Friday, September 10, 2004

I'm a grad student, and here's a pic..."

Yes, it's true, I have re-entered the groves of academe officially, and now have an office, which I share with a mysterious person whom I've never met. He seems to be some sort of Canadian historian. Anyhoo, in the world outside the ivory towers, things continue as normal, which means essentially that Link Byfield keeps writing shit.

No respect
By LINK BYFIELD -- Calgary Sun

Hmmm, a Byfield column entitled "No Respect." Arrrrh, there be whinin' on the horizon mateys!

I don't know Bob Foulkes and he doesn't know me. But for some reason he seems to think he does. Foulkes wrote a piece in another Calgary paper yesterday diagnosing me as basically paranoid. He didn't name me specifically.

Ok, so Mr. Foulkes specifically didn't call you paranoid, but you think he did. Doesn't that make you, um, paranoid?

He said it about all Albertans who advocate greater use of provincial rights.

Paranoia reflected onto a group is still paranoia, Link.

He imagines we are motivated by "frustration, resentment and fear," among other mental defects.

Ok, so Mr. Foulkes has a talent for stating the obvious. Not a crime, last time I checked.

Unlike Bob, I won't try to psychoanalyse the whole 60%-plus of Albertans who want more provincial autonomy and less federal government. After all, there are two million of us. But he's wrong about me, and the many I happen to know. We disagree with the centralist federal policies of the past 40 years because they've been such a huge flop.

Yeah, "a huge flop" as shown by the fact that Canada (Alberta in particular, of course) is now an economic wasteland, where innocent Albertans are deprived of health care and pensions, and the only sound is the hideous laughter of Eastern commissars reveling in their mastery (see Oi Thump! passim). Oh wait, that's not true.

He has no more reason or right to call us "resentful" and "fearful" than I would to call him a "spineless Ottawa suck-up," which I won't do.

Oh Link, you sly dog, you.

Political debate in this country would go a whole lot better if everyone would stick to the issues and stop getting personal.

We regret to inform you that the entire staff of Oi Thump! died of immediate actue irony poisoning after reading the above sentence.

I'm sure Bob's a well-motivated guy. He just happens to be wrong.

Foulkes rejects the idea of Alberta running its own provincial replacements to the Canada Pension Plan, the RCMP and federal collection of provincial taxes -- three things Albertans have the constitutional right to run for themselves the way Quebec does. He says those of us who promote these things want to "isolate Alberta" and "turn our backs on Canada."

Well, duh.

This is false. We don't.

That is false. You do.

Take the pension plan. Alberta has a unilateral right to opt into its own separate pension plan with three years' notice to the federal government. After negotiations with Ottawa, a seamless transition would occur. Pensioners would not even notice the difference.

But why do it, asks Foulkes.

Because (a) Albertans would get the same benefits as they do from the CPP at significantly less cost, and (b) Alberta's departure would force CPP premiums up in the remaining provinces, creating a national furor.

Yup, it's worth doing because it'll fuck up the neighbours! Great. I mean, what does Link Byfield have against working people in Saskatchewan or New Brunswick that he wants to their CPP premiums go up? Is this guy a fucking creep, or what?

The truth is that an Alberta pension plan would be only slightly less of a rip-off to young Albertans than the Canada Pension Plan, which is a boondoggle that should never have been started.

And what does he have against young people in Alberta, that he wants to seem them ripped off?

Alberta has been pointing this out for years. But what can we do about it?

Better public pension systems are available.

In more adaptive nations, such as Chile, citizens are now required to bank 10% of their personal income in private retirement funds.

They choose between competing, regulated private plans, and the money remains theirs, not the government's. Although anyone can still claim pension benefits from the government as an alternative, most people do better in the private system.

So it's, um, sort of like Canada then, where you can get a government pension, or invest your money yourself? What was your point here, Link?

But here we bump up against the modern Canadian dilemma, much like medicare, employment insurance and fiscal equalization.

To start the CPP, Ottawa first invaded a provincial jurisdiction by making promises it couldn't possibly keep. To pay for it, the feds vigorously siphon billions upon billions out of Ontario and Alberta. Receiving provinces cheer from the sidelines, and Ottawa refuses to fix the program.

Oh, that's why he doesn't like Saskatchewan and New Brunswick! Because he's a moron who seems to have conveniently forgotten that folks in Ontario and Alberta get pensions too!

So what should Albertans do?

Bob Foulkes says, "The solution is to work harder to bring those fellers down east around to our point of view." We should "continue our outspoken participation in the affairs of the nation (which) enriched the federation."

Well put, Bob. Sounds like Bob, at least, is definitely against "isolating Alberta" and "turning our backs on Canada." What, Link is your response to this seemingly reasonable statement?

This is bafflegab.

Why am I not surprised.

Canada is more centralized today than it was in 1993, when the Reform party first showed up en masse in Parliament. The federal government is more corrupt, more bereft of ideas, and more stubbornly hostile to the West.

Link, did you just blame the Reform party for the centralization of Canada? Did you mean to do that? Are you going to find part of a tractor in your bed tonight?

The only "enriching" the feds want from Alberta is the $12 billion they take out each year in taxes and don't send back in spending. They want our money, not our enriching point of view.

Eastern commissars, etc.

People such as Bob have to decide whether they want Eastern Canada to like us or to respect us. If it's respect, we must start exercising our rights.

No, we just have to stop being complete morons, because Easterners already do like us. You first, Link.

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