Archive for May, 2009

Finally, Some Recognition in the Economics World

May 31st, 2009
Comments Off on Finally, Some Recognition in the Economics World

I sit here, week after week, month after month, yes year after year, economics degree in hand blogging about freedom, politics, carbon taxes and so forth.  I even have a Friedrich Hayek quote (…a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy…) as my tag-line. Then one day, finally, a pretty big economics blog links to me, and it’s because I wrote out the lyrics to a one hit wonder song.

Just  – sigh – .

freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy , , , , , , , ,

ShutterBugging Picture of the Day: Pot of Gold

May 31st, 2009

Saturday Fluffernutter: Jon and Kate plus the paparazzi; Phil Spector Gets a Virtual Life Sentence; Piratemaster a Hornswaggle; Farrah says Farewell.

May 30th, 2009
Comments Off on Saturday Fluffernutter: Jon and Kate plus the paparazzi; Phil Spector Gets a Virtual Life Sentence; Piratemaster a Hornswaggle; Farrah says Farewell.

Saturday Fluffernutter – all the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities.

fluffincolorThere are levels of fame, each rung on the celebrity ladder being more intense than the last. I submit for your perusal, Jon, Kate and eight. The reality show began it’s fifth season under a cloud of tabloid rumours. Is Jon cheating on Kate? Is Kate really short for Cruella? fluff2Child authorities are investigating the family? Celebrity has reached a new pinnacle for the family of ten, and the spotlight much brighter. As unfair as it is, and it is unfair, when you invite the camera into your life, you invite all that goes with it. If you don’t like that, end the show and spend your days counting your residuals.


Renowned 60’s producer Phil Spector has been sentenced to 19 years to life for the 2nd degree murder of “b movie actress” Lana Clarkson. I always like to see the media give Clarkson the “b movie actress” designation as it shows their true colors: it is designed to imply she was somehow less of a person. He, after all, helped create some of the greatest music of the baby boomers generation, she was merely a “b movie actress.”  Glad to see the courts didn’t fall for the ploy and 69 year old Spector, a guy who could teach Michael Jackson a thing or two about being a freakshow, will likely die behind bars.

fluffincolorImagine coming up with a show idea as bad as Pirate Master, then having someone claim you stole it. This is Survivor Mark Burnett’s reality.  A drivelswigger name of  James Papa says Burnett is a freebooter who hornswaggled his show idea.  He is suing for 2,000,000 dubloons, to be paid at a one for one ratio in American dollars.


fluffincolorHard to believe it was farrah-fawcett17 years ago that the whole Leno/Letterman war happened, but it was. History may well record that Leno won the day, but in war it’s not winning the battles that counts, it’s the last man standing that wins. Sorry Jay, at the end of the day Letterman wins by default. Hmmm, wonder if there’s a lesson in there for western civilization?

fluffincolorFarrah Fawcett appears to be in her last days as she loses her fight with cancer. Fawcett is reportedly no longer receiving any treatment and has been saying her goodbyes to friends and family.  Doctors are reportedly saying she has no more than a month to live.  This is one of the stories you wish you could find a happy ending for, but that seems increasingly unlikely and all I can do is wish Fawcett peace in her remaining days. 

Fluffernutter , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Former Cambridge Hornet Center Peter Zezel Dies

May 27th, 2009
Comments Off on Former Cambridge Hornet Center Peter Zezel Dies

Back in the early winter of 2002 my five year old son, and his hockey team, were invited to play at the intermission of a Cambridge Hornets hockey game. It was one of the first, if not the first, game Peter Zezel would play with Cambridge.

Zezel joined Cambridge after almost dying in 2001 of hemolytic anemia, a rare blood condition. Zezel ‘s return to hockey was an accomplishment after his near death, and he was the night I saw him the most dominant player on the ice. He didn’t score all, or even any goals as I recall, but when he was on, the play revolved around him. His passes where ungodly, his puck control far above anybody else on the ice.

Off ice, Zezel was considered a class individual, who retired from a fifteen year NHL career in 1989 to be close to a family member dying of Cancer. His imdb page notes that he was Mustang Player#1 in the 1986 Rob Lowe Cynthia Gibb hockey um… classic, Youngblood. He was also Rush Guitarist Alex Lifeson’s cousin.

Yesterday afternoon the family of Peter Zezel made the decision to remove him from life support after a return of the hemolytic anemia. He was 44 years old.

Hockey, RIP , , , , , , , ,

Conservatives Clock the Count

May 14th, 2009

The Conservative Party took a different tack against Michael Ignatieff than Stéphane Dion.With Dion, they attacked right away, not giving him a chance to get comfortable in his job and in the process, defined him before he could define himself.

