got

Chains no longer bind me
Not the shackles at my feet
Outside are the prisoners
Inside the free
Set them free
Set them free

Ralph-to-tha-izzalph Goodale Delivers the Federal Budget

Since the 2005 Federal Budget had nothing for students, I thought I'd make it releavant to "the young people of today" and took the liberty of running Ralph Goodale's speech through gizoogle. This is what happened.

Finance Brotha Rizzay Goodale receives a spendin' ovation as he prepares ta table tha federal budget in tha Hizouse of Commons on Parliament H-to-tha-izzill in Ottawa on Wednesday . Yippie yo, you can't see my flow. (CP / Tom Hanson)

Budget speech

Canadian Press
February 23, 2005 5:41 PM ET

OTTAWA — Follow'n is tha complete tiznext of Nigga Riznalph Goodale's budget speech ta tha Hizouse of Commons . Chill as I take you on a trip.

Mr like old skool shit. Speaka, let me begin by express'n mah appreciation ta all those who have helped in tha preparizzle of this 2005 federal budget -- from tha mizzle organizzles n professizzle groups tizzy presented expert briefs, ta Canadians from every brotha of tha country who submitted individual letta n ideas.

Their contribizzle they counsel n they concerns have helped shape tha budget I am tabl'n today. I would also like ta thank tha Wanna Be Gangsta of this Hizouse -- fizzle all sides -- who have provided they advice n insights. In particizzles I want ta acknowledge tha vigorous representizzles of a playa of government Caucus Committees n tha specific input of Opposition Finance Critics -- tha Honourable Memba fo` Medicine Hat, Saint-Hyacizzles n Winnipeg North fo' real.

The Ability ta Makes a Difference

Recent events have reminded all of us of tha increasingly interconnected world in which we live like a tru playa'. J-to-tha-izzust two months ago, thugz in Ukraine launched a peaceful but profound ''range revolizzles Tizzle demonstrated fo` democrizzle reform, n then C-to-tha-izzast they ballots in a genuinely fizzle election on Decemba 26th . It dont stop till the wheels fall off.

Our brotha Prime Minista, tha Rizzay Honourable John Turna, led more than 500 Canadians who volunteered ta hizzle ensure that tha process was ultimately fair n lawful fo' sheezy. All of us -- includ'n thousands of Ukrainian Canadians -- is proud of tha rizzle Canada was able ta play at a crucial moment in tha life of T-H-to-tha-izzat bootylicious nation, half a world away.

Sadly, tha same day Ukrainians went ta tha polls, our attention was wrenched frizzom tha celebrizzles of democracy ta tha tragedy of tha tsunami in South Asia ya feelin' me?.

On that day, as one eyewitness described it, ''the sea stood up n walked ta earth.''

Wit every pass'n hizzy n every pass'n dizzle tha list of casualties G-R-to-tha-izzew, tha extent of tha damage increazed n tha enormity of tha tragedy became painfully crazy ass nigga kniznown.

In its aftermath, Canadians responded wit remarkable generosity. And in they actions, we saw tha bitch of our country n' shit. Young children going door ta door in they neighbourhoods. Canadians fizzle every province n territory mak'n donations large n small ta support thugz they do not know in places they might brotha see in tha hood.

Relief organizzles n faith-based groups mobilized resources n translated noble intentions into practical help on tha ground. We applaud all tha wanna be gangsta in all those agencies, wizzle in doing so much good abroad, honoured tha values we cherish here at home n shit.

In this budget, Canada's comprehensive $425-million assistance package fo` tsunami relief is confirmed as promised -- as Canadians would F-U-Double-Lizzy expect.

In tha fiznirst two months of this year, Canada has also assisted in tha conduct of difficult elections in Iraq n among tha Palestizzles. We hizzy continued our humanitizzle engagements in places like Haiti n across Africa to increase tha peace. We hizzy helped ta keep tha peace in Afghanistan n Kosovo. We have provided tha poorest countries of tha world wit greata dizzebt relief n tha resources ta eradicate polio.

Actions tizzle makes a difference. Actions that reflect Canadian values at work globally...... MORE

Bad Moon a Risin'

Way back in October, Time Magazine write Joe Klein wrote about the average American's ability or willingness to "hunker down" in response to trying times.

