Friday, January 30, 2009

soapbox, perhaps

because you cannot turn your head without hearing or reading about the ECONOMIC DOWNTURN, i have a little something (else) to say about it too. i had coffee with my top colombian chum yesterday and he made a really good point, one that i think we often forget. he said, and i have to agree with him, that these types of crises are commonplace in so many other countries, especially in latin america. there have been economic crises, recoveries, absolute meltdowns, among other daily struggles in so many other parts of the world. people living through such things have learned to become industrious, resourceful, and hopeful in light of so-called impending doom.

and people from those countries, including colombia, are now living and working and prospering in canada. it is my prediction that it is these communities that will weather this economic storm better than anyone else and may come out the winners in the us, the uk, and canada. he also used an ever favourite english expression to recommend that canadians should just 'chill out.'

similarly, i am not so sure why canadians are up in arms about obama's economic stimulus package that includes a 'buy american' clause. how on earth can canadians say that these are unlawful protectionist policies that break trade law? we would do the exact same thing, international protocol or not. remember that little problem with the beef years ago? same thing. we rallied around our beef industry and insisted on exclusively buying canadian beef and gave all those who didn't the evil stink eye. and i think that that was an appropriate response, just as americans trying to save their own mortgages is the right response for them. now, it is our dorky pm's job to play the game, be diplomatic, and represent canadian interests. and stay away from vests of any persuasion.

and you knew it was coming, everyone is going to have something to say about the woman who just gave birth to octuplets in california. my first instinct is to think this is a product of a private health care system that would allow someone to pay for fertility treatment even though they already had 6 children and that i cannot understand a mother choosing to put 8 lives in danger rather than reducing the number of fetuses early on. but as one doctor put it, his job is not to police births, but to provide information and education to parents. and we would all be in serious trouble if our doctors were allowed to police our behaviour, yet i think in an environment where we enjoy the benefits of public health care, the burden those babies will put on our health care system may change that thinking. a little Handmaid's Tale-esque, but it does make me think.

luckily for me, i am not raising 14 children so i won't need to think about it for too long and get back to organising my daytimer to fit all my commitments and engagements in while enjoying this great weather with a run tonight!


Devo said...

As someone who has been involved in the service end and the production end of Canadian beef, I can say that the buy American steel and buy Canadian beef situations are very different. Canadian food service outlets have always been extremely patriotic regarding beef, regardless of what else is happening. The Canadian cattle producers were devastated by the stop of exportation of bone-in cuts over thirty months of age, but another problem of the BSE scare was Japan banning all beef imports for a period of time. The banning of beef imports by the USDA was not to help stimulate the economy but was an excessive reaction to BSE. I will admit that when older beef (>30 months) importing was resumed the uproar by American cattle producers was in the same vein as the steel production. So in my mind the American beef reaction is the same as the American steel reaction.

lu said...

true enough, the closure of the borders to canadian beef was protectionist, just as the 'buy american' steel is also protectionist.

but i guess the comparison i am making is that when your own economy is flailing, whichever industry is hit, you rally around it and that rallying and encouragement to buy locally produced and procured products is a pretty natural reaction. and i do not think that canada would do anything differently if faced with a similar crisis.

lu said...

i have been thinking about this and your comment devo, and i think i overlooked a key point, which is that the beef 'protectionist' policies were actually not policies and were citizen reaction to the crisis. whereas obama's policies are in fact policies, which may be in contravention of nafta and other trade agreements.

Devo said...

I agree that Obama's policies are just that while the beef situation was a reaction. I do think that Canadians would have no problem with similar policies regarding building materials or any other goods if it was to stimulate Canada's economy. I know I'd support the initiative if I was an American.