Letters - Macleans.ca



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Taking stock

Your Feb. 18 cover headline declares “BUY! Believe it or not, we’re in the midst of one of the biggest bull runs in history.” This is another example of bubble-mania. Future market conditions will be determined by future economic, political and environmental events, such as addressing the U.S. budget deficit, resolving the future of the euro, global drought conditions, conflict in the Middle East and uncertainty in China. No one should be in the market unless they know what they are doing, have good professional advisers and can afford to lose some of their money.

David Crane, Toronto

Your stock market experts (“Running of the bulls,” Business, Feb. 18) left one important consideration—value—out of the discussion when they called the current stock market a buy. Comparing today’s stock market to 1982 is misleading. The price to earnings ratio of stocks in 1982 was in the single digits; now it is at least twice as high. Inflation and interest rates were extremely high in 1982 but over the next few years they fell dramatically. In contrast, interest rates today are near-historic lows and have nowhere to go but up. The same is true for inflation. The stock market today doesn’t look like the stock market in 1982; 2007 would be a closer comparison. The “Great Rotation” mentioned by some experts is a myth used to sucker people into investing in an overvalued stock market. It is impossible for there to be a rotation out of bonds and into stocks. All bonds and all stocks must be held at all times by someone. If a pension fund sells a bond, someone else must buy it. The same holds true for stocks. Anyone buying stocks now on the basis of the “Great Rotation” should realize that someone is selling the stock they are so eager to buy. Maybe that person knows something you don’t know.

Malcolm Mackay, Vancouver

Blame the lawyers

Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin started the myth that self-represented litigants’ “proceedings adjourn or stretch out, adding to the public cost of running the court” (“Courting a crisis,” National, Feb. 11). What utter nonsense. Anyone who has ever hired a lawyer and filed a court challenge can tell you that the only people who drag out court proceedings are the lawyers—the better to siphon more and more money from their clients. Litigants themselves rarely want to delay their trials because doing so inevitably ends up negatively prejudicing their cases. The “problem” is not people representing themselves; it is a legal profession that has been permitted to grow into a predatory, unethical and immoral, self-regulated, self-serving quagmire. Until our legislators confront the real problem—an out-of-control legal profession—we can expect more and more people to choose the do-it-yourself route, as they must.

Sharon Maclise, Edmonton

Shifting oil sands

Congratulations on highlighting a critical national strategic issue (“Oil sands bust,” Business, Feb. 11). We do not realize the long-term benefits to be gained from responsibly exploiting the world’s third-largest oil reserves. What is never addressed in the never-ending hyperbole from extremists is the relationship between resource revenue and our national living standards. Canada’s provincial and national politicians must not accept the rationalizing done by some environmental extremists. Ron Johnson, Victoria Funny how big crocodile tears for the future generations are shed when it comes to the debt, but no consideration is given to them when it comes to irreplaceable natural resources like oil, which is squandered with free abandon. Ulrich Hertel, Clarenceville, Que. The oil sands developers and the Conservative government have been incredibly short-sighted regarding efforts to clean up extraction of their product, but an 11th-hour conversion might save their butts. Some progressive environmental regulations and smart investment by the industry to make their oil less “dirty” could still make it palatable enough to get the pipeline approved and ensure a long-term market for northern Alberta’s form of crude.

Garry Watson, Fort Erie, Ont.

Canada has not blown the biggest money-making opportunity in its history: circumstances have temporarily changed. What should companies do when it costs more to produce a product than the product is worth? Isn’t the intelligent choice to suspend production until production becomes profitable again? Won’t the oil sands oil be more valuable in the future when other, easier-to-extract oil supplies are depleted?

Janet Parkins, Coldstream, B.C.

Readers concerned about the possibility of Canada— sorry, Alberta—missing out on the opportunity to sell every last drop of oil should not be too alarmed. It will only be a matter of time before we are presented with the chance to sell Canada’s remaining stocks of clean fresh water to the highest bidder. From there, it’s just a short step to selling the air we breathe. To think that mere oil is going to be the biggest economic opportunity in Canada’s history severely underestimates the ingenuity of our resource extraction industries.

