Barrel Strength

Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Barrel Strength - Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Folly of central planning

From the minds of a Nobel Prize winner in economic planning, Paul Krugman, this advice in 1998.

The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in “Metcalfe’s law”–which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants–becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.

As the rate of technological change in computing slows, the number of jobs for IT specialists will decelerate, then actually turn down; ten years from now, the phrase information economy will sound silly.

As the great man himself said in 2013:

“Right-wing intellectuals and politicians live in a bubble…..

Cameron hands gift to UKIP

Prime Minister David Cameron has signed a pact with Labour leader Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg pledging that all three of their parties will work together to tackled climate change.

The pledge, which has been brokered by a collection of green non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and lobby groups, such as Greenpeace, WWF and RSPB, commits the party leaders to agree “carbon budgets”, end the use of coal for power generation and “accelerate the transition to a competitive, energy efficient low carbon economy”.

As the Bishop Hill Blog writes:

A better way of making their parties look as if they are completely out of touch and/or working to NGOs’ agendas is hard to imagine. That said, one of the pledges they make is to do away with coal-fired electricity generation. This may actually mean that the underlying message is “frack baby, frack”.

Head of state: Royals versus the White House

News that a US political staffer had to resign after criticizing Obama’s daughters for sloppy deportment at a public event makes me wonder.

Our Royals are subject to relentless criticism for everything: hats, dresses, speeches, stated political positions – to the extent they have any – while in the United States the President and his family are not subject to rude questions from the press gallery, nor from a parliament,  neither are the members of the Presidential family subject to much cultural or social criticism.

Who is treated more respectfully: the Presidential or the Royal family ?

Mr. Harper? Sir? You ARE awake.

The Liberals are running against tax cuts? Some days, the prime minister must need to close the door and just simply have his laugh. (When I saw Trudeau’s remarks about income-splitting, my wife thought I was having a fit.) No matter how valid the criticisms of yesterday’s package might be, there is one ineffaceable image in my mind – the manager of a household comparing a pay stub or tax return with a list of monthly expenses before rounding up the partner and heading out to vote.

Barack Ebola

“If even one undiagnosed Ebola patient lands in the United States, you may call me George!” All right, all right, there is nothing funny about a killer plague washing across a continent and now across the world on wings of political correctness and governmental ineptitude. And it is unnecessarily cruel to link him to the Reichsmarschall’s discomfiting boast. So why am I laughing? Because it marks one more notch on Barack Obama’s rubber gun of failure? Because it has been so predictable for so long? I wish no person harm, but I do wish some people would act like leaders to lessen harm to others.

Twitter-sized kerfuffle about Justin and Marc Emery

There seems to be some noise in the blogosphere about Marc Emery smoking dope with Justin. Uh, ladies and gentlemen, if you have been in the presence of Marc Emery anytime in the last 25 years for more than fifteen minutes, you have smoked dope with Marc Emery. It is as simple as that. Maybe you coughed or something, and did not inhale. I recall meeting Marc Emery in Vancouver. I assume I must have smoked. Good weed too.

No one is illegal, apparently

Is the Obama administration attempting to provoke a confrontation of some kind, by allowing a complete breakdown of the southern border? What are the victory conditions for such a conflict? I have seen that the California community of Murrieta has successfully deflected busloads of illegal immigrants but they are certainly not headed back to Mexico or Central America any time soon. I have no idea what this is all about but it feels dangerous.

Remember the call from the bankers in New York?

I said it will happen and I expect it this year. Kathleen Wynne will get the call from actual capitalists in New York City. It will not be pleasant, but it will be effective. And now that the Ontario Liberals have a majority, they will be able to fix the problem they have created.

If Ontarians believe they have avoided a reckoning with debt, they are even dumber than I think they are. Ontarians are heading down the same path Quebec took in 1960, minus the ethnic cleansing.

This is an intelligence test and Ontarians are failing it

From the invaluable Wikipedia:

The Ontario government debt is the amount of money the Government of Ontario borrowed from the general public, institutional investors and from public-sector bodies. As of September 30, 2013 the Ontario government’s total debt stood at CDN$288.10 billion.[3] The interest on the debt was CDN$10.3 billion for 2012-2013 budget at an effective interest rate of 4%.[4]It represented 8.4% of the total budgetary expenses and is the fastest-rising cost for the Ontario government.[5] The Debt-to-GDP ratio in 2013 was 37.4%, the highest in Ontario’s history.[6]


I checked the comparison with California’s total public debt. I discounted a Canadian study by Jason Clemens and Neil Veldhuis because of its very low estimate of total state debt in California, for one that compares all state-government debt across fifty US states. In that regard, California’s debt looks like this.

State Total State Debt (1) Market Valued Unfunded Public Pension Liability (2) Outstanding Debt (3) Unfunded OPEB Liability (4)
California $777,918,403 $583,627,395 $119,680,625 $65,210,000

All figures in thousands. So by a  standard of calculation common to fifty states, California’s total state debt is roughly $778 billion dollars in 2014.

Ontario’s was $288 billion in 2013, and $295 billion in 2014, according to the official Ontario Financing Authority.

Ontario’s population in 2014 was 13.537 million.

California’s population in 2014 was 37.253 milion

Dividing Ontario’s 2014 debt of $295 billion by 13.537 million people, I arrive at $21,792,125 of provincial government debt per capita.

Doing the same for California, $778 billion by 37.253 million people, I arrive at $20,884,224 of state government debt per capita.

Thus, if these figures are proportionately calculated, then Ontario has a worse per capita debt than the notoriously badly governed California.

Yet it seems we are headed to another Liberal minority government. Go figure.