May 2006


By Goodwin Ginger 

 I was in a bar the other night having a drink. I made the passing observation that a Canadian penny (pre 1997) is worth over twice its value as copper. The other patrons were skeptical. So never wanting to loose when I am right here is the math.

1 tonne of copper = 1, 000, 000 grams

Spot price of a tonne of Copper=8,301US$= 9174.66CDN (as of May 29th,2006)

A)1 cdn Penny pre 1996= 2.5 grams of copper
x 400,000 pennies = 1 tonne of copper

B) 1 cdn Penny pre 1980= 2.8 grams of copper
x 357,143 pennies = 1 tonne of copper

C) 1 cdn Penny pre 1979= 3.2 grams of copper
x 312,500 pennies = 1 tonne of copper

So as you can see

In case A, a single penny is worth 2.29cents as copper.

In case B. a single penny is worth 2.57cents as copper

In case C a singel penny is worth 2.94cents as copper

QED

So if you were to spend 4000$ buying pennies at the bank and smelted them down you would have a tonne of copper worth 9174$Cdn which is a 229% rate of return. Try getting that out of savings account.

It should be pointed out that it is a Federal offence to smelt national coinage. This is for educational purposes only.

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By Goodwin Ginger

The National Press Gallery walked out on PM Harper the other day. Why you ask? Because the PM wanted to decide who asked the questions. Now I have very little faith in the national press. They tend to perform play it again journalism: report the spin, provide little analysis, context or objections and call it an honest days work. Interestingly one of the few places journalists actually earn their keep from time to time is at the National Press Gallery. Now of course Andrew Coyne at the National Post would prefer that they simply reported the spin. “It is not the job of the press to provide an independent assessment of the government of the day” Coyne avers on national TV. Apparently Coyne thinks that it is the job of political hacks inside the parliamentary parties to provide any and all critical appraisal of the government of the day!

Oh my, is Coyne serious? Yes…Coyne is deadly serious. His boss after all is the very paper whose original owner Canard Black started the Post to unite the right and restore Canada’s “two party system”. That Coyne cannot find any problem with the PMO controlling the list makes it seem as though he has gone one step further than his patriarch: a two party system and a kinda sorta free press.

Coyne of course objects: “this is not the first time in Canadian politics that the PMO has attempted to rein in the media.” Andrew darling, the only thing you need concern that pretty little economist brain of yours with is this. Do the existing rules ie, where the press gallery controls the list, or Harper’s desired rules where the PMO controls the list, further the cause of open and accountable government? Just apply all that stuff they taught you about the benefits of external competition to guide your answer. Or do you prefer a monopolistic market structure to the cost of information? Get some stones.

Leaving the machinations of Coyne to himself there is a more fundamental question that needs to be asked: Are we really to take the proposition that the Conservative party, backed by Bay St., supported by CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc which includes the National Post, a national network, several regional networks along with a massive cabal of radio stations is getting short thrift by the national media? This claim is about as credible as the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Journalists need to stand up and call this canard for what it is: A weapon of mass distraction constructed by Harper’s PMO and designed to produce a more compliant press.

Here is hoping that those who have stones on the Hill press on and breach the citadel.

Excerpts from the Globe article below:

“We’ll just get the message out on the road. There’s lots of media in the country who do want to ask me questions and hear what the government is doing.”

The comments were sparked by an incident Tuesday when two dozen Ottawa reporters walked out on a Harper event when he refused to take their questions.

The prime minister does not want to hold press conferences unless his staff choose which journalists ask questions from a list they compile. The Ottawa press gallery has refused to play by those rules.

Globe and Mail

The Economist has a history of making the right call after the bears have moved in.

Click here to see what I mean

By Goodwin Ginger

“Everyone is concerned…. My only plea is that people exercise the power they have got in this regard responsibly for the whole of the international community.”

Tony Blair to Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales

Shocking. And just whom does Mr. Blaire think constitutes the whole of the international community? It would be nice if he meant all of us regular folk who are hurt by high oil prices. But I think Mr. Blair rather means international investors. I do not recall Mr. Blair ever calling on executives of multinational companies “to exercise the power they have in this regard responsibly for the whole of the international community.” Oh but wait, given Mr Blair’s adoration of free markets and international capital he probably truly believes that when global capital acts in its own regard it is acting in regard for the whole.

Well Mr. Blair the problem is that this dynamic duo does not think that this is so. And what is more they believe it is the job of the government in all sincerity to do their peoples bidding to the best of their ability. It is a rather rich notion of democracy. Imagine democratically elected leaders working to further a mandate that was popularly given. Tony likes the opposite. To follow a mandate given by god and global capital and then attempt to spin it so it is loosely tethered to what the people say they want.

Next canard: what about the suffering of the poor upper middle class in Venezuela?

by Goodwin Ginger

On the whole NAFTA is dead. It must be recalled that the continentalists in Canada pushed for free trade with the US by arguing that the best Canadians could do is lock the US into a rules based free trade regime. While the new softwood lumber accord does allow for the resumption of duty free exports (to a point and at a price) the agreement is itself anything but a free trade agreement and gives the lie to the continentalist proposition that US protectionism can be stemmed by the rule of law.

Indeed this was the very argument nationalists and advocates of managed trade made at the time: the US only respects international law when it is in their interest. The US will of course continue to respect provisions of NAFTA when it suits their purpose. But a free trade agreement that degenerates into a series of managed trade side agreements with limited temporal tenure of application is the very thing continentalists sought to avoid.

Moreover, if the softwood agreement is anything to go by, all these managed trade side agreements will be initiated by the US and designed to degenerate into beggar thy neighbour (Canada) agreements when economic times get tough.

When the US economy cools as the leading private sector economists are predicting, commodity prices will soften. And this is where the present agreement really stinks. The agreement allows for the US to place duties on softwood imports from Canada when prices decline. So at the very point when Canadian producers will need expanded access to US markets they will be hit with a tax and quota. Producers will find themselves in the position of selling at a loss to stay competitive and or mothballing mills until prices improve.

We now have the worst of two worlds. A formal commitment to free trade that ties the hands of government with respect to trade policy and a substantively managed trade agreement that is stacked in favour of US producers.That NAFTA is dead is a good thing because it opens up space to contest and reconsider the continentalist strangle hold on the public policy debate over national economic development in Canada.