Liblogs – Minus One (Updated)

Hey, did you notice that Liblogs got a cool new make-over recently?

Almost a year after he went down in flames (sadly, along with most of the party) and then, almost exactly as the Conservative attack machine had predicted, immediately hightailed it back to a cozy academic sinecure at Harvard the University of Toronto’s Massey College, the operatives behind Liblogs finally got around to ditching the old banner featuring Michael Ignatieff. More than a little late getting around to that bothersome detail some might say, but hey, a good thing nonetheless. And more than that, the site now has a bunch of cool new features and lots of social media playfulness. Hooray!

One thing you WON’T find on the “new and improved” Liblogs site though is yours truly. Seems, I got kicked to the curb in their renovation. Imagine that! But not to worry… there is a close approximation in “Red Writing” whose Twitterish looking site apologetically states, “Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.”

Go figure.

Update: Reinstated! Thanks to Steve V. for the quick fix.

21 Replies to “Liblogs – Minus One (Updated)”

  1. Ignatieff did not go back to a cosy sinecure at Harvard but got a teaching job at Massey College, University of Toronto. In other words, he was not just visiting.

  2. Geezus, how did that happen? The list was moved over and we updated, somehow you got turfed. I’ll fix that right now Red, sorry!

  3. As long as the Liberal Party remains a free-trade-oriented political party, it is doomed to the same fate as the historic Liberal Party of Great Britain.

    In the age of consumerism, there is only room for one party devoted to globalisation, liberalized trade, free-trade regimes, and consumerist individualism. There is essentially no difference in policy between the CPC and the LPC ….

  4. Sorry to report this, as I know you folks like to believe you are different, but you really are not … policy-wise.

  5. I’m sure there has been an error, and as Scott says, get in touch with Steve V and/or Nancy.

  6. Steve: Thanks very much.

    To be honest, I didn’t even know who was running Liblogs these days in Jason’s absence, so I figured maybe just squawking loudly might be the easiest and most direct route to finding out. When nothing much seemed to change at Liblogs for the longest time after the debacle of 2011, I had pretty much concluded that it was perhaps just running on auto-pilot until noticing the other day that the site had been overhauled in a major way.

    So, thanks again for making the fix and good job on all the improvements you guys have made.

  7. ATY: I share a lot of your deep-seated misgivings about so-called “free trade” in many respects, but the fact of the matter is in today’s globalized economy, turning back the clock to the era of Sir John A. Macdonald’s protectionist National Policy simply isn’t a practical or feasible option. As such, defining what is a “Liberal” and what is a “Conservative” according to that particular metric is in no way helpful to distinguishing one from the other.

  8. Sure Red, I guess you can argue against the efficacy of neo-mercantilism, but I think you are missing the point and getting lost in the analogy.

    If we accept that we live in a era of consumerism, and if we accept that Globalist Economics is the a widely accepted status quo, then what is the essential difference between the LPC and the CPC ?

    The CPC is not sufficiently confessional, and the LPC is not sufficiently secular to make a difference in terms of social policy.

    Both parties accept the underlying principles of Free-Trade. Both partes are slightly reformist when it comes to the Constitution. Both parties try to appeal to Quebec is somewhat similar fashions.

    The LPC is slightly more to the conventional modern left on some issues, and the CPC is slightly more to the conventional modern right on some other issues – but the fundamental net result is negligible.

    The Chretien Government slashed and burned the budget more aggressively in the 1990s than Harper has so far, and in fact, I would argue that Harper’s approach is get to the same result with a million scissor cuts – but the end-game is the same.

    I have come to believe that the new dichotomy in between Citizens and Consumers. If you want to raise opposition to the CPC and LPC it will have to be with the lance of Nationalism. That is fundamentally anathema to the people of the LPC of generally-speaking believe in the Universalist ethos of liberalism. This it exactly true of the CPC as well.

    Until there is a nationalist counterpoint to the universalist liberal consensus, there will be no oppositional force that matters. Or can make a difference.

    Citizen or Consumer – which are you ? Which is more important to you ? Which do you believe makes for a better society ?

  9. Citizen or Consumer – which are you ?

    Decisions, decisions. The citizen in me was getting ready to march in the streets to protest Harper’s neo-liberal destruction of the nation, but after the budget upped the duty-free allowance, I went cross-border shopping instead.

    Aeneas, complaints about consumerism and consumption are as old as (usually ineffective) sumptuary laws, but I think it’s about time you were a little more forthcoming about what exactly you mean and what you propose to do about it. Urban progressives today often rail against the consumer society for a host of reasons, but their perspectives and needs are very urban core and they can be blind to the demands and realities of suburban, small town and rural life. Assuming you are not a Suzuki-style radical environmentalist and that you are talking about something that runs a little deeper than overspending at Christmas and a little broader than excessive credit card debt, what exactly are you attacking? Economic progress comes from either higher wages or lower prices. Are you opposed to both? Do you see retraining material prosperity as a plausible political project?

