Is your industry a) strategic, b) high-tech, c) no-hope, but located in swing ridings an hour's drive from a major media centre, d) whatever will get me a grant -

Is your industry a) strategic, b) high-tech, c) no-hope, but located in swing ridings an hour’s drive from a major media centre, d) whatever will get me a grant


But, you ask, where’s my stimulus? Where’s my bailout? 

Stop it. I hate it when you use your Mr. Whiney voice. And in any event, it’s a perfectly simple procedure. Just fill out this form. And send it along to the good people at Stimulus Canada.

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Is your industry a) strategic, b) high-tech, c) no-hope, but located in swing ridings an hour’s drive from a major media centre, d) whatever will get me a grant

  1. Hey that’s from the National Post — I guess Macleans is running out of its own stimulus plans.

    I was disappointed to see that it was satire. I really wanted to fill out that form. I still might. You never know what might happen.

    • There is satire everywhere this holiday season! Did you see Andrew’s choice for most underrated politician on the National last night?!

      Wee Jimmy Flaherty, architect if the FU. WOW. Deficit Jim? You have my vote for the most over-rated pundit this holiday season!

      Here’s your present: Andrew Coyne Has Jumped The Shark

  2. New numbers from “senior government officials” – 30B deficit. I wonder if we now have two Finance Departments. One where Flaherty is nominally in charge, and the second at Langevin where Stephen “The Economist” Harper is doing whatever it is that he thinks will keep him at 24 Sussex.

    The Liberals/NDP whatever may have to fire him just for incompetence.

  3. Terence Corcoran has always amused me, but this — this is cynicism writ large, his coup de boule as it were.

  4. What is the Maclean’s share of the Canada Magazine Fund again? Lessee, in 2006-7 it was $421,420! How much of that was budgeted for satirising public subsidy?

  5. Careful, Jack, you’re criticizing the public subsidy of a private venture. Pretty soon someone’s gonna come along to roll up all the roads, the sewage pipes and treatment plants, the military, the police, the military police. Why, take away that 420K, and you’re just left with anarchy!

    Watzat? That someone has been you? Oh…

    • Tsk task, MYL, you’re not using the “reply” thingy.

      I was being ironical. I’m in favour of this nation having a terrific magazine like Maclean’s, and if it costs Canadians 1.3 cents a head to keep it thriving, I’m in favour. Private venture it may be, but it contributes to the public weal.

      You see, with this handy “reply” thingy, we can have this discussion all over again without taking over the thread! Ah, the government-subsidy-developed Internet, isn’t it great?

      • Well, I somehow doubt we are currently playing with a government-subsidy-developed reply thingy, but whatever.(*)

        But looky, looky, old dog learn new trick, use reply thingy.

        (*) Yes, I was being “ironical” too. There is precious little in this blessed country that ISN’T propped up by the taxpayer somehow. Sigh. How does it go? Oh yes, from all to all, four legs good, two legs bad…

        • You are always ironical, MYL, never ironic — it’s one of your chief charms.

          I confess I hadn’t appreciated that nuance of your argument before, the public subsidies of private enterprise; the police, sidewalks, RCRs, etc. not being “for-profit.” At least that has a certain logic.

          Anyway, I’m not pro-bailout as yet, as I have yet to see evidence of how big the catastrophe would be if the Big 3 died, etc. I’m not anti-bailout either, since all I’ve seen so far (not that I’ve looked very hard) has been a parcel of ideology. If you know somewhere where this is all being debated in terms of facts, please post the link.

          • Facts? Did you say FACTS??!?? C’mon, man, this is economics we’re talking about.

            And you say (ok, ok, you type) “ideology” like it’s a bad thing. When things get wobbly, it’s not always a bad thing to let a societal consensual compass point in a certain direction. I merely lament that magnetic North appears to involve theft from the productive and the not-yet-existant in order to bribe the most organized and spoiled unproductive crybabies able to assemble in front of a microphone. Oh geez, did I just say that out loud? Major empathy score deduction there, myl…

  6. What is the Maclean’s share of the Canada Magazine Fund again? Lessee, in 2006-7 it was $421,420!

    And that doesn’t take into account the 3 million a year from the Publications Assistance Program.

