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bob adamson

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  • TransCanada mulls rail bridge if Keystone delays continue [View news story]
    Keystone arguably makes the most sense as a conduit for bitumen for existing Gulf Coast refining capacity than for exclusive transportation of light sweet crude such as that from Bakken.
    Dec 22 12:20 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline approved [View news story]
    Enbridge and the Canadian Federal Government, both of which really wanted this project to proceed, handled the consultations in British Columbia very badly from the offset. Whether justified or not the impression created was that the project would proceed as proposed, the consultation and review process was merely a formality and reservations or concerns that might be expressed were prima facie without real merit.

    Belatedly Enbridge undertook serious negotiations with First Nations groups and other interested groups and began revising the details of their proposal to address the special circumstances entailed in running a pipeline across 7 mountain ranges and exporting bitumen by tanker through some of the most challenging coastal waters of the North Pacific. This delay was fatal to the possibility that the majority in BC would have trust in the intentions of both Enbridge and the Federal Government with regard to the project proposal however presented.

    Arguably, if Enbridge and the Federal Government had from the offset proceeded in a less ham handed and arrogant manner there would have been a better reception, even within First Nation circles. The contrast between the later rollout of and reception to ambitious LNG development proposals in north west BC and the Northern Gateway fiasco make my point.

    Both the BC Provincial Government and the Federal Government implicitly would like some modified version of the Northern Gateway project to proceed but each is distancing itself from Enbridge. The project is simply too toxic politically at present.
    Dec 22 12:09 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Canada, EU to sign free-trade deal [View news story]
    The following three articles outline the nature and scope of the proposed Canada-EU trade agreement in some detail.
    Oct 20 01:12 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Canadians soon to see a la carte TV packages [View news story]
    There may be unintended (at least by the consumers) consequences however.

    The range of quirky but interesting channels of cultural, wildlife, historical, regional, political and the like interest might likely shrivel. Free market purists will retort to this by saying that if such channels can't generate enough subscription revenue, then they should fail.

    Fair comment but a TV universe consisting of sports, crime, vampire, reality, broad comedy and similar shows will be a vapid place.
    Oct 18 09:10 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • House scraps vote; deal now in Senate hands [View news story]
    Say what you will, under the US Congressional System of Government one often sees in times of serious disputes over public policy an overt and unvarnished example of what Count Bismarck meant (paraphrased: It's best not to see sausage making or law making in action - it spoils the appetite).
    Oct 15 09:11 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    I'm sure the illustrations I gave could be duplicated or exceeded by ones focused upon the innovation contributions of many other countries.

    My point is not that the US has not generated a large portion of the medical innovation for many decades, that other countries are somehow intrinsically better at this or that much of that innovation has really been ground-breaking. I was simply suggesting that the economic model within which US medical innovation works
    (a) favours a focus upon the hopes and fears of the affluent members of a more affluent society,
    (b) one consequence of this focus is that marginal improvements (or a least changes) in the drugs and procedures related to diseases and conditions of interest to this segment of the population (erectile dysfunction, aging, sleep and mood disorders etc.) receive a disproportionate attention while basic public health measures and research (which often address these issues more efficiently and effectively) and research into common diseases of the broader global population (but also of low income members of the US population) does not receive due attention, and
    (c) research in the US tends to be, relatively speaking, high cost because of the forgoing.

    This is not exclusively a US phenomena but it is noteworthy in the US context.

    I make these observations for you and others to consider. It is clearly not possible for either you or I to fully explore this topic within the confines of these comments and I suggest we each have now already given a summary of the way we each view matters.
    Oct 15 05:43 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    A million dollars (adjusted for inflation) worth of steel production in one country is roughly comparable to a million dollars worth of steel production in the following year in another country. A million dollars spent on research may prove totally unproductive or productive only in the development of an innovation of little ultimate value while one hundred thousand dollars of well or fortuitously targeted research might lead to an epoch changing medical improvement - further, the spending of these sums might lead to quite different outcomes in one country or on one team of researchers as opposed to others because of the talents, unique resources and experiences of the individual researchers.

    Here's a rough analogy. The research budgets of IBM or Xerox were undoubtedly much greater annually in the early1980s than they were for Apple or Microsoft.

    Here, by the way, is a further report today of potentially productive research by an international collaborative effort:
    Oct 15 01:08 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    I don't see a way of calculating 'the amount of innovation' of one country vs. another. To my mind innovation lacks a common denominator and a common unit of measure for purposes of comparisons whether they be the innovation entailed in two different inventions or the rate of innovation between two countries.

