Friday, May 22, 2015

Are Parents stupid?

At least thats what Tess and Lia along with Ms. Wynne think so, when Ms. Wynne accepted the mandate of 13-year olds from an online campaign.
  • Only 33% of population in India is affected by Herpex Simplex but 89% of Ontarians are!
  • Chalmydia infection among women from conservative region in India is only 0.1%
...these kids were indeed influenced...

Tessa and Lia’s school project garnered 40,000 signatures that eventually led to an audience with the premier of Ontario and inclusion of “consent” in the new sex-ed curriculum1. While the effort is worthy of appreciation, using their ignorance to push a personally motivated agenda is not.

“parents should not use their children as political pawns” 
 “All the opposition is coming from uninformed perspective” 
“We knew we wanted to do the project on something surrounding feminism because that’s something we’re both really passionate about and we wanted to do something that really affects us as young people and as women”  
establishing a consent culture is the best way to stop rape culture 
“…People don't like to admit that sex is about pleasure and desire, not just reproductive stuff, and that teenagers are having sex as young as middle school,”
These are some of the responses of the kids during the interview. Their responses were replete with innocence and ignorance while scarce on critical thinking and immaturity. 

Coming from a family with good exposure of the to the internals of politics, I wouldn’t be surprised if these kids were indeed influenced by some proxies of Ms. Wynne. Unfortunately, it seems the girls have played right into the hands of politicians who couldn’t care less for their future. My suspicions are further strengthened by their claims that the opposition is ill-informed, which only could mean someone (teachers and parents, most likely) “well-informed” them. Further, they also seem to be seriously mis-informed of the socio-economic factors that drives the culture of rapes in that they believe this culture could be abolished by consent culture. The girls while further disparaging parents exposed the typical teenage prurience and immaturity in saying the sex is about pleasure and desire. While it is no doubt pleasurable, unintended teenage pregnancy, STIs, etc., are not. And sex due to love is more pleasurable than the raw gratification of animalistic instincts.

Though Ms. Wynne is a woman, a mother, has a master’s in education, and has served as a school council chair and minister of education6, she is apparently no specialist in Children’s psychology. The entire debate would have been healthier if the effects of the curriculum on the mental faculties of children are extensively/exhaustively studied by both Govt. and independent psychologist, which never happened.

Like Ms. Wynne I’m not a psychologist. Hence, I cannot comment on how this curriculum would affect the children in long term. However, I do have a PhD (in another field), and do research different information to identify patterns and anomalies. With that ability when I compare a conservative region in India, where sex education is mostly limited to knowing the names of reproductive system in biology (for high school students), with the West the following are conspicuous:
  • HSV prevalence in India is only 33% while it is over 99% in the West (89% in Ontario)2.
  • Chlamydia infection is rare with increase in the conservativeness of the society. In a rural community only 0.1% of the women were found positive for Chlamydia infection. However, that’s not the case in the West3.
  • While teenage pregnancy is intended (due to early marriage*) in India, it is mostly unintended in the West affecting the development of the children as well as the parents 4-5.

I have intentionally stayed away from whether the contents are age-appropriate or not as it is subjective and usually changes with the region and demography. I believe parents are usually the better judge of what is better for their children. I would have admired the premier, had she shown the same determination in educating the parents instead of using children as her political game.

The only fault of the parents here is their failure to educate their children to try and understand the ulterior motives behind suggestions.

*I would like to reserve the discussions on early/child marriage for another post due to their irrelevance in this context.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Harper’s Red-Herrings

Stephen Harper is now widely acclaimed as the master of “Fear Politics”. The twin pillars of his political strategy are the Islamophobia and Xenophobia, which I consider are red-herrings for the inadequacies of his economic policies. 


Bill C-51

The two terror attacks in Canada gave Mr. Harper sufficient political leverage to enact his controversial Bill C-51. However, what Mr. Harper failed to explain and what the public and opposition failed to ask is: How is the bill expected to bring down 'lone-wolf' attacks? Both of these attacks seemed to have been enacted by individuals whose emotional/mental state is questionable. One is a drug addict while the other dreamed of becoming a martyr when his attempt to start a business in Quebec failed. So, does Mr.Harper have methods to predict the acts of mentally/emotionally unstable individuals? With the provisions of the bill, even if the agencies manages to imprison each and everyone who has even accidentally come across ISIS propaganda, it is likely that these type of attackers would likely to take another cause. I believe, psychologically, they want to prove/feel important. If so, wouldn't it require a different approach?

Further, I really suspect, if the intention of the bill is solely to protect the Canadians against terror attacks. It can easily be misused to oppress opposition. I mean what would prevent Mr. Harper to classify Mr. Trudeau, for example,  as a "sympathizer" when Mr. Harper comes to power again?

Niqiab issue

Thankfully, the Federal Court of Canada struck down the ban on Niqiab during the public citizenship oath. This may look like an isolated incident. However, when taken together with the Quebec judge refusing to hear the case of a women wearing hijab, it seems likely a coordinated strategy to harass the Muslim community in Canada. The judge cited the regulation on wearing head coverings and shades in the courtroom. Would the judge apply the same rules to Nuns, who cover their heads? If not, aren't these discriminatory practices aimed at alienating and harassing a community? I also wonder, how are these Niqiab/Hijab bans likely to bring down terrorist incidents? Is this issue more important than the economy that is tanking?

