Should governments guarantee auto pensions?

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I just listened to a caller on the radio getting mad at any suggestion that the Canadian government should not fully guarentee private auto pensions.  I’m curious, what possible argument could be made that a government should guarentee private pensions, whether auto or not?  I’d be curious to see any historical examples if anyone has any.

I’m assuming auto workers in Canada paid into the Canadian Pension Plan like everyone else, so would have that in case of any failure of their private pension.

But, like with every part of the money asked for by the auto sector, my question is: why should you get that when no one else does?  No one else’s private pensions are guarenteed by the government.  If my retirement savings drop 75% due to a massive recession, will the government pay back the amount I lost?  No other companies private pensions are backstopped by the government.

The caller also mentioned “we’ve given billions to the financial sector, so why not for us?”  Right, that’s sound fiscal policy.  Why end it there?  Why not pay everyone in the country double their working salary once they retire, plus full health benefits?

I’d have a less extreme reaction to this if the caller were proposing the government begin backstopping all private pensions, but he’s clearly not.  Even though that could cost a fortune, at least it would be fair.

But, I’ll assume the best and guess the caller wouldn’t mind his taxes being raised 10% so he can pay his portion of the losses in my RRSP this year.

How dangerous is aspertame, really?

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I mostly stay away from artificially sweetened products, mostly because there seems to be lingering debate on their safety and I don’t miss them.  My one weakness is Diet Pepsi, although I probably drink 1 or 2 per week on average, so I doubt that would cause any harm.

I just ran into this article: Aspertame Dangers

One of the references in the article has this to say:

Out of 90 independently-funded studies, 83 of them found one or more
problems caused by aspartame. But out of the 74 studies funded by
the aspartame industry (e.g., Monsanto, G.D. Searle, ILSI, etc.),
every single one of them claimed that no problems were found.

This kind of difference in results has always really bothered me.  Why can’t we have truly objective tests?  The biased influence of the industry reports is obvious, but what about the independent ones?  I’d bet at least some of those were funded by organizations who are trying to show the dangers of aspartame.

I guess the best thing to do, for now, is look at the whole picture.  164 total studies done and 83 showing problems caused by aspartame.  That’s over 50% and sounds like a good enough reason to avoid it.

Billy Bob Thorton – crazier than I thought

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If you happened to miss the interview of BBT on CBC today, check this out:Billy Bob Thornton ‘Blow Up’ on Q TV

Wow.  Seriously, being such an idiot because an interviewer mentioned that he’s an actor?  Um, he is, or was at least, an actor.  If he thinks that’s completely unrelated to his new career he’s insane.  Even if the music is good enough to stand completely on its own, his notoriety has obviously had an impact on the band.

Kudos to Jian for trying to stick out the interview.  I wouldn’t have had the patience.

Not that I’d have listened to his album anyways, but I’ll now go out of my way to ensure I don’t.  I can also add him to the list of entertainers I won’t patronize.  Other actors on that list include Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Mel Gibson.

One good part of Bush’s legacy

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This sounds positive: President’s Emergency AIDS Plan Saved 1.2 Million in Africa

I’m also still waiting to see where the debate goes on whether general aid to Africa does more harm than good (I’m assuming not including targeted programs like the one above).  The basic point is that the flow of money means the countries don’t need to invest in their own infrastructure, leading them to become ever more dependent on aid.  I don’t know if a comprehensive study has been done on this, but it sounds reasonable.  If so, maybe governments should put limits on the aid, that part of it be used specifically for major infrastructure.

Bad april fools joke

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I didn’t check the DailyKos RSS feed until today, so April Fools had left my mind, so I was taken in by this: MN-SEN: Coleman finally concedes

Sigh.  I can’t wait to see Franken in the Senate.