He’s only making the depression worse!

by Colby Cosh

An anonymous correspondent at American culture weblog 2 Blowhards broadcasts monstrous untruths about Canada’s federal public service, which I’m sure some of the readers employed therein will wish to go rebut. (On their own time.)




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He’s only making the depression worse!

  1. Why should it be on their own time? Defending the great worth and integrity of Canada's public service corps is a vital national service! Besides, the bandwidth is better at the office, and I am sure we can find one of them to divert from their youtubing for a couple of minutes.

  2. You won't catch me disagreeing here – I work for the Ontario Public Service and see similar trends, albeit on a smaller scale with less frequency. Not that I'm biased. What many fail to realize is that the problem is not only with the employees or union, but with managers unwilling to use the rules available to them to get rid of the slackers. There is nothing stopping managers from setting performance metrics, and writing up employees who fail to meet them – with enough write-ups, even a union can't prevent a firing. Unfortunately, most managers in either federal or provincial government fail to utilize these measures, creating a petrie dish of entitlement which allows the worst employees to flourish. I work hard, get results, and know of many who do – but those that don't continue to gain ground every year.

    • You really need to change where you work. I'm there with you, and work in a deadline-tight, produce or die kind of environment. We've lost three people this year so far for major slackage, and 1 more for epic failure in what was produced. The union isn't as powerful as you may think.

    • My husband who works for a municipality feels the same. He and those under him are not unionized. He's an IT supervisor and has to do reviews. One of the biggest problems he encounters is that most who have all the Microsoft qualifications don't know how to logically resolve a problem by a process of elimination, nor do they possess the knowledge that one should have attained from such a certificate. A new classification was created as 'Network Specialist' in order to upgrade their salary, yet they are unable to resolve a network/server problem. He has refused to go for many of these certificatins because the exams are mostly based on memorization of a 'correct' answer'. I may not be expressing it as hubby would.

      • Cont'd. But, if his reviews in some 'check boxes' are negative, he is questioned. Yet his Manager privately agrees with him.

        He has a great raport with his School's Administration. Although my hubby's review by his Manager always notes he should go for these certifications, they never force him to because he uses humour and logic in dealing with them and knows his stuff. If he's not sure, he does lots of research on the net. He has worked countless hours in the evening, without remuneration, developing programs for our Dept. of Education. It's not part of his job, but he loves the challenge as well as it affords him an opportunity to learn a new programming language.

        • I worked as a fed and prov silly servant and worked my ass off up until the last few years before I took early retirement. I was so disgusted with want went on. We spent hundreds of thousands of $$ (minimum) to purchase an IT methodology. I was on the pilot project (too big really for testing) then about the same amount for engineering software to roll it out (I and my Manager took the training and then I supported and trained people to use it provincially). All for nothing. They cancelled it several years later. Then several of us worked on another program and it got shelved. Thousands of manhours. After 4 restructurings within 5 years I got out and never looked back.

          • Your point is 100% valid BUT in my 15+ years in the private sector software world, I've seen waste that would shock you senseless. Mind you, as they say, waste is ok if it's in the private sector right? I also find that the bigger the private sector company, the more like the government they are- I've seen certain big 4 banks blow millions on projects that never left the ground and no one was fired. It really does stick in your craw when it's 'your' money though eh?

          • I've got to agree Dave. My sis and her hubby worked in a large private IT co. They eventually went under. BTW, IIRC correctly, IBM back in the early 80's used 'intimidation' practices if IT Directors in Prov. govts. didn't go along with them. They'd smear the Directors and question their capabilities. Remind you of anyone :-)

        • I understand your husband's frustration with the IT field re: certifications. It seems to draw far too many anti-social folks who are fantastic at memorization, but have no clue where to start in the troubleshooting process. And certifications sometimes reflect this.

          However, if he's working in the public sector, they're probably willing to help him pay for the training / certs. I would recommend it if only to CYA if he ever needs to look for another job. Many HR managers get job descriptions that include certain certifications as a minimum requirement. It sucks when you get passed over for an interview just because you didn't get that piece of paper.

          Its like that CCNA certification that I got for a job that has one Cisco router in the entire enterprise. <_<

  3. Not enough lobbyists offering catered socials with photogenic hors d'oeuvres. I'd be depressed too if I didn't have my weekly bons bons for the vanities.

  4. I don't disagree with this analysis – depressing as it is – but a couple of points need to be added:

    1. You'll find similar behaviour in many office jobs in the private sector as well.

    2. While large numbers of civil servants may be "free riders" this tends to be compensated, at least somewhat, by a smaller number who work extremely hard and who provide real value to taxpayers. You might say 'oh that's easy just keep the ones that work hard and cut the slackers' but unfortunately I think it's more structural than that. And the slackers may not be nearly as productive as they could be but they do handle some work and the burden on the truly productive workers would become unbearable without the halfhearted contributions from their less dedicated colleagues.

    3. It would be helpful if he had political leadership that actually had a vision for the country that extended beyond the latest news cycle.

    4. It's easy to mock the claims of widespread depression in the public service but I think there's an expression that applies here "the easiest way to destroy a man is to pay him to do nothing". I guess what that fails to capture is it takes two parties for that to apply: one to pay and one who agrees to stay in a position where they're doing nothing.

    You know, it's occurred to me more than once over the past year that it may not have been such a good thing that the massive stimulus spending programs stabilized the financial markets and saved us from another Depression. Maybe what we need is some seriously harsh economic conditions in order to introduce some reality back into our economy. There are way too many corporations, government organizations and employees right now who aren't producing anything of genuine value.

    • Agreed. Why don't we hear about the "slackers" on Bay Street and Wall Street whose bazillion dollar salaries are gained by reaching into our pockets. Read Lehman's Demise, Dissected by William D. Cohan in the New York Times.