With Michael Ignatieff, they seemed to be holding back, let Ignatieff define himself. When they finally released some negative ads yesterday, some of the Tory faithful said, at last. But the original strategy was, in my opinion, effective. The more Canadians see Ignatieff, the less they will like him. Let the Canadian people begin to have their doubts, save your response until an election, then release it all at once: a little shock and awe politics.  That’s what I thought they were doing, and that’s what I thought would be effective.

Then yesterday, the Conservatives released this ad:

Know what I got out of this ad: Tory Times are Tough Times. Who approved an ad that had the central message from The Liberals negative ads running right through the middle of it? And who puts out a negative attack ad accusing the other guy of using negative attack ads?

But even after those blunders, what is the main theme of this ad? Ignatieff wasn’t in Canada all those years. For some people, me included, that could be construed as a positive.  A little international man about town would be a nice change from the base provincialism that’s grinding the gears off so much in this country.  And it sure beats the professional politicians that are running the country into the ground now.

There’s a fair amount to dislike about Michael Ignatieff, very little substance to his politics among them.  There was not one of those reasons on display for this ad, and that’s why it’s simply not good enough.

h/t Gerry

Politicians acting badly , , , , , ,

Tim Hudak to Scrap Human Rights Tribunals

May 13th, 2009

To use a phrase, it just got interesting. Prospective Ontario Provincial Conservative leader Tim Hudak announced yesterday that if he were to become Premier of Ontario, he would scrap Ontario Human Rights Commission tribunals:

Today, Tim announced his proposal to scrap the Human Rights Tribunal and instead move to a court-based system bound by rules of evidence as opposed to hurt feelings under the current tribunals.

“We must vigorously prosecute people for real acts of illegal discrimination,” said Tim. “This is not the case today, where we have a Commission and a Chair that use the Ontario Human Rights Code as a tool of political advocacy.”

I won’t get to excited until he specifically rules out speech complaints from his new system, but this is definitely promising.

Who I will endorse as leader is quietly shaping up, and Hudak just became a front runner. The question is, what does Randy Hiller, Christine Elliott and Frank Klees have to say on the abominable human rights tribunals?


Update: Twitter comes through – Randy Hillier is ahead of Hudak on this one:

As Premier, Randy Hillier will introduce legislation to eliminate the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

He will place genuine violations of human rights before real courts, where all parties can be confident that justice will be done and that procedural fairness will not be ignored. Human Rights Commissions will become redundant and will be eliminated.

Updatier: Hello to readers of Blazing Cat Fur and the wonderful

human rights , , , , , , ,

White Houses Releases NYC Flyover Picture

May 8th, 2009

image5002052xThe picture, taken from an accompanying F-16, shows the Presidential Aircraft flying over The Statue of Liberty.


Update – May 13: Comments closed due to excessive spam on this post.

I Love NY , , , , ,

Cambridge Coyotes?

May 6th, 2009

Now that sounds better than the Cambridge Penguins. I was on the NHL to Cambridge kick before the idea became mainstream during the Nashville to Southern Ontario fiasco. But when you overhear something at the gym from “two guys who heard it from a friend, who knows a guy,” you know you have a scoop.

Sadly, however, it appears Jim Balsillie, if he can pry the Coyotes out of Phoenix, will move them to Hamilton. Southern Ontario is a great market, and if you read the two links given, you’ll know

Hespeler Gardens: Future Home of the Cambridge Coyotes?

I believe Cambridge can work: It’s an hour or less from the growth spots – downtown Toronto to London; it’s right along the 401, and RIM owns a parcel of land right at the 401 and Townline; It is outside both Buffalo and Toronto’s 50 mile boundary (just); and the Cambridge Coyotes has a nice alliterative ring to it.

Hamilton on the other hand… lets just say, find me one Hamilton Tiger Cat fan outside of the City of Hamilton. Sorry Hamilton, but Southern Ontario won’t cheer for your team. It will be a Hamilton team, drawing from Burlington to St. Catherines.

As to whether Balsillie will get the Coyotes out of Phoenix, the NHL has been dramatically weakened by the current economic climate. Three teams appear to be in serious trouble, many more hurting. Gary Bettman, for all his bluster, works for the owners. He has already cost them in Nashville. It may be true that the other owners don’t like Balsillie’s style, but sooner rather than later, they’re going to decide they like the colour of his money. It appears, as well, Balsillie has played this one very deftly, possibly opening the NHL to a lawsuit should they decide they don’t want him in the club. The bottom line is, if the bankruptcy judge accepts Balsillie’s offer, the NHL would have trouble turning him down.


Update: via Christian Conservative, sign the petition to make it seven NHL teams in Canada.

