Wednesday Night #1788

Written by  //  June 8, 2016  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Last night’s (final) Super Tuesday results have confirmed what we knew/dreaded.  Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton  are the nominees for their respective parties. And now the jockeying starts for who will be their respective Vice President. For entertainment, watch Chris Christie’s rise to power in Trump ranks Chris Christie weighs in on his VP chances. Interesting conjecture that Cory Booker might be a choice for the Democrats. Have we previously seen the two Vice President candidates from the same state? In any case, a Trump & Christie ticket goes against the conventional (no pun) wisdom of a geographically balanced ticket.

We wish that we could join our many friends who are enthusiastically celebrating Hillary’s historic victory, but we have had deep reservations from the outset about the wisdom of supporting a candidate principally because of her gender. And we deeply resent the situation in which we now find ourselves –along with millions of others- that the choice is between one candidate who is unthinkable (see The Atlantic‘s Daily Trump) and the second, who for many is unlikable, not to mention bearing baggage that includes a husband who, as First Gentleman, could be the steamer trunk of baggage.

However, we must pity the Republican leadership who are dismayed by Trump as the standard bearer, but committed to supporting him as the standard bearer (Paul Ryan Calls Donald Trump’s Attack on Judge ‘Racist,’ but Still Backs Him)

Meanwhile Canada grapples with electoral reform
We may not be thrilled with our system but it has generally produced decent, hardworking prime ministers and cabinets. Not that we have liked them all, or that they have been universally above reproach,  but in contrast to the Republican adventurers in the quest for the 2016 presidential nomination, they have been almost exemplary.
And now, we have the luxury of debating publicly what we have discussed around the WN table for some time – whether or not the system needs reforming, and if so, how.
Yes, the Liberal government stumbled in its enthusiasm to implement reforms according to its liking, but the NDP prevailed (Liberals back down on electoral reform committee, support NDP changes) and we can be assured of a lively debate of the relative advantages of first-past-the-post, proportional representation and preferential ballots. Some of us have been doing so in threaded emails and the irrepressible Tony Deutsch has suggested we need the ability to vote against candidates.
This piece by Jack Mintz reminds us of some further impacts of changing the existing system:
“I have worked in countries with systems using proportional representation (Romania and Israel), ranked balloting (Australia) and first-past-the-post (Canada and the U.K.), and I have seen how the electoral process has major impacts on public decision-making.
Economists who have studied different electoral processes have found, for example, that proportional representation, which is the most democratic in that it gives every voter a voice, results in weaker executive power, as coalitions are typically required to govern. While this can curb executive overreach, studies have shown that coalition governments are more prone to heavier spending and bigger deficits, as public programs become a coalition currency, with parties demanding spending on things their voters want in exchange for supporting the coalition.
First-past-the-post, by contrast, results in a greater centralization of power, especially in the executive’s office. But, with less need for favour-bargaining, it’s the system that leads to smaller deficits and lower spending.” Jack Mintz: Trudeau must resist the autocratic impulse in changing our voting system

Unrelated but interesting news:
One of the World’s Greatest Art Collections Hides Behind This Fence
(NYT) The superrich have stashed millions of works in tax-free storage. So what does that mean for the art?

On Brexit, Peter Berezin ventures a (calculated) guess in his most recent Global Investment Strategy Report that the vote will follow the same script as the Scottish referendum, where late-deciders ultimately choose to vote with their wallets rather than their hearts. About 10-to-20 percent of U.K. voters have yet to make up their minds. Considering the potential damage to business confidence from a U.K. withdrawal from the European Union, most of these undecided voters will probably elect to stay put.

Here’s what the science really says about Fort McMurray and climate change
(National Observer) [Mike] Flannigan, a professor of wildland fire from the University of Alberta, and many other climate change scientists agree that while the Fort McMurray fires cannot be directly linked to the carbon pollution produced by humans, Canadian wildfire activity of the past few years is well above average. And it’s connected to the warming climate.
In terms of the total areas destroyed by fires, there’s an unmistakable escalation, they say.
They see these fires as vivid markers of dangers to come for the forests and for the people and wildlife that live in them and around them.

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