Walking the Four More Blocks

Friday, February 23, 2007


Low taxes, low quality of life [EJ editorial, 2/22/07]
The Edmonton Journal
Published: Thursday, February 22, 2007
American children in districts with the lowest taxes tend to be sicker, more often sexually abused, and more likely to run afoul of the law, according to a major study conducted by the U.S.-based Every Child Matters Education Fund. Such children are also likely to be less employable as adults, the researchers found.
Conducted by Michael Petit, author of Homeland Insecurity: American Children at Risk and a former commissioner of human services in Maine, the study shows that low taxes and corresponding low spending by governments on prenatal and postnatal care, and on pre-school and public education, correlate directly with poorer health, education and delinquency rates.
It would be easy for Canadians to dismiss the study, since a major component of the poor outcomes can be traced to the lack of public health care. The number of people living in the U.S. without health insurance has risen dramatically since 2000, from 39.8 million to 46.6 million. That leads to poor pre- and postnatal care for uninsured mothers and children. Births to unwed teen mothers also occur at a rate nearly three times that of Canada, 4.9 per cent to 1.9 per cent. And, not surprisingly, it is within this population that the worst developmental problems are concentrated.
But Petit said it's not just a question of health insurance. Other forms of social spending also tend to get cut when governments buy into the "gospel of wealth" and begin slashing taxes, the very kinds of programs that were targeted in Alberta budgets during the Klein era. Petit said child care, foster care, social workers, preschool programs and physical activity for young children are also critical in creating healthy, productive children. And where these programs have been cut by government, private and not-for-profit sectors have not been able to fill the gap.
"(The study) dispels ideologically driven myths that government-supported programs are ineffectual and that taxes are evil," Petit said. "It shows that some states do much better for children than others."
Petit's book is aimed at injecting children's issues into the 2008 U.S. presidential debate. But there are important lessons for Canadians to learn as well.
First, despite steady conservative assertions that our single-payer public health system is inefficient and in some ways deficient to that of our neighbour, the benefits to our youngest and most vulnerable are undeniable.
And second, jurisdictions that offer the lowest taxes, even if those cuts are directed to lower-income families, have a correspondingly higher incidence of health and behavioural problems, and significantly lower lifetime employment prospects.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see they do not remain the way they are."
St. Augustine

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Children of Men

Remember my post when I *poo-pooed* the title of this movie? Okay, well the title still sucks, but the movie is fantastic. Everyone should see it. I was loaned the book which is an okay read, but one of those rare instances when the book is not as good as the movie. The political situation in the book just makes no sense and the character's motivations are never totally explained and even, in the end, completely non-sensical. It's a fairly quick read though and if you want to spend the time maybe it will make more sense to you.

The movie however is fantastic. The political situation fits and is an extension of horrors we face today. I love the way the main character, played by Clive Owen, is portrayed. He's an activist who has given up, and yet is drawn into this last ditch effort to save humanity. Even if you think the entire story line is crap and a waste of your time, the cinematography is not, definitely see it for one of the most well shot films I've ever seen.

The title, as I mentioned earlier, still makes no sense to me. Why would you name something "Children of Men" when it is both women and men who cannot reproduce, and when it is women who in the end carry and birth the children? I don't know and neither the book nor the movie explains why this title would be chosen over any other.

The book contains the biblical quote from which the other chose the title, "Lord, thou hast been our refuge: from one generation to another. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made: thou art God from everlasting, and world without end. Thou turnest man to destruction: again thou sayest, Come again, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday: seeing that is past as a watch in the night."
Anyone? Anyone? I went to Sunday school like any other Catholic girl, but I'm not making the connection.
Anyway, go see this movie, it's fantastic.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Shit Yeah!

How's this to cheer up the Monday blues:

We talked about how horrible student debt is and how Ed Stelmach *must* meet with students!
Basically a dream come true in my nerdy little heart.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

This Might be Hasty.....

But I'll do it anyway. AlbertaViews, you have won my heart back (and therefore my yearly subscription). You lost my faith a little with your Jim Dinning front cover in November, but the front cover for January and February makes my heart soar, that is in your coverage of issues, not so much in the state of Alberta.
What does the cover read? "Why is this doctor your cab driver?" Yes, an exploration of what the hell is wrong with Alberta's accreditation system. Why are immigrants losing out?
I have to recall my trip to Fort McMurray last year. I was there for a government "consultation" part of the provincial review of post-secondary education. I had enjoyed no part of my trip, and I was finally on my way out of the city. I enjoy talking with cab drivers, they lead extremely interesting lives. This time was no different. My cab driver was African, though from which part I can't recall, and he asked me what I was doing in town. I told him and he expressed, "get them to talk about accreditation! I'm an engineer." I had once thought, in my young and naive days, that those stories were made up, or overexaggerated, but I continue to encounter cab drivers who are doctors or engineers who simply cannot get accredited in Canada. It breaks my heart.
So kudos Alberta Views, let's hope Alberta wakes up.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Graham Thomson Wants You!

The always articulate and ever insightful Graham Thomson is asking for YOU to contribute your ideas on a more democratic Alberta. And get this, you can pretend to be an MLA if you win!
In his article today, Thomson told of the limited edition pins made by the office of the speaker to commemorate 100 years of the Legislature. Excitement!
I find this an excellent exercise in involvement. And think of the fun you can have walking around with an MLA pin on your lapel. Amaze friends! Stun family! Invite horrible conversation from random strangers about the poor snow removal in the back alley!
Check the details here!

Uh, I do actually think this is a really cool contest, and I will be entering.

Also, in the name of true democracy, and to further purge myself of the frustration over the recent PC leadership race, I'd like to reiterate a challenge of my good friend Interlocutor.
To everyone who decided to become a PC "Johnny come lately", lets try exercising true democracy next time and put your money where your mouth is. If you truly believe in ideals other than the Conservative party try supporting something you believe in and donate your time or money to your favorite opposition party. We keep saying "they don't have the numbers" "they don't have the money", well folks, it's in your hands. And remember - in 1971, the Progressive Conservative party held six seats. Change is possible.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Youtube + Paper Writing = Bad

Youtube is a horrible invention. It's equivalent to crack-cocaine. I think it might be invented by the Coke company to keep people on the teet. Well, here's what I found today from my dealer.
This is probably my favorite West Wing episode. That's a tough call, but this episode has everything: hilarity, Josh Lyman, tragedy, road trips. It's pretty good.
This particular speech gives allusion to September 11th. I always admired how Aaron Sorkin and the West Wing crew dealt with Sept. 11th. They only once overtly use it in an episode and even then it's an episode that exists outside of the West Wing timeline. They could have let the post Sept. 11th world overrun the series, but they only allude to a world confronted with a new form of terrorism.
I've also always liked the way they dealt with Christianity and Americana. I'm a person who has left the Christian faith, and who detests nationalism, but somehow I enjoy the way both are evoked in the West Wing context. The writing seems to use them more in an emotional context and idealizes the principles. Bartlet challenges his faith more often than following it and the ideas of freedom, democracy and justice are used to question why America hasn't achieved those ideas than to suggest America got it right and everyone should follow.
Anyway, this is a scene demonstrating the amazing writing evident in pretty much every episode.