Saturday, October 15, 2005

Hope and disappointment, all in a few weeks

It's been a few weeks since my last post, but I have been lurking in my usual haunts and indulging in debate and discussion. And I've noticed a hopeful sign.

Members of the Right and Left have been agreeing with each other. We have had excellent debates and cordial discussions. It has been both refreshing and hopeful - hopeful that perhaps constructive, consensus building discussion can actually solve problems and help us move forward and get things done.

I'm used to this kind of discussion over at The Blogging Party of Canada, where DazzlinDino, Tim, Candace, Princess Monkey and I have had great, creative debates on policy and actually come up with some good stuff that we all think is good.

But for me the real (and quite pleasant) surprise came last week at Bound By Gravity. While I normally have a good debating relationship with Andrew, it has not been so with others. So it felt strange to find a situation in which Andrew, Occam's Carbuncle, balbulican, Deaner and myself all agreed about Dingwall not deserving a severance. Occam put it best:

" Mike, Balbulican and I all agreeing on something. We're through the looking glass people." - Posted by:Occam's Carbuncle | Email | 10/5/2005 3:55PM

Again, a few days later, we agreed that the new "Rule of Thirds" the Liberals were putting forward to deal with surpluses was both inflexible and undemocratic. It was interesting that in that thread and an earlier one on the same topic, Andrew, balbulican, Deaner and I all agreed. I paid a compliment to junker. At one point Deaner and I made the identical point on flexibility and priorities:

"PMPM's new "rule of thirds" law is like a homeowner saying "from now on, whenever I get a raise, I will spend one third of the money, give one third back to my employer, and use one third to pay down debt." That may be the best course of action (other than the "give it back to my employer" part...), but what if you need a new roof; maybe it would be a good idea to spend all (or even more than all) of the increased cash flow for that? What if you thought that times were going to get tight, and you would need cash (or unused lines of credit) more than a new TV, etc?


"...Now, in that situation, would you want a law stating that you couldn't go into debt in an emergency situation? As Robert said earlier, does not paying your phone bill (or only paying half and expecting the same service from the phone company) leaving a "little extra money" mean you have a "surplus?" If you genuinely came into extra money (through a "bonus" or an inheritance) would you want a law stating that you MUST use that money in a particular way, like paying all of it to debt, or a 1/3 to the credit card 1/3 to the food budget and 1/3 you give back to your employer?

No, of course not, that doesn't make sense. You would do what most people in that situation do - access their current situation and make the appropriate choices. One time, you may decide that despite your debt load, your kids need new shoes and THAT is the priority, so you spend it on shoes. Another time you might decide that 1/2 goes to pay down the mortgage and 1/2 goes to getting a new fridge. Another time you may decide to put the whole thing on your credit card, if every thing else is ok. Still another time you may decide to stick the whole thing in an RRSP because you expect a down turn and will need that money later.

Its all about priorities. I will agree with Andrew here in that no government should have their hands tied with legislation. It restricts the government's freedom to act in relation to current conditions...

Seeing this kind of well argued debate and non-partisan, cross-party agreement was exciting and refreshing, especially considering we were agreeing about fiscal matters. Coupled with the sucess of BPOC, this really shows how politics should be done in this country.

But alas, my enthusiasm is tempered somewhat. I have also been called a pinhead with "my head up my ass" because I thought that Mike Harris' policies created more problems then they pretended to solve. I was accused of being an idiotic easterner who doesn't know what's good for the country.


Well, let's hope this trend of calm discussion and agreement continues. Let's hope it spreads to Parliament, where we can see more cooperation and consensus building instead of more hyperbole and the politics of fear.

A big hat tip to Andrew and Bound By Gravity. I suspect that the debates and sucess I see there are directly atributed to him and the way he runs his blog. I have voted for him as the best Canadian Blog at the small dead aminals awards. I will vote for it in any and all other awards as well.

Good job Andrew.