      • They may be slackers and bamboozlers, but every cent they pocketed was handed over voluntarily.

        At least, that was true until Bush/Geithner/Obama came along and changed that. Wall Street should have been allowed to crash and burn.

        • That is, if you consider believing someone when they lie to you "voluntary"

    • You know, it's occurred to me more than once over the past year that it may not have been such a good thing that the massive stimulus spending programs stabilized the financial markets and saved us from another Depression. Maybe what we need is some seriously harsh economic conditions in order to introduce some reality back into our economy. There are way too many corporations, government organizations and employees right now who aren't producing anything of genuine value.

      Great point, one that a friend of mine once characterized as "maybe it's a good thing for an economy to clear out the trash".

      I really wonder whether it is a vital aspect of an economy for the non-productive members to be cleared out during the downturns. Propping up the non-productive sectors of an economy, and the non-productive companies within the productive sectors, may in fact be just as important as the other positive facets of a free-market economy: competition, price signals vs supply/demand, risk and reward, etc.

      • Same principle as forest fires I think. Either you let them happen every now and then or the forests get more and more combustible until BAM you have the mother of all forest fires.

        • Course I wouldn't want to be the political party that ran on that platform.

          • Your last post here is the most important one, of course. For who would be able to run on that sort of platform?

            Case in point: when Harper and Flaherty suggested, at first, that the so-called economic crisis was not as bad as some people made it out to be, and in fact both men believed (as stated within the economic update at the time) in tempered yet reasonable "steady as she goes", they were ridiculed, laughed at. I blame a lot of the hype around the last economic "crisis" on the reporting by the MSM. They are the ones who could not come to terms with the fact that some serious weeding needed to be done.

            But where was the support for Harper and his goverment's suggestion to do very little about the created crisis, other than to hold a steady course? Remember how the media jumped on Harper's remark about cutting political subsidies? Yet, cutting such subsidies would be able to bring about more of the changes needed within our bureaucracy. Think about it for a moment, how subsidized political parties can keep this bloated system in place.

          • Subsidies to political parties come in two forms, yet the CPC only proposed eliminating one of them, and unfortunately they took aim at the much less egregious subsidy.

          • What other subsidy? There is no other.

          • Follow this link and then scroll up one comment, which will get you to two other links.

            Btw, in addition to the per vote subsidy and the tax credits, I believe that taxpayers also reimburse political parties for valid election related expenses. The "In and Out" issue centered around expenses which some people thought were not valid.

          • Wow, that's a comment of mine from 7 months ago :-)

            Yes, that subsidy is also a funneling of tax money to parties. It's not as egregious as the vote subsidy though, which funnels money to the parties without any consent of the taxpayer. However, I agree that it should be repealed.

            At least the tax credits require that the individual parts with some of his own money (ie they are not 100% credits). They are also purely voluntary. But it's still a funneling of general tax revenue to parties.

            Yes, we do reimburse candidates for election-related expenses.

          • I'm curious why you find the $1.95 subsidy to be more egregioius than the tax credit.

            Some numbers to ponder. I'm using 5000 average federal voters in a non-election year (so that we don't have to include reimbursing election expenses. About $2 of the federal tax for each of those average voters goes to funding political parties, so the total that needs to be allocated is $10,000.

            Using 2008 election results the per vote allocations for those same 5000 voters are:

            1100 vote CPC $2,145
            766 vote LPC $1,495
            532 vote ND $1,038
            291 vote BQ $568
            198 vote GRN $387
            2889 total votes $5,633

          • I find it more egregious because of the reasons I posted, not the dollar values.

            1. The vote subsidy requires no personal sacrifice on the part of the citizenry. The tax credit requires a percentage of the money that is donated comes from the individual claiming it. The individual must still make a donation, he does not get all the money reimbursed by the credit.

            2. You cannot avoid the vote subsidy, unless of course you don't vote. We could all choose to avoid the tax credit, and if so there would be no money donated at all.

            However, I agree with you. I don't like either one. It's simply a case of the lesser of two evils.

          • I can see that you value the personal sacrifice involved with donating $40 of your own money to a political party; I don't find that donation to be all that inspiring, but to each his own.

            I still can't understand how you can justify forcing taxpayers to provide any kind of matching donation, let alone a donation that is three time the initial amount. And there is nothing that I can do (vote or don't vote, make my own contribution or not) to prevent that involuntary contribution.

            I won't blame you if you don't reply….it seems unlikely that we are going to make much progress from here.

          • I still can't understand how you can justify forcing taxpayers to provide any kind of matching donation

            I can't understand why you don't understand me. I said I don't like them both. I told which one I disliked more. I did not justify anything.

          • I could have been clearer…. you did indicate that you believe that the tax credit is less problematic (I'm tiring of the word "egregious") than the per vote subsidy, and I took this statement It's not as egregious as the vote subsidy though, which funnels money to the parties without any consent of the taxpayer. to be your justification for that preference; that is the justification to which I was referring.

          • Wow, that's a comment of mine from 7 months ago :-)

            How could you forget?

          • Could you expand on that post, for c.larification sake

          • Same link as I provided for s_c_f…..scroll up to get background links.

          • Think about it for a moment, how subsidized political parties can keep this bloated system in place

            I have thought about it. I hated the idea the instant I heard it from Chretien years ago.

            We need the parties to fight for their dollars. Now that they've got their cash cow, our democracy is less of a real democracy. Not only that, the system rewards incumbents – it gives a funding advantage to the players in the next election based on the results of the last election.

          • The subsidies bother me too. But what bothers me more is this:

            When Harper suggested to do away with the subsidies, HE was the one being ridiculed, HE was the one of being accused of being a crass politician. Very, very few in the MSM came to his defense in this regard, even MSM who would, at other times, wholeheartedly agree with abolishing these subsidies.

