Monthly Archives: September 2009

Race is not the issue in health care debate

[First published on]

When Barack Obama’s health reform program ran into serious trouble, a number of people triumphantly threw the race card onto the table. It promptly skidded off onto the floor.

President Obama gets some credit for this wholesome outcome. Having refused to run as the “black candidate” in 2008, he has good-naturedly brushed aside such cries of racism over health care in 2009.

It is a pity others could not do the same. Instead, the stakes were dramatically raised when Jimmy Carter told NBC’s “Today” show “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man… because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.” Continue reading

Running a numbers racket

Hey, where’d my update go? No, not software. The Sept. 10 Update of Economic and Fiscal Projections. Jim Flaherty announced a catastrophic change in the federal government’s fiscal situation, labelled it “staying the course”, scurried off, and everyone went back to discussing Michael Ignatieff’s electoral prospects. It would be more appropriate to recall Brian Mulroney’s.

This budget update was a downdate, a trip a quarter century back into the dismal past of bad decisions defended by fantasy. The runaway spending and deficits are bad enough. But what really scared me about the Update was its return to the pattern of the Mulroney years in which, whatever could reasonably be foreseen was terrible but whatever lurked on the borders of Never-never-land was mysteriously going to be fine. People ignored this phenomenon until it was very nearly too late.

And now it’s back. Continue reading