Consider the Refrigerator…

Meet Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who currently heads Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — and who has been tapped to be Obama’s next Secretary of Energy.

And who do we have looking after the environmental brief on this side of the border? Oh yeah, Jim Prentice. Woo-hoo!

Regarding the title of the post, it relates to an anecdote Chu is quite fond of retailing in his lectures. A number of years ago the state of California set about establishing America’s first refrigerator-efficiency standards. Refrigerator manufacturers, of course, fought them. The standards couldn’t be met, they said, at anything like a price consumers could afford. California imposed the standards anyway, and then what happened, as Chu observed, is that “the manufacturers had to assign the job to the engineers, instead of to the lobbyists.”

The following decade, standards were imposed for refrigerators nationwide. Since then, the size of the average American refrigerator has increased by more than ten per cent, while the price, in inflation-adjusted dollars, has been cut in half. Meanwhile, energy use has dropped by two-thirds.

There’s a message in that tale for the automakers, of course, as well as for those who blindly contend that regulation is inimical to market imperatives.

Backstopping the Downstream


It’s days like this that we’re reminded why an industrious, semi-aquatic rodent is the animal most intimately associated with our fair country.

Today, “dreamy” Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement said Ottawa is looking at providing aid to auto parts makers and car dealers, even if the U.S. government refuses to bail out the Detroit Three auto makers.

Well, isn’t that special?

Far from putting their shoulder to the wheel and strongly advocating support for temporary financial assistance needed to keep the complex web of industrial infrastructure that spans the shared heartland of southern Ontario and the U.S. Midwest rolling into the next year, the Conservative government has instead opted to signal that they will secure the potentially otherwise unrecoverable receivables of parts suppliers like Magna and Linamar with the good faith and credit of Canadian taxpayers, vowing to make good on these debts should the automotive sector collapse in a sea of red ink.

Essentially, it seems that the Harper government is banking on the implosion of the “Big Three” automakers, appointing themselves as the saviour that will mop up the widespread collateral damage at taxpayers’ expense.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but it seems like a rather somewhat underwhelming proposition.

The Day in 100 Seconds

I know that I’ve said this before, but it’s sad when these brutally edited montages start to make more sense of events than does attempting to wade through the dense plethora of daily “information” being retailed by the media.

Another Day, Another Steaming Pile of…

Hypocrisy. What did you think I was going to say?
Way back in the distant mists of time — 2006 to be precise — newly minted prime minister Stephen Harper proudly rolled out his very first piece of legislation — the much touted and ballyhooed, cleaner-than-clean, whiter-than-white Federal Accountability Act:

“The FAA will change the system. It won’t make government perfect because people are not perfect. But it will provide stronger and clearer rules for governments to follow, and enforce corrections and consequences when things go wrong. The Federal Accountability Act contains a series of exhaustive measures to clean up government and undertake a real spring-cleaning in Ottawa. Once it is implemented the FAA will: Prevent former ministers, ministerial staff and senior officials from using their political relationships to profit from their public service…”

I’m not sure who was actually dumb enough to think that it would actually “change the system”… Could such fantastically naïve, hopelessly stupid creatures possibly exist on planet Earth? Methinks not! Oh wait.

Anyway, never mind that. Fast-forward to the amazing world of just yesterday where we learn that:

Ian Brodie, who was Stephen Harper’s chief of staff between January of 2006 and July of this year, will be joining the offices of Hill & Knowlton in Ottawa next month as a senior counsel.

His new job comes three years after the Tories vowed to stop the revolving door between the federal government and the lobbying industry.

The 2006 Accountability Act will prevent Mr. Brodie from directly lobbying government officials, but he will be working with clients on “government relations” at the provincial, federal and international levels, according to Hill & Knowlton.

I know, I know but it’s “different”… Oh, and “The Liberals did it too!” There really has to be a breaking point at which that feeble excuse ceases to fly anymore. Personally, I think it ceased to be even remotely valid when the Conservatives finally dropped the silly “New” branding whenever referring to the government. Your mileage however may vary.