- James Galbraith compares the mindless drones carrying an increasing share of the U.S.' military load, and those serving to try to attack social programs in the name of illusory deficit reduction. But sadly, Galbraith misses one of the most important similarities: in both cases, the use of replaceable machines for the task makes it far too easy to keep launching attacks even when reason would dictate otherwise.
- Meanwhile, Ivan Semeniuk reports on how poverty can influence childhood development. And Rob Carrick reports that lenders are finding ways to extract more and more money out of those with the least - ensuring that the corrosive effective of poverty are all the more devastating.
- Andrew Coyne is on target in pointing out why there's little reason to consider a merger among Canada's opposition parties. But Aaron Wherry discusses why Coyne's single-election push for electoral reform isn't any more feasible:
Are enough voters so interested in electoral reform that they would support turning the next election into a referendum on that subject? Could enough voters be convinced to momentarily suspend their concerns about other issues? Could enough voters be convinced to ignore the other policy differences between the NDP, Liberals and Greens? Could enough voters be convinced to ignore the possible ramifications of all other policy debates between the parties to vote with the hope that a real election would then be run in short order?- Finally, the Western Producer notes that there's ample reason to think the NDP can turn the tide on its own - particularly in its historical prairie strongholds.
I’ll try to answer those questions: No. Granted, I can’t predict the future with certainty (and have just finished arguing against making such predictions). Perhaps the New Democrats, Liberals and Greens could persuade voters to make this a singular focus. But this strikes me as implausible. I don’t think voters, in general, are so interested in electoral reform that they’d go along with this. At the very least, it seems like a remarkable gamble for the three parties to make. (And, keep in mind, the Conservatives would be keen to explain, loudly and repeatedly and prominently, why this was such a terrible idea.)
Fundamentally overhauling the electoral system would probably take more than a couple days. Legislation would conceivably have to be passed through the House. Legislation would conceivably have to be passed through the Senate (how would a Conservative majority in the Senate handle such legislation?).
Even if you imagine this proceeding as expeditiously as possible, this would take some period of time (A month? A few months? More?). Someone would have to be Prime Minister while this was happening. Someone would have to be governing. How would that work? Conceivably they would have no mandate beyond changing the electoral system. Would they promise to not touch anything else for as long as they were in government? Would they promise to just carry on with Conservative policy until another election could be held? (Would anyone believe them if they promised as much?) What if something bad happened? What if something came up that required government action?
This is not a rhetorical device. I’m not trying to bury the idea in questions. I honestly want to know how this would work because I honestly don’t understand how this is supposed to work. What kind of government would we have for however long it took to change the federal electoral system and what would be the ramifications of having such a government?