Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 31, 1517

Just wishing everyone a very happy Reformation Day.

H1N1 vaccination

At the moment, it looks like the H1N1 vaccination program is a mess. Let's lay aside a discussion of the vaccine supply. After all, the Federal government has purchased enough doses for everyone and the delivery schedule is a factor of the manufacturing process.

So let's concentrate on the factors that we do have some control over. First, there is effective communication as to who gets priority. I've heard different messages from different levels of government, including the municipal, the medical officer of health and the province.

Part of the confusion is how people are treated when they show up for the vaccine. The local news is running stories that the target population is under 5 years of age, but that no child is being turned away. That sends a message that we have no target population, and that it's A-OK to just show up. Federal politician Hedy Fry didn't help when she suggested that Parliament Hill should have its own immunization clinic.

Then there is how the actual implementation is organized. Some people stand in lines for hours. Some are given a ticket with a number. Some pick up extra tickets for family members. Some are told to come back at a certain time.

And by the way, it seems to be a problem that cuts across political divisions. In Ottawa we have a left leaning municipal government, a Liberal provincial government and a Conservative federal government.

There needs to be a single source of information, and a single plan. The plan needs to be clear on how the clinics will be run and who will and will not get the first doses of vaccine (with no exceptions).

By the way, H1N1 is a trial case and we've clearly blown it. The fatality rate of H1N1 is low (I saw 0.5%). If the fatality rate was 5%, we'd be seeing massive social disorder. People can live with a message that they must wait, but they can't live with a message that sometimes line jumpers will be accommodated.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Conservative Dinner

Last night I was out at the annual Fall supper for my Conservative EDA. There was an excellent meal at the local Holiday Inn, but the highlight was a speech my Senator Mike Duffy. Duffy was for many years a journalist with CTV. He was known as one of the smartest men in journalism, and indeed it turns out that he is a very funny speaker. He didn't say anything last night that the Liberal Party could latch onto in a vague attempt at scandal, but he certainly was a conservative's conservative. One of the highlights was his list of firsts for the Conservative Party (such as the first to elect a Muslim MP, first to elect a Hindu MP, introduced simultaneous translation into the House of Commons, etc). I wish I could remember the whole list.

Also present was Laureen Harper. She was as warm and friendly as ever, and in addition to being a tremendous political asset for the Prime Minister, is a really nice person.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More Attempts at Justice

Sucker punch a drunk from behind who is walking away from you, kill him, get a stern warning about how serious the crime is plus an apology that the sentence actually includes jail time. Two years less a day. Would you believe that justice was served if it was your son who had been killed?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Statistics on Paying Taxes

Here are some interesting statistics. In 2006, 0.7% of Canadian taxpayers paid 20.9% of the taxes. 23% of taxpayers paid 78% of the taxes. And 32% of taxpayers paid no income tax at all.

From a practical viewpoint, it means that politicians who call upon the wealthy to "pay their fair share" are populists of the ignorant or lying variety.

It also means that a political party can't win by calling for income tax cuts, because 32% of the electorate will see nothing in it for them, and 77% of the electorate will see little in it for them.

Economically it means the poor don't need tax cuts; they need an economy that generates better paying jobs. Someone who is making $10/hr and paying no taxes doesn't need a tax cut. He needs a job that pays $15/hr, of which $1/hr goes into taxes.

Finally, it means that we had better not lose too many of those 0.7% people to places that have lower tax rates.