The 2005 US budget introduced some intense cuts to public expenditures - so intense, one wonders if the folks at the IMF have advised the US to enact the very fiscal austerity measures many developing countries have been forced to endure in the past. It's little wonder that John Fogerty sang "Bad Moon A Risin'" at the Superbowl, which roughly coincided with the US Budget release.

Lyrics for: Bad Moon Rising

I see the bad moon arising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightnin'.
I see bad times today.

Don't go around tonight,
Well, it's bound to take your life,
There's a bad moon on the rise.

I hear hurricanes ablowing.
I know the end is coming soon.
I fear rivers over flowing.
I hear the voice of rage and ruin.

Don't go around tonight,
Well, it's bound to take your life,
There's a bad moon on the rise.
All right!

Hope you got your things together.
Hope you are quite prepared to die.
Looks like we're in for nasty weather.
One eye is taken for an eye.

Don't go around tonight,
Well, it's bound to take your life,
There's a bad moon on the rise.

Don't go around tonight,
Well, it's bound to take your life,
There's a bad moon on the rise.

From the World Socialist Website, we see that many of the cuts to discretionary spending were almost exactly offset by increased military expenditures:

In raw numbers, the $19 billion increase in Pentagon spending—up from $400 billion to $419 billion—almost exactly equals the nearly $20 billion in cuts on various social programs. The equation is not accidental. In the choice between guns and butter, the Bush White House has come down unequivocally on the side of guns.

The 4.8 percent increase for the Pentagon, brings the cumulative increase in military spending since Bush took office to 41 percent.

Well, we have seen Mr. Greenspan concerned over the increasing US deficits and their accumulation, the debt, but how about this discrepancy between short-term rates and mortgage rates?


The Fed is increasing short-term interest rates, so rates on bonds and home mortgages should also rise. Right? Well, they haven't.

March 7 issue - Something strange happened on the way to higher interest rates: they declined. We're talking about rates on long-term mortgages and bonds. These rates truly affect the economy, because they influence housing and business investment. Most economists expected them to rise. But no. Last June rates on 30-year fixed mortgages averaged 6.29 percent; now they're about 5.7 percent. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan recently called the declines a "conundrum."

. . .
But why worry about low rates? After all, they help borrowers; and if the economy is unexpectedly weak, they might prevent a recession. However, artificially low rates can also prompt overborrowing, creating inflation or speculative price increases in whatever's being bought on credit—land, stocks, homes. Sooner or later prices stop rising or crash.

Well, as an economist, the sky hasn't fallen yet. But if the South Korean equivalent of Alan Greenspan can expose tremendous cracks in US dollar policy, we might be in for a ride.


The suggestion that South Korea might diversify its currency holdings away from the greenback -- later retracted -- also rattled the bond market, sending interest rates higher and the price of dollar-denominated assets such as gold and oil soaring.

The incident underscored the vulnerability of the dollar and exposed cracks in the U.S. currency policy, an issue analysts say is getting harder to ignore. It also suggests that if current conditions persist, more rough trading days lie ahead.

If Canada can stand up to the USA, you can too

What's this? The little Canadian Beaver stands up to the Great Eagle and says "thanks, but no thanks, we don't want to join your missile club". In an act of sovereignty, Canada has decided to stay out of the missile defence shield, even though Paul Celucci has threatened to violate that sovereignty anyways by shooting at missiles no matter what.

Canada, though it is a branch plant economy of American corporations, is a sovereign nation. What does sovereignty mean?

"In international law, the important concept of sovereignty refers to the exercise of power by a state. De jure sovereignty refers to the legal right to do so; de facto sovereignty the ability in fact to do so (which becomes of special concern upon the failure of the usual expectation that de jure and de facto sovereignty exist at the place and time of concern, and rest in the same organization). Foreign governments recognize the sovereignty of a state over a territory, or refuse to do so."

Linda McQuaig has stated some very interesting points concerning this sovereignty issue:

"Canadian advocates of missile defence have long argued that joining the scheme is the best way to protect our sovereignty — the logic apparently being that Washington is going to intrude into our airspace anyway, so it's better if we look like that's what we wanted all along. It's only rape if you resist."

Some people have said that our refusal to join missile defence would make relations with the US a bit icy. Bill Graham says it hasn't. This is manipulation, and a sovereign nation does not let itself be manipulated. It's like any other relationship with a person who says "if you don't act the way I want you to, the I will cry, cut you off and throw a tantrum". Most adults don't tolerate this sort of behavior from little children, so why would we tolerate it from the US?