            We all know what did happen, of course. Ignatieff was being hoisted as our newest version of the "freedom" fighter on the grounds of riduculing Harper's stand. Yet, Harper's stand (to ellimiinate the subsidies) was the courageous one. Ignatieff's stand, however, was manufactured to be the courageous one. It was outright appalling how this has gone down in history.

          • I would love to see the subsidies go by the wayside, but Harper deserved what he got. The problem was not getting rid of the subsidies…it was getting rid of them immediately, when his party was the only one that could survive without them.

            If he'd phased them out over a few years I'd have been 100% behind him. The way he tried to do it was disgraceful.

          • Why, oh why, do so many insist on skimming over the surface?

            Harper's introduction of political subsidy cuts had the best timing ever. Not one issue can stand in isolation. The election results had just come in and if we remember what kind of an election it had been, the subsidy cuts made perfect sense.

            First of all, the BQ, a separatist party by its OWN admission, claims the federal tax cuts. But besides that fact that the BQ is a separatist/provincial party, it had used the Art community in a shameless manner. Remember how the Art's community was all up in arms about changes to the art's funding program, whereas in fact more money in total had been allocated to the arts? Remember how the figures being used has spiralled into the billions, something like 8 billion was "supposedly" the annual contribution of art in our economy?

          • "If he'd phased them out over a few years I'd have been 100% behind him. The way he tried to do it was disgraceful"

            Good for you JG. Both a rational nonpartisan take, and and ethical one.

          • If he'd phased them out over a few years then he could not have used the rationale that it was a recession-fighting measure and a way of reacting to the tough times. He tried to use the situation to get the issue passed.

            There is no way he'll get the votes for it under any other circumstance. Of course, he failed to get it though then as well, but I don't fault him for trying.

          • There is no way he'll get the votes for it under any other circumstance.

            1) not sure about that. if he would have made a principled argument on why he was doing and the fair manner in which it was to be implemented I actually think he would have quite a bit of support on the vote subsidy (although like Phil above I think it is less egregious); and,

            2) you never know till you try!

          • Very, very few in the MSM came to his defense in this regard, even MSM who would, at other times, wholeheartedly agree with abolishing these subsidies.

            How many such MSM exist? Not many.

            The MSM is overwhelmingly leftist. This type of bias occurs all the time. I don't think there are many in the MSM who disagree with the subsidies.

            For the most part, I don't think Ignatieff was hoisted for any other reason than the fact he was the Liberal leader. The stand he was making did not matter, the media were behind him because he was the Liberal. Most journalists are like that, they're blinded from the issues by their biases.

          • "This type of bias occurs all the time."

            this is not just a matter of bias; it's a matter of incompetence. Deeper analysis of our political system are in order, and I am not speaking of the PR red herring touted about much too often.

            Regarding Ignatieff being hoisted: yes, he was, not directly, but by pushing down Harper hard (on a very reasonable innitiative) Ignatieff came out to stand on top, by default if you will. But such standing is percieved as real, albeit surreal in essence. (I can hardly hear myself think, it;s raining here sooooo hard :) really, it is)

          • Yes, depending on how you look at it, bias can be an issue of incompetence, although in many cases media outlets are intentionally biased so you cannot characterize that as incompetence.

            I was using the word "hoisted" the way you did, as in hoisted on a pedestal by the media.

          • Yeah, sometimes, in all of the hurry, we can misread each other's posts.

            Indeed Ignatieff was hoisted on a pedestal by the media.

            But I would like to debate this in a somewhat less subjective manner, coming to grips with some terms without the terms of reference ot a particular politician or particular news media personality.

            Bias is indeed present. But before I let myself be caught in being biased myself (indicating for instance in what direction the MSM's bias is leaning), I would like to put it this way:

            (continued, although I will try and keep my posts brief, since we are living within a shortened attention span world, and how to function in it……….!!)

          • This is the way I see it:

            When a write-up is being written with bias as its core contents, then I will most often see little or no value within the piece itself, and I will come to disregard it. If however, a written piece is presented with a clear and reasonable point of view, then such write-up does offer great value to the well being of our democracy. Competence then shines in spite of the bias to be kept in mind. It could indeed be said that if a written piece has great value in what is presented, then my inclination might be shifted toward the writer's point of view.

          • speaking of guys I'd like to have a beer with…

          • I am woman…..but man, cold beer and warm conversations are about as good as it gets!

          • I think the underlying problem is that it is easy for voters to see what is lost when bailouts don't arrive and jobs are lost. But is harder for them to understand the gains: they cannot see the harm being done to the productive sectors when funding those baillouts, and they cannot see the positive results that will ensue from allowing the forest fire to burn.

            Your analogy of the forest fire is so good again. The results of a forest fire is fresh growth and an explosion of life, resulting in a much healthier forest in the future. Preventing the fires just preserves the existing trees, and there are some trees that even need fires for normal growth (eg redwoods).

          • That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen by Frederic Bastiat

          • Yeah, that writer too :-) Also prominent.

          • I missed this post earlier. Excellent post, s_c_f!

            You're describing a reactionary view held onto by most Canadian, I believe.

            The way to be progressive (truly progressive, not the kind of progressive explanation touted about by standard and banal understandings) is by being anticipartory in view. But that's so much more difficult to explain than Macleans wordcount will allow for here.

        • That's actually a positive way of looking at it, for the forest fire is saying that eventually the trash (or dry brush in the forest) will be cleared out.

          It can be worse, like in command economies, where you need to wait decades (1917 to 1989 for instance) for the entire system to collapse before the fire rolls in. The analogy in that case is that the trees are dead and the animals are gone, so there is no forest left to burn.

      • Sorry, this is the problem with armchair economists, of which so many conservatives are.

