Wednesday, September 28, 2005

gas prices, a lack of understanding, and stupid ideas.

This letter is from a staunch Conservative Party of Canada supporter in Essex, printed in today's Windsor Star:

A truly 'free market' would control prices

Does anybody really believe that all the gas companies incur the same costs related to the production and delivery of gas?

Then why the same price across the board? As a result of the gas-gouging, many people are calling for the capping of prices. Haven't we been down that road with Pierre Trudeau's wheat board and the government tinkering of hydro?

If you need be reminded what it brings, look at your "debt retirement" portion of your electricity bill. What we need are new ideas.

It's not going to come from the bought-and-paid-for empty suits in politics. The free market - with responsible government regulations - is the best solution to solve gas price-gouging.

The problem is that the gas companies have a monopoly, and that's not a free market. It's time to break up the monopoly and require that no two companies can have the same price in a designated area.

This would ensure competition instead of the price-fixing that is going on as we speak.

It would also be beneficial to consumers if gas companies could only change their prices a fixed number of times per month.

It's also well to note PM Paul Martin, months before the hurricane, stated that there is nothing he could do about rising gas prices. Once the hurricane hit, he stated that he's instructed Canadian oil companies to step up production to offset what was lost and to stabilize the prices.

Whether you're Liberal or Conservative, we're all caught in a game that wreaks havoc on our wallets. And our politicians are asleep at the wheel - just like the coming garbage crisis with Michigan.

The italics are mine.

Letters like this tend to get me agitated and leave me suggesting that we ship people to Cuba. (North Korea would also work.)

You don't know what a free market is.
A free market is a market that is free, lady. That means no restrictions*, not "only restrictions that a reasonable (read: Conservative) government would impose." You can't do a more complicated version of the same thing that Pierre Trudeau did and say that our way is better because we're from a different party.

A free market for gas doesn't make everything cheap for you. That's not what free markets do - that's what socialists try (and fail, as she points out) to do. What a free market does do is properly allocate resources to those who value them the most.

I suppose gas companies have a monopoly on gas (in the same way that, say, shoe companies have a monopoly on shoes), but what is this crap about the presence of monopolies proving that it's not a free market? Tabasco has a monopoly on Tabasco sauce. If my drug company invents and patents a new drug, we've got a monopoly on it. There's nothing wrong with naturally occurring monopolies. Also, learn this word, people:


A market condition in which sellers are so few that the actions of any one of them will materially affect price and have a measurable impact on competitors.

That's what's going on with gas producers. It also happens in a free market. So even if there was a problem with a monopoly in a free market, you wouldn't have to worry about it as far as gas goes. (If you're looking for something to compare it to, look at the CAW and the high wages they've set for auto workers, which drives up the price of cars. Should the government intervene there, too?)

Prices at the Pump
As for actual prices at the pump, which the writer seems to have the biggest problem with, you could hardly argue, with all the privately owned corner stores selling gas, that a monopoly exists.

"But why are gas prices the same across the board?" the author demands frantically.

Consider this situation: If I have a gas station, and you have a gas station, and I make my gas price a lot different than yours (let's say I make it much higher), then everyone is going to go to your gas station. You're going to have to raise your price to be more or less the same as mine, or you're going to have to run out of gas when everyone goes to your station instead and then proceed to lose a crapload of money while everyone passes your station to fill up at mine, where gas is still available.

Gas prices more or less the same in any given area because supply, demand, and the free market are at work.

It's a pet peeve
I worked in a gas station until recently, and I am so sick of everyone bitching about gas prices after driving up and filling their massive gas-guzzling SUV at 99.9 cents/L, paying $2 for a 1L bottle of water without complaint, then proceeding to demand, in their infinite wisdom, that the government must reduce how much they spend when they fill up.

We are still paying less than half of what they're paying in England for gas, so quit yer bitchin'.

If you want to pay less for gas, ride your damn bike. Drive a smaller car. Drive stick. We don't need people who don't understand what's going on deciding how to handle problems that don't exist.


(To clear things up: Yes, I wish gas was cheaper. I also wish the iPod Nano was cheaper. Those things are so cool.)

*I suppose you could argue that a free market has some minor restrictions, but the ones she's suggesting are hardly minor, so I stand by what I said, dammit.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Why Carol Jamieson is a Liberal

While peeking out from under the massive pile of schoolwork, job related work, and day-to-day stuff that I have to do, I would've had to be blind to miss the Carol Jamieson madness that was going on.

Granted, I'm last on the bandwagon for this one (or damn near last), but someone has to explain why this woman is a Liberal, and I don't have time to read all the blogs to see if it's already been done to an extent I'm satisfied with.

Carol Jamieson would, I'm sure, produce a long list of titles, campaigns and associations that she has run or been a part of and then ask me "How dare I accuse me of being a Liberal?" After all, I've only worked with the federal party on and off for the past few years.

