On the eve of Stephen Harper’s eighth anniversary in office, writer and statistics buff Alex Roberts has a must-read piece in the Ottawa Citizen, cleverly tagged, “Harper’s Economic Index.*” It casts a jaundiced numerical eye at how well he has managed the economy, the thing pundits constantly tell us he’s so good at.
A few samples:
- Estimated amount spent on taxpayer-funded advertisements since 2009 touting the “Economic Action Plan” and the government’s economic record : $113,000,000
- National unemployment rate in January, 2006: 6.6
- National unemployment rate in December, 2013: 7.2
- Number of consecutive annual federal budget deficits: 6
- Number of consecutive annual federal budget surpluses under the previous Liberal (Chrétien/Martin) governments: 9
- Number of budget deficit targets hit by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty: 0
- Amount added to the federal national debt since Conservatives took power in 2006: $123,500,000,000
On the bright side, the dollar’s up, and the TSX rose 16.1% (compared to 55.1% for the Dow).
Seriously, the whole piece is worth a read.
* Not to be confused with the Harpers Index.
Assume for the moment that the Corporate Research Associates poll showing Stephen McNeil’s Liberals with a 30-point lead is accurate (which I assume it is), and assume McNeil holds that lead until Tuesday (which remains to be seen).
The next question is, how the heck did this happen?
The NDP made serious mistakes (see here and here) but they did not run a horrible government (see here and here). Not everyone will agree, but there is a reasonable case that Dexter deserves another term, something of a tradition in Nova Scotia, as many have pointed out.
The curious thing is that one detects little passion in this election at all, certainly no mad fury to throw the bastards out. Election signs are few, and in my circle at least, hardly anyone is talking about the election. The public exudes little warmth for McNeil, and his slender platform is pockmarked by a handful of dreadful ideas.
Without the CRA poll, my main expectation would be a record low turnout. These are not the impressions one expects a week before an electoral tidal wave strikes.
CRA Chairman and CEO Don Mills thinks the NDP’s problems are rooted in the fact it took power just as the worst recession in 80 years settled in to stay.
“These have been the most difficult economic times in most people’s living memory here,” he told Contrarian in a telephone interview Tuesday.
CRA tracks the economic wellbeing of Nova Scotians every quarter, and in each of the last four years, 40 percent of its respondents reported no increase in pay. Inflation, meanwhile, has eaten away at the value of their pay checks. In effect, a large cohort of Nova Scotia’s middle class has seen a 10 percent drop in buying power during the four-plus years of the Dexter Government. This may be no fault of the NDP, but that’s of little consequence to fed-up voters.
“Virtually every household is worse off,” said Mills. “I think they would have very little patience with any government—and it doesn’t matter what government it is, by the way. I think this is why electricity rates are such a sore point.”
To that economic malaise, add the voters’ dashed hopes that the NDP would be different. Take a closer look at Mills’s poll. Dexter was elected in June 2009 with 45 percent of the vote. Within six weeks, his government’s popularity soared to 60 percent. Voters—even those who didn’t vote NDP—must have said to themselves, “Let’s give these new guys a chance. Maybe they really will turn out to be different.”
The new government did little in its first six months, and then the expense scandal hit, with Dexter smack in the middle of it. In retrospect, I believe this created a sense of disillusionment that voters have been nursing ever since.
Ashley McKenzie and Nelson MacDonald need help finishing their latest movie about New Waterford. Their first two shorts, “Rhonda’s Party” (2010) and “When You Sleep” (2012), achieved exceptional success, screening to widespread praise at the Toronto International Film Festival and Cannes, as well as at festivals in Montreal, Stockholm, Whistler, and St. John’s. Along the way, they picked up half a dozen industry awards, including the top prize in CBC’s Short Film Faceoff.
Despite these early triumphs, the pair have had to turn to crowdsourcing to raise the last few dollars needed to finish post-production on their latest film, “Stray,” the story of a lonely New Waterford girl who tries to befriend a homeless cat.
They wouldn’t need this money if they had taken the expedient route of filming in Halifax. But director Ashley and producer Nelson are committed to telling Cape Breton stories in an authentic way. By paying the extra transportation and crew costs to film here, they were able to set scenes in magnificent post-industrial settings that just aren’t available anywhere else. (Lord knows how Nelson wheedled permission to shoot in some of these locations.)
We’re always bemoning the exodus of talented young people from Nova Scotia. Ashley and Nelson could easily flourish in a major film center, but they choose instead to stay here and tell our stories. We’ve been friends for years, and I can’t think of any two people who work harder, or bring greater intelligence and dedication to their craft.
Isn’t that something we should support?
With just 48 hours to go, their Indiegogo crowd-sourcing campaign is about $1,600 shy of the goal needed to finish “Stray.” You can contribute here.
Jon Stone writes:
Thanks for sharing that wonderful video. It is inspiring to see what creative minds can do when faced with a challenge.
There have been some astonishinglynegativecomments posted on various web sites with respect to the recent generosity of the Fountain family in creating the endowment for Dalhousie’s performing arts program. The gist of much of the derogatory discussion was that there is no value in training people in performance skills.
Well, here is one excellent example of the value of performers to society. I won’t be surprised if this goes viral and breaks all records for fundraising for the Janeway.