        You can't just "clear out" the non-productive. They don't conveniently disappear into the aether once their jobs are gone.

        And they don't just sit by quietly starve either. If they can't find legit ways to feed themselves, they'll find not so legit ways.

  5. Oh one last point, there's a little flaw in the article's main conclusion – "If everyone knew what actually happened in this city, no one would ever vote against the Conservatives, ever again." – namely that the size of government has only INCREASED under Neocons like Harper and George W. Bush. No I know of course this is all part of a devious long-term plan to create so much debt that future government s will have no choice but to make cutbacks but I'd also consider the possibility that these people may just be idiots who can't manage s**t with their ideologically rigid mindsets.

  6. yeah, that was a pretty non-sequitor lede.

  7. One of the comments focuses on the role of bilingualism in advancement and hiring. I have felt for years that when Trudeau mandated the policy that his hidden agenda was to populate the senior civil service with a disproportionate number of people who grew up in Qubec's civil code environment and had no appreciation of the "common law" and its inherent respect for private property and personal choice.

    I had an aha moment watching the Throne Speach and Budget commentary on CPAC recently when a Quebec based constitutional expert was commenting on the prorogation thing. He basicaly said it could never happen in Quebec "because we have rules for everything". In other words the civil code dictates actions in specific situations. There is no moral or political choice, just a list of options prepared by bureaucrats. Welcome to the Brave New World.

  8. And, get this, instead of commenting for fun, you can land a gig with a Canadian magazine and they'll pay you to sound off about problems you barely understand and don't care to! All because you've got a mellifluous style! I kid you not!

    • Nice to see all that green in your photo tag…goes great with your envy:)…you gotta confess, but why are you takin' shots at Wherry in Colby's spot? :)

      • Good heavens, I'm just as much against people chiming in with a cheap, two-line personal jibe as Colby is.

        • srsly was Colby's post meant to do anything besides inspire some good ol' fashioned bureaucracy/bureaucrat bashing?

          • It's about as serious as a post about the CF at some peacenik blog. Except that Colby is supposed to be a grown-up.

        • I dare say he knows a lot more about both than you ever will, your ego notwithstanding.

    • 1,600 at 40 performances…but poets have a way of being and seeing that is worthy of careful study…while I almost always disagree with JM he is at least lucid and thoughtful. I bet he would even be fun to have a beer with.

      • I also find it strange you would find it necessary to defend JM after JM showed little class by insulting a Maclean's writer for no apparent reason other than the fact that he happens to disagree. If you want to compliment JM, save it for a moment when he's not acting like an a**.

          • Heaven forbid that I'm the voice of reason…but if you want to ride the big surf boys, you gotta live on the beach. I get value from both of your perspectives…you can be critical without being obnoxious or personal. I find "patronizing" (hat tip hollistic one) works well :)

          • Yeah, you are the voice of reason here. I'm sure Cosh can handle himself but I'll support the writers I like when I see them being slandered.

          • there's a difference between supporting writers you like and slagging other commenters with personal attacks. you're out of line on this one scf.

          • Yeah, I slagged him, with the exact same insult he used on the Cosh. So if you take umbrage with the insult, direct it to the original author.

          • Actually, JM's comment was relevant in that it was in reply to a specific piece of pretty damned shoddy journalism.

            Your comment wasn't.
            Had it been in response to some of Jack's poetry, maybe, As it is though, pure ad-hominem.

          • Try to make sense, please.

          • Sure, if you want us both to be banned, go ahead. I'm sure they won't take too kindly to your flaming the Maclean's writer, more so than my response to that flaming.

          • I think that they were trying to cut down on commenter on commenter flame wars. i think they expect a certain degree of commenter on staff disgruntlement or at least that is what Paul seemed to indicate.

          • That makes no sense whatsoever.

          • Ok. Whatevs dude.Sent from my iPhone

          • They're getting paid to take jibes, criticisms, and even lunatic counterattacks. In theory you and I are not only avid purchasers of the print magazine/sponsor's products, but unpaid value add as well. It makes slighlty more sense to protect our tender sensibilities than the professionals.

          • Come on, Jack. How old are you? I'm thinking you're old enough to not run to mommy evertime you can't win your own battles.

            (But besides that, I am curious how old you are. I am curious about the ages of people participating here for other reasons than mentioned above)

          • "I will seriously leave the Maclean's website forever if s_c_f is not banned for this. If he's still posting here as of Monday afternoon, I'm gone."

            Jack, take a deep breath, this kind of brinksmanship is uncalled for, especially in the circumstances. You took a run at Colby, scf called you on it. Let's move on.

          • Absolutely not. Either there is a policy against personal attacks or there isn't. Get rid of the policy and we move on. Get rid of s_c_f and we move on. Keep the policy and s_c_f and expose the rational to despicable personal attacks, threatening to ban them if they respond in kind, and I am gone to a place, be it only my local café, where the unhinged Right is not held to a different standard than the rest of us.

          • I might be wrong, but I think that the policy you linked to only applies to Wells' posts and not to Macleans.ca in general.

          • I think Richard might be right, Jack. My understanding was that Wells's policy only applies to the Inkless Wells blog, and each Macleans blogger calls the shots for comments on his own blog.

          • It would be good to know. In Paul's posting of the policy, he does use phrases like "here at Inkless," so most likely you and Richard S. Argent are right. I'm just frustrated because I don't know whether I can answer back to s_c_f without being banned.

            One can take the come-one-come-all stance in principle, but in practice so much time and effort is wasted debating people like jolyon and s_c_f that this website is fast going to the dogs.

          • Like the others above, I also took the Inkless Policy to be specific to the Inkless blog, and even possibly just specific to that particular post. If things had continued to deteriorate over there, to the point that Inkless had actually followed through, I believe that he might have tried to get his ban implemented across the entire macleans.ca site. In any case, as I read it, Inkless wasn't going to monitor other contributors blogs for transgressions of his policy.

