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Monday items

My Friday column for the Post, part of a series in which commentators are asked:
“If you had the power to change a single thing about Canada, what would it be?”

My latest post from Full Comment:

Can we trust Chinese economic-growth figures?

And a totally random, curiously life-affirming video that I neither need nor possess any context for, other than the name of the sitcom it comes from (þ: PCL):


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Comments (10)


Sorry if I am misinterpreting your para, but in case you don't know, the clip is from the "Dick Van Dyke Show"


There's a lot going on in China. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the average city-dweller here is 11 times more productive than the average rural citizen.

I'm in Shenzhen. Nobody really knows how many people live here, because much of the immigration is illegal. People come to the big city to make it, or to earn a little extra scratch to take back to the country. There's a lot of manufacturing and massive construction. Despite the overall shortage of women, Shenzhen has more women than men - and the population skews young. The surplus of women means there are a lot of shoe stores, beauty salons, and dance clubs. Women come from Hong Kong to buy stuff and spend the day at a spa; men from Hong Kong keep their second wives and girlfriends here, or to pick up girls on the cheap.

I think that there is a lot of room for expansion in the cities, in areas that the West already has filled. The infrastructure for dealing with privately owned automobiles, for example, is definitely under-developed.


Boy, MTM really had something back then, didn't she?

Chuck McKinnon:

When I read your phrase, the 'weather premium,' it reminded me of something I'd read by Paul Graham. A quick Google search turned up an essay of his from last year, "The Power of the Marginal":

A couple years ago my friend Trevor and I went to look at the Apple garage. As we stood there, he said that as a kid growing up in Saskatchewan he'd been amazed at the dedication Jobs and Wozniak must have had to work in a garage. "Those guys must have been freezing!"

That's one of California's hidden advantages: the mild climate means there's lots of marginal space. In cold places that margin gets trimmed off. There's a sharper line between outside and inside, and only projects that are officially sanctioned—by organizations, or parents, or wives, or at least by oneself—get proper indoor space. That raises the activation energy for new ideas. You can't just tinker. You have to justify.

Climate-wise, the closest we have is probably the Okanagan, or maybe Victoria. But then you have the NDP premium: in BC, you know that every few years your fellow citizens will elect a government that punishes success.

I've remembered that episode since it aired.

Chuck: the Okanagan, seriously? Sub-zero mean temperatures for three months of the year aren't exactly my idea of a mild climate.

Greater Vancouver is quite close to a Victorian climate, and I certainly undertake plenty of garage projects with no more heat than one old radiant heater can put out. California would be nicer, but Silicon Valley isn't that much warmer than Vancouver over Winter. It's more that they just never have snow on the ground, and we run about two weeks a year of feeble snow cover, not necessarily contiguous, and rather less predictable than Edmonton's now-famous "permanent snow" nightmare, to quote an excellent Cosh posting.

George Skinner:


The NDP penalty isn't that horrible, as long as you don't work in a sector that's heavily unionized. In fact, to be a complete bastard, it could be argued that the NDP periods are great for the other sectors of the economy because they inevitably lead to a downturn that leads to cheaper price and greater labour availability.

Chuck McKinnon:

Ryan: I suppose I was thinking of the vineyards, orchards, semi-arid places, etc. that evoke California. But you're right, winter in the Okanagan is considerably colder than most places in California.

George: I think a similar motivation explains why many Albertans approved of an increase in oil royalties: you say it might slow down the economy? GOOD! Maybe our infrastructure will have a chance to catch up. And maybe there will be more than four tills open at Wal-Mart on a weekend evening. And maybe... you get the idea. Rapid growth has its downside.

John Salmon:

The DVDS-simply the best comedy show of all time.


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