Tag Archives: Politics

Rex Murphy talks some sense

I was thinking about writing a post about my thoughts on the recent Canadian election. But what do I know of politics.  So here’s a clip of Rex Murphy talking sense about Stephen Harper and the Conservatives (other than the unnecessary jab at intellects). I don’t know Murphy’s political bent. For the record, I didn’t vote Conservative, so this isn’t about my political proclivities. I just don’t like the fear-mongering that goes on.

Ground Zero Mosque

I haven’t been following this Mosque on Ground Zero business very closely (is it actually on ground zero or near ground zero? It seems to depend on who you ask), but theologian John Stackhouse has some good things to say about it, if you’re at all interested.

From his first post on the subject:

If we don’t think all Muslims are implicated in the attack, then of course they should be allowed to build a mosque or community centre or whatever the heck they want to build wherever the zoning and funding will allow—just like any other citizens.

I’m a Christian. In fact, I’m an evangelical Christian. Am I implicated in the shooting of abortion doctors? Am I implicated in the policies of the Harper government here or the Bush administration recently gone? Am I implicated in whatever James Dobson or Pat Robertson or Franklin Graham or Benny Hinn says? If so, then I’m a pretty dangerous guy. If not, then you’ll have to treat me like anyone else you hardly know: as a neighbour, a fellow citizen, who must be allowed the full exercise of his rights and liberties until I have manifestly proven myself unworthy of them.

I think this is the strongest argument–American rights and freedoms.  I’m not sure how it could be seen otherwise.

In his second post he deals with the question of Islam and violence, pointing out that humans are prone to violence and will use whatever they can to legitimize it–whether it is Islam, Christianity, Buddhism or some other ethos:

We cannot, therefore, oppose the Ground Zero mosque on the grounds that even mainstream Islam legitimizes some violence sometimes–as if Christianity (or secular humanism, or what have you) doesn’t. It all depends on what violence is legitimized in what circumstances. And so the key point here is that the particular violence in question, the violence of 9/11, has been explicitly and repeatedly condemned by the Muslim leaders who want the mosque and community center to be built.

Greenwashing, non-socialist talking beasts

Via my friend Chris (no, not you), I introduce my readers to the clever, subtle, hilarious and informative comic art (comart? cart?) of Lunchbreath.  Some samples A couple of links to a couple of samples:

And have a look at the rest of his Infotoons set.

Enjoy.

Fair Trade fair?

There is an interesting discussion going on at Scot McKnight’s blog about whether or not Fair Trade is a good thing.  Naturally, there are good (non-self-interested) arguments for both sides in the comment (Scot is now blogging at beliefnet.com and I haven’t quite figured out how to get both the full text of the post and all the comments at the same time).

One comment (by a Joey) stood out for me:

Live local, buy local. I don’t claim to know tons about how the world market works or even the Fair Trade industry but it seems that the only sustainable and responsible way to do agriculture is to do it locally and to encourage others to do the same. We have plenty of farm land in the US to supply our nutritional needs. So do countries in South America. It is our attitude of entitlement that makes us think we deserve strawberries in January not our responsible stewardship.

(No comment linkage possible.)

Not about the Fair Trade issue per se, but a good point nonetheless.  I keep thinking that I should, to begin with, buy more stuff at the local farmer’s market.

My Economics 101 professor in university told me that I should think about pursuing an economics major.  Economics 200 proved within the first two weeks of class to be disasterous for me, so that didn’t pan out.  So, I don’t have a clue about the ins and outs of international trade, economics and politics, but I’ve always wondered why we import grain and oil (for instance) from other countries when it’s my understanding that we’re quite capable of meeting our own demand for those products.

Incidentally, the other day I got to thinking that I should just start buying Tim Hortons’ beans, because, quite frankly, it’s the coffee I enjoy most (I don’t care what the rest of you snobs think).  Judging by their website (their website, mind you), Tim Hortons appears to be involved in fair trade practices (without, apparently, a stamp of approval from an arbitrary fair trade approver and stamper) and even addressing some of the concerns of some of the commenters on Scot McKnight’s blog.

They offer

direct financial assistance for technical training to improve the quantity and quality of coffee produced and assist farmers in getting their coffee to market at the best time and for the best price. Assistance is also provided on environmental management, in both proper farming techniques and reforestation projects, led by Tim Hortons.

Tim Hortons also recognizes the need for direct involvement with coffee growing communities for their social programs – providing assistance primarily in education and medical care.

The Tim Hortons approach is different from other world wide sustainable coffee initiatives. While admirable, some programs may require certification on behalf of the farmers which is an expense they cannot afford, plus the price provided may be less than what it should be and may have no relation to the quality of the coffee produced. In addition, the programs can have little or no involvement on the part of the coffee retailer. The Tim Hortons program ensures that the money spent actually reaches or benefits the coffee grower and the surrounding community. (link)

Am I just gullible or can I buy Tim Hortons coffee in good conscience?  (And if you think I’m gullible—how many of you have looked up the organizations that allow other FT coffees to put their stamp of approval on their packaging—how do we ever know if it’s really fair trade without going down to the plantations ourselves?)

Obama

Well, I see Obama has been elected President of the United States of America.

And so I join the throng of bloggers across the globe who in the last couple of hours have at least typed the word Barack and/or Obama at least once.

I admit I haven’t followed the U.S. election campaign very closely, and so the Obamic* appeal for me is based purely on his apparent ability to inspire hope in people—hope for possibility and change.