    And what do we get? Links to wingnut content from a quasi-defunct media empire (CanWest closed at a new low today…40 cents)


  7. I’ll go try to research this a bit later, but I’ve always thought that it was small and medium sized businesses that employed the lion’s share of Canadians, not the larger ones lining up for their share of the dole. (It may well be true that a majority of smaller businesses are reliant on the big guys at the end of the day, but I’d still prefer to see help for the Ma and Pa convenience store down the street from me, if we must start handing out cash).

    I also dislike how these large figures are being bandied about with little explanation, beyond some claim for need. Perhaps bailouts ought to based on some formula that accounts for a)taxes paid in the last ten years by said company, b)historic and current jobs provided, and c) some reasonably honest projections of future tax potential and employment levels.

    I heard a story on the radio a few days back about the feds handing over a few million to an east coast ship building firm to keep it ‘afloat’. They explained that 1100 employees had been laid off, but –get this– the company couldn’t quite say when those workers would be called back, despite the bailout! Most of the money was to cover losses from debtors defaulting.

    I disagree with bailouts in general, but if they must happen is it too much to ask for a bit of reasoning and strategy to enter the mix? Just a wee bit?

    • You see, that’s what I like about people like you — willing to do a little research instead of regurgitating other people’s talking points.

    • Sean, you are a clever lad. Maybe you ought to consider a public service career move yourself. Ever consider running for office?

  8. What about the public funding of columnists who appear on public television to give their opinion? Is Coyne against that also?

    I am sure Coyne doesn’t appear on “At Issues” for free. My taxes pay for that. I don’t have the choice to fund it or not. There is no market force at play. There is no choice. I am offended.

    • I teased AC about that a few months ago, and he went on record as being against subsidies of any sort – including those that he currently has benefit/association with.

      Then Jack Mitchell tried to rip me a new one over my use of Bourdieu, if I recall. :)

      • Oh, was that you? Sorry, Sean! I’ve been hoping it was the other Sean S. I was hyperventilating at the time . . .

      • Talk is cheap. I notice Coyne hasn’t managed to stop the subsidies. Why would he?

        For the record, I support cultural subsidies, although there are a few Rogers publications (Flare, for example) that shouldn’t be getting them.

        • That’s an excellent question; while the publication assistance isn’t under his purview, certainly he must have some say-so over the money that props up Editorial, musn’t he?

          And if he dislikes being on the public dime so much, why not cancel his appearances on public television? I’ll assume he isn’t having some Canadian equivalent of an M-16 pointed at him whilst he talks.

  9. Jack Mitchell costs 1.3 cents a head to keep it thriving ? Personally , I am not in favour of this flagrant waste of taxpayer money .

    • I would gladly part with 1.4 or 1.5 cents to keep JM thriving –provided Terence Corcoran retires to his cabin in the woods.

      • Thanks, archangel!

      • “I would gladly see to it that every head is forced to cough up a penny-and-a-half, whether they like it or not, for the communal necessity of a thriving JM…”
        There. Fixed it for you. For free. Keep your pennies. OW! I said keep your pennies!

        • Just for the record, in case the irony dies, I’ve never received a penny of subsidy, except when I was an undergrad.

  10. “Perhaps bailouts ought to based on some formula that accounts for a)taxes paid in the last ten years by said company, b)historic and current jobs provided, and c) some reasonably honest projections of future tax potential and employment levels.”

    We already have a mechanism that does that. It’s called capitalism. Businesspeople do more or less exactly what you outlined above, they present their formula to people who have saved their hard-earned money, or to representatives of the banks with which they have deposited their money, and those people make a hard, rational decision based on simple business principles and common sense. They make decisions in this way because their jobs and their livelihoods or on the line.

    You will *never* find anyone in government making decisions along those lines because (a) they’re politicians and every decision will always be political and will never be altruistic, or (b) they’re bureaucrats who can’t be fired no matter how misguided and wrongheaded their decisions, (c) it’s always other people’s money and never their own money which is on the line, and (c) both politicians and bureaucrats *benefit* from making bad decisions about how to invest other people’s money, because the bad decisions cause economic misery, and misery always results in shouts and cries that the government and bureaucrats should be given *more* money and *more* power.

    That is why you are about to have a 10 to 20 year depression rammed down your throat. Because it’s good for *them*.

    • Al, it’s not the banks’ money either. Lone capitalists are a rare breed these days; most investments are by salaried investment bankers who (it turns out) can’t be fired either. Is that still called “capitalism” or do we need another name for it?