As is the case with politics, a firm "No" always means "No- for now". Things will change, and so far we have not joined yet. In the middle of all this gloating over our "Sovereignty" we might want to examine how some prominent Canadians are trying to sell it out completely. By this, I mean the Joint Task Force on the Future of North America.

The Council of Canadians has obtained a leaked document from this initiative, which can be found here. The Task Force sees China as an emerging threat, and opine that we should work towards negotiating a Free Trade Area of the Americas. Well, our refusal to join the MDS has struck a devastating blow to the objectives of this task force, who viewed cooperation on security between Canada and the US as a prime concern.

Is this really a blow to the Task Force's initiative? Time will tell if "no" really does mean "no".

Saturday, February 26, 2005

4 out of 5 papers have no topics

This term of my MA degree in Economics is very different from last term. It's all paper-based this time around, whereas last term I think I had 20 assignments across my courses, plus mid-term exams.

I have to come up with a topic for my field classes in econ, and I'm open to suggestions. So far, I have to pick topics for papers in Transport, Public Expenditure, Competition Policy and Econometrics. Econometrics is a toughie, because the proposal is due this Tuesday.

I was thinking of delving into an overlapping generations model to illustrate how research universities cannibalize their own students in order to maximize revenues. They recruit the hell out of high school students to come to the U rather than a transfer college. They put them in classes of 200 or more and flunk them out after 1 or 2 years. 50% of students in their first year will not be around for their third year.

Why do they do this? The 1st and 2nd years are low-cost classes, but these kids still pay their 500 bucks per class - the same as the higher-cost 3rd, 4th and graduate year classes. Universities seem to have adopted a strategy of fleecing the government and university kids for their money, minimizing the cost of high-dropout classes, and flunking them out before they impose actual costs. It's sick.

The University gets all this money from the government - for every dollar in tuition, they get at least 2 from taxpayers. So each kid is using 1500 dollars in resources to attend a class. Suppose you have 1 prof getting paid 9,000 dollars to teach a multiple-choice/scantron course of 250 students. Suppose they teach 4 sections of the same course, for a total of 1,000 students. Well, 1000 x 1500 dollars is ..... 1.5 million dollars in revenues. Minus the costs of the Teacher plus the aides - probably a total of 100,000 dollars. That's a pretty good margin. Get the money and flunk 'em out by their 3rd year. Social filtration at work.

To complicate matters, I also have to wrap up my contribution to a book to be put out by the JIBS Media Center at Jonkoping University. It's pronounced "Yon-Show-Ping" they tell me. It will be tough, but I will have it done. I hope. The format has changed from what I have done.

The Mainstream Media is Just a Spectator

Something has happened in the war between the MSM and the New media - an inversion of sorts.  A couple of years ago, bloggers were pundits commenting on OPC - other people's content. The MSM did the footwork in investigative journalism and the bloggers acted as a competitive fringe that corrected any glaring errors.
But the inversion has occurred. In the Jeff Gannon scandal, the MSM can only comment on what the bloggers are doing. They are finding very strange connections, and the MSM simply plays it all off as a security breach. There's more to it than that.
Look out MSM, the bloggers are coming.
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) January 24, 2005 -- Internet Bloggers are bringing accountability to the regular news media according to Michael Williams, whose popular Blog entitled “Master of None” is visited daily by fifteen hundred or more people worldwide. During a two part Blogging Special Full Disclosure cable and internet television program Williams said bloggers are playing an important role by acting as fact checkers when competing news outlets have refused to criticize one another’s mistakes.

Accountants are Pisstanks

Man, those accountants are a bunch of pisstanks. And thy love to gamble to boot. Perfect for gathering provincial revenues, that's for sure.  Damn bean counters with their green visors and black armbands, counting beans, money et. al.  Funny thing is that they serve no useful productive purpose. Well, I guess they produce information used by decision makers.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Instant Economic Depression

I ran into this article by Magnus Ekervik on the postponement of the intevitable economic crash. He argues that the major industrial economies should have experienced what Japan experienced in terms of an economic correction.

Because of the interconnected global economy it is my belief that the entire industrial world "should"; have entered their natural busts about the same time as Japan did. What actions did United States and Europe take to escape the beginning of the natural bust?

The answer is that they put the pedal to floor and started increasing the money supply and re-inflated their economies and postponed the bust. Nature has tried several times since 1990 to send different shocks against the world economy to start the bust.