Cambridge , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ShutterBugging Picture of the Day: Young Cardinal

May 5th, 2009

Demographic Depression

May 5th, 2009

For almost ten years now if you find yourself sitting next to me at a social function, and make some passing comment about being able to afford a cottage when you retire, or what with the prices of houses what kind of house will your kids be able to buy? you would quickly discover I have a theory. It’s not an optimistic theory, it’s not a pleasant thought, but, I lost nothing when the stock market declined last year because I had an idea what was coming (although, it came three years earlier than expected).

The theory? As Mark Steyn says, “lets start with demographics, because everything does.” I argue that the greatest amount of wealth is getting set to retire, that is, the possessors of that wealth will retire.  Which means that instead of investing in stock markets, they will invest in bonds. When wealth leaves the stock market, the market contracts. Contract fast enough and it will crash. Forensic economists will sort through the rubble, but don’t be surprised if that’s partly what happened last year. Furthermore, housing prices will drop, says the theory, as these people get out of all those homes built from the 60’s to now, and move to condos, apartments and those retirement cottages. The single family home: who wants one? and those that do will find two on the market for every buyer.  Especially true of those mammoth McMansions that have predominately been built the last twenty years.

It is with some trepidation that I note, the experts (who always seem to be wrong) are starting to catch up to me. Bloomberg today has an article on just such a demographic depression, and quotes Harry Dent, author of The Great Depression Ahead:

What you can’t see in the most recent housing numbers is the least-visible driver of home prices today: demographics.

Baby Boomers

The baby-boomer generation, the largest in American history, will be buying fewer single-family homes.

The U.S. is experiencing a 40-year generational peak in consumer spending, one that will lead to “the first and last Depression of our lifetimes,” author Harry Dent predicts in his book “The Great Depression Ahead” (Free Press, 2008).

Although we may not be headed for a 1930s-style Depression, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that boomers are dumping their four- and five-bedroom suburban homes for two- and three- bedroom condominiums.

It’s also unlikely that the “Generation X,” born between 1965 and 1976 (or more derisively called “baby busters”), will bid up home prices. They are only 44 million strong, not as wealthy and even more in debt from college loans.

The baby boomers are reorganizing their finances after a rocky decade in stocks. They aren’t buying as many second homes and vacation properties in warmer climates.

I was further surprised to read a press release for Dent’s book, in which he predicts a decline almost exactly as I have through the years:

Harry Dent forecast the housing slowdown years before it occurred and sees the minor recession of 2008 as
the beginning of a greater stock crash and depression to unfold between 2009 and 2012, with the worst crash
for stocks and housing likely between late 2009 and mid 2011. Home prices will continue to decline into late
2008 and then will likely experience a minor rebound in early to mid 2009. However, rising inflation, interest
rates and a last commodity bubble will bring a final blow to stocks, the economy, housing, and even the greater
emerging market bubble in stocks overseas.

A time frame of 2009-2012, when those boomers start retiring en masse, is exactly what I have been saying. Houses will be sold to pay for retirement, and money that was in stocks will be taken out to safer environs. The followup generations, including mine, have no capacity to fill the void. A decline in stock and housing prices must occur under those circumstances.

I’m not hiding in a bunker, scared of the future, in fact I’m quite optimistic. But a sense of this is what I have been saying has pervaded my reading of much of the economic news the past six or nine months. No need to panic, but be aware, there is likely more bad coming down the pike in the next three years.


Note: comments on this post are closed due to excessive spam.

Economic Fundamentalism , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Seperated At Birth

May 4th, 2009
Comments Off on Seperated At Birth

Chicken “the sky is falling” Little and Michael “an election is coming” Ignatieff:



EI Reform – A Problem Harper Could Have Avoided With One Senate Appointment.

May 4th, 2009

Back in December, when people where throwing money around without thought and calling it stimulus, I made a simple recommendation. You want stimulus that positively affects the auto industry? Reform EI, said I.  I even offered it as proof why Stephen Harper wants me in the Senate (Did Duffy warn you of this one Mr. PM?)

And now? Michael Ignatieff is all Chicken Little, running around yelling, “an election is coming, and Chicken Littleelection is coming,” unless of course you do what that Hespeler guy wrote. As well, possible-regular reader Christine Elliot is threatening that if a) she wins the PC leadership, b) she wins the general election, c) the feds don’t reform EI to her liking, she will, presuming she remembers making this threat and is the type of politician who keeps such promises, pull Ontario out of the federal EI system.

Prime Minister Harper, such problems, such headaches for yourself and your government. And they could have been avoided if only you had asked yourself, what would Hespeler write?

What Would Hespeler Write , , , , , , , , ,