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Tom Stringham

Tom Stringham studies economics and mathematics at the University of Calgary, and plans to pursue a Master of Arts degree in economics following his undergraduate studies. Tom's views have been most profoundly shaped by a two year religious mission he served in the United States. His highest ambitions in life are to become a good husband, father and member of society. He keeps a blog of his views at virtuoussociety.com.

Trump is too dumb to be president

The Canadian political landscape over the last few decades has meant that picking political candidates is hard when you’re a social conservative. When it comes to US politics, however, there have tended to be more options. Until recently I would have told you that, with the US a handful of good justices and a stroke of good luck away from overturning Roe v. Wade before 2030, the composition of the Supreme Court was criterion Number 1 for picking a president in 2016. And I would have been wrong. It turns out there are more fundamentally important qualities in presidential candidates than "would probably nominate conservative justices." Among them are "capable of abstract thought," "IQ above the median," "knows the difference between GDP and GDP growth," "more emotional maturity than a teenager," and "fifth-grade-or-better vocabulary." Trump means that we can't take these sorts of qualities for granted anymore, and that for their sake, ideology must for now be left to the side. I’ve stopped caring whether the remaining two candidates are socially conservative — sort of in the same way a parent might stop caring about which of his daughter’s two suitors will fit into the family better when he finds out that one of them is a chimpanzee. No one this stupid has ever been nominated by a major party in the US. Until recently it went without saying that someone like Trump shouldn't be part of the political class, let alone at the top of it. Venezuelans know what countries look like when people as dumb as Donald Trump run them. Of course, I also worry about his moral shortcomings — any Trump rant has to mention his creepy comments about women, the childishly cruel things he says about people who criticize him, the pandering to racists — but I don't… Read More

Against Abortion Extremism

A couple of weeks ago I walked by a group of pro-choice women demonstrating on a university campus. They were shouting a handful of slogans in rotation, including a call for “free abortion on demand!” Many of them were carrying signs, and the demonstration, by the look on the participants’ faces, was meant to be an urgent protest. But what were they protesting? This is Canada, where abortion is formally permitted, by the absence of any relevant law, throughout the full term of the pregnancy, regardless of the reason. Furthermore, this was Ontario, where all abortions, whether at private clinics or hospitals, are paid for by taxpayers. And most importantly, this was Queen’s University, next to which free abortions are provided on demand at Kingston General Hospital, a five minute walk from the intersection I walked by. It would have been difficult for the group to find a place that needed their protest less. Extremely difficult, actually—only China, North Korea and Vietnam among countries with populations of at least a million are as permissive as Canada. In these four countries, there are no statutory restrictions on elective abortion—full stop. This is surprising enough, but you could even say that, in Canada, it’s more permissive than that. “A child becomes a human being,” explains the Criminal Code of Canada in section 223, “when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother.” It thus seems that the Code, as if making certain it had only erred on the side of laxity, permits “abortion” of a child whose foot (say) is still within the birth canal. “[W]hether or not it has breathed,” the law adds helpfully. China, North Korea, Vietnam, Canada. Number five on the list, ordering by permissiveness, is arguably the United States, where the one-two… Read More

Ghomeshi: Is this really just about consent?

The Jian Ghomeshi scandal, which broke this week first on Facebook and then in the Toronto Star, is still unfolding, and there’s much that would be premature to say. It would be a little over-credulous to take Ghomeshi at his word that the women quoted by the Star are simply lying, and just as rash to assume that the former CBC radio host committed rape in the absence of more concrete accusations. But leaving mostly to the side the weightier question of whose account is truer—Ghomeshi’s or his accusers’—there is still something important to be said about the affair, and about “rough sex” in general: there is more to sexual ethics than consent. In Ghomeshi’s account of his own actions, posted to Facebook on Sunday, he admits to engaging regularly in “forms of BDSM”. The acronym, which is less ugly than what it describes, covers a spectrum of lewd activities that is characterized, ultimately, by violence. Ghomeshi declines to go into further detail about his particular indulgences, but the account of the women who informed the Star is more explicit:   [They] allege that Ghomeshi physically attacked them on dates without consent. They allege he struck them with a closed fist or open hand; bit them; choked them until they almost passed out; covered their nose and mouth so that they had difficulty breathing; and that they were verbally abused during and after sex.   This is all awful to consider, but what’s striking about the two stories taken together is that the two could be entirely consistent in the absence of the phrase “without consent” in the Star account. Ghomeshi does not actually claim that he did not beat, choke, bite, smother or verbally abuse women. What he claims, six times, is that whatever happened, it was consensual. “[I]n… Read More

Canada’s economy: 5 trends to watch

A strengthening currency, legal marijuana, natural disasters and legal battles in the labour market—here’s a look at five stories shaping the Canadian economy in the second half of 2014. 1. A stronger dollar The Canadian dollar has surprised market analysts by hitting a six-month high of 0.94 USD this week. A year and a half ago, the loonie began to slide, and by all accounts that decline was set to continue. In late 2012, the dollar was at parity with the US dollar, falling to 88 cents by March of this year. The Bank of Canada had plans to intentionally weaken the dollar over the course of 2014 in view of boosting exports—Canada’s balance of trade has been negative during most months over the last two and a half years. A strengthening dollar is making it more difficult for Canadian exporters, major drivers of economic growth, to find buyers in US and foreign markets. A strong dollar is welcome news for Canadians consumers and retailers, however, who will now pay lower prices on American goods. Canadian travelers this summer who will also find vacationing in the US less painful. 2. Expanding marijuana industry Canadian marijuana users are abuzz as the young legal marijuana market begins to take shape. As of April 1, cannabis sold in Canada may be (and may only be) grown industrially. So far, thirteen firms are licensed to produce marijuana across the country, but dozens more are making applications and could join the market in the coming months. The growth in industrial supply coincides with a massive increase in the number of licensed medical marijuana users. A decade ago, the number of licensees was less than a thousand nationwide. As of this month, there are more than 40,000, and the population of licit users will grow to… Read More

Ukraine Conflict: Don’t give Russia too much credit

Ukraine is sliding toward war in its south and east, as fighting escalates between Russian-backed separatists and the transitory Western-backed government in Kiev. While many other armed engagements since the end of the Cold War have proved ideologically divisive in the West, the free world has shown broad unity in its sympathy for the Ukrainian nationalists in today’s mounting conflict. Nearly all major political actors in North America and Europe, whether on the left or right, have placed themselves in the way, at least diplomatically, of Vladimir Putin and his apparent ambitions in Ukraine. There remains a crew of dissenters, however, amidst the Western mainstream. Most of these contrarians are on Europe’s hard left: they consider the European Union and the United States imperialist interveners, hypocritical would-be proponents of democracy. They voice their dissent in the name of the ethnic Russians living within Ukraine’s borders, who under a Western-friendly government would ostensibly face disenfranchisement and persecution. Some of the polemics, however, make their home on the right. To these sorts of conservatives, who take an almost Burkean view, popular Western support for the Ukrainian government comes from a place of ideological naiveté, or even Manichaean moralizing. My colleague Jackson Doughart is perhaps one of these conservatives. In his op-ed earlier this week he accused Westerners of falling for a simplistic “good-versus-bad” narrative, wherein democrats were engaged in a romantic struggle against Russian-backed tyrants. To him, Russia must be given the consideration of history and offered equanimity in our moral judgments. What is true in his analysis is that Russia is acting according to a historical pattern and in harmony with its own long run interests. Russian civilization has always been expansionist, always imperial, always possessive of its Slavic brothers. Its sense of identity, pride, and indeed its economic health have often… Read More
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