1990 The start of Japans bust and deflation.
1994 Mexican financial crisis.
1997 Asia and Brazil crises.
1998 Debt default in Russia and LTCM failure.
2000 IT and Telecom crisis.
2002 Corporate scandals such as Enron and WorldCom.
2003 The SARS epidemic.

Despite all these shocks the world economy as a whole has continued to prosper. How?

The US Federal Reserve Bank has met every shock with an increase in the money supply to bail out the affected country or institution to avoid a bust of the world economy. The result is that the excess debt of the boom has never been corrected. On the contrary the money supply has kept increasing and total debt has mounted as a result.

Ah, the debt problem. Economist Michael Hudson has outlined the Modus Operandi of the Social Security privateers in the US, who have used this debt bubble as a means to privatize SS.

Lower interest rates mean slower accruals of interest in the government's own Social Security and medical care funds. Low interest rates show how futile it is to try and pay for the future by buying bonds or stocks, or otherwise saving money without somebody, somewhere, actually investing to produce the goods and services that people they are going to buy when they retire. Saving, stock and bond speculation and real estate speculation do not by themselves lead to new investment. In fact, the higher speculative and financial returns are, the less incentive there is to actually tie down money in building new factories and expanding business.

Magnus basically argues that, given a terrorist hit on US soil, the entire deck of cards would fall, and the global financial architecture would cease to exist. What sort of Phoenix will emerge from the ashes? Hazel Henderson is said to utter something to the tune of: Collapse is the easiest form of change. Interesting.

Sovereignty and HST

Paul Celucci, US Ambassador to Canada pulled out a wicked Jedi mind trick on Canada. Here we thought we were being all sovereign by saying "no - it's our airspace" and PC pulls an foreign affairs Jedi - he says we actually ceded sovereignty to the US by not joining. This is because the US is going to shoot down any missiles anyway. It's confusing, I know. Well, as is the case with these politicians, "no" means "no - for now". It's still inevitable.
Also, did you know that Prince Bandar was Hunter S. Thompson's Neighbour?
" Thompson came to the Aspen area in the early 1960s. It had a rough-and-tumble quality that's been replaced by wealth and gentility. Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan owns an enormous spread above the city. "

Lay off the sweets

So I was at the Dentist today, and the good Doctor said that I have a sweet tooth. I guess you shouldn't open your mouth too wide when brushing yer teeth, because the stretched cheek keeps your toothbrush from reaching the back molars. A good point to remember.
I've tried this natural sweetener called stevia rather than sucralose/nutrasweet or sugar, but stevia seemed to make my skin funny. Can't explain it, but my skin was wierd.

The Pope is going to DIE

I met this really cool guy yesterday named Horace. He is 78 years old and overcame Leukemia 15 years ago through natural medicine. He had the same incurable form of cancer that Linda Frum had, and he beat it without aid from the military-pharmaceutical-petrochemical complex.

Horace wears the coolest shades. He said "I'm a teenager with a 78 year old body". What a guy.

Do you know what he says every morning? "WOW! I WOKE UP TODAY!!! Not many people my age did. But I woke up today, and man am I lucky!". That is one positive outlook on life.

If you feel like the world's got you down, check out Horace's website:

He has no obvious message than to simply BE. To BE happy, well, and stay positive. Nothing wrong with that.

We need more people thinking like Horace if the Pope is about to pass away. I heard there would be three days of darkness after old PJP2 passes on. There will definitely be a spiritual and political vaccuum. Who's going to fill it?

Don Hill is a pretty cool guy

I had an opportunity to be a pundit on Don Hill's CBC radio show yesterday. I was there as a young economist to comment on the new 2005 Budget with Mark Anielski, my good friend and colleague. The 2005 Budget, in my estimation, was a "chicken leg in every pot" with a dash of this and a dash of that.

What I don't get, however, is why the Libs never did a thing for Post-Secondary education. Sure, they lowered taxes for low-income earners, which would pay for 10 Pentel Hi-Techpoint ultrafine pens, but it's not enough. Paul Martin PROMISED 7 to 8 billion loonies for PSE, and he never delivered.

These damn boomers and their I'm-spending'mykid's-inheritance attitude. They benefitted from the high savings rates of their moms and dads and mow they've mortgaged the family farm. Oh well, the Libs still have a few more budgets before the next election - probably.

Thursday, February 17, 2005