[Update] Greg Lukeman points out a New Zealand children’s hospital fundraising video posted August 27, 2012, that may have provided inspiration for the creators of “Please Whatever Your Name Is” (posted May 15,. 2013).
Newfoundland has always had way better tourism ads than Nova Scotia (or pretty much anywhere else on the planet for that matter). Now it turns out they have way better children’s hospital ads, too. (Stay with this at least until the music starts, about five minutes in. Hilarious.)
[Video link]. H/T Calvert’s own Jenn Power.
“I’ve never considered myself a moron before,” writes a hapless dishwasher owner in Portland Hills, Dartmouth, “but my blind faith in Sears proves I should have my mittens tied together with a string, and I should only eat with spoons, as I could easily lose an eye if I tried a fork.”
The unnamed customer is so distraught over fruitless attempts to get the venerable appliance giant to furnish a working dish washer, he’s offering to sell it for the price of the sushi takeout he and his wife ordered Friday night: $57.50. But after 4,300 hits to his viral-bound washer-for-sale ad on Kijiji, no takers.
The owner and his wife built a new house in Portland Hills and installed a new, $800 Sears Kenmore dishwasher. It worked for six months, then stopped draining. After much to-ing and fro-ing, Sears’ South Asian call centre agreed to dispatch a repair person.
[W]e washed dishes by hand for weeks, waiting for their repairman to show up – I guess it took some time for the work order to make it the 15 time zones back to Halifax. Then we have to take 4 hours off from work (the repairman only promises to show up sometime in the four-hour block), burn our gas to get to and from work, only to be told, “we have to order a new drain pump.”
Wash, rinse, repeat:
In comes the part, so we have to book off another 4 hours of work, drive to and from work on our own nickel. In goes the new part, and the dishwasher works, kind of. . . for about 4 months, then it breaks again. Wash dishes by hand for 3 weeks. 4 hours off from work. Order part. Wash dishes for a week. Take 4 hours off. Install new part. Doesn’t work. Order same part again. Wash dishes for two weeks. 4 hours off from work. Part still doesn’t make it work. Order same part for the third time.
At this point we called back the Sears Buddy in New Dehli and suggested that we got a lemon. “Nope. Can’t be a lemon until it’s been fixed 3 times” they say. “It has been fixed 4 times,” says I. “Nope. The last 3 visits have been the same problem, so they only count as one,” says they. I went into the store where I bought it, and said, “You sold me a lemon. Please, sir, may I have another?” “Nope” says they. “We only take your money here. We don’t help you with your problems… call New Dehli. Now shoo, you’re scaring off our next victims.”
Customer thinks about taking page from Kim Jong-un, and ”letting my kids starve while I build a catapult and threaten to launch the dishwasher through the window of Sears,” but decides he is too tired. Letter-writing blitz persuades Sears to replace lemon. Identical replacement works for 11 months… and stops draining. Homeowner installs different model from different company: Works fine.
So, if you have the skills and the time to replace the pump in this dishwasher… this baby can by yours for the low, low, everyday price of $57.50. After several months of phone calls, drives home on your work time, and numerous uncalled for bursts of rudeness to your significant other, you’ll have weathered the storm of being treated like a moron by Sears, and you’ll have a dishwasher you can be proud of. And I will have enough cash to pay for the really good sushi we had last night, which helped ease the pounding in my temples after shelling out $800 to replace a dishwasher that’s still under warranty.
Stand by for more price drops.
Visits as of midnight: 23965.
[NB: We do not have Sears's side of this saga, we'll be happy to post it when and if it arrives.]
H/T: Jane Kansas
…and doesn’t like what it sees:
Yoram Bauman, an environmental economist at the University of Washington, does double duty as a stand-up comic. He spoke to a convention of the American Economic Association this month in San Diego.
H/T: Richard Stephenson
Right-wing blogger and Maclean’s columnist Colby Cosh professes consternation at his discovery that running a hunger strike from a makeshift teepee in the middle of the Ottawa River involves actual out-of-pocket expenses, for which supporters of the striker might solicit actual contributions.
Pressing his dudgeon pedal to the metal, Cosh waxes indignant at Chief Theresa Spence for “distort[ing] the perceived integrity” of ”the most morally serious activity a protester can undertake.” Oh, the humanity!
Cosh concludes his thinly veiled ad hominem attack by speculating that Spence’s “demands aren’t in earnest and the whole thing is no more than a publicity ploy.” Well thank goodness for that.
From this I conclude it must have dawned on Cosh that Spence’s vigil and the associated First Nation demonstrations that swept the country Christmas week hold outsized potential to cause trouble for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government.
Let’s hope he’s right.
[T]he war on drugs… is perpetuated by the Drug Prevention Industry. Thousands of jobs and billions of budget dollars are at stake here and must be protected at all costs. It’s a “jobs and the economy” outlook toward a social and health issue affecting real human lives, who are perceived as collateral damage.
Both of the main players in this game, drug cartels and the prevention industry, share a symbiotic relationship. It is so important to the success of drug cartels to keep drugs illegal that they fund, through shell corporations, political campaigns of law and order candidates. Thus both sides in this war have a common purpose and share a mutually beneficial outcome.