Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Business of the Nation, or Tribal Loyalty?

I've come to realize over the last number of years that I am as guilty as anyone of sometimes misplacing my objectivity and opting for tribal loyalty when it comes to electoral politics.  This is a natural human tendency, but one feature of institutions of government should be to recognize the negative aspects of human tendency and to instead opt for politics which serves a greater purpose.

I want to comment on this due to a few issues happening in Canada right now.  Firstly, the popular doctrine on the Alberta oil sands from those of us on the left tends to be that they are dirty, should be shut down, or at least developed more slowly.  

But, the most recent research by University of Victoria scientists Andrew Weaver and Neil Swart has shown that if all of Canada's oil sands were developed and used (which is not going to happen in the near future, if ever) would only increase the Earth's temperature by .002 to .005 degrees.  Whereas burning the world's coal would increase the worlds temperature by 15%.

Now, to put this into perspective, even small increases can be catastrophic, and this only means (according to Weaver and Swart) that we really need to stop using coal, and that the oil sands should be used toward that goal.  

Will those protesting the oil sands take this into consideration from now on?  I hope so.  To not do so would be to ignore the facts.  Now, just for the record I think that they should be heavily taxed by Ottawa with some of that money redistributed to the other provinces...but, that's a matter for another post.  

Another issue is on Old Age Security.  The government looks set to increase the eligibility age from 65 to 67 after some period of time elapses allowing for those soon to retire to collect at 65. 

Now, consider this.  The number of workers for every retiree in Canada now  stands at 4 to 1.  In two decades it will drop to 2:1.  

As the Globe and Mail observed today, it would be unfair to ask working people in two decades to work harder than what we work today, pay higher taxes and see opportunities for their children dwindle because we don't want to make changes now.  

The Conservatives have been less than honest in asserting the simplistic claim that OAS will not be sustainable...but, think about all of the services which are spent on retirees.  That includes healthcare (by far the largest provincial expense).  So, perhaps we should be having a mature debate about this issue and look for ways to ensure that we are able to provide good services for the foreseeable future.  

Personally, I think Nathan Cullen is right when he calls for a new tax bracket to be introduced for those earning more than 300,000 a year.  He didn't say exactly, but he indicated that it should be somewhere in the low 30 percentile. 

I don't think the Conservatives are handling these issues properly, but I'd also suggest that the other parties could also be a little less 'knee-jerk' in their responses as well.  

It is my personal belief, and I think many others agree that we are a bit tired of theatrics and blind loyalty.   


Ian said...

I don't think global warming's the big problem so much as the massive amount of water use to process the shale oil. People seem to be deflecting away from the local environmental destruction by pointing out that it's insignificant on a Global scale. Problem is, it's the locals that call it home.

Craig S. Williamson said...

Good point.