            Bottom line, I'm glad that you will still be here tomorrow morning.

          • i do note that there was a post by Wherry that got locked down after jolyon libeled the members of the Liberal party as endorsing the murder of children. so it may be accurate that each journo gets to enforce their own 'solution'.

            I would have thought that were would be a blanket policy on slander generally but even that does not appear to be the case (i have reported comments that clearly constitute slander – not of me – in the past and nothing followed).

          • I don't know whether I can answer back to s_c_f

            Well, you've already uttered a falsehood with "being compared to the Nazis by s_c_f and jolyon", so that's a start.

          • in an ironic way you are validating my point about bureaucrats and bureaucratic thinking. We don't need a policy, we need good manners and a sense of humor. These are concepts which can not be regulated or enforced, only nurtured and respected. I hope you reconsider your position.

          • Well I sincerely hope you reconsider Jack. I like reading both your comments but also scf's comments.

            And trust me, I've had all kinds of tripe thrown my way on this blog, and I usually just ignore it.

          • One thing's for sure, you do get all kinds of nasty attacks and tripe. All the time. I like your comments too. Thanks for the compliment.

          • Jack, I'm not aware of historical ins and outs here at the Macleans site, so I can and will not comment on that.

            I wish you would reconsider your drastic stand. You know, we all do it, stand on priciple in the heat of the moment, only to regret it later. Come on, Jack, you would miss participating on this website. And so you would only hurt yourself.

          • "Come on, Jack, you would miss participating on this website. And so you would only hurt yourself. "

            IMHO, the loss of Jack Mitchell commenting on Jack Mitchell, would probably hurt macleans.ca. I certainly would miss his witty, humourous, and insightful comments.

          • Well, thank you all very much. In view of the haziness of the policy, and all these excessively nice things people are saying, which are hard to ignore, I'll retract my brinkmanship. But I will seek clarification about the Maclean's policy on zero-to-sixty personal attacks of the s_c_f sort.

          • now, about that beer? :)

          • Of course! If you are in Toronto this summer, it's on me. Caveat: if we drink chez moi, it'll be Slovak beer (Golden Pheasant), which I'm prepared to vindicate, in the name of my Slovak-Canadian fiancée, against all comers.

          • Of course! If you are in Toronto this summer, it's on me. Caveat: if we drink chez moi, it'll be Slovak beer (Golden Pheasant), which I'm prepared to vindicate, in the name of my Slovak-Canadian fiancée, against all comers.

          • No don't. Leave. Please.

          • my sides are hurting now too.

          • Sure, why don't you start with Colby? It is his blog, after all.

          • Interesting interpretation. Wrong, but a weak attempt at deflection.

          • Let me know how it goes with Colby!

          • I will seriously leave the Maclean's website forever if s_c_f is not banned for this. If he's still posting here as of Monday afternoon, I'm gone.

            How utterly dreadful that would be.

          • Is 'sphincterous' even a word? Not sure.

          • Is 'sphincterous' even a word?

            As with Christmas gifts, it's the thought that counts.

            However, if Macleans banned floccinaucinihilipilification on principle each edition of the magazine and the website entire might well be reduced to a single page.

          • …another one who should be canned.

            But it doesn't matter; there's no dirth of bilious wingnuts out there, that's for sure.

          • "Dearth," dear. If you're going to demand everyone who doesn't meet some imagined standard for 'quality' participation in a conversation ought to be censored, it might be a good idea not to give anyone any ammo against you.

          • "If you're going to demand everyone who doesn't meet your imagined standard for 'quality' participation in a conversation ought to be censored, it might be a good idea not to give anyone any ammo against you."

            Ammo?

            Whatever you say, bilious wingnut.

          • That's a very good idea, avr. How very kind of you to think of it.

            Jack does deserve a medal of appreciation, as our poet laureate, and as a regular commenter who often gets in early and moves the discussion onto a relevant and interesting track. Most definitely a value-add.

            While we're on the subject, Sean should get something for his half of the comedic routine which often makes Feschuk's posts.

            I know I certainly appreciate them both.

          • Indeed.

            And where is Sean? Spring break, I'll guess….I'll wager he's back within 12 hours.

          • actually i am revising my earlier position (which was that i thought the no flame war policy was specific to Well's column); I am now back in the unsure camp. Jonathan McKinnell, a (very helpful!) Macleans web admin dude seemed to have posted a more general across the board warning prior to PW's more specific warning:

            Hi WSAM and OnTheJob,

            Lighten up on the personal attacks please. If you have something to say about the issue or about the point a fellow commeter was trying to make then say it. No need for school yard level verbal bullying.

            Consider this your first and only warning.

            Thanks,
            Macleans.ca

            http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/02/22/the-witness-ha

          • I would love to know how Colby's post fits with Maclean's editorial policy (yes, I know that this is a blog, but I wouldn't think that means anythings goes under the electronic version of the masthead).

            Colby cites a blog that uses a single anonymous source to run down more than 100,000 individuals (note the anonymous commentator draws no distinctions between the various groups who constitute "public service employees" in Ottawa. Does Macleans value single-anonymous source slagging of any group?

      • You must have read some poetry in your life, Peter, because it is true that a poet is capable of portraying something that is overlooked by regular discription, I would say a poet's line of thinking would not be linear in that sense. Kinda like the complete opposite of what a bureaucrat does.

      • Lucid and thoughtful? You mean incoherent and illogical?

    • As Carl Menger figured out, all values are subjective. One cannot mistake poetry for something of value, any more than one can mistake blue for his favourite colour. Unless, of course, you are talking about speculation about future demand, but anyone who invests in poetry deserves every loss he gets.

      • How's the aphorism market these days, Justin? Still two cents each and falling?