    It’s fine to lionize MacDonald and the National Policy, (and I accept there are good reasons to) but it was grounded in 19th century economic thinking and it had a very destructive side for the West, rural Central Canada and the Maritimes. Almost a million French Canadians emigrated to New England in the hundred years before World War 11, a hot-button issue in Quebec at the time. One study I’ve seen quotes an old-fashioned Quebec Tory of the time as opining that the emigrants were mainly riff-raff, and so good riddance. Is that how you feel about suburbanites who shop in box stores? Didn’t the thirties bury autarchic thinking once and for all?

  10. Peter … there is nuance there. Not everything is starkly monochromatic. Canada was never autarkic, but rather tried to approach Trade Treaties (we are an exporting nation after all …) in a pragmatic, rather than programmatic fashion.

    “Free-Trade” (since 1982) has been taken on as a messianic religious belief system (despite the countervailing evidence of failure in Canada) that has only one analogy in history – British Politics between 1840 and 1905. This first experiment with unfettered reciprocity led (along with the financial extortion by the USA during the two wars ) to the economic decline of Great Britain.

  11. Sir John A. Macdonald took a rather pragmatic view actually, but the goal was the same: any trade treaty was to be of net benefit to Canada in the service of the goal of diversifying the economy beyond the extraction and export of natural resources. The story of Canada is the story of a nation without the comparative advantage of relative capital reserves of the United States – our geographic and economic neighbour. During the 19th Century, Canada benefitted from British Portfolio Investment, but as Britain became relatively impoverished by the Great War, this reliance on Portfolio Investment came to be replaced by US Direct Investment. This was okay, as long as the Tariff was in place to legally control that investment. Once the Tariff System was eradicated, then we were firmly on the road to where we are now – 10,000 + Canadian Firms taken over by US Corporations (since 1990), a rapidly declining manufacturing base, and an over-reliance on the exploitation and export of natural resources (increasingly, much of of raw exports ….).

    I was an early and intial supporter of FTA with the USA, but came to see I was wrong. When we added Mexico, if make the final break with the ideology of Free-Trade. I have come to believe that Trade Treaties are necessary, but they do not have to be fully reciprocal between two vastly different economies. You can liberalise trade – situationally and selectively, without trading away your wealth.

    Free-Trade with Thailand ? Why ? What do we gain – really ? It seems to me that we now sign FTAs because we can. Because we BELIEVE that it is the right thing to do for Canada – despite the evidence to the contrary.

    We need to diversify our trade away from the United States. Prime Minister Diefenbaker made this a public goal in 1957. However, when your economy is essentially owned by US Transnational Corporations, how can you possibly succeed in doing it ?

    We made a mistake in 1990. Only we are not willing to admit it, but rather believe the solution is to engage in moer FTAs with more and more nation-states. In the end, all we are really doing is providing the rationale for Capital to move to the lowest net producing nations on a continuing basis. It is a racce to the bottom for people who want jobs that cover the costs of living in a technological age.

    The only hope (and it will involve some short-term pain, to be sure) is an abrogation of NAFTA. However, as much as you think that us wild-eyed Macdonaldians will be the ones to push for it, it will actually be the Americans who will abrogate the treaty, eventually. In fact, through the use of many non-tariff barriers they have already been doing it. Eventually, the hold that high-finance has on US politics will be broken and the nativist mob that lurks beneath the surface in US politics will push for abrogation of NAFTA. And they we will really be screwed, because being Canadians, we did not think ahead.

  12. When I speak of Citizenship-Consumer dichotomies, I refer to the divide that exists between individuals and within individuals over whether their short and long-term interests are best served in being Citizens of a nation-state, or Consumers within a Globalised Economy.

    Taking a Citizenship orientation means that you are willing to sacrifice some economic efficiencies to be part of a whole, that is part of a whole that is Canada. Someone who accepts this ethos, willingly accepts that something will cost more in Canada, and that taxes will be higher in Canada and that there is a cost to being Canadian (relatively and versus being an American) that is worth paying. This persona errs on the side of the immaterial.

    Taking a Consumer orientation means that economic efficiency is paramount to the happiness of the individual, and that any burden costs of Citizenship are not worth paying – because they interfere with the individual’s economic efficacy. Citizenship is a secondary value to such persons, because the material is the paramount good to such people.

    To my mind, that is the essential dichtomy we are facing in the West – and in Canada in particular …

    Do you believe that is it good to be Canadian ? Do you believe that net cost of being Canadian is a price worth paying for ? If not, then you are probably a err on the side of Consumerism.

    I am 48 years old, but I was the last-born in my Family and my parents grew-up in a Canada that was tied to Empire Loyalism opposed to American ideas and ideals. Mea Culpa.

    But when you strip all of that down to the essentials, what my parents and grandparents and loyalist forebears were all saying was this: “we are Canadians and we wish to remain so, at almost any cost.”

    So, they left the New York colony and came to the wilds of British North America. So, the farmed less fertile land. So, they made less money. So, they were colder. So, they took up arms and repelled the American Invaders in 1812-13. So, they chased the Fenians back across the borders in the 1860s. So, they went to South Africa and fought the Boers. So, they took the King’s shilling in 1914. So, they did in again in 1939.