Ian Rowberry, Kingston, Ont.

Different history

Conservative adviser Tom Flanagan says, “The Liberals had a long run at redefining Canadian identity. Now it’s time to undo the damage” (“The power of symbols,” National, Feb. 18). What damage? I’m 80 and have always been glad to recognize our Canadian bilingualism, multiculturalism, socialized medicine and peacekeeping. I am not glad to recognize the Harper government’s gutting of our waterways, destruction of our oil fields and its inability to understand the science of our world. It is alarming to consider the damage this government is planning to impose on Canadian identity before the next election: robocalls that interfere with voting rights, private prisons for private business interests, more privatization of Canada’s public services. Talk about damage.

Jenny Thomas, Burk’s Falls, Ont.

What makes a modern weapon?

Letter writer Colin Genders suggests that only weapons consistent with the understanding of the 1791 U.S. Congress be permitted (“Gunning for the truth,” Letters, Feb. 18) in interpreting that country’s Second Amendment. In that smooth-bore, single-shot flintlock firearms were the most modern firearms available at the time, I agree. Weapons consistent with the understanding of “the most modern available” would be what’s available today. Would Genders have urged the revolutionary Americans to revert to a matchlock? A crossbow? A harquebus? No, the U.S. Congress of 1791 was referring to what it knew as modern weapons. To ask them to think ahead and ban advancements in firearms design is specious.

Walter Martindale, Cambridge, Ont.

Kenney’s constituency

Your article about Jason Kenney (“Welcome to my world,” National, Feb. 11) tells a compelling story about this hard-working, dedicated cabinet minister. However, it also provides evidence that Kenney is spending much, if not most, of his time and a very large proportion of his office and travel budget on activities where the objective is, you say, “understanding, seducing and attracting ethnic communities to the Conservative party.” Who is paying Kenney’s travel budget as he travels across the country to win over ethnic voters? Who is paying for “the political assistants in all the big cities who make connections with community leaders”? How much federal revenue has been spent to bolster the Conservative party? Kenney has an obvious conflict of interest and it is time that we get some answers.

John du Manoir, Minden, Ont.

In your day-in-the-life profile of Jason Kenney, his car is moving at a snail’s pace through the Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park. Kenney isn’t there because he wishes to visit any of the desperate Roma refugees that he points out to a reporter as they navigate the gridlock. He is merely passing through on his way to somewhere else. Many of this riding’s residents have had refugee claims denied by Kenney’s office or have chosen to withdraw them, despite verifiable accounts of neglect, violence and social alienation against Roma populations in their former countries. A wealth of new talent has been lost to our country. Perhaps Kenny doesn’t stop on King West because its newcomers have no gratitude to express, unlike suburban immigrants, and there are few votes to be had here.

Brenda Weeks-Clarke, Toronto

Waste of space

Any Canadians contemplating a $100,000-per-hour trip to outer space should have their “guilt” button pushed and held in for awhile (“Discount space travel,” Business, Feb. 18). What allows a person to spend lifetimes of carbon use for an hour’s thrill, costing money that could provide water for thousands? Shame on the individuals providing these ridiculously extravagant entertainments, those buying into it and our government for allowing this nonsense.

Lenard Calon, Daysland, Alta.

The Net is only as boring as you

Aside from the fact that the pre-selection of media based on self-identified interests has existed long before the advent of the Internet—just look at the number of hobby-specific television shows and channels, books and stores—I find Emma Teitel’s piece (“How the Internet makes you boring,” Opinion, Feb. 18) to be one-sided as it selectively discusses websites whose main source of income is through the selling of advertisement space. Needless to say, these websites will prioritize advertisements for things or ideas you have demonstrated that you like. The expansiveness or insularity of your online or offline life is only a reflection of your own priorities.

Rebecca Leung Comsa, Toronto

Fair question

How interesting that a study of teen pregnancy (“A not-so-boozy break and lying toddlers,” National, Feb. 18) found that New Brunswick has had the biggest jump in pregnancy rates for girls in the country. What’s the rate for boys?

Brian Hodgkin, Victoria

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