        • A thing cannot fall from the floor.

          Since I cannot discern your tone from the print edition of your thoughts, you will have to tell me if you are trying to insult me in some way. As is, I don't know how to respond.

          • Your original comment was a fine example of the fallacy of equivocation (misleading use of a term, like "value", with more than one meaning or sense, by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time).

          • Which meaning, then, is intended by whom?

          • Well, you said: "One cannot mistake poetry for something of value, any more than one can mistake blue for his favourite colour", because "all values are subjective". You're mixing up different meanings of the word "value".

            Obviously, poetry is personally valued by some people. Poetry can also have economic value, as does everything that gets bought and sold. Publishers "invest" in poetry all the time, and sometimes the investment even pays off.

            Anyway, it's clearly wrong to state that "one cannot mistake poetry for something of value", and it certainly doesn't follow from the statement that "all values are subjective".

          • What I am saying is that it is impossible for one to mistake the value of something. To "mistake" the value would mean that there is an objective standard to which one's preference is in discord with. It's as nonsensical as the statement — I always thought my favourite colour was blue, but I was wrong. There is no right or wrong in subjective preference. Your favourite colour is whatever you think it is, your "value" of an item is whatever you think it is — you cannot be mistaken.

            If you are investing, you are, one would hope, predicting that the future value of the thing you are investing in will increase. Generally speaking, you are anticipating that people will be willing to trade more money for it than you initially purchased it for (inflation adjusted, of course). You can certainly make bad investments (like, for example, if you try to grow your retirement savings with poetry publishers stocks), because you have mistaken the values of others, but you cannot mistake your own values.

          • To "mistake" the value would mean that there is an objective standard with which one's preference is in discord.

            So when you wrote "one cannot mistake poetry for something of value", you were trying to communicate that "one cannot be mistaken about one's own perceptions of value".

            Silly me. For some crazy reason, when I read: "One cannot mistake poetry for something of value", I thought you were saying: "Poetry is not something of value".

          • Yes.

            Undoubtedly, "one cannot be mistaken about one's own perceptions of value" is much, much better phrased.

            The reason I wrote it the way I did was because I was trying to use the words of the individual to whom I was replying, who wrote "…gullible fools will mistake your poetry for something of value…"

            I do want to be understood, so thank you for helping me clear up the matter.

          • You're welcome, and thanks for clearing things up.

          • Thank you, incidentally, for much food for thought about the perception of value and the value of perception.

          • Just to let you know, I understood exactly what you meant in the original comment (no offense intended to Crit_Reasoning). That is how I view the underlying meaning of value – it is subjective, and the value of an item can only be measure by other peoples' willingness to exchange their own possessions or services for it. In my opinion, to say that something has no value, means that nobody will exchange anything for it, even their own time if the item is free otherwise.

          • It seems that words poetic lose their favour
            when readers taste contrary party flavour
            And what of real opinion, which anoints
            a reader tired of seeing talking points?

            And so I'm left to think, and idly wonder:
            Do neo-cons have poets of which they're fonder?

          • Do neo-cons have poets of which they're fonder?

            I'll wager Ezra Pound; of whom Hemingway quipped – when teaching Ezra to box – that it was impossible to teach him a left hook.

          • You say roundhouse, I'll say madhouse. Let's call the whole historical allusion off…

    • Maclean's is a private organization. People give it money voluntarily in return for something it offers them. The government extracts money from people by force, and proceeds essentially to pay people to dig holes and then fill them up again.

      See the difference?

      • Maclean's is a publicly funded organisation that would not exist if it weren't for the taxpayer. It would long ago have been swamped by Newsweek, Canadian Edition.

        • interesting comment. It has my ears perked for sure

        • I think you should tell them that when you are seeking clarification on "the Maclean's policy on zero-to-sixty personal attacks of the s_c_f sort". (BTW, if you want me to supply some clarification for Maclean's on the insidious nature of the s_c_f sort of personal attacks, let me know).

          I suspect Wells disagrees with you:
          http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/05/17/the-new-newswe

    • I must be one of those "like-minded gullible fools", because I know some really ambitious poets who produce excellent work that is well worth buying and reading.

      • Yes, perhaps you do. I'm sure there is some really good poetry out there. When I say like-minded and gullible, it is referring to a specific "poet".

        • Sometimes, days start off like that, eh! We let little things get in the way of the larger picture. The larger picture must include all points of view, as long as one can defend them properly. By the looks of it, both you, JM AND Colby Cosh are more than capable of defending practices. Let's stick to that, guys……

    • that and a government subsidy will get Jack published

    • only if they work for government and use other peoples money

    • Anyhoo, what is the record for most replies spawned by a comment?

      Or, as the kids used to say "Are we there yet?"

  9. "I'm thinking that a mix of uncertainty and faith is about right for human sanity."

    …oh dear… here we go… someone get me a spatula…

  10. Speaking of lazy, Cosh why don't you actually do some, what do journalists call it again?… oh yeah: "research" to find out the facts behind this story instead of just linking unsubstantiated hearsay in a blog posting? I guess that would mean you would have to leave your house…

    • I see the public service union reps are out in force.

      • Actually, some of us are just tired of lazy journalism. Especially in light of the fact that Maclean's gets 3 million dollars a year in public funding.

        • Speaking of lazy,look up, look way up and you'll see you are wrong. BTW at least Macleans has a bit of diversity in opinion, something that if forced to pay for a so-called public broadcaster most Canadians would support.

          The CBC? NOT

          • Hmm. Someone tell Rex Murphy that he's a leftie.

          • I saw AC subbing in for O'Leary the other day. He leans a little further left all the time, too.

          • I also saw that…..way better than the "blowhard" O'Leary.

            OTOH, I'm sure the CBC brass knew what they were getting with O'Leary….