    They sacrificed and did things that consumers were never likely to do. (During and after the American Revolution. the consumers stayed in the USA and go along with the mob.) They did all of this, because they believed that being Canadian mattered. They did not care that bread was 2 cents a loaf lower in Watertown, NY.

  13. ATY: Interesting you should mention Watertown as I noted in my professional capacity earlier today that the state of New York just eliminated their sales tax rate on clothing items under $110 (previously the threshold was $55). It’s expected that this will entice more cross-border shoppers to the northern counties of the state. I guess because of the higher dollar combined with tax rates that are 3 percent (or slightly more depending on the county) as opposed to the 13 percent HST in Ontario.

    The number of border crossings from Canada (mostly to shop) to that part of New York state increased by 31 percent to 1.5 million over the past year. Now with increased limits for 24 and 48-hour declaration exemptions included in last week’s federal budget, that will likely boost the numbers even more.

    When you talk about “citizen vs. consumer” I’m sure that most people would feel that’s a false dichotomy and claim they can be both, but in this example it seems that many ordinary Canadians are opting to benefit themselves at the expense of their local businesses oblivious (or unconcerned) about the knock on effect their purchasing decisions ultimately have on their community – i.e., lower revenues and less taxes resulting in fewer services from cash-strapped municipalities, etc.

    Unfortunately, most people don’t think in those sort of terms when shopping for a new coat, TV, or whatever. Perhaps they should… But hey, there’s our “Conservative” government practically encouraging them to take their discretionary income across the border. Go figure.

    Personally, I don’t mind paying more to support local businesses and keep what little money I do spend in the area where I happen to be living at the time. To me, it’s an investment in the community – albeit a small one, given my meager resources and general disinterest in material things. So, I guess I’m in the “citizen” camp, for whatever that’s worth.

  14. budgetary changes for cross-border shopping: hence my assertion that there is little difference between CPC and LPC.

  15. The self-righteousness of cross-border shoppers always riled me. Ready, willing & able to go to Anywhere, NY to but their jeans, or running shoes, but the first to complain if they have to wait to see a Doctor. As if these things are not fundamentally inter-related ….

  16. I find the whole cross-border shopping phenomenon kind of an irksome issue as well — very self-serving and short-sighted, imho; but then, most people are that way about things in general. They want to have their cake and eat it too. Well, who doesn’t, right? As I said and you alluded to in your previous rant, not that many folks think about the bigger picture when it comes to the wider implications of their individual purchasing decisions.

    Strange though it seems now, I remember back in the 80s when Wal-Mart proudly touted the fact that many of its goods were “Made in America” (the company’s policy at the time was to buy American if suppliers could get within 5% of a foreign competitor). And when they moved into Canada and snapped up properties of the defunct Woolco chain, you may recall that many of their endearing commercials featured Canadian suppliers that they sourced from. In both cases, they were attempting to make the case that they were committed to backing the local/domestic economy. Well, those days are long gone and largely forgotten. Now it’s all about the lowest price and the bottom line with no regard whatsoever for what affect that might have on the domestic economy.

    And the same is true now at a micro level with respect to most consumers when making a purchase. But who can blame them? Why shouldn’t they try to get the best bang for their buck irrespective of where products happen to originate or may be purchased? With incomes having flat-lined over the past 30 years (adjusted for inflation, etc.) it’s not hard to understand why the average consumer (or “citizen”) wouldn’t simply go for the best value, irrespective of any other considerations.

  17. Aeneas, good stuff, I salute you. But may I suggest the grounding of your argument in the 19th century is not just because our Tory, Imperial and Catholic souls were hardier, it’s because ordinary folks had a real and reasonable fear that the Yanks would grab the farm. Also, it was expressed in the context of the Empire, which meant it had a good answer to charges of small-mindedness and parochialism. Since WW1, those haven’t been issues and Canadian nationalist elites have been trying, largely unsuccessfully, to make the public more wary and fearful of the Americans than they feel makes sense or want to be. The hard fact is that most of us like Americans and have for a long time, at least in a cautious way.

    Although neither I nor anyone I know wishes to join the States, there are a lot of Canadian nationalists who are quite happy to tell everyone they are sell-outs if they don’t agree with them. I can think of a great many reasons I prefer to be Canadian, some concrete, some not simple to articulate. Some of them do indeed relate to an overall higher tax level and public spending, especially in cities, but I am completely flummoxed by why it is always assumed Canadian pride and patriotism implies higher prices and a lower standard of living (or mediocre artists or mind-numbingly boring hgh school history). Cui bono? What exactly do you have to say to to the proud patriot who says that, given an equal playing field, he can offer bread for two cents less than in Watertown? You may tell him it’s all for the good of the nation, but he will probably suspect you are working for the Westons. Put simply, what is the connection between Canadian nationalism and prosperity, and why?

    Speaking of cross-border shopping, my wife and I did a little over the March break. Actually, we intended to do a little, but we ended up doing a lot and for the same budget. We’re not talking 20 or even 30%, we’re talking 60 or 70%. If you (pl.) are going to just sniff and challenge the loyalty of those who think something is wrong about that, or at least adjustable, then I think you are just helping gurantee Harper a long run.

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