The amazement continues. I find myself joining Pig v Swine in congratualting Ralph Klein on doing the right thing.

Will wonder's never cease.


At 1:21 PM, Blogger Robert McClelland said...

Don't fool yourself. You can always have a civil discussion with a right whinger as long as you agree from the outset that their opinion is right.

At 8:18 PM, Blogger Tim said...

There is no pleasing some of the people. This "right whinger" as you say Robert, is far from the one you have developed in your mind as are most. Maybe if you actually took the time to paticipate over at BPOC you would discover what others have. For the most part there are more simularities than there are differences between all parties. When people can stop the name calling, party bashing tactics and use their minds to debate the issues, they can come to a thing called compromise. Maybe politicians should try it as well instead of bribery and underhanded tactics they are all guilty of. Its time to graduate out of grade school and start acting like adults. Our country deserves nothing less.

At 8:17 PM, Blogger DazzlinDino said...

Although we see our parties as left and right, take a look at places like Australia to see further separation between the two. Also, I have subliminal flashes at my site, .2 sec every 2 minutes, that have successfuly brainwashed many visitors into voting conservative in the next election. My next plan is the CBC....

At 10:47 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

Robert conveniently forgets that some "right-whingers" are happy to listen to dissenting opinion, and can be swayed by rational discussion. Heck, I think he changed my mind on something two weeks ago and I had to acknoledge he was right in the comments.


"A big hat tip to Andrew and Bound By Gravity. I suspect that the debates and sucess I see there are directly atributed to him and the way he runs his blog."

Naw - I just lucked into some great commenters. You guys breath life into the place... I often post something and then am amazed at the direction a debate takes. (hell, these days I've been too busy to debate much at all - you guys do all the hard work!)

At 8:23 AM, Blogger Mike said...

In Robert's defence, the "right-whingers" that usually frequent his site are not in the same category as you Andrew (or Dazz or Tim etc), so I'm not surprised he would answer like that. His in his experience, his statement is more true than mine. I've run into many of them a few times as well and I'm just happy to see some good, decent, fact absed debate coming out, instead of the constant name-calling and goal-post moving I usually see.

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Nastyboy said...

It's been my experience that reasonable people on all sides prety much want the same things, it's how to get things done where the disagreement comes in. you can't have rational discussions with fanatics, and both sides have plenty of those to spare.

My father once told me " The minute you think you know everything is the same moment you should realize you're full of shit."

At 12:05 PM, Blogger James Bow said...

"Robert conveniently forgets that some "right-whingers" are happy to listen to dissenting opinion, and can be swayed by rational discussion."

To be fair to Robert, if a right-wing blogger is happy to listen to dissent and be swayed by rational discussion, then he or she does not fit Robert's definition of a "right-whin_g_er". He uses the term for a specific reason, and although he and I disagree on how broadly based that term should be used, I know where he's coming from.

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Mike said...

What James said.

Andrew, I can't speak for Robert, but you and those mentioned in my post are not in that class. I suspect the "right-whinger" designation is reserved for the jeffs, Richards, Rempels and Anonalogues of the world. Just read his comment's section and you'll see new names and barking madness daily.

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say that as a blog-reader, not a blogger, I much prefer blogs (and commenters!) that discuss issues in a civil manner, even if the debators disagree.

Rudeness and name-calling do not add to any discourse. In fact, it weakens it considerably. Which is why I enjoy Bound By Gravity despite our difference is political outlook, but find myself turning off Canadian Cynic (for example) because of his constant abuse of a particular blogging idiot. His blog is much better when he concentrates on the issue and not on the character of his 'enemy'.

And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person uninterested in absorbing a torrent of abuse while looking for different perspectives on the news.

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Nastyboy said...

Great post Mike. Glad to see you posting again.

At 12:31 AM, Blogger John Murney said...

Mike, it is always a pleasure to debate and discuss issues with you!


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