      Let’s not forget that by far the largest bailout thusfar announced has been to those selfless servants of the Invisible Hand on Wall St.

      • …… or do we need another name for it?….

        Socialism ? ……… Do I win any dough ?

        • Does it still count as socialism if there are no means of production left?

          • Are you advocating/suggesting , government as THE means of production ?

      • “salaried investment bankers who (it turns out) can’t be fired either.”

        It is government who pours money into the rotten, insolvent banks and saves the bankers from being turned out on the streets and exposed to the multi-billion-dollar lawsuits that they so richly deserve.

        “Is that still called “capitalism” or do we need another name for it?”

        No, that is not capitalism. It is fascism. Banking is not inherently a disreputable or un-capitalistic profession, but government makes it so. They do so because if they have the banks in their back pockets then it makes looting the rest of the economy a lot easier. And vice-versa, from the bankers point of view.

  11. could this be true??
    According to Forbes:

    Labor cost per hour, wages and benefits for hourly workers.

    Ford: $70.51 ($141,020 per year)

    GM: $73.26 ($146,520 per year)

    Chrysler: $75.86 ($151,720 per year)

    Toyota, Honda, Nissan (in U.S.): $48.00 ($96,000 per year)

    According to AAUP and IES, the average annual compensation for a college professor in 2006 was $92,973

    (average salary nationally of $73,207 + 27% benefits).

    Bottom Line: The average UAW worker with a high school degree earns 57.6% more compensation than

    the average university professor with a Ph.D., and 52.6% more than the average worker at Toyota, Honda or Nissan.

    Many industry analysts say the Detroit Three, must be on par with Toyota and Honda to survive.

    This year’s contract, they say, must be “transformational” in reducing pension and health care costs.

    What would “transformational” mean? One way to think about “transformational” would mean that UAW workers,

    most with a high school diploma, would have to accept compensation equal to that of the average university

    professor with a PhD.

    Then there’s the “Job Bank”

    When a D3 (Detroit 3 carmaker) lays an employee off, that employee continues to receive all

    benefits – medical, retirement, etc., etc., PLUS an hourly wage of $31/hour.

    Here’s a typical story….

    Ken Pool is making good money. On weekdays, he shows up at 7 a.m. at Ford Motor Co.’s Michigan Truck Plant

    in Wayne, signs in, and then starts working — on a crossword puzzle. Pool hates the monotony,

    but the pay is good: more than $31 an hour, plus benefits.

    “We just go in and play crossword puzzles, watch videos that someone brings in or read the newspaper,” he says.

    “Otherwise, I just sit.”

    Pool is one of more than 12,000 American autoworkers who, instead of installing windshields or bending sheet metal,

    spend their days counting the hours in a jobs bank set up by Detroit automakers as demanded by the

    United Auto Workers Union – UAW – as part of an extraordinary job security agreement.

    Now the D3 wants Joe Taxpayer to pick up this tab in a $25 Billion bailout package – soon to be increased

    to $45 Billion if Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton have their way.

    The “Big 3” want this money – not to build better autos. No. They want it to pay the tab for Medical

    and Retirement benefits for RETIRED auto workers. Not ONE PENNY would be used to make them

    more competitive, or to improve the quality of their cars.

    We ALL have problems paying for our Medical Insurance – but the Democrat leaders in Congress

    now want us to pay the Medical Insurance premiums of folks who have RETIRED from Ford, GM and Chrysler.

    Not a good deal for us.

    • Also according to Forbes (last week):

      “Detroit’s current average labor cost is about $71 per hour, compared to $47 an hour at Toyota, which has no unions. But it’s misleading to suggest that Detroit autoworkers are paid $71 an hour. About $17 of that is the cost of health care insurance for retirees. General Motors (nyse: GM – news – people ) has 442,000 retirees in North America, four times as many current employees. Toyota has only 371 retirees in the U.S.; Honda has 2,400.

      What do autoworkers really make? Detroit’s hourly workers earn $28 an hour, or $57,000 a year. (Toyota workers make $25.) Benefits and payroll taxes bring the total cost per worker up to $54 an hour, versus $47 at Toyota.”

      …emphasis added.


      “More concessions came this week when the union agreed to end a controversial “jobs bank” program, which pays workers even when there are no vehicles to build. The union also said it would allow car makers to extend their scheduled payments to the health care trust fund. Importantly, UAW President Ronald Gettelfinger also said the union is ready to renegotiate additional contract terms.”

