Political Reform

Paul Summerville • February 26, 2013

Commentary on Japan’s population decline, worthless coins, heading towards legal cannabis, poverty before capitalism, sentimental equity investing, and political reform in Canada.

Some strange thoughts.

Paul Summerville • May 21, 2010

Jeffery Simpson on Australia's excellent political system.

Australia has a good electoral system, one that could work well in Canada. But it’s Britain, perhaps ironically, that might adapt to the Australian system.

Paul Summerville • May 8, 2010

Meanwhile Canada, protected by a well regulated and risk adverse banking system and profiting from the legacy of fixing a Canadian mid-1990s debt crisis, thoughts can turn to a more mundane issue like where in the political sphere public policy is getting done. It isn't in Ottawa. Jeffery Simpson comments.

These things do go in cycles, but at the moment, almost all the interesting developments in politics and policy in Canada are taking place at the provincial and municipal level, rather than in Ottawa.

Paul Summerville • May 3, 2010

Perhaps the most pressing question for modern democracies is whether the sophistication and speed of our 21st century world has eclipsed the ability of our political institutions to manage.

One response to the difficulty of managing the country is to centralise power blocking all attempts at Parliamentary accountability. The ever fair Jim Travers on the damage this is doing to Canadian democracy. You have been warned. Thanks to Patricia of Victoria for sending this in.

Paul Summerville • May 3, 2010

There surely is something wrong with a political system where there is a good probability that the Party that is third place in votes is first place in seats. But if proportional representation is the solution care must be taken that the result is not that extremism is magnified but remains on the margins. A can of worms to be sure.

The most famous single event in the history of British election nights occurred at about 3.20am on May 2, 1997.

Paul Summerville • May 3, 2010

Meanwhile, Greece's death spiral puts Europe to the test. Unify or divide.

The aim of the rescue package agreed for Greece cannot conceivably have been to prevent a default. For all the daunting austerity and structural reform it requires, the numbers do not add up. The main purpose I can detect is to reverse the rise in Greek bond yields and stop contagion.

Paul Summerville • May 1, 2010

A good article on Canada's unelected Senate, why Canada should have an elected Senate.

This week, the Conservative government introduced Bill S-8, otherwise known as the Senatorial Selection Act. Modelled on an eponymous Alberta law, the bill would allow provinces to hold elections for nominees to the federal upper chamber, who would then be recommended for appointment to the governor-general by the prime minister.

Paul Summerville • April 30, 2010

Britain's crossroads. Come hell or highwather or just more hell.

At the time of the UK’s most significant general election for a generation, I am living in New York. That has disadvantages and advantages: the disadvantage is distance from the campaign; the advantage is the ability to stand back. When I do so, I find myself struck by the existential choices confronting the UK: will it become a big Greece or a big Netherlands?

Paul Summerville • April 30, 2010

There is a chance that the first-past-the-post single member single constituency system could deliver a Labour victory with the third largest share of the votes. Either way the question is fast approaching, how long can democracies justify the inequality of votes.

One of the worst offenders?

Given Canada's federal political shape with big and tiny provinces, urban and rural split, low income North and high income South, and Quebec, no surprise that Canada is at the top of the list.

Paul Summerville • April 28, 2010

Canadian democracy at stake

A precondition for an excellent Canadian future may include political reform. Imagine a modern 21st century liberal-democracy that appoints celebrities and party hacks to positions of great authority in the person of the Governor General and the Senate, has a foreign monarch as head of state, and is content with the unfair distribution of seats to votes in an increasingly archaic first-past-the-post riding system of electing members of Parliament.

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Twin Virtues: Inequality of Outcomes & Equality of Opportunity©

Twin Virtues

Ultimately, the most successful societies find the balance between the twin virtues of inequality of outcomes and equality of opportunity.

The new politics must marry the twin virtues of unequal outcomes and equality of opportunity.

When too few get too much everybody loses.

Feminism is about women living their lives on their own terms, marshalling the resources of the society to make that possible, and men embracing this as vital to a successful society and their own liberation.

Can it be that striving for equality of opportunity however imperfect the process not only benefits the individual but also creates benefits for the society that are unintended but wonderful?

Economics must be a 'moral enterprise' as much as politics claims to be. Economic outcomes need to be framed in terms of right and wrong not just efficiency if only because these often align in surprising ways that are good for society and the economy.

My vision of Canada is that any Canadian child from a family of limited circumstance can expect to have a chance at lifetime of unlimited opportunities.

Free trade is a wonderful thing. Time and time again economists have proven that free trade creates enormous wealth for each country 'on the whole'. Historians have shown that free trade is usually associated with rising political, social and cultural liberty. The perennial problem is that free trade always creates tremendous disruption for thousands even millions of individuals often concentrated in one geography, and where the state is idle, not investing in best in class instruments of social justice, free trade can be a permanent ticket out of the middle class, down, not up.

Tax policy should be founded on the principle of generating steady tax revenues sufficient to maximise environmentally sustainable economic growth in order to fund fair government.

Public policy should be designed to decrease inequality before the law and increase equality of opportunity.

Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.

Content is always more difficult to argue than conspiracy.

Let the state regulate and the market operate (most things).

Welfare strategies are best designed as a hand up, not as a hand out.

Political debate should not be fact free fighting.

Explanation lasts longer than eloquence.

Always favour empowerment over dependency.

The most enduring public figures are embraced for the causes they fought for and not the concept of themselves they hoped others would remember them by.

Find your voice and don't be the echo of somebody else.

It is possible to operate on two different levels: the practical, cautious and conservative; and the realm of ideas, open, free, and radical.