Category: Being Canadian (page 2 of 2)

Growth and Demographics

Growth and Demographics

I’ve wondered why our gurus all tout growth. We are told that:
• we can borrow to defer paying for things now because growth will allow us to pay the interest plus the principal and maybe have something left in the future.
• we must grow or we are failing, and that
• without growth there is no prosperity.

Because of our “gurus” we assume:
• that savings will always grow.
• that there will be enough increases to pay for today’s debts.
• what was before (during a long population growth era) will always be even though things aren’t necessarily growing.
• we can keep growing

Is that necessarily so?

My son ( recognized that our fascination with growth was often based on the run up of population cause by the post war baby boom. He was one of those small classes in school that followed a run of large classes. He noticed the difference, took a look at those following him and recognized that growth wasn’t necessarily going to continue. He reasoned that demographics should be more of the discussion than it appeared to be. He advocates a minimalist approach and it looks like he was correct.

Without growth in population, why should our economic models be based solely on growth? Maybe we should develop an economic model that doesn’t rely on growth (and maybe the “boomers” should be required to pay much more of their own way).

Is constant growth really possible? A couple of events seemed to that it is not.

1. Fiction, but thought provoking: There was a Star Trek episode (I think the Next Generation) where the place being visited had recognized that slavishly advocating growth was pushing them towards disaster. Their solution was to keep up on things for well being (medicine etc.) but return to a more pastoral and static economy. They didn’t emphasize growth. Might have been a utopian slant but it was definitely something to think about.

2. Experimentation reported on a CBC radio show (Quirks and Quarks I believe). An experiment where a single cell organism was placed in a closed test tube of food. The organism(s) ate and divided once a minute. The amount of food was designed to be fully consumed in one hour. There were some questions – If 11:00 is the start of the experiment,
a. how much food would be left in 11:55 minutes? Something like 97%
b. how much food would be left at 11:59. 50%

But this is 50% growth. Wouldn’t slow growth be OK? What if things grow at 1% per year? That should be OK?

The unfortunate problem with growth is it isn’t straight line. It’s growth on growth. If the world’s population grows at only 1% per year:
• there will be 50% more of us (10.5 billion) in 2050 and
• more twice as much of us (15 billion) in 2085.

Finally, we seem to look at Canada as a vast empty land. True, but how much of what is empty is capable of supporting people? To support people, they have to be fed. Unfortunately we are filling up our farmland with housing and the non arable areas are left sparsely populated. Some of us rue the loss of species but we continue to invade and thus adversely alter their habitat. Natural calamities are much more disastrous because more of us are in their path.

Maybe our low birth rate and lack of population growth is really the right way to go.
Maybe it is time to make a concerted effort to develop an economy that doesn’t rely on “growth”

The Plaidneck

Hockey and Soldiering — an UWAT

Hockey and Soldiering

UWAT – Unproven/unfounded Wild-Ass Theory

I sometimes get brainstorms and develop some pretty hair brained UWATs.  Now that my children gave me my own website, I get to put some of them out there.

During the last century’s two World Wars, Canadian soldiers were renown.  They (along with some other Dominion forces) were the Commonwealth’s shock troops.  Tim Cook in his two volume history of the First World War relates that the Germans called the Canadians Storm Troops.  In the Second World War, the Canadians were given the tough task of liberating the lowlands – open, flat land that was well defended and where the defenders had a good view of anyone advancing.

During the recent Afghanistan war, Canadians were tough, effective and respected.

This is Fact.  The Canadian Soldier is good.

My UWAT is that our national sport(s) Hockey (and Lacrosse) set(s) us up to be the kind of people who can excel in the adversity and confusion that come with combat.  I don’t mean the rockem sockem stuff, but the game as played by most of us at some time during our development.  This UWAT is based more on the game of hockey than Lacrosse but knowing both games, the principles being discussed are the same.