What is more appalling is why no one asked these questions? These issues made the highlights in dailies but everyone seems to forget to ask these questions? And isn't denial of justice in the name of religion against Canadian Values?

Refugee prioritization

Another controversial issue, that should have awakened the conscience of Canadians is the Federal Governments move to prioritize refugee settlements based on religion. This goes against the accepted International norms in the issue. By such acts, the Federal Govt. is acting similar to ISIS and "Boko Haram", whom it claims to act against. Apart from setting a bad precedent in the International politics, these acts are likely to diminish the stature of Canadian values and Canada's role in International politics. I wonder, if the Canadians are aware and OK with this?
Further, what is the reasoning behind this? I wonder, what are the movies Mr. Harper and his MPs are watching before making up policies :)


Harper keep on harping how immigrants are drawn towards Canada for business prospects because of the stable economy while his MPs' were busy making racist comments, "Brownies stealing Canadian jobs". I'm not sure how far is this true or who is being compared to make these statements. But I do know that, from IMF's economic outlook, Western GDP is slowing down consistently for the past few years while the Asian economy is on the rise. In this case, if people are immigrating for economic reasons, they are most likely to immigrate to the Asian countries as many Indians and Chinese had done during recent times. Further, I wonder if the MP was insinuating that their immigration systems are broken. If so, whose responsibility is that?

I have not read any news where Harper or his minions trumping Canada's education prowess. In any case, many Asian countries fair much better than Canada in primary education (when accessible) and US fairs much better than Canada in higher-education and research  (when accessible) . So, if there is exodus for education, it should be towards these countries. Having said this, I believe the immigrants were mostly drawn towards Canada for her values (free thought, free speech, etc.), which Mr. Harper seem intent on destroying. 

Another of Harper's policies, could downright be construed as "cheating". According to his Express-Entry pool for Canadian residentship, applicants are required to have at least 5 years of stay in Canada to realize the category's full points. However, according to his Four-in-Four-Out policy, immigrants should leave Canada after 4 years, and is unlikely to get the full points required to get them an invitation for Canadian Resident status. It also fails to differentiate between the researchers who are exempt from LMO from the general general immigrant workers. Wouldn't this policy create brain drain? Wouldn't that likely to affect economy?

Red-herrings of Economic inadequacies:

Harper didn't stop/reprimand his MP  for his racial comment. He, however, is trying to alienate and harass communities by progressively enacting policies. Since, there were not consistent opposition, I wonder if the Canadians have finally abandoned their values they stood for over the years and were onboard with Mr. Harper. 

I would have at least been happy had some one asked, "Mr. Harper, Could you prove that your policies have worked rationally using data?" I also, believe these pillars of Mr. Harper's political strategy are designed to divert attention of the Canadian public from real issues - inadequacies of his economic policies

Monday, May 18, 2015

Frugal Living may cost your job!

In the last few years, there have been many pages cropping up with tips on frugal living. I have also shared my views and practices in my previous post, on frugal living. However, since every micro-economic decisions has its implications to macro-economy and vice versa, I’m trying to offer here a different perspective.

Frugal living is based on the concept of reducing expenditures while maximizing one’s health and economic benefits. It is based on identifying the necessary expenditures from unnecessary expenditures and to act smartly. However, such acts, is also likely to reduce demand for products, which are likely to result in increase in unemployment as the owners and CEOs try to max-out their profits at the cost of employees, curb innovation, etc. These consequences would likely reduce Governmental income, which would increase the debt-to-GDP ratio (as GDP would reduce due reduction in demand) leading the country into the vicious cycle of austerity. This is depicted in the following graphic. 

A Simple Case Study - eschewing smartphones:
In my perspective, avoiding smartphones (cell phones, if possible) is one of the easiest ways of saving money and probably have enough to invest. However, when the demand for smartphones reduce, first the low cost manufacturers followed by the premium phone manufacturers would see a reduction in demand. This will force them to optimize their investments in a such a way so as to maximize their profits. One of the easiest ways to do that is laying-off employees. They would save money from the salaries of the laid-off employees as well as the exploitation of current employees. When there is a fear for lay-off the current employees tend to cling to their jobs by putting on more hours and working during weekends/holidays. This increase in unemployment is likely to affect the country’s economy adversely (though not that of the CEOs’ or the boards’). Further, in their effort to prioritize investments, they would also cut funding to many research programs, resulting in unemployment and loss of innovation. Further, app manufacturers, game developers, etc. would lose their market, leading to further unemployment. This would have adverse effect on economy as unemployment and debt-to-GDP would rise. Thus saving some bucks by avoiding a product is likely to throw-up people in streets without jobs.

Finally, for people wondering where do I stand, I stand with frugal living. Why? I’m in search of a job and I simply cannot afford otherwise. On the other hand, I strongly believe that the rich should spend more (preferably proportional to their asset) but in general, it is the poor who is spending more all over the world!