Just Needed to Offer All You Wonderful People This.
I loaded Free Surfer some time ago, and it totally wiped out almost every popup I've encountered since.
Let's get it on.
When we last left our hero, we were examining all of the parties attempting to become the next Canadian Federal Governement. Der Tag is now only a wakey away. And I am becoming nervous.
Today's issue: Strategic Voting.
Many nations do things differently from Canada. The Australian system allows the back marker's votes to be redistributed according to the preference of the voter (and oh god do I wish we had such a system in place now). The New Zealand system of parliamentery democracy allows proportionate representation, and the US has the Electoral College to choose their president for them.
Canada's current voting system, known as "first past the post", is coming under a great deal of criticism. The major problem is that under FPTP, the winner is quite simply the party who gets the most votes. This sounds pretty democratic, and it is, really. Basically, each riding or seat elects a single representative from a slate, that person becomes that riding's voice in Ottawa. The party whose members win the most seats forms the next government.
The criticism is that under this system, a party without a democratic majority (say only 30% or so of the popular vote) can form a government, while a party which won a large number of votes but didn't actually win any seats is not represented at all.
In fact, it's conceivable that a party with greater support than the declared winner could be left out entirely:
Consider Silverland, a constitutional monarchy of some 100 souls (and almost twice that number of people, but only those with souls are permitted to vote). Silverland has four ridings. In #1 live 35 people. In #2 live 55. In #3 live 8 and in #4 live 2.
Riding one has five candidates for Prime Minister. the votes break down thus:
C1 (Party of the First Part) 8
C2 (Napoleon Bona Party) 7
C3 (Party Party Party) 7
C4 (Slightly Silly Party) 7
C5 (Sub Par T) 6
Riding two has 3 candidates:
C1 (Napoleon Bona Party) 30
C2 (Party of the First Part) 19
C3 (Party What Party) 6
Riding three has four candidates:
C1 (Party of the First Part) 5
C2 (Napoleon Bona Party) 2
C3 (Slightly Silly Party) 1
C4 (Silly Party) 0
Riding four has three again:
C1 (Party of the First Part) 1
C2 (Napoleon Bona Party) 1
C3 (Party Party Party) 0
Party of the First Part: 33 Seats won: 3/4
Napoleon Bona Party: 40 1/4
Obviously there's much greater democratic support for the Nappys. Yet the Firsts will form the next government.
Recently, given that our last couple of governments arose from similar circumstances, there's been a great deal of questioning as to how to address this problem. Most people want "Proportionate representation". I don't think it'll solve anything. The real question is do we want a government that accurately reflects (translation: blows in the wind of) political opinion in Canada?
I greatly fear we might get one. People are making noises that this system should be "fixed". Why, especially? It seems to work as well as many other systems. Besides, there are lots of people I feel should resolutely be un-listened to. To allow such persons as these a free voice, democracy and proportionate representation were no virtue.
Canadians tend to switch governments whether we need to or not, especially after the last leader steps down. If this eliminates the Liberals, then we're in grave danger.
Of the remaining parties, the Greens are barely a force at all. The Marijuana party isn't going to be in government, and people perceive the NDP as willing to mis-spend their hard-earned tax dollars.
Let's look quickly at the Green Party.
The Green platform is pretty straightforward: They support environmental causes. This I could gibe with. But if we investigate their thinking, we find some cracks.
Kyoto: I agree. We signed it, we should implement it. But let's bear in mind that some flexibility will be required--the science surrounding global warming is more suceptible to trends than most.
"Global Inequality". No-one has yet convinced me that inequality per se is a problem. That part of the world stuffs itself while part of the world starves is unfair, but it is not automatically inherent in capitalism, and still less is it in any way related to free trade (about NAFTA and free trade the Greens are conspicuously silent).
"The Green Party has a plan to stop the concentration of wealth at the very tip of the economic pyramid, and restructure the economy on a more balanced and sustainable footing."
This is worrying to me. What exactly is this plan? How is our whole economy "unsustainable"? What exactly is wrong with it in the first place? Are Robert Mugabe's dearly-beloved citizens going to get a better shake because I pay more tax?
They go on: They want the World Trade Organization brought under the UN. Well now, that's exactly why it's an independent body.
They want to agitate for "fair trade". I don't buy anything fair trade, and here's why.
All supposedly "fair trade" products are sold at artificially created prices. These prices are supposed to address global inequality by paying someone in a market where say, coffee, is dirt-cheap to grow a bigger price to grow it in a way that pleases North Americans. This may include "shade-grown" coffee, "certified organic" coffee, or some other variety.
But agriculturally, this is likely, in the long run, to be a threat to domestic markets in other consumables, especially food crops. Think about it: Why should I grow maize (the world's #1 staple) for $5 a tonne when I can grow coffee for $12?
This will have two effects: 1) The coffee market will become saturated--yet due to the artificially inflated "fair trade" pricing promise, farmers won't have any other incentive to diversify. 2) Locals will have to buy imported foods--probably from nations such as the US, with its massively unfair crop subsidies and trade barriers.
Those who can't afford expensive imported foodstuffs will suffer. Hurrah for fair trade. It's not fair to the producer in the long term, it's not fair to retailers who will have to pay inflated prices in a glutted market, and it's sure enough not fair to people like me who want a cheap cuppa joe.
