Tag: CBC

On being Canadian

CBC radio is a bit of an addiction. I have it and I’ve found that many of us have it.

Recently during an interview of an American entertainer that entertainer said he thought Canada function a lot like a matriarchy. I believe he considered this a compliment.

As simply put a I can, a matriarchy is a society ruled by mothers. I once had a colleague who described our job (we held the same position with different employers) as mothering our primary systems. In a pique of politically correctness, I said “parent?”. His answer was “no; Mother, there’s a difference”. There is a connection between mother and child. If a matriarchy reflects that difference, Canada functioning like one is a good thing.

Another interview with a successful Canadian entertainer provided another insight into what makes a Canadian.

The interviewer kind of hinted that it would be Ok for the singer to take full credit for his success. The quintessential self made man.

The singers response was although he could be credited with making the most of his opportunities, he was in a lot of ways lucky.

He was lucky to have been born into a loving, supportive, musical family.
He was lucky to have been born in a place that appreciated and nurtured its children.
He was lucky that the opportunity to sing came when he was ready and capable.

The difference between this and “self made” is the lack of emphasis on the “I”. Being lucky and making full use of that luck is a very different outlook than I did it all myself.

Our constitution contains the words “peace order and good government”. These watch words make us a very different nation than our southern neighbours “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

I like that difference. Hopefully we are able to maintain it.

The Plaidneck

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 (www.keepcalm.ca) 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

Why do we hear about the start of school adnauseam?

It’s now September. All the media are harping on the return to school.

Summer’s over, vacation is over, the fun ends, time to get back to work.

I was in the “transportation” business. The organization I worked for did not take Summer off. We built, repaired, restored and maintained. This work started pretty well as soon as the frost was out of the ground and will continue until pavement temperature is too low for asphalt to stick.

I will admit to being a CBC listener, but I’ve never had Burkenstocks, rarely eat granola and am not a leftist leaning pinko. However, CBC radio (I get TV over the air; their TV signal doesn’t reach here), CTV news and local press have been going on and on about getting back to school and getting back to real work.

Is it because the chattering class has really done nothing but go to school (or worked in an environment that apes school).

Think about it. Journalism is now taught in school. There is little evidence of the up through the ranks reporter. Those days are over. The prospective journalist now attends elementary, secondary school and either college or university. They all operate on the Fall, Winter, Spring model. Tasks are listen, do assignments and take the summer off. Work becomes listen, do assignments (write, produce, report) and when summer comes take vacation or cover people vacationing.

If the work of those of us keeping things going gets any publicity, it’s for the inconvenience presented to vacationing traffic.

Professional Engineers have a ceremony that taps into a poem by Rudyard Kipling. The Poem is “the Sons of Martha” (see http://www.online-literature.com/donne/920/ ). I’ve always liked the first and last verses.

There is more to life than school. It’s OK to report it, but please, some balance. There are lots other things/events going on.

The Plaidneck

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