Saturday, April 28, 2007

Red Green politics

At both the E-Group and POGGE, I've been trying (with limited success) to flesh out the argument that the Dion-May deal is a good thing from a pro-environment politics perspective, with the caveat that it must lead to a transformative election on the question of climate change, environmental sustainability and green economics. Canada needs all political parties, and indeed all of our public policy discourse, to make a real and permanent shift away from the assumption that the environment and the economy are by definition in conflict.

A quote from my dusty old environmental economics textbook (one of the few university texts I keep on a shelf rather than in a box in the basement), which sounds elementary to those who get it but remains taboo in the field of traditional economics, sums up the issue:

"[Optimal allocation of environmental and natural resources] requires an understanding of more than just economic behavior. It also requires an understanding of the whole ecological system and how the ecological system responds to changes in both the economic system and the ecological system." (James R. Kahn, The Economic Approach to Environmental and Natural Resources)

In 2007, this should be common sense. There is no economy without the environment. As such, economic analysis must, to the utmost extent possible, incorporate environmental factors.
This is why the Stern Report is so important: it's a validation of what environmentalists have been trying to get across for decades. And it's why the current debate in Canada over the costs of implementing Kyoto is so infuriating - especially to those among us who plan to be alive in 50 years. I mean, do we honestly think that doing nothing, or doing anything less than absolutely everything we can do now, is going to save our economy?

This is why the Red Green deal is a good thing - provided we don't stop there but rather make the next election about this essential principle of fully including environmental factors into our economics. It should have been done a long time (say, maybe, 14 years, or 10, or 7 years) ago. It wasn't.

And I want to reiterate a point I've made elsewhere - the Greens shouldn't presume that they'll still be standing if and when this transformation in complete. There are lots of ways to be green. The NDP, Libs and Tories have lots of eco-tested policy instruments to choose from and make their own according to their values. The Greens may turn out to be nothing more than a transitional presence on Canada's political landscape.

And you know what? I honestly don't care who'se left standing anymore. But we need to get over this hang-up of choosing between the economy or the environment, and now.

Becasue if we don't - well, I think George Carlin put it best: "The planet is fine. The people are fucked."

A new fave

I'm always interested to see progressive-minded bloggers and thinkers popping up in different places, especially in places where progressive politics tend to get stuck on the back burner. Such is it that the blog of one Ken Chapman, operating out of Edmonton, has attracted my attention, as have his very interesting posts over on the E-group.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Talking about cars...

I have to admit that I find this program quite interesting - though somewhat modest and perhaps a bit too picky (though on the other hand, it's not the Conservative Party's fault the Honda Fit doesn't measure up - or the Aveo, or the Accent, or the Versa....

And as an unreconstructed car dweeb, I gotta admit I find this tool to be genuinely fun, and genuinely useful, if not always user-friendly. Who knew a Chevrolet Optra gets worse mileage than a Monte Carlo?

Yeah, I know... never mind...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

An unfinished lyric

Sometimes it's such an interesting world that we live in
We tend to lose hold of ourselves
Holding on to some old familiar meaning
That should put back on the shelf.

I was seeing in you
So many things that were not true
Got caught up in one to many lines

Now it turns out we've been wasting time
We've been wasting time and we don't know why

Today's a mildly better day

Some relatively good news on some family health fronts. A relatively productive day at the office. Koivu takes the team on his back and leads the Habs to vivtory (memo to Zdeno Chara: the Bell Centre clean-up crew found your jockstrap - it landed in the Molson Ex section). And the music continues to heal. As I write this, I'm listening to Elbow's excellent recent album, "Leaders of the Free World." Some really powerful recordings.

I think the time is coming for me to write more openly about myself in the hope of gaining some value from this little online diary experiment of mine. It's difficult though, at least if I want to continue to blog the way I want to.

For now, I guess I'll start by linking to this.

Back later.

Beyond parody

Keith Richards says in an interview today that he snorted his father's ashes mixed with cocaine.

Money quote:

"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father....He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared. . . . It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."

Monday, April 2, 2007

My smile stays on

A a musician and a music fan, I've always been partial to the edge and emotion that comes from a good live performance. And as a Britrock fan, I was quite tickled when it was announced a couple of years ago that Paul Rodgers (ex of Free, Bad Company, and one of the most bitchin' electric blues album - "Muddy Water Blues" - ever) had teamed up with Queen. Skeptical, but tickled.

A couple of weeks ago, "Return of the Champions," a live album from the 2005-06 Queen + Paul Rodgers tour, was put up in the Canadian ITunes store. On somewhat of a whim, on Sunday I bought their arrangement of "The Show Must Go On."

And I've been playing it ever since.

Not just because Paul Rodgers' shredded, but still vital, pipes were made for this song. Not just because Brian May is on fire.

And not just because some family members of mine, not to mention some family relationships, are currently mired in periods of less-than-great health, or because there is very little I can do about any of it.

But man, I needed this song.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

A worthy cause

General Motors has announced a funky little campaign to test interest in launching a minicar (i.e. smaller, more economical and cheaper than the Aveo/Fit/Yaris segment) in North America.

Starting on April 4, web surfers will have the chance to go to the site (linked in the post title, above) and vote on which of three minicar designs they would wish GM to employ for their foray into this much-misunderestimated segment of the North American auto market. The key thing for GM, however, will be the level of traffic and interest. Money quote from the wire story:

"The results will help Chevy determine U.S. market interest in the minicar segment, and which design resonates best with potential buyers," said the company's statement."

In other words, if people don't turn out and vote, GM will have a lovely excuse to back out.

This is important. It's important because to date, options in this segment in North America are frustratingly slim - basically it's the Smart or bust. If GM can successfully bring out a model that will come in under the Aveo/Fit/Yaris in terms of price and cost, it will give urban and suburban dwellers (esp. in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, New England/New York) a choice they haven't had in a very long time.

So don't let GM claim buyer apathy. Give them lots of good reasons to bring this car out. Vote.

So what have I been doing...

...instead of writing on my own blog?

Weighing on the Quebec election at the E-group, and partaking in a chat about child care over at Work in Progress.

So much for this blog being about things other than politics....