Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Are larger governments more corrupt?

It occurred to me that if you hold all else equal, it seems that the amount of corruption in a government increases with size. The provincial governments seems less corrupt than Ottawa. Ottawa seems less corrupt than Washington...ect. There are two reasons that I can think of to explain this.

First being that the larger government having more money is able to pay off more special interests using its size as cover. In other words, the large government is too big for the average Joe to watch, and they take advantage of that.

The other reason would be that big governments aren't actually more corrupt than their smaller counterparts. Their big size just draws a lot of media attention. Much of this media attention will highlight corruption. Therefore, we think that big governments are relatively more corrupt, but really they just draw relatively more media coverage.

I am aware that these theories are mutually exclusive. I am not aware of which (either?) one is true. I'll reserve that one for people smarter than me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Destitue Lottery Winners

Canadians seem to really like the fact that lottery or other cash winnings are except from taxation. This is not true in most other countries including the United States. I have a hard time figuring out why this is so popular. After all, lottery winners are not destitute, and they didn't do anything to deserve the winnings (you can say lottery winners deserve their cash for taking risk, but this certainly isn't true for people on "deal or no deal"). You would think that society would want to soak these people in taxes the same way they do folks who inherit a lot of money.

My best guess would be that people are attracted by the fact that their are merit based pre-requisites to winning large amounts of money. Most people know that they probably aren't going to go out and make a huge fortune. They also know that they aren't going to inherit a huge amount of money. Winning the lottery however, could be accomplished by a very lucky monkey with proper training, and that's what we like about it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Why modern music is no good

A common complaint that you hear on University Campuses is that music isn't as good as it was in the days of Dylan and the Beatles. Most people blame record companies. I have a different explanation.

First, the only mass market for music that still exists is the market for young teenage girls. This explains the popularity of acts like Hanna Montana and High School Musical. University students still listen to good music, but they can't agree anymore. In the summer of love everybody was listening to Dylan and the Doors. Now one person is listening to Kimya Dawson while another person is listening to Two Hours Traffic. Blame Myspace and Bittorent.

Second, music in the sixties wasn't as good as people think it was. Look at a billboard top ten list. Most of the songs aren't very good. These songs don't get play on classic rock stations. Oldies stations get the advantage of picking their songs from a four decade filter of history.

So stop being so pessimistic about music. Besides, having an ipod means that you don't have to listen to the radio anyway.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The most valuable arctic resource

Ok, so you've all probably heard by now that the CBC decided to drop the hockey night in Canada theme song, but you probably didn't see this very funny bit by Steven Colbert on the matter.

Anyway, the national post reported that the audience snickered when the announcer said the hockey night in Canada theme was considered Canada's second national anthem. They didn't. You can listen for yourself. I know this has nothing to do with politics or economics. I just thought I would call them on it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

100% Canadian Coffee?

The coffee that I bought today proudly claims that it is 100% Canadian . Well, actually it has "proudly *picture of a maple leaf* 100%" printed on the top of the can. Does printing a maple leaf instead of actually saying "Canadian" give them legal cover? If not, wear exactly in Canada can you farm coffee?

It's also worth mentioning that the coffee flavour is "Dark French Italian." This is marketing to hippies run amok!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Technology and Censorship

The NY Times has an article about the Kremlin's policy where critics of the government are not allowed on television. People reading this will naturally think that these policies can only go so far because of the wealth of information the internet provides (aahemm).

I am a bit more cynical. Most people still get their information through television, and bloggers seem to feed off the mainstream media, and vis versa. Without critics on one side the feedback loop could break down.

Thus far Putin has done a very good job at controlling the press, time will tell if this trend continues.