Majority-minority challenged.

Yet another letter to the editor suggests that a coalition government in Canada represents the will of the majority:

Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of this country, even though the majority of voters did not vote for his party. If Mr. Harper achieves another minority in Parliament, why shouldn’t the Liberals, the NDP and, if necessary, the Bloc form the government? Such a group would reflect the will of the majority

While the majority of voters did not vote for the Conservatives, when pairs of parties are taken together, the Conservatives took the majority each time. Nobody voted for a coalition. Having the largest proportion of the vote is why Stephen Harper is Prime Minister, even if he heads a minority government.

And unless the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc are planning on running as a coalition, people still won’t be voting for a coalition.

And don’t even get me started on Justin Trudeau leading the coalition.


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My free suggestion for Old Navy’s PR staff.

Old Navy is embroiled in some controversy over an item of clothing:

Mommy bloggers are up in arms over a baby outfit’s cheeky logo that has led retailer Old Navy to apologize to offended customers.

At issue? An air-force-style insignia on a dark green boy’s onesie reading “Formula Powered.” The outfit has enraged breastfeeding advocates across North America.

A number of mom bloggers have linked to the $5 (U.S.) item on Old Navy’s website while calling for a boycott of the chain, casting the item as a propaganda tool of the formula industry.

Cate Nelson of the green parenting blog wrote about the outfit on Sept. 13: “As if the formula industry didn’t have enough power … now your baby can empower it with this adorable onesie. Yuck, right?”

While I think that the choice of formula versus breastfeeding is a personal one – my wife did breastfeed for some time with our kids – I don’t think it is something to get outraged over. And I also assume that the people at Old Navy just thought it was a cute slogan, rather than propaganda. But I have a suggestion that can help Old Navy create a PR win here.

So here’s free my suggestion:

Old Navy should create a second item with a different SKU with a pro-breastfeeding slogan, maybe "Breastmilk Powered", or something like that. Put them on the shelf beside the "Formula Powered" items. Advertise this. Then use their inventory tracking system as an informal vote or poll on the popularity or either side, and publicize the results of the poll.

The result? Old Navy satisfies both sides, gets great press and more of it as a result of elegantly addressing the controversy. Oh, and they sell more clothing.

Clearly a win-win-win for everyone. A nice thank you in print would be appreciated as well. :)

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We’re number one.

From The Economist:

WORKERS on London’s underground rail network begin a strike on Monday September 6th, while across the channel French workers are also on strike in protest at attempts by the government to change the retirement age. Both countries come fairly high on the list of countries that lose working days to labour disputes. South Africa, where Cosatu, a federation of unions with some 2m members, has been on strike since August 18th, also scores highly on this measure. But all of these places are left in they shade by the Canadians, who lost 2.2m working days to strikes last year. Greece, which is also fond of striking, does not appear on this chart as its numbers are not comparable.

Yes when it comes to time lost to strikes, Canada is easily number one by almost 50% over our closest competitor, though I doubt I’ll see that statistic as the headline of any Canadian newspapers. Using an average hourly wage of approximately $25 for a union employee, thar represents $440 million in lost productivity.

Hat tip to John Galt, a commenter at small dead animals.

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A lifetime of economic sacrifice.

In today’s Globe and Mail, Dan Palotta decries limits on executive compensation for charities. This was my favorite part:

First of all, a person’s occasional sacrificial donation to charity does not entitle them to mandate a lifetime of economic sacrifice on the part of others.

The limit he is talking about?

Bill C-470, a private member’s bill introduced by Albina Guarnieri, would impose a suffocating $250,000 cap on executive salaries at charities.

Economic sacrifice? It may not be the kind of compensation available in for-profit private companies, but a quarter million dollars a year is many times what the average person earns and hardly "economic sacrifice".

This part was also interesting:

Meanwhile, we are paying Canadian hockey coaches $2-million a year. We are paying U.S. college football coaches $4.4-million a year. David Beckham makes $50-million a year from soccer and endorsements. But woe to the head of a charity trying to cure cancer if he or she commands a tenth of these salaries. What does that say about our society’s priorities?

Private sports generate revenue, and pay coaches and players whatever they feel they are worth.Sports in fact generates revenue because so many people enjoy and pay for it, in effect defining society’s priorities. Charities raise money by promising to support a cause; as much of that money should support the cause as possible. And by the way, "the head of a charity trying to cure cancer" is a bit of a leading statement. It should be "the head of a charity trying to raise money to cure cancer"; they aren’t doing the actual curing.

There have been many horror stories lately about charities with lax oversight, highly-paid executives, and high administration costs. This bill is an attempt to fix that problem, even if it is a poor first step. And again, we aren’t asking these executives to work for free after all.


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The new doublespeak.

Bad is good. Up is down. And higher unemployment is now apparently a sign of an improving economy, in Time no less:

The Department of Labor reported August job numbers on Friday, and the numbers appeared to be another bad sign for the recovery. The economy lost 54,000 positions in the last full month of summer. Worse, the unemployment rate rose for the first time in four months to 9.6%, from a rate of 9.5% the month before.

So is this jobs report the latest sign that we are headed for a double dip? Probably not. Actually it’s the opposite. Despite what it looks like, today’s jobs numbers are good news for the economy. Mark Zandi, a closely watched economist, had this to say on CNBC when the job report was announced, "It solidifies the idea the economic recovery is going to remain intact."

The commenters don’t agree though:

And if this scenario played out EXACTLY under a Republican President, administration and Congress, chances this article would be authored: ZERO

Chances that dozens of articles would be written that are severely damning: 100%

You don’t have to be the Amazing Kreskin to have anticipated an article like this from TIME right after the August numbers came out.

So how high does unemployment have to be so that we know the economy is humming along?


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