Published on 13 Apr 2017
This week 100 years ago, the Western Front comes to live with a big British offensive at Arras. The Canadian Corps and the British 51st Infantry Division take Vimy Ridge which had been contested for 3 years by now. The rest of the battles goes well in the beginning too but due to a snowstorm and the German defences it soon slows down.
April 14, 2017
Colby Cosh sounds a warning note for Alberta’s NDP government:
… there is a danger — I say this with glum certainty that this centuries-old accepted truth will incite tantrums — in permitting the dole to grow too large. One need only look at the United States’s current addiction to federal and other disability programs. The U.S. reformed welfare as Alberta (and eventually Ontario) did, but disability schemes involving armies of doctors, lawyers and administrative judges became an equally huge species of para-welfare.
The result is a national orgy of prescription opioids and suicide, as policy inertia encourages millions to make a bad back or a trick knee the centre of an unproductive, isolated life. The bottle of OxyContin absolves and soothes; Donald Trump wins a presidential election.
I want no part of anything like this for Alberta. During my lifetime the province has been an economic colony, obsessed with competitiveness and quite short on the state’s version of “compassion.” We all knew we would get NDP economic policy when we voted NDP. They have un-flattened taxes, revived groovy ’70s industrial planning, taxed carbon, regulated farms, run planet-sized deficits, and sheltered the bureaucracy while businesses choked and private-sector workers struggled.
Only the very inattentive could have been unprepared for most of this, as a price to be paid for hosing out the Conservative stable, or even as a desirable correction. Welfare numbers signify a more fundamental, threatening change. It is one that the New Democrats may find more dangerous to its electoral future than all the rest put together, if Ontario history is any guide.
The growth in welfare rolls that can take place in a year may take 10 to reverse. And, of course, such growth suggests that other NDP nostrums, like hiking the minimum wage, aren’t working out. Why would anyone at all require state income support in labour’s paradise? Do NDPers need to look far to find a stalking, wrathful, hyperconservative Mike Harris figure in Alberta?
The Scarfolk Council is pleased to present a 1970s solution to a modern problem:
Back in the 1970s, many people complained that the word “Easter” had been dropped from the packaging of chocolate eggs. They also claimed it was only a matter of time before other Christian Easter imagery, such as anthropomorphised cartoon chicks playing with bashful ducks or dungaree-wearing bunny rabbits, received the same treatment.
The Scarfolk Confectionery Company was only too happy to remind consumers of the true biblical events surrounding Easter: Gruesome acts of mutilation and torture, filicide/suicide, crude carpentry and auto-exhumation were all necessary to atone for the original sin that most people agree is historically unfounded, though still blame on one woman’s innocent desire for a healthy snack.
Published on 4 Apr 2017
Eugene Volokh has a few things to say about things that aren’t supposed to be said. Volokh, a professor of free speech law at U.C.L.A., has seen books banned, professors censored, and the ordinary expression of students stifled on university campuses across the nation.
Volokh believes free speech and open inquiry, once paramount values of higher education, are increasingly jeopardized by restrictive university speech codes. Instead of formally banning speech, speech codes discourage broad categories of human expression. “Hate speech. Harassment. Micro-aggressions,” Volokh says. “Often they’re not defined. They’re just assumed to be bad, assumed they’re something we need to ban.”
Edited by Todd Krainin. Cameras by Meredith Bragg and Jim Epstein.
All negotiations are defined by something called the ZOPA: the Zone of Possible Agreement. The boundaries of that zone are defined by another buzzword, the BATNA: the best alternative to negotiated agreement.
The ultimate deal has to be better for both sides than their BATNA. Anything that either side considers worse than no deal at all is outside of the ZOPA, and no amount of strategery is going to get you there. Getting rid of Social Security and Medicare: outside of the ZOPA. Raising tax rates to Danish levels: outside of the ZOPA. Single-payer health care: outside of the ZOPA. Defunding Planned Parenthood: outside of the current ZOPA.
Is the ZOPA fixed? Nope. If a Republican president were in the White House, and a few more Republicans were in the Senate, defunding Planned Parenthood might well be feasible. The massacre at Newtown moved the ZOPA on gun control leftward. The financial crisis made all sorts of previously unthinkable things — like TARP and a nearly $900 billion stimulus bill — eminently feasible. The ZOPA moves all the time, which is why we’re no longer debating the free and unlimited coinage of silver at a ratio of 16 to 1.
But note that these movements didn’t come from some sort of deft negotiation strategy. They came from external events that changed the BATNA of one side or the other. Note too that even though the ZOPA had shifted in his favor, President Obama lost on gun control because he included an assault weapons ban in his list of demands as a bargaining chip, and the other side decided to walk away instead of negotiating a deal.
How did this happen? Because the bargaining chips you include send signals about your intent, and how serious you are about negotiating — and they can therefore change the facts on the ground in ways that hurt you rather than help you.
Imagine that you tried negotiating for a car by announcing that you intended to pay no more than $2,400 for a fully-loaded new truck. Would this improve your bargaining position? Of course not; the salesman would decide that you were wasting his time, and go find another customer. Similarly, if the car salesman announced that he wanted $100,000 for a well-used Camry, that wouldn’t make you more willing to pay $30,000 for it; it would make you go seek a dealer who wasn’t obviously crazy.
Megan McArdle, “Let’s See What Republicans Learn From Losing Boehner”, Bloomberg View, 2015-09-25.