February 21, 2012

First it was the “he-cession”: now it’s the “she-cession” in Ontario

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Cancon, Economics, Government — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:47

Frances Woolley in the Globe & Mail Economy Lab says that the next phase of Ontario’s recovery from the 2008 recession will disproportionally fall on women:

Men were hit hard by the 2008-9 economic downturn, with losses of construction jobs (98 per cent male), transport jobs (90 per cent male), and manufacturing jobs (70 per cent male). Male unemployment rose so quickly that people began to talk about a “he-cession.”

Three years on, a tenuous “he-covery” seems to be under way – male unemployment rates fell last year, and the percentage of men with jobs rose.

Now it’s the ladies’ turn. Ontario’s Drummond Report calls for deep cuts to financial, administrative and secretarial jobs throughout the public service. Strictly speaking, the report recommends cutting costs; automating, streamlining and consolidating the delivery of services. Yet administrative costs equal administrative jobs — jobs that are, 8 times out of 10, held by women.

The bulk of Ontario government spending goes to MUSH — Municipalities, Universities, Schools and Hospitals. Overall spending cannot be reduced substantially without making cuts in these areas. There are about 280,000 teachers and professors in Ontario, and 65 per cent of them are female. The Drummond report recommends larger class sizes for elementary and secondary school teachers, and “flexible” teaching loads for university professors. Yet more students per teacher mean fewer teaching jobs. Just as a downturn in the construction sector leads to male unemployment, a downturn in the teaching sector leads to female unemployment.

Death on the railways

Filed under: Economics, Government, India, Railways — Tags: — Nicholas @ 11:37

I didn’t realize the extent of the problem in India, as reported in the Guardian:

About 15,000 people are killed each year while crossing the tracks on India’s mammoth railway network, according to a government safety panel that recommended more bridges and overpasses should be built as a matter of urgency.

Most of the deaths occur at unmanned railroad crossings, the panel said in a report. About 6,000 people die on Mumbai’s crowded suburban rail network alone, it said.

Another 1,000 people die when they fall from crowded coaches, when trains collide or coaches derail.

[. . .]

The committee blamed railway authorities for the “grim picture”, saying there were lax safety standards and poor management.

It said local managers were not given adequate power to make crucial decisions and that safety regulations were also breached because of severe manpower shortages.

It does seem odd that one of the world’s most populous countries — once known for chronic over-staffing of government and government-owned organizations — has “manpower shortages” in this critical area.

The real problem with forcing employers’ insurance to pay for contraception

Filed under: Government, Health, Liberty, Religion, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:29

At the Adam Smith Institute blog, Tom Clougherty discusses the biggest problem with the current American debate over contraceptives and insurance coverage:

Now, I’m no Rick Santorum. I’m a fan of contraception. But there’s so much wrong with this story that it’s hard to know where to start. Should the government really compel you to buy a service from a private company? It’s probably better than the government nicking your money and providing that service themselves, but for a libertarian it still rankles. Then there’s the insensitivity to deeply-held religious conviction, which not only exposes the ‘liberal’ left’s inability to tolerate social mores that differ from their own, but also highlights the way big government inevitably tramples on diversity and choice with its one-size-fits-all monomania. And then there’s the idiot-economics which suggests that you can force a company to provide a service without anyone having to pay for it. In this case, assuming insurance companies can’t find a way of covertly passing on the cost of contraceptive cover to church-affiliated employers, then everyone else with insurance ends up footing the bills through higher premiums.

But perhaps the biggest problem is the one explained by Sheldon Richman in this Freeman article: contraception has nothing whatsoever to do with insurance.

    Insurance arose as a way for individuals to pool their risk of some low-probability/high-cost misfortune befalling them. It shouldn’t be necessary to point this out, but coming of child-bearing age and choosing to use contraception is not an insurable event. It’s a volitional act. It may have good consequences for the person taking the action and society at large, but it is still a volitional act. It makes no sense to talk about insuring against the eventuality that a particular person will use contraception.

The Cult of Warm

Filed under: Environment, Media, Science — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:47

Elizabeth sent me a link to this article by Daniel Greenfield on the climate change/global warming debate:

The journey from hypothesis to rock solid consensus is a long one, and it doesn’t end just because Al Gore makes a documentary or a few ads show crying polar bears. Positions are argued, minds change and then a century later the graduate students have fun mocking the ignorance of both sides. That’s science.

Unfortunately, the Cult of Warm doesn’t accept that there is a debate. As far as they are concerned, the debate never happened because it never needed to happen because they were always right. They can’t intelligently address dissent, because their science is not based on discovering the evidence needed to lead to a consensus, but on insisting that there is a consensus and that accordingly there is no need to debate the evidence.

In an ordinary scientific debate, a professor leaving one side and joining another might occasion some recriminations and name calling, but it wouldn’t make him anathema. But like being gay or Muslim, hopping on board the Warm Train makes you a permanent member, and there is no room for changing your mind. Once a Warmist, always a Warmist. That’s not a rational position, but then the Cult of Warm is not a rational faith.

Scientific debates have often had big stakes for human philosophy, but Global Warming is one of the few whose real world implications are as big as its philosophical consequences. At stake is nothing less than the question of whether the human presence on earth is a blight or a blessing, and whether every person must be tightly regulated by a global governance mechanism for the sake of saving the planet.

Greece: “now officially a ward of the international community”

Filed under: Economics, Europe, Government — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:40

Felix Salmon on the dire Greek financial future:

Greece is now officially a ward of the international community. It has no real independence when it comes to fiscal policy any more, and if everything goes according to plan, it’s not going to have any independence for many, many years to come. Here, for instance, is a little of the official Eurogroup statement:

    We therefore invite the Commission to significantly strengthen its Task Force for Greece, in particular through an enhanced and permanent presence on the ground in Greece… The Eurogroup also welcomes the stronger on site-monitoring capacity by the Commission to work in close and continuous cooperation with the Greek government in order to assist the Troika in assessing the conformity of measures that will be taken by the Greek government, thereby ensuring the timely and full implementation of the programme. The Eurogroup also welcomes Greece’s intention to put in place a mechanism that allows better tracing and monitoring of the official borrowing and internally-generated funds destined to service Greece’s debt by, under monitoring of the troika, paying an amount corresponding to the coming quarter’s debt service directly to a segregated account of Greece’s paying agent.

The problem, of course, is that all the observers and “segregated accounts” in the world can’t turn Greece’s economy around when it’s burdened with an overvalued currency and has no ability to implement any kind of stimulus. Quite the opposite: in order to get this deal done, Greece had to find yet another €325 million in “structural expenditure reductions”, and promise a huge amount of front-loaded austerity to boot.

UK Catholic sex-ed includes materials plagiarized from John Norman’s Gor series

Filed under: Books, Britain, Education, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:33

Really, it’s another of those stories that are “so weird that it’s too good to verify“:

As The Guardian reports today, Catholic faith schools in Lancashire have been handing out copies of a booklet called “Pure Manhood: How to become the man God wants you to be”, written by an American fundamentalist preacher. The booklet includes statements like this: “the homosexual act is disordered, much like contraceptive sex between heterosexuals. Both acts are directed against God’s natural purpose for sex — babies and bonding.” It also insists that, “scientifically speaking, safe sex is a joke”.

[. . .]

Weird ideas about sex, however, are not the only strange things in the booklet. All sorts of aspects of macho-ness are explored, including the need for real men to kill animals to prove their virility. There is a particularly bizarre passage about how to kill a wolf by sacrificing a goat. I won’t go into the gory details. The important point is that, as this blog post reveals, that piece of text was lifted from the book Beasts of Gor by John Norman.

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