          • Don Cherry in a slightly better fitting suit?

          • Yeah. Is there no place left for reasoned discussion?

            At this rate evolution will soon cause humans to lose our ears, since they don't seem to be as useful as they were in the past.

  11. Well I for one am shocked, SHOCKED that public sector office drones apparently are just as likely to waste time as private sector office drones.

    Shocking innit?

    • isn't it Richard? i am still recovering from this jolt. next someone will tell me that money gets wasted in the private sector and in the public sector. i dunno i could take such a shock though!

    • Private sector office drones are not wasting taxpayer money.

      • Fair enough, but the implication in arguments like the one posted is that the public sector is SO MUCH WORSE THAN THE PRIVATE. And that's poppycock.

        • Unless they come to the taxpayers for bailouts. See GM, Chrysler, just about every American Bank, etc.

          • Also, any company that takes a government contract is working for me, so straighten up!

        • in so far as they have the richest pensions in the land, yes.

      • that blanket statement has a great many, non-trivial exceptions. take for instance nearly the entire US banking sector.

  12. (continued)

    That election was not just lost by the LPC on the Green Shift inconsistency. The last election was lost because of BQ strange appearance in federal elections. Harper must have put one and one together and perhaps had thought that this much was clear to most Canadians and the members of the MSM. Alas, there lies his miscalculation, in that when the real political analysis is unearthed, not many are in the understanding of how things really, really work. Harper had suggested (rightly I believe) to change the Canadian democray in more ways than one. The cutting of political subsidies is only part of the larger picture, but a very, very important one.

    Incrementally you say? Oh, yeah, incrementally we are taken for a very large loop!

    • Or, the whole pay per vote subsidy slashing was a calculated move to preempt the "coalition" plans which were well afoot at the time of the election..though heartily denied by all of the amigos. And with the benefit of hindsight, had the amigos voted down the speech from the throne and against budget and forced the PM's hand and if Iggy could have demonstrated "the confidence of the house" to the GG how would it have unfolded? It was strategic genius on the PM and his staff's part…serious risk for serious reward.

      • Dion has said he had no part of the coaltion plans during the election. He did say he wouldn't be a part of a coalition and subsequently broke his word, but there is no evidence he was always a part of it. Same thing for Harper, there's no evidence was a calculated move to preempt anything at all. That's illogical anyway. If he had wanted to preempt he would have pulled it off the table prior to the FU. Either way he was simply incompetent. If he knew about the coalition plan he was a fool to leave the measures in there, if he didn't, he should have guessed the consequences of his action.

  13. I think they should privatize the public service and let Goldman Sachs run everything. They have done such a great job with the U.S. financial system and I hear their bonuses rock!

    • Greg, you must have been sleeping…they already have. And like Charlie Brown at Halloween, we all got rocks so the GS bonuses could rock.

  14. sigh, 2nd JM was supposed to be "this blog"

  15. And this rag continues to get millions of dollars in public funds a year so a right wing derelict like Colby Cosh can vilify thousands of people?

    • No, he's just editorial balance for the legacy of O'Malley and the unexplained and clearly questionable presence of Aaoron Laytonieferry…and you have admit he is a terrific writer, even if you dislike what he says.

      • "No, he's just editorial balance for the legacy of O'Malley…"

        I''l say. His lazy "journalism" and 100% opinionating certainly does balance the genuine research and reporting O'Malley did here. And the balancing continues: after she was promoted to a real news agency, Cosh jumps from a listing Titanic into this publicly-subsidized lifeboat.

        • "…after she was promoted to a real news agency,"

          Ti-G*y, thanks for that. I needed a good laugh.

        • Thank God the CBC is self supporting and doesn't need public dollars, or the collectivists would have no flag to rally round!! BTW, just what are you expecting from a right of centre columnist…who was hired to bring his point of view to this publication?

          • "BTW, just what are you expecting from a right of centre columnist…who was hired to bring his point of view to this publication?"

            Absolutely nothing. Exactly what everyone is willing to pay for right of centre opinionating these days.

          • That was too funny, his mentioning the PAP subsidy while ignoring the billion dollar CBC subsidy.

          • I also ignored the 20 billion a year the military gets. And CanWest-Global's 3 billion-dollar debt.

            Was that funny too, you moron?

          • I think it's nap time for you.

        • Interesting how you describe laud our government-owned, taxpayer-funded news agency as a "real news agency", while the privately owned Macleans, which draws a $1.5 million PAP subsidy from the federal government, is derided as a "publicly-subsidized lifeboat". Inconsistent?

          • I'm sure you understand that "public broadcaster" and "private media" actually mean very specific things, don't you? What's truly inconsistent that the the market fundamentalists who rule the roost around here continue to accept the subsidy. I"m sure they could turn it down.

            And it was almost 3 million a year in PAP funding until recently. Around 10 million in total for all Roger's publications, last time I checked.

        • you have got to be kidding, do you see where O'malley is? she is right at home with the rest of the loony left. Wherry is right behind her, he's just waiting a while so it doesn't seem, you know, unseemly.

      • Iglaytonerry.

  16. "The PAP subsidy was recently cut in half."

    I know that.

    • I'm sure you also realize that macleans wold likely exist without the1.5 mill far easier than the CBC could exist without the 1 Billion.

      • Really? Garsh!

  17. Yes, the public sector is just as efficient and hard-working as the private sector. That's why the government is such a picture of efficiency and intelligence. It's also why societies in which the government runs everything do so amazingly well…. the Soviet Union for example.

    • Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, China…. sooner or later, it's bound to work… right? Here in Canada we'll do it right!

    • yup just like the heart of the american capitalism is beyond reproach. why are you focussed on non-insightful generalizations?

      • Indeed s_c_f, here in Canada we do it right!

