US

Paul Summerville • March 20, 2010

The United States comes to an important crossroad on Sunday with the health care bill vote. The moral imperative alone of extending health care coverage to all the country's citizens ought to be the reason for a successful vote. The economic imperative of reining in health care costs ought to be the reason for a successful vote.

Paul Summerville • March 19, 2010

The communication and technology revolution that has taken place over the past 15 years has many consequences. The most obvious is bringing truth to power. Witness how a powerful company got tripped up by trying to block a damning video. The next most obvious thing is bringing that story to anyone who has access to a computer. Witness how a conman gets snagged.

Paul Summerville • March 15, 2010

There are three central premises behind Canada's Excellent Future. First, that the international system has evolved to respect the legally equality of nations. Second, that the United States (Canada's only continental neighbour) will always respect Canadian sovereignty except when Canadian territory could be used to threaten American life and liberty. Third, that the combination of these two facts gives Canada enormous domestic policy space to craft its own future, excellent or otherwise.

Paul Summerville • March 14, 2010

When everything is fine human beings tend to bring their future spending into the present. Longer vacations at a better hotel, bigger houses with new furniture, an appetizer and a dessert at the restaurant. When things aren't fine human beings tend to restrict their spending. Staycations, downsizing, dinner in, rented DVDs and not the theatre.

Paul Summerville • March 10, 2010

What role should the state play in creating the conditions for economic growth? A question of excellent futures surely. A report commissioned by the Conservative Party headed by David Cameron is framed by the expectation that the 'government is responsible for change'. Maybe that's the problem.

March 9, 2009 the Great Recession bottom, March 10, 2000 the peak of the dotcom bubble. What have we learned from these two anniversaries?

Paul Summerville • March 9, 2010

61% of registered Iraq voters voted in the country's national election on Sunday some while dodging bomb blasts and many in the face of the threat of violence. That is a greater percentage than registered Canadian voters that voted in Canada's last federal election (58%). Among the 18 countries listed in How Australia Compares (pg. 44) Canada ranks in the bottom quartile of voter participation on average between 1991-2007. Australia ranks number one since 1945 because voting is a legal requirement of citizenship. Hmmm?

Paul Summerville • March 8, 2010

As my good friend David from London (the small one) is fond of saying, in Canada when the government announces that the rate of growth in spending is going from 5% to 3% it is presented (and usually reported) as a cut in spending by 2%. Nonsense. The Conservatives ought to have their feet held to the fire for their scandalous mismanagement of the country's federal finances and the press ought to do their jobs by pointing out that programme spending is forecast to rise in nominal terms by 10% over the next 5 years.

Paul Summerville • March 6, 2010

A handful of countries (of which thankfully Canada is one) stands at a crossroad in one of the most important journeys ever undertaken by any society anywhere, the next step in extending equal choice and opportunity to women. Today in complete contrast to just 50 years ago it is normal for all young women to have the opportunity for full participation in everything that Canada offers its citizens. A New York Times essay on where a handful of countries is on this journey.

Paul Summerville • March 5, 2010

The Financial Times the world's best newspaper staffs its Canada desk with an outstanding journalist Bernard Simon. In 1995 and 1996 Canada's federal budget was pretty close to front page news because of Canada's fiscal mess. Bernard's thorough reporting on yesterday's budget was not listed in the 25 articles in the FT's on-line World section and could only be found by linking to the US-Canada section. That is good news, trust me.

Paul Summerville • March 4, 2010

Spent 90 minutes yesterday with Professor Tim Kemp's International Management class http://www.bus.camosun.bc.ca/~kemp/ at Camosun College in Victoria. Great discussion about the risks of too much market and too much state. Paul Krugman touches on this today in his blog, and Big Picture makes the case for a strong consumer protection agency in the US. What function do movies about war play particularly since Saving Private Ryan they are so 'realistic'.

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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.