    • Mr. Pool, you must have developed a lot of valuable experience, so can you help me out with 16 Across here. Seven letter-word, V-blank-C-T-blank-M-blank. Clue says “The next generation.”

      Any ideas, sir?

      • VOCTEMO! Great episode. Love the part where Data pretends to fall in love.

        • Thanks Jack, but I’ve noticed the last letter is probably an S, since 20 Down (blank/S-C-R-blank-W-E-blank) has the following clue: Honest taxpayers are ——–!

          • Escrowed?

          • Clarification: “blank/S” means I think that first letter is an S. Sorry Jack, but I appreciate the help. We can share the Sudoku next, k?

          • Sudoku is so much more fun now that you can change any of the pre-set figures to suit your taste.

            Interesting that there’s a limit to how far these “reply” ‘s can go.

    • Meanwhile, brokers and “analysts” pulled in six billion in “bonuses” in 2006 at Merill Lynch on a seven-and-a-half billion profit margin, as things already started to crash down around their ears.

      It’s not the auto workers that are the problem here, bud.

  12. Hey AC,

    Do you think that Floyd Laughren and Bob Rae used “stimulus” back in the early 90s in Ontario? It’d be fun to find a media clipping from those days that uses that very term. Something’s got to shame the Conservative government, before it’s too late.

    • Something’s got to shame the Conservative government, before it’s too late.

      All the money they’ve spent isn’t enough ?

      • absolutely. I don’t know about you but that 7.2% growth in non-military employees since they took office has enriched my life by at least 7.3%. Can’t ask for much more than that, really.

  13. Just watched At Issue, Best and Worst of 2008.

    Obviously, the most “underrated politician” still is Stephen Harper, who continues to confound the “experts” year after year after year.

    Gregg opines that the political landscape of Canada is being reshaped as the Liberals are being reduced to a party favored by only urban elites and single women, while Conservatives are gaining in every region, and re-defining notions of “natural governing party”.

    Yep, how ’bout that, eh?

    I’d suggest perhaps the title of “overrated” belongs to the MSM’s value of their own opinions.

    However, I did enjoy AC’s interjection referencing Harper’s standing in the latest polls at 46%…

    …which Mansbridge quickly shrugged off as somehow irrelevant.

    I guess it just kinda grinds at me how it is that, when Chretien was ruthless, shrewd, tough, and partisan as hell, he was eternally and affectionately lauded as the scrappy little guy from Shawinigan.

    But when Harper is no more, if not less, the equivalent, he’s labeled mean, and nasty, heavy handed, and some sort of implicitly evil tyrant.

    Just sayin’…

    • Yeah, I watched it too.

      But help me out here ……. which one is the conservative ??

    • Springer, poll Andrew forgot to mention.

      • Blues, the poll AC was referring to, which was released the same day as the Angus one.

        I favor the Ipsos poll, as it was consistent with four previous surveys, and taken by phone…not online as was the Angus version.

        The problem was not merely Dion, but the Liberals themselves, compounded by their idiotic coalition plot that they’ll be wearing for a long time to come. You know, the one Iggy endorsed wholeheartedly?

        Remember, too, that often leaders, like f’rinstance Clark and Broadbent, consistently rate high in polling…and can’t get arrested on election day.

        Iggy isn’t going to turn Liberal fortunes around over night…no matter how much they dream it.

        • AR was the MOST accurate pollster in the past election. AR was also the most accurate for the last two Quebec elections and the Manitoba election.

          The Ipsos poll was a primarily a coalition sampling, and they tossed in the horserace. The AR poll was a horserace, best PM, exclusively, in other words a “pure” poll. Nobody disputes that the coalition is unpopular, but to have a questionairre which asks you opinion on the coalition, then asks party preference is a push. I’ll take the AR, both on previous accuracy and clean questions. The Ipsos poll is a dud, and Harper’s backtracking reinforces the notion that he is NOWHERE near 45%. Too bad Coyne cherry picks, ignoring the other poll that shows Harper at his lowest approval since he took office, the first sitting PM to trail on “best PM”, outside of an election.

