Sunday, February 10, 2008

Monday Morning

A few random Monday morning thoughts, posted Sunday night:

1. I've generally been in the "no election" camp over the past two years whenever the "THE GOVERNMENT IS ABOUT TO FALL!!!" speculation has started up time and time and time again.

But, it's really looking like the moment of truth has finally arrived. I think it's safe to say Harper's ridiculous crime threat is going nowhere but, listening to the leaders this weekend, I don't see any way for the Afghanistan extension to pass. I just get the sense that the stakes are too high - both politically and for Canada - for anyone to compromise. Now, this might very well mean the budget gets rushed to ensure the Tories fall on it first but, I would be surprised if this government lives to see April.

2. Looking back at the first week of the Alberta election, it's hard to deny it's been a rocky week for Stelmach - in the words of ES: "Memo to the Premier's Staff: Don't take him "on the road" to make announcements unless you're 100% sure that the people who are present in the room will think the announcements are a *good* thing. You look like amateurs right now, and you're making your boss look like a fool in front of the cameras." It's no wonder Ed went into hiding this weekend.

And while I do think Taft has looked Premierial (what's the provincial equivalent of "Prime Ministerial" anyways?) so far, I am a bit concerned about the number of promises he's making every day. The "(insert city here) agendas" are a good idea, but the risk is always that you'll get portrayed as "tax and spend Liberals". Talking about being fiscally conservative and tossing out a few democratic reform ideas would probably net more votes than the wide range of spending promises we've seen so far. The kind of changes Kevin talked about in Democracy Derailed wouldn't cost much and go to the argument that the Tories have been corrupted by power - hopefully the focus shifts over to those sorts of promises shortly.

So, I'll reluctantly give NDP leader George Mason props for his plan to ban corporate and union donations. Especially since the NDP would be hurt a lot by the loss of the union donations.

3. Congrats to Daveberta on the trio of Canadian Blog Awards he picked up. As the runner up for two awards, I certainly don't mind losing to Dave, if only because it likely pissed off half the Tory war room. And a big thanks to everyone who voted for Calgary Grit!

4. Voting is now open in the Liblogs video contest.

5. Obama swept all four primaries this weekend and is expected to win three more on Tuesday. While Hillary does currently lead due to super delegates, I suspect many of the undeclared super delegates will go Obama's way. Most of the "hypothetical" polls out there show Obama doing better versus McCain than Hillary and when your re-election is the on the line, you certainly take a look at things like that. Personally, I think those polls are worthless, a dumb way to make a decision, and are probably what got Kerry the nom last time. But people still read them and Obama is certainly no John Kerry.

And with the momentum he's got going for him, he's certainly the one I'd be betting on right now.

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  • Taft then introduces rent controls as well, which any economist can tell you is not going to do anything to solve the underlying problems.

    The solution to the problems is not closing things off but opening the system. Why are fixed asset prices soaring? Because there is too much demand for too little supply. The supply, however, can only go up slowly. But slowing demand just slows the economy, right? Yes, but one can slow consumption while still making Albertans richer, and you do it by using tax dollars to buy out of region assets. This is another way of saying stop spending and save into a diversified, globally exposed Heritage Fund instead. Reductions in corporate and investment taxes would be the next best move since corporations and investors have a lower propensity to consume (especially locally).

    Also, increase supply by enabling the freest possible trade. Needed goods and services can then be imported to meet demand and reduce the shortages.

    In sum, liberalizing the market will ultimately best resolve the distortions. Rent caps, increased program spending, and so on will just make a bad situation worse.

    By Blogger Brian Dell, at 12:13 a.m.  

  • It’s never good when you appoint a close aide to be your campaign manager, and replace her with another close aide.

    (CBS/AP) Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton replaced campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle with longtime aide Maggie Williams on Sunday, engineering a shake-up in a presidential campaign struggling to overcome rival Barack Obama's financial and political strengths.

    The surprise announcement came hours after Obama's sweep of four contests Saturday. The Illinois senator also grabbed the lead in caucuses in Maine on Sunday.