If $3.00 coffees (lattés, cappucinos and the like) are part of your active lifestyle, then fine. But don't expect me to be sad for you when fair trade jacks the price to $5.
I don't object to the emotion that inspires the fair trade crusade, and I feel that those who pick and choose what they buy in such a fashion constitute an imporatant market segment--and in that role they far better influence international trade than were all buyers and sellers to be forced into their way of doing things.
Anyway--let's see what the Green party has to say on defence:
Uh. Nothing. Doesn't that seem a little weird to anyone? A search for "armed forces" brings up 0 pages. There's some blather about "security", but no defined statement to tell you whether they're for or against.
Health: Like most parties, the Greens take a "throwing money at it won't fix it" approach. Interesting idea. "Why not?"--to quote a friend in the health business. I mean, if giving more money to farmers in fair trade can solve that particular pickle, why not giving health professionals a little extra?
They would "reduce the long hours Canadians are working". Urrgh! I just got cold chills--how ya gonna make me?--And why? If I wanna put in overtime and make more money, why do you want to stop me?
Most Canadians earn something around the average, a bit over $30,000 for single people. The current poverty line is estimated at $33,000 for a family of four. But as this linked article proves, all that means is that a family at that income level is likely to spend more than 55% of its income on the basics (food, shelter, clothing).
So if an individual makes nearly enough to feed, house, and clothe a family by him-or-herself, then why do so many families report that both adults "have" to work.
This, I suspect, is due to our acquisitive drive to buy non-basics (cell phones, computers, stereos etc). And there's a lot to buy, y'know.
So if it's a choice, how are you going to slow people down?
There's a lot of other issues I take issue with as presented by the Green Party--though let's never say I don't respect their dedication and their stances on many things. But unlike Rafe Mair, I can't just fall in with them. I want practical measures that don't self-contradict; the Greens prattle childishly on about an "interconnected world" in their "Canadian Security" section. Yet their interconnected world doesn't include things like free trade.
Many people feel that proportional representation would solve the "inexplicable" problem of Canada having no Greens in its Parliament, while European governments contain scads of 'em. But the Euro-Greens have emerged from years on the fringe to become mainstream. They can talk trade and pronounce the word globalisation without foaming at the mouth.
The "economic justice" policy page at the GP HQ online features a picture of a person spraying the word "capitalism" onto a wall with a paint bomb (thus jettisonning chemicals into the air, onto the ground, into groundwater sources. . .).
That leaves the Conservatives.
These guys scare the hell out of me. Basically, they're the ultra-right wing Party Formerly Known as Reform and for a While After That the Alliance as Well as the United Alternative for a Bit. These are not the mid-range tories of yesteryear, but the mean and low of the nation.
The PFKRWATAWUAB wants:
To enforce the 2003 health accord, including a $1.3 bn raise for health-related transfer payments (ah--but throwing money at it won't solve anything. . .).
Pull out of Kyoto and introduce a "clean air act"--I would guess it'd work at least as well as George Bush's (Sr or Jr). But dammit--is our word as a nation good for nothing?
Drop taxes on "middle income earners" (If Canadians earn anywhere from $0 to $200,000, then isn't 'middle income' $100,000?), add a $2000-per-kid deduction, and increase the Goods and Services Tax credit. Okay--with what money? Harper has said he wants Canuck taxes down to US levels. That's going to cost--and based only on what I've looked at so far, he's got to find an extra couple of billion already--but there's more.
$1 bn a year to cities (is that 1 bn each or $2 million for fifty of 'em, or $200,000 for five hundred?). Of course if Paul Martin lived up to his promise on gas taxes, this'd be unnecessary.
Co-operate on US "missile defence". No, no, no. It doesn't work, it isn't sensible, it's expensive. . . God, how wrong and foolish can you get? Tighten the special relationship with the US. Like it could get much tighter: The FBI operates offices in our cities, their customs officers make up laws arbitrarily and we say nothing. . .No, Mister Harper, no.
$7 bn to the Canadian Forces. Finally something I'm up for. . . but again--how to pay for it?
Their platform is well-defined, and contains little gems on marriage, defence, and agriculture (spell that t-r-a-d-e p-r-o-t-e-c-t-i-o-n-i-s-m) that convince me that I'd rather just vote for the boring old Liberal party.
The Liberals? Well we've had 'em the last ten years, and they did at least as good a job as Mulroney--so perhaps we oughta just stick with them? I won't discuss their platform as I'm tired and want to go to bed.
Strategic voting: No-one has a platform that even resembles what I want in this country, so I have to consider where my vote's gonna go.
The NDP won't get in--but a Liberal/NDP coalition might be able to push a Conservative minority government around a bit.
The Christian Heritage and Greens are just too far out in left (and right) field(s) for me.
The NDP is as close to what I want as anything else, but not quite enough--plus their lack of accounting for the money for their plans bothers me.
The Conservatives? Yuck.
The Liberals? Hmmmmm.
Guess we'll all see how tomorrow turns out.
Good luck and smart voting (ie anyone but the Conservatives).
Aaaah! This explains a lot!