(From Stephen Taylor's blog comments:

The facts are clear. I have been an organizer for various forms of the Conservative party, both federally and provincially for longer than most of you have been alive x 2. - Carol Jamieson)

We all know that what really matters is seniority, right?

Wrong, Carol.

Maybe seniority used to matter, but that system certainly hasn't gotten this party anywhere. Very soon what's going to matter is productivity and usefulness and (to pat myself on the back) I think I've packed in an awful lot of those two things in the past couple of years. I mean, we won Essex, and I think we're well on our way to winning Windsor-freaking-Tecumseh.

Jamieson alleges that Stephen Harper is the reason that Canadians are not supporting the Conservative Party of Canada.

Has she organized the campaigns in her area? Has she set up and helped run phone banks, walked polls and knocked on doors with candidates to come to this conclusion? Has she sent out literature pieces or held town halls? Unlikely.

CPC National Councillor Vitor Marciano points out that the GTA President's Council, which Jamieson proudly boasts is a powerful party group in (obviously) the GTA which she is a vice-chair for, is neither recognized by the party nor has it been active since April. (hat tip, Stephen Taylor.)

I'm guessing Carol has polling results emailed to her straight from the pollsters (as many party members do) and then fell for the media's "It's all Harper's fault!" campaign.

The candidate doesn't matter that much, in any way other than they must be willing to work hard. If Jeff Watson is good for anything, it's showing that you can really elect anyone with enough hard work. If you organize to rally hard workers behind someone and lead by example, working hard to motivate them, you can elect your candidate. (A good candidate obviously makes rallying workers easier, but it's not necessary.)

Even if Stephen Harper isn't popular with Canadians right now, it's no excuse for sitting on your hands and whining at the top of your lungs. Do some damned work.

Conservatives need to learn to accept responsibility for abysmally low support levels in their ridings if they haven't been campaigning; Jamieson is nothing but an extreme example of someone who hasn't - she would be insignificant if she hadn't managed to get herself on the news as a party organizer.

'Well that's all well and good,' you might be thinking, 'but why is Carol Jamieson a Liberal?'

Here's why:

Instead of working hard for the voter support that we deserve, Jamieson thinks that this party is entitled to power.

Instead of taking responsibility for her problems, she chooses Harper as a scapegoat and puts the blame on him.

Sounds like a Liberal to me.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

a public service announcement

To political hacks of all colours:

Capitalizing some letters that spell a word in another word (or, its less-clever cousin, capitalizing part of the word and adding letters to make a word within a word) is neither clever nor funny, and should be avoided at all costs.

Examples include:


For more examples of this misguided attempt at wit and humour, visit The Shotgun and FreeDominion, many blogs, and Anonymous commenters near you.

If you are going to try to make fun of the other team, please at least use clever comparisons, sarcasm or bad puns (the unsung gems of comedy) to do so, and refrain from hitting that shift key any more than you absolutely have to.

Thank you for your consideration.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

i am amused.

This amused me, and so I am sharing it. It's so delightfully juvenile.

Monday, September 12, 2005

five points

Well I'm back from Europe. Anyone who hasn't gone must go once. It's amazing.

Between being back to school and into the thick of things with family, work, etc. I haven't really thought up a real post, but I'll do this anyways:

1. What the hell is with this "HArper" stuff? I think I missed something.

2. My MP is a tool and apparently wants to picket with striking CBC workers, perhaps as an outlet to help him get over his hatred of big, evil corporations. (I enjoyed this post on the topic.)

How about we sell sell sell the CBC? You know, because state-run broadcasters are a great big waste of everyone's money, especially the CBC, who doesn't give a damn what any normal Canadian wants to watch, read or listen to.

And how about Standing Up for the corporations that actually provide the jobs instead of the unions that are driving them out of Windsor! Maybe some small business owners? Fewer subsidies? Anything?
A little less emphasis on how much we need to pick economic winners and losers, please.

While I'm ranting, Watson also voted to ban trans-fats. No need to care about freedom for consumers - Jeff knows best!

3. Does anyone know a good charity to give to for Katrina victims? I've heard rumours about the Red Cross being too bureaucratic for money to get through to the people, but that could have been a big fat lie.

4. If the government starts doing price controls on gas, I... quit, or something.

5. In Amsterdam, beer was the same price as pop and you could buy it at convenience stores. You can smoke cigarettes almost everywhere, pot is legal and being consumed around practically every corner, and there are hookers knocking on the glass at you as you go by.

Horror of horrors, of the hundreds (and hundreds) of people in the city on their bikes, I didn't see one with a helmet.

There weren't even safety rails around the canals!

Miraculously, anarchy hadn't erupted, and there weren't piles of corpses entwined with their bicycles piled on every street corner (or out of the canals).

I guess increased personal freedom isn't the destructor of society that some would have you believe.

Bernier's bad bet

Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press Maxime Bernier is taking a gamble. He believes that there is a large, disenfranchised voting bloc in Canada...