Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Morning Links

Assorted content for your holiday reading...

- John Moore points out why expertise shouldn't be considered a bad thing:
I don’t know about you but I like specialized knowledge. I like people with a mastery of their trade flying my planes, performing my surgery and designing my bridges. Experts are people who know stuff. They use their specialized knowledge to plan urban transportation strategies, establish the acceptable level of poison in our food and draw up plans for things like nuclear plant meltdowns.

It doesn’t mean the experts are right about everything, nor that we have to lie down and take everything government dishes out, but when a career statistician says a voluntary long form census is useless, I tend to put that advice ahead of the “gut feeling” and “mother instinct” so prized by the Tea Partiers.

Of course I know that by writing this column, I’m just part of the problem. That’s the caprice of populism; it’s buttressed by a form of epistemological closure. Anyone who dares question the new anti-snobbery is merely trying to protect his sinecure and privilege.

But as American senator Sam Rayburn once said, “Any jackass can kick a barn down. It takes a carpenter to build one.”
- Though sometimes it is worth noting when an expert's self-interest can lead to counterproductive results. And Bruce Livesey makes much that point in picking up on the harms of financialization in Canada's steel industry:
In a paper he co-wrote earlier this year, Lazonick says “financialization” is where corporate executives are obsessed with distributing value to shareholders at the expense of investment in innovation and jobs. He says it’s having a pernicious affect on the North American economy facing aggressive challenges from Asia, especially China. “In the 2000s the financialization of the US business corporation undermined the innovative potential of marketization and globalization, thus not only exacerbating inequity and instability but also restricting the potential for economic growth,” writes Lazonick. “Despite the financial meltdown of 2008, there are scant signs in the 2010s of institutional changes that will constrain the destructive behavior of financialized corporations.”

One of the results of the aggressive invasion of hedge funds and investment funds into the Canadian steel industry was its demise as a nationally-owned industry. Between 2005 and 2007, the entire Canadian steel industry was sold off to foreign corporations.

At the very time that Canada’s industrial base is in such dire straits, one of our essential industries was bartered away. And finance capital had a lot to do with it.
- Don Boudria and other Libs are up in arms over the addition of MPs to the list of "public office holders" for the purpose of lobbying registration. But while I'm sympathetic to the argument, wouldn't it sound a lot more plausible if the Libs weren't so eagerly giving away far more fundamental elements of Parliamentary privilege?

- Finally, pogge is entirely right in noting that by negotiating (however meager) wage increases while refusing to even consider actually funding their cost, the Cons are effectively enlisting civil servants in the destruction of their own departments.

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