    • I couldnt agree more. But why just go back to Chretien. It was worse with the media bias in favour of Trudeau. Anything that advances the liberal agenda is food for the Mansbridges, Olivers, all the “columnists at the Globe, the Asper chain, and anything else east of the Manitoba border. But of course anything else is just coming from those “whiners out west”. The media have alaready written off Alberta, now its time to go after Saskatchewan, and those of us west of Alberta.

  14. Sisyphus…

    History generally indicates that to successfully govern for any length of time worth mentioning requires putting ideology on the back burner if favor of what actually works in any given circumstance or imperative. Or IOW, governing from the center…albeit slightly to the right or left thereof, according to an ideological premise.

    The Liberals have gone south because they shuffled too far to the left, and lost track of the primary focus on what actually works.

    Meanwhile, Harper moved to occupy the deserted center ground…or, perhaps more to the point, shifted the center towards himself and the CPC, a tactic usually indicative of political mastery.

    Like it or lump it, hard line ideological doctrine will never trump pragmatism and adaptation.

    The flaw in all ideologies, dogmas, and the like, is that they almost always require bending reality in order to fit within a foregone conclusion. The fact is, life just doesn’t work that way.

    And neither does politics. Never has, never will.

    Don’t kid yourselves, the Liberals are far more married to their ideologies than is Harper, which is their undoing.

    • Ah, yes. It’s all becoming clear now.

      But still…. Gregg, Hebert, Murphy, Coyne. Which one is the conservative ??

      • Frankly, IMHO, if one is a good political commentator, you shouldn’t be able to tell, and it shouldn’t matter.

    • Don’t you ever shut up, Spingbok?

    • Hah! Wall Street is crumbling, the Republicans were basically responsible, and somehow Macleans still manages to attract that precious brand of idiot that thinks that it’s conservatism that “actually works.”

    • I agree with pragmatism trumping ideology. Ideology is the most dangerous force in human affairs, from Berlin in 1933-45 to bin Laden’s cave to Stalin’s totalitarian ‘communism’ to Terence Corcoran et al.’s obsessive market-god-worshipping principle that the government must never “interfere” in the sacred “marketplace” (as if the government were not itself about half of the entire marketplace, the part with which we see to the provision of common infrastructure, goods and services). Hence Corcoran et al. use the following twisted logic: “Climate scientists say anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions will radically change the planet’s climate for the worse. To deal with this problem, governments will have to step in with major regulatory restraints and price signals against dumping carbon into the atmosphere. This would constitute Government Inteference In The Economy, which is the Deadliest Sin in the catechism of my obsessive market-god-worshipping religion. This cannot be! Therefore, climate scientists are obviously liars and fools who are making all this shit up. The Truth about climate is to be found amongst a handful of crackpots with financial ties to front groups paid by Exxon Mobil et al., who are part of the Private Marketplace and hence incapable of sin. Case closed.”

      Coyne is a market-god-worshipper too, but he’s a good deal smarter and/or more intellectually honest than Corcoran, so he isn’t comfortable with lying to himself about climate scientists and their work. Instead, he mostly just kind of ignores the issue, and allows, now and then, the legitimacy of carbon taxes as a proper way to deal with this overwhelmingly serious market failure.

      • Amen. Please visit often. You are one of a handful of people commenting here who “get it.”

      • Those dictators you mentioned … their regimes were preceded by the same kind of desperate policies of debt and inflation which are being attempted right now by your own govt’s central bank and by most of the world’s central banks. Monetary chaos led to business chaos, which led to civil chaos, which provided the conditions those dictators needed to seize power and institute their programs of famine, war and genocide. The same policies were followed by the nationalist govt in China and the genocidal “Great Leap Forward” was the result.

        If Mr. Corcoran is opposing the increasingly desperate interventions into the free market then it is he who is the pragmatic one. Possibly he has looked at charts such as these ones ( and put 2 and 2 together, or rather put 2 trillion and 2 trillion together. The practice of dropping trillions of counterfeit IOUs into the marketplace and forcing them down the throats of the public is an act of war against free markets. If more people like Mr. Corcoran don’t step forward and oppose this monetary chaos then the results will be horrific.

  15. This new comments format with pictures next to each post is unreadable.

  16. Ah, as they say, practise what you preach – if you don’t approve of taxpayer subsidies, don’t accept them – eh magazine folks?

  17. Rae Days–Harper Days.

  18. Wow Flaherty the most underrated!!! Andrew surely you jest!!!