        • wow we are out ranking the bastion of capitalism, the USA, imagine!

      • why are you focused on scapegoats that the O-messiah blamed for bad government policy and even worse politics?

  18. Plus I think the writers tend to walk away from an unproductive dialogue sooner rather than later, so there's going to be fewer endless, unproductive threads.

    • no no dude, it makes "no sense whatsoever" to SCF, didn't you here?

  19. Linking to silly blog posts complaining about the public service with an offhand joke about mental illness. If I was a right-of-center commenter on these boards I'd be pissed. Cosh is getting paid to do what they do for free!

  20. that part of my post was sarcasm DPT.

  21. I just took a moment to try to figure out how long it took you to cut and paste all those quotes. I find I do not wish to know, as it may disturb me.

  22. Macleans

    Curious to know why my comment was deleted again. All I posted were some of Jack M's highlights of insulting others while claiming he's the injured party and demanding people be banned. Too bad Jack M did not keep his promise/threat to stop posting here but I knew he wouldn't because he's a bully and blowhard.

    Macleans comments are turning into one large circle jerk because everyone has to agree with liberal shibboleths or else they are banned, which makes Wells' comment about "Maclean's remains a place for opposing views on important issues" inaccurate, to say the least.

    • so let me get this straight, your solution to what you see as Jack's 'insults' is to insult Jack, insult Macleans commentators at large, insult Macleans moderation of the message boards and to denigrate Wells' desire to keep the place in check?

      I fear this place is hurtling to its demise. which is too bad…. we had a good thing goin' baby.

    • Could not agree with you more. You've captured JM's modus operandi. The whole episode above is just comical, almost mind-boggling, yet for some reason the liberal shibboleths cheer on the childish and petulant behaviour. It's not hard to debate them into twisted pretzels, though.

      • I suspect the post ( and my almost funny remark that followed it) was removed because it was kind of about something entirely different than the point of the story. A long catalogue of JM quotes, and no relation to the blog post. Followed of course, by my witty post which also had nothing to do with the topic at hand. I plead guilty.

        • Comments unrelated to the post happen all the time.

          Here's another comment that was completely unrelated to the content of the post:


          ""And, get this, instead of commenting for fun, you can land a gig with a Canadian magazine and they'll pay you to sound off about problems you barely understand and don't care to! All because you've got a mellifluous style! I kid you not! "

    • I'm going to chime in here to say simply that we are not going to constantly police comments.
      If you have a problem with someone's comment then do two things.
      1) Vote it down
      2) Report it with a valid reason that you would like to see it removed.

      Just because you report it, does not mean we will remove it. When we see the report and look at the comment we will decide whether or not to delete it based on a few things. One of which is if the comment is a blatant attack on a commenter with no relation to the topic at hand. We are not taking sides and we do not delete on the basis of who disagrees with what. Simply put if you attack someone personally and your comment is reported chances are very good we will delete it. If you disagree with someone and gives reasons why and your comment is reported we will not likely delete it.

      Sound fair?

      • Is this comment acceptable, a blatant attack on a Maclean's writer:

        "And, get this, instead of commenting for fun, you can land a gig with a Canadian magazine and they'll pay you to sound off about problems you barely understand and don't care to! All because you've got a mellifluous style! I kid you not! "

        You've deleted a comment of mine which was a paraphrase of this comment, and nothing more, there was nothing original in my comment. Additionally, this comment was an attack about the professional abilities and character or Cosh.

        I'd like to understand why this comment is fine but my paraphrase of this comment was not. Personally I avoid insulting the professional qualifications and character of writers, I try to debate the posts themselves, not the writers. Am I not allowed to challenge the comment above?

        Please clarify.

        • I am not the only moderator, please keep this in mind.
          Macleans.ca staff are not going to police comments on the entire site. So if a comment was reported and the reasoning is valid then we will delete it if a comment is not reported then we may not see it. i.e. The reason the other comment was not deleted was probably because it was not reported. That said if a comment is reported and is part of a larger thread that goes against our ideals we will delete the entire thread.

          Lastly, we would much rather you make use of the voting system then to report everything you disagree with. We are looking at ways of making a down ranked comment less visually visible. Hopefully this will help with some of our repeat offenders.

          Cheers

          • Well, I do happen to agree with Jolyon's opinion below, that this policy will only result in a pile-on to the conservative commenters (who are already feeling a pile-on), who will get their comments deleted if they attempt to repeat attacks that are nothing less than equivalent to the attacks they have previously received.

            That being said, I've reported some of the insults that are at least equivalent, which is a bit of a waste of time, but it will be interesting to see what happens to those comments anyway.

            I would have thought you'd have deleted that entire thread above, according to what you are saying, because every comment in that thread relates to the very first comment.


            "And, get this, instead of commenting for fun, you can land a gig with a Canadian magazine and they'll pay you to sound off about problems you barely understand and don't care to! All because you've got a mellifluous style! I kid you not! "

          • I'd appreciate if you answered my questions by the way.

            I've reported Jack's comment, it's clearly an insult and nothing more, and it's still there. Why is it ok?

            Is it true that an insult is acceptable as long as it is directed towards a Maclean's writer, and that such attacks cannot be challenged by fellow commenters?

            I'd also like to know why such a comment is fine but my paraphrase of this comment was not?

      • Here's another one:
        "It's about as serious as a post about the CF at some peacenik blog. Except that Colby is supposed to be a grown-up. "

      • The wheels on the left and the right squeak equally well, methinks.

  23. OK, well, I guess we disagree, but a disagreement over which is the lesser of two evils is not much of a disagreement since we both agree that they are evils.

  24. Just to clarify, I actually don't mind the per vote subsidy, but I will gladly give it up if that is what it takes to ditch the credit.

    Btw, thanks for keeping it civil.

  25. Sure they do. But not on this web site.