Hockey is said to have begun in the 1850s and formalized with rules in the 1880s.  Our WW1 and 2 soldiers would have been familiar with the game and most likely played some form of hockey. (Lacrosse was played here in some form for more than 500 years.  It too was formalized at about the time of Confederation.  Many Canadians also played Lacrosse).

Hockey is a free flowing game where all players must be adaptable and be able to cover for a team mate who gets caught out of position.  The Captain of the team most often leads by example rather than giving orders and is not always on the playing surface.  Although there are set plays, the game is so fluid that any set play is most likely a variation on the theme and adaptation and innovation is commonplace.

On any team, the players are there because of skill level and love of the game.  Social status/Class doesn’t matter as long as you can do your job and cover for the others as needed.

Compare this to the games popular in the United States.
1.    (Rugby) Football: where the quarterback directs all offense & player rolls are much more defined and the Middle Linebacker directs the defense, and
2.    Baseball where the Manager (not a player) calls the game and all positions are very narrowly defined.

And to the games of the UK.
1.    Rugby which is a very upper class game, and
2.    Football (Soccer) which is the game for the commoner.
3.    Cricket is a game with very narrowly defined roles.

Is it not possible that when the lessons of a mechanized industrial war were being learned Canadians excelled because their national game(s) had established the psyche necessary for soldiers adapt as the battle plan disintegrated; assume more responsibility during interruptions in the chain of command due casualties and to adjust as situations required?

If someone can develop an actual thesis of this UWAT, go ahead.  If possible, I’d like some recognition as the original spark and maybe a copy of the paper.

2012 02 13                                    The Plaidneck



Canada is a land of immigrants.  True, but the psyche of the immigrants changes.

Our first immigrants were hunters about 40,000 years ago following herds across a land bridge under what is now the Bering Straight from Asia.  Although glaciation had lowered the sea level to open the bridge, this area was not glaciated.

Because of their means of travel, these people were here to stay.

As glaciation changed costal and inland migration routes opened and closed.  Settlement that was originally towards Central and South America extended into the eastern parts of North America approximately 10,000 years ago.

Again, except perhaps for some back migration from Alaska, these people were here to stay.  We now refer to the cultures descended from these early migrants as our First Nations.

After Columbus, Europeans began immigrating to the Americas.  In Canada, most of the settlement was from northern Europe.  Although there was traffic back across the ocean, most of the people who came prior to the formation of Canada came to stay.  When the trip took approximately 30 days in a small wooden ship, returning to one’s country of origin was rare.  Pre-Confederation immigrants were predominantly here to stay.

My family came to a portion of the Canadas near Huntington Quebec and farmed.  When they had enough equity, they sold and like many exhighland people, moved to Glengarry County Ontario.  The family was here to stay.

I am a Canadian.

Up to the middle 20th century, immigration was predominately by sea.  It took about a week aboard a ship to get here and then some time on a train to reach a place to settle.  Although trips home were more common, most were here to stay.  My aunt was a WW2 war bride.  I doubt if she made more than 5 trips to her country of birth in the 60 years she was capable of travelling.

Things have changed.  It seems to me that many of today’s immigrants because of ease of mobility are not as committed to the land.  When a half day’s flight by plane at relatively low prices is all it takes to “go home” anywhere in the world, home becomes not here.

We now have an obtuse desire to subdivide people.  We are not Canadians, but “xyz-Canadians”.  Why do we have to subdivide?  In conversation, if asked it may be alright to say I’m a Canadian of “xyz” origin, but please don’t hyphenate.

In 1907, Wilfred Laurier 7th Prime Minister of Canada said: “’In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes a Canadian and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin..
But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet a Canadian, and nothing but a Canadian…
There can be no divided allegiance here.  Any man who says he is a Canadian, but something else also, isn’t a Canadian at all.”

On January 17th 2012, Stephen Harper 22nd Prime Minister, when asked about dual citizenship told reporters “I’m a Canadian and only a Canadian”.

Two Prime Ministers from two parties from two centuries.  Good company

We should be Canadians.  Period.  Today, I’m afraid that this is not always the case and when is isn’t, it’s hurts the country.



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