Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading (and participating).

- Tom Levenson points out one of the greatest ironies of the current Wisconsin showdown in particular and the attack on public employees in general, as they result in workers giving up exactly the type of intelligent retirement planning that we're supposed to be pursuing:
Wisconsin’s public service employees are not overpaid relative to their private sector counterparts. Rutgers University professor Jeffrey Keefe has done the analysis. (See his complete study on our Employment Policy Research Network website: Controlling for education and other standard human capital variables he found that Wisconsin’s public sector workers earn 8.2 percent less than their private sector counterparts in wages and salaries. Taking fringe benefits into account shrinks the difference to 4.2 percent. Thus, public sector workers have lower wages and higher fringe benefits (yes, pensions and health care benefits are the two standouts). But overall, they are not overpaid compared to the private sector. No easy scapegoat here.
That is: Wisconsin state workers are living exactly the way their fellow citizens should want them to: they are deferring present consumption for income security in retirement. This is what every financial counselor begs their clients to do. It is what as a society we want to happen—better by far that our citizens anticipate and prepare for life after work than to hit the bricks with a grin and a sawbuck in their pockets.
- Scott Reid nicely sums up what the Cons' advertising scandal (among other cover-ups) ultimately means:
What can — and what must — still be explored is whether the only principle that remains standing in Stephen Harper's Ottawa is that the ends justify the means. Whether the Conservatives will be held to account for their actions — if indeed it is shown they deliberately and willfully broke election law. And how can the wrong be righted since we cannot of course, turn back time and conduct again an election held a half-decade ago on different terms.

Stephen Harper will say he doesn't care. That it's a minor disagreement as to how a rule might be interpreted. But that is plainly disingenuous. Harper is the Roger Clemens of federal politics. A man who fights against any and all evidence he did wrong. Who accuses his accusers of ulterior motives. Who bullies those he can and demeans those he cannot. And who, in the final analysis, if — and we should say if — is confirmed as a cheat, will employ his supporters to argue that it does nothing to undermine his achievements. But it does. It undermines everything. Because it undermines his personal integrity.

In that respect, the historic issue at stake is not the result of the 2006 election. It is the legacy of the man who still leads Canada in 2011. Once the outcome of these charges has been fully adjudicated let's hope the finding takes a central, not marginal place in our permanent assessment of Stephen Harper. And let's hope that others refuse to follow his lead — whether it works or not.
- Meanwhile, Malcolm offers his take on the cause of Bev Oda's impending demise:
Despite Stephen Harper's bluster and misdirection, no one has disputed Bev Oda's right to suspend the funding - or, more accurately, to reject the proposal to continue funding.

If Bev Oda had the competence God gave a particularly stupid goldfish, she would have sent the documents back to the officials unsigned. She would have informed them that she was not going to approve the funding, and that would have been that. Alternatively, she could have instructed them to prepare another version of the document with an "I do / do not approve" option.
(F)or me, it isn't the dishonesty that's shocking. I've known politicians to be dishonest before. Heck, in the great scheme of political dishonesty, this isn't even a big one.

No. For me it's the stupidity.

Lying when you're caught out at something is, if not admirable, at least understandable.

Lying for no reason at all is simply inexcuseable.

In fact, it's just plain dumb.

Bev Oda may not be thrown under the bus immediately - but you can rest assured that her political advancement in the Harper heirarchy is done like dinner. She's an embarrassment - and Harper doesn't like to be embarrassed.

When her political obituary is written within the next year or so, people will blame her demise on the fact that she lied to Parliament and to the people of Canada.

The reality, though, is that she torpedoed her own political career because she is mind-numbingly stupid. The lie is merely a symbol of her incredible incompetence.
- Finally, time is running out to participate in the Mapping the Canadian Political Blogosphere survey - so for those with a few minutes, now is the time to help give as accurate a picture as possible of Canada's blogging community.

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