Psychoanalysis still not dead
28/08/2012, 12:05
Filed under: Ephemera, Politics, Thought

BC Liberal MLA offers a psychoanalysis of NDP MLA’s Marxist tendencies,  Continue reading

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Two data points on personal debt
24/08/2012, 09:28
Filed under: Economics, Policy, Politics, Thought

Pretty much by the definition of the universe, risk is something that affects all of us. Still, not all risk is the same.

Most notably, there is individual risk and there is systematic risk. Risk that effects the individual is risk that impacts each of us differently. Systematic risk effects our community or society as a whole, and so each of us in the same way.

A lot of people get worked up about various systematic risks. This includes things like climate change, nuclear holocaust and genetically modified foods.

While these systematic risks are important, practically speaking, we should also concern ourselves with individual risk, at least because they are tractable.  Continue reading

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Beat union bashing
22/08/2012, 14:09
Filed under: Economics, Politics

Next time you’re at a party and someone starts beating up on unions, claiming that they hurt the economy, quote Mark Carney (and in the Financial Post),

“Over the past decade, our poor export performance [in the auto sector] has been explained two-thirds by market structure and one-third by competitiveness,” Carney continued. “Of the latter about two-thirds is the currency while the rest is labour costs and productivity.”
“So, net, our strong currency explains only about 20 per cent of our poor export performance.”

That is, 10% is left to labour costs and or productivity.

Given how the Canadian industrial relations system works, productivity is jointly determined by employers and unions. So, less than 10% of poor export performance is due to the unions.  Continue reading

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More Albertans need to save (or vote NDP?)
14/08/2012, 14:06
Filed under: Economics, Policy, Politics, Statistics

In theory, a booming economy that supports higher incomes can increase lifetime well-being, but only if people are smart. In my work comparing poverty outcomes among the provinces, Alberta and Quebec stand out as having a couple of the healthiest poverty profiles. However, for very different reasons.

While Quebec has a fairly robust social security system (the kind that many Canadians think they have, and used to have, but don’t really anymore), Alberta does not.

Alberta, however, has a booming economy and a small population. The result is a labour market that favours sellers—i.e. one that provides a job and high wages for just about every able body.

This state of affairs is good news for most Albertans. In fact, Albertans are much wealthier than Quebecers today. But, what will happen if the Alberta economy tanks?  Continue reading

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I am not…
13/08/2012, 13:00
Filed under: Ephemera, Myself, Statistics

I am not the same person I was four years ago. Yesterday evening, I found myself skimming the conference proceedings for a recent Stata conference.

With presentation titles like, “Custom Stata commands for semi-automatic confidentiality screening of Statistics Canada data” and “Binary choice models with endogenous regressors,” I chuckled to myself: How arcane this list would seem to the uninitiated? What about myself, only a few years ago? It seems like only yesterday that I’d have never guessed that I would be among the purveyors of such esoteric nomenclature.  Continue reading

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Support FSL Education
12/08/2012, 17:54
Filed under: Myself, Policy, Sociology

Marie-Hélène Lussier’s recent report is probably the first report that begins to tell a dastardly story about a growing underclass of anglophone Quebecers.

When I first arrived in Montreal some years ago, I initially worked as a nighttime grocery clerk at a Super C grocery store in Montreal’s NDG neighbourhood. A handful of my fellow workers from that period still stand out in my mind—a man that had taught himself fluent English by watching the Simpsons; a shift manager with little income but, due to his extraordinary abilities in financial management, owned his house and car, and was already putting college money away for his young chidlren; a man from the Congo who’s facial expression when I asked him about it told me that I should never ask about it again.

One day, another fellow, a young man from Barabados, told me that he planned to stick with Super C for a long time. He was pretty excited that he could eventually make up to 11 or 12 dollars an hour with them. I was a bit horrified by this—I’d been making 16 dollars an hour working in construction just before moving out East. 11 or 12 dollars was a couple dollars more than minimum wage at the time, but it was still a pittance. How could someone look forward to this, expect no more than this, plan for this?  Continue reading

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Anglophone Inequality in Quebec
10/08/2012, 17:52
Filed under: Economics, Sociology

Speaking of statistics conforming to my hunches, this study from demographer Marie-Hélène Lussier finds that most anlgophones in Quebec are not doing as well as their francophone counterparts. Unemployment and poverty rates are higher among the anglophone population, especially in Montreal.

However, on average, anglophones are doing better. How is this? Because there are some very rich anglophones. Median differences between the two populations are what you would expect. It turns out that inequality among anglophones in Quebec is very large. 

I have two portholes on the anglophone community in Montreal: first, through my positions at McGill University; second, through my cousin, a French as a second language teacher at an inner-city school in La Salle. Continue reading