    Campaign aides said Solis Doyle made the decision to leave on her own and was not urged to do so by the former first lady or any other senior member of the team. But it comes as Clinton struggles to catch Obama in fundraising and momentum and faces the prospect of losing every voting contest yet to come in February.

    Solis Doyle announced the shift in an e-mail to the staff on Sunday.

    "I have been proud to manage this campaign and prouder still to call Hillary my friend for more than 16 years," Solis Doyle wrote. "Maggie is a remarkable person and I am confident that she will do a fabulous job."

    By Blogger JimTan, at 2:51 a.m.  

  • Obama is taking charge, and may be the next leader of the free world.
    Are you ready for President Obama?

    George Vreeland Hill

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:52 a.m.  

  • Well, the argument for rent controls is as a stop gap until supply increases.

    And regardless of whether or not it's good economics, it's a popular idea, especially in Calgary.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:34 a.m.  

  • So, I'll reluctantly give NDP leader George Mason props for his plan to ban corporate and union donations. Especially since the NDP would be hurt a lot by the loss of the union donations.

    This is one of the most popular myths that Liberals like to spread. The NDP gets the bulk of its money from individual donors, always has, always will.

    By Blogger Simon, at 10:31 a.m.  

  • We launched some new social communities for the presidential candidates. We thought it would be fun to see how quickly they can grow and what people think. Check them out:

    They are brand new so be among the first to join and let's see what happens.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:32 p.m.  

  • A 10% rent hike control will not induce all the problems associated with stricter control.

    No significant rental supply has been built in Calgary in 20 years, so its not like it is a disincentive to build! They weren't building anyways!

    By Blogger Concerned Albertan, at 3:32 p.m.  

  • i couldn't afford rent, so i bought a house!

    By Blogger Unknown, at 4:50 p.m.  

  • You want to ensure that a greater percentage of apartments are converted into condos? Institute rent controls. In the town where I live, three buildings went condo only a month or so after the rent controls talk started to become serious. Rental accommodations were already scarce and that made a bad problem worse. Those buildings had been rentals since they were built decades ago so it's not like the conversions were a long term trend.

    I agree that Taft needs to hold to the fiscally conservative line and talk about the need for transparent government. The "Tax and Spend Liberals" is one of the party's biggest obstacles in terms of perceptions and the big spending announcements aren't helping.
    I thought his policy on Aboriginal funding - while well intenioned -was a huge mistake. Aboriginal funding is a federal matter and I don't think it's a door that this province can afford to open. Metis issues are provincial and conditions on Metis settlments can be as bad as those on First Nations Reserves.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:11 p.m.  

  • Sorry, but rental places being converted IS a long-term trend. It's been going on for years now ever since the housing market in Alberta climbed on its rocket-ship to the moon.

    Saying talk of rent controls caused it is ridiculous, especially within a month, because it takes longer than that to evict a person, for goodness sakes. More likely because they were long term rental buildings, the owners had to wait until the current lease agreements with the tenants had expired to jack the rates up high enough to drive them out before being able to convert.

    I don't beleive in hard caps for rent controls, but I can certainly see the value in restricting rent increases to a certain percentage of the current rent, and restricting the number of rent hikes to maybe two/year with appropriate notice for month-month holders.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:55 p.m.  

  • I've generally been in the "no election" camp over the past two years whenever the "THE GOVERNMENT IS ABOUT TO FALL!!!" speculation has started up time and time and time again.

    The probable results of the election are: Lib minority, CPC minority (we've already got one!), or CPC majority. Which one of these is favourable to Dion?

    Almost any scenario above would result in a leadership review, bad for Dion, but good for the LPC. Only one scenario is really good for the CPC, the others are the status quo, or worse.

    So, an election now is bad for Dion, good (no matter what) for the LPC, and iffy for the CPC.

    By Blogger Möbius, at 7:23 p.m.  

  • "Premierial" Yikes. When I read that, I thought it was 'primordial'.


    By Blogger James Bow, at 7:31 p.m.  

  • I have no idea who the leader George Mason of the NDP is - is he the doppelganger of Brian Mason?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:38 a.m.  

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