Will things change?  Some people seem to be giving Barack a messianic air.  I, on the other hand, tend to be quite pessimistic about politics.  In Canada, at any rate, it seems that as sincere as a candidate’s campaign promises may be, his or her hands will be fairly tied once in office.  Maybe it’s different in the U.S.  And maybe Obama is a president-elect unlike any other in recent history.

But right now any promises he has made are still promises.

Having said that, and with my almost complete ignorance of the candidates’ respective policies (which makes the following statement fairly vacuous) in mind*, I’m pretty excited that Barack Obama was elected. For some reason he inspires hope in me, too, and I’m not an American.

Clever campaigning? Or sincerity? Once again, we shall see.
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*Keep you eyes open: I’m counting on “Obamic” and maybe even “Obamic appeal” to become a pundit mainstay in the relatively near future. And, as far as I know, I just coined it!
**Please don’t bring up the abortion issue now. I’ve been thinking about it again and may post my thoughts soon, so maybe save your comments until then. Also, there are probably elements of both candidates’ policies with which I take issue. Which candidate has more offensive material? Or, which candidate’s offensive material overpowers whose? That’s not for this post (or for me, in my ignorance, to even ponder at this point).

Canada’s electoral system

Look like a slightly stronger Conservative minority government on the way.  I’m OK with that.

But I’m looking once again at the popular vote statistics and the numbers are out of whack.  I know I do this every election, but bear with me.

Currently a party wins seats in the house of commons based on the number of ridings won by its candidates, regardless of relative populations of those ridings.

So, hypothetical worst-case scenario: there are 3 ridings in Saskanada, Riding 1 has a population of 100,000; Riding 2 has a population of 10,000; and Riding 3 has a population of 5,000.  The Marc Party could form Saskanada’s government by getting 51% of the vote in Ridings 2 and 3, even if the Dixie party won 100% of the popular vote in Riding 1.  It’s more nuanced than that, I’m sure, but that’s the problem in an nutshell.

The problem is strongly evident in the division of seats between the Bloc Quebecois (which really only represents the interests of Quebec and not the nation’s and runs only in Quebec) and the Green Party (which runs nationwide).  The Bloc won (or is currently at) 10% of the popular vote.  The Green Party is very close to the Bloc with 7% of the popular vote.

BUT…because of our electoral system, the Bloc has won 50 seats in the House of Commons and the Green Party has not won a single seat .  In other words, a 3% difference in popular vote but a 5000%+ difference in number of seats won (of course, you can’t really calculate a percentage difference between 0 and 50).

This is why I’m for electoral reform.

Who would benefit from a government bailout?

song chart memes

It’s funny ’cause it’s true.  I’ve been thinking about this $700,000,000,000 since it was announced.  Where did this come from?  Why do the people who caused the crisis in the first place get such a bailout?  And where was this $700,000,000,000 when Bono & Co. were working on Third World debt relief? Why should the U.S. economy (or the Canadian economy for that matter) be bailed out, but not Third World economies.

It bothers me that this money is available, but it is brought out for purely political reasons.  I know there’s probably more to this than I understand: I’m not a finance and investment guy.  But still:  $700,000,000,000 is a lot of money to pull out of your arse just like that.

I guess that’s the perk of being a billion dollar corporation.  You can bring thousands of people and businesses to financial ruin, but the government will bail you out.

I think I’m an idealist—or I should be.  I think that might be my sermon topic this week: should Christians be idealists?  Were Jesus’ commands and way of life simply options for us to accept or reject?

What does the common good look like?

From the Center for Public Justice (via):

The view seems to be that in public life we are essentially identical and must be treated the same. No business may refuse to serve us.  And since government must serve all equally, private groups supported by government also must serve everyone equally.

But this public conformity concept of the common good is unsustainable.  It is a new secular theocracy.  Against it there is a strong commandment.  The commandment is the First Amendment of the Constitution, which protects religion from government imposition—protects not only religious belief but also religious exercise.  It protects doctors whose conscience forbids certain procedures and it protects religious charities when they insist that only applicants who share their convictions can join their staffs.

When government honors religious exercise in this way, some citizens will have to go to another doctor’s office instead of this one, and some citizens will find they cannot get jobs with some nonprofits.  Not being welcomed everywhere seems an intolerable imposition to the proponents of uniformity.  But it is the real consequence of protecting religious freedom.  There would be no need for the constitutional protection if religious freedom did not sometimes require some people to give way.

We must face the reality.  America is home to several moral communities.  The government should not be used to enforce a single code of behavior that denies the deep religious convictions of many people and institutions of faith.  The common good that the government must foster and protect is not homogeneous but includes diverse contributions from a diverse civil society.  The common good is comprised of multiple colors. (link)

It’s about the U.S., but I think it applies here, too.

An election must be nigh, take 2 (a.k.a. John Stackhouse says it better)

John Stackhouse says it better than I did:

Mr. Duceppe seems to be unhappy about people running for office who “share an ideology, a narrow ideology.” But surely most people who enter politics do have one or another ideology, and of a quite particular sort, that motivates them so strongly that they undergo the rigors of political life.

Furthermore, one might think that someone who spends most of his political life trying to achieve a single goal–removal of Quebec from the Canadian confederation–could be characterized as having “a narrow ideology.”

. . . but it is apparently the correct narrow ideology, one that corresponds with modern times in Quebec–during which, if Mr. Duceppe had his way, only his narrow ideology would count, and anyone else’s would be properly set aside. (Link)

Indeed.