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David Kralt

Busting the Hidden Agenda Myth

Left vs. right; free market vs. government intervention; socialism vs. capitalism; Marx vs. Smith; Friedman vs. Keynes. What do all of these comparisons have in common? Besides being overly simplistic, they can all be used to illuminate a two-party political landscape in which each party is founded on an economical and political philosophy that is the polar opposite of the other. By appealing to such clear distinctions, each party is able to campaign in a manner that is reflective of its foundational ideology. When such a landscape does not exist, each party strives towards power in a more pragmatic manner, appealing to voter’s current whims and desires and subsequently making superficial promises.Such a landscape is potentially taking form in the world of Canadian Federal politics through the NDP and Conservatives. If both the NDP and Conservative camps agree with my argument, then it follows that it would be prudent for both parties to attempt to remove whatever obstacles are standing in the way of such a fertile landscape developing. The largest obstacle is, of course, the Liberal Party.This leads to what I call the Liberal party question. What is the future of the Liberal party? Are they on a path that will inevitably lead to greater irrelevance, or do they possess a future in which the only variable needed to reassert themselves as the natural governing party of Canada is time? Nothing short of a prophetess could provide the answers to these questions; to illustrate the difficulty of the question we only need to look back at history and see that a party once reduced to two seats was eventually able to reclaim majority power. Since a genuine prophetess does not appear to be available for consultation, we’ll have to settle for some good old fashioned probabilistic reasoning.The task of pushing the… Read More

Looking to the future in South Sudan

As of July 9, 2011, the United Nations now recognizes 193 countries. On that day, the world celebrated with President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the citizens of South Sudan as they celebrated independence from their northern neighbour, the Republic of Sudan. This spirit of freedom did not come cheap, however; it’s estimated that 2.5 million people have been killed during the conflict between southern rebels and the Sudanese government. To put that into perspective, consider some of the other memorable revolutionary wars. The death toll for the American war of independence was 25,000; 80,000 for the Serbian revolution; 1,000,000-plus for the French revolution … you get the point. It makes you want to shake your head that much harder at the seemingly intentional ignorance and lethargy of so many Canadians when it comes to civic matters, but that’s a discussion for another day. Today is South Sudan’s day in the spotlight.In the capital, Juba, and throughout much (though not all) of the country’s jurisdiction, a festive spirit is rampant. Quotes such as “this is what we fought for,” “remember our martyrs—they did not die in vain,” and “it means not having to live under anyone, it means we decide our own future,” are found in abundance. Once things calm down however, and reality sets back in, the challenges this small (it has a population of about six million) and underdeveloped country faces are endless, but like many countries they can be broken down to two big categories: the economy and politics.The nation is not lacking in raw resources: oil, iron, copper, chromium,zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, and gold can all be found within its borders. The problem lies primarily in infrastructure. This means that there is next to no margin for error in how it utilizes the assets it does have. Unity, competence,… Read More

The absurdity of political science

Viva la revolucion! No more is experience and tradition a requirement for an understanding of politics, we now have a politics that can be obtained through the scientific method! Yes indeed, all there is to know about politics is now available for the small price of university tuition.Just think of what this means: no longer does the population of the world have to put up with corrupt, despotic, and tyrannical governments. We’ve developed a science that, if implemented correctly by knowledgeable and enlightened academics, will cause politics to run like a … well, like a science. The political turmoil of the world will soon be at an end! All we need to do is take this knowledge out of the ivory towers and lecture halls, mix it into real world situations, and presto: a Utopia is formed.This saves us from the ignorant idea that non-teachable wisdom is accumulated with life experience. I can’t believe I once had the idea that past academic weaklings, like Winston Churchill, actually developed an understanding of the human mind a university lecture can’t replicate.Setting aside the sarcasm for a moment, I believe the very idea of a political science is absurd. It’s a foolish branch of knowledge for anyone, let alone undergraduate students, most of whom are too busy thinking about binge drinking and sex to give much serious thought to the complexity of political matters anyhow. The fact that one can major in “political science” may not strike many as revolution-worthy, but if you put some thought into it, I think it becomes apparent that a quiet revolution is at work here.Political leadership has always included an understanding of ethics, history, finance, economics, and many other subjects, which combined with common sense and sound judgment fostered a better understanding of the behaviour of human… Read More

Unity in diversity

Whether you’re an English major reading the works of Shakespeare, a chemistry major experimenting with acid based reactions, a sociology major investigating Emile Durkheim’s idea of the collective consciousness, or a math major working out Joseph Liouville’s theorem, you will encounter a fascinating world of facts, theories, and ideas in your undergraduate years. Facts and ideas which will help you to attain a greater understanding of the world around you, and how and why past intellectuals believe humans behave the way they do.But as we study these issues we can find ourselves falling into the situation aptly summarized by the old joke that experts learn more and more about less and less, until they know everything about nothing. As the joke suggests, this rampant specialization can actually inhibit our understanding of the world, unless we are able to gain an understanding of how each specialized field fits into the overall puzzle known as life. What is needed here is some sort of metaphorical thread that is able to connect our studies with other disciplines, other ideas, and help us to better understand where we fit into the world.Can such a thread be found?Emil Brunner, a Swiss academic theologian, once presented the idea that those who live in the West are living at a unique moment in time; never before he said, has a major civilization attempted to build itself deliberately and self-consciously without a religious foundation. Evidence of this idea can be provided by pointing to the fact that the geo-political region described as the West used to go by the name Christendom, nearly all of the presidents of American Ivy league universities were Christian pastors, and a “Lord’s Day law” was enforced in Canada.Whether it was monotheistic (the belief in one god), as is the case in Islam, Judaism,… Read More

Morality in Economics

Both individuals and nations in the West are facing some pretty significant money troubles at the moment.The percentage of debt to GDP (according to International Monetary Fund) is alarmingly high for many nations. In Greece it’s 144%; Italy 119%; Portugal 92%; United States 94%.In January of 2007 Statistics Canada reported that individual debt in Canada had risen 5.2 times in the past 25 years, while American individual debt has risen 7.5 times.What should be done to remedy these problems? Should direct action be taken, or would a more prudent decision be to take a “wait and see” approach, and let the storm ride through.Whatever theory you ascribe to, it no doubt depends on what you believe the source of the problem is. If you think the system is the problem you’re bound to support an Occupy type movement. If you see fiscal irresponsibility as the problem you might be quick to argue for less government involvement.However, the source that I wish to suggest is a little more Ivory Tower-esque. What should be “occupied” is not Wall Street, but university classrooms. The average economics student in the West must wake up to the fact that he is being provided with an education that is intrinsically limited in terms of how the economic world works. Consider the following description of how an economist looks at the world as presented in my introductory microeconomics textbook Microeconomics Seventh Edition, published by Pearson-Canada Inc. “[A]s social scientists, economists seek to discover how the economic world works. In pursuit of this goal, like all scientists, they distinguish between two types of statements: positive (claims of what ought to be) and normative questions (statements of fact which can be tested) …. Economists are especially interested in positive statements about cause and effect.”  Now let’s incorporate the West’s serious economic… Read More
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