    Two other complicating factors are that:
    1. Much research today involves cooperation between researchers and research institutions located in several countries.
    2. Likewise, many of the corporations that scale up and bring innovated products to market are international in scope to an extent that it becomes largely artificial to ascribe an innovation such a corporation brings to market as the product solely of the country where that company is headquartered.
    Oct 15 12:05 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    Here is a quickly assembled and rather random list of recent activities involving Canadian research:
    Oct 14 05:37 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    I'm sure that there is blame to go all around concerning the current impasse. My only real point here is that the US Constitution, though it has many fine features, doesn't currently provide a timely avenue for recourse to the electorate (or to the threat of going to the electorate) to promote resolution of impasses.

    You might think at first blush that giving the executive the capacity to force an election tilts the system in favour of the executive over the legislative component of government. Consider, however, what would happen to the executive if it forced an election and the electorate voted significantly to elect those who opposed the executive - the executive becomes lame duck.
    Oct 14 03:52 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]
    curls -

    There are good features to the US health care market scene, one being the impetus it gives to innovation in drugs and devices. That said,
    (a) arguably a disproportionate portion of this impetus focuses upon the cosmetic (ex. Botox) and high cost intervention (ex. imaging, stents and end of life) at the expense of public health and low profit cures and remediation, especially of diseases and conditions that generally don't target affluent people, and
    (b) you'd be surprised how much innovation occurs in countries other than the US.

    The general picture doesn't fit neatly into any ideological box.
    Oct 14 03:40 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    The healthcare debate is essentially a proxy for a debate over the role of government and over the roles of the various branches of government.

    There is no magic Constitution that can save a country from pigheaded folly, especially a Constitution that is substantially ‘cast in stone’ (well, detailed in a binding written document that is very, very difficult to amend).

    Arguably the US written Constitution is modeled in its concepts upon the British unwritten constitution as idealized and democratized according to the advanced thinking of British and American thinkers of the mid to late 18th Century; an inspired effort really but it is now showing its age. This is nowhere more evident in the area of resolution of disputes between the executive branch (the President being a quasi-democratized King whose powers are significantly checked and balanced) and the legislative branch (which controls the spending power of government but the members of which individually and collectively are accountable to no one for their exercise of this power save the electorate and this only at general elections which, for individual members, range from once every two years to once every six years).

    By contrast, over the intervening 230 odd years, the parliamentary system has evolved further the concept of responsible government by which governments can fall at any time and elections can likewise be called at any time to resolve democratically deadlocks over fiscal matters.

    While the constitutional propriety of the Tea Party faction’s intransigence and of the President’s response can be debated, the fact is that neither British constitutional practice of the 18th century nor US practice since resolves this argument clearly. What is clear is that ongoing intransigence by the House or Senate (because it cannot be resolved in a timely manner) will ultimately lead either to a significantly weakened Presidential role (Question: Is the US actually prepared to evolve into a quasi-parliamentary system of government where the Congress establishes in detail all public policy which the President is duty bound to rubber stamp and execute?) or a reaction weakening Congress (Question: Does the US really want an imperial Presidency?) or prolonged government paralyse (Question: Can the US Government function adequately in the 21st Century by the glacial pace of 18th Century public affairs?)

    Of course, all this can be finessed if the Senators and House Members show restraint and a willingness to think openly and in cooperation with the goal of constructive consensus. This, however, may be too much to ask of mere mortals.
    Oct 14 01:47 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    National health delivery systems is a discussion topic that has bounced about the comment postings here at SA for several years. Too often lost in these discussions is the fact that there is almost an infinite variety of such systems most of which entail aspects of private practice and public funding and mandate.

    Most are premised upon the goals of universal availability of quality basic health care services at affordable (or no out-of-pocket) cost to the patient and reasonable restraint in the growth of public expenditure. The golden age for the establishment of full range public systems with these goals in the advanced democracies was the two decades following WW II and the US almost adopted with bipartisan support such a system on a couple of occasions during this era (rumour has it that Southern Democrats, fearing the racial integration implications of such a national program, were the stumbling block).

    The health professions and the delivery of medical services have evolved exponentially over the intervening 70 or so years and those countries that were early adopters had distinct advantages:
    1. Their systems could begin in simple rudimentary form and evolve to meet as they arose the challenges the evolution of health needs and opportunities in their individual countries posed.
    2. The accumulated cost savings over time were substantial.
    3. The public was dealing with a known system as time elapsed and, as the opportunity or need to change arose from time to time, was more inclined to engage in a rational public debate untainted by fear of the unknown.

    By contrast with this incrementalism, the US is now faced with the challenge of whether or not to create a complex and comprehensive system from scratch - not an enviable position in which to find itself. A possible saving grace, however, is that scores of different systems are now out there across the globe with long histories of successful operation with each, broadly speaking, substantially addressing the goals summarized above. However, when one reviews these systems, one is struck by the range of differences in the way various countries address the issue that seems to most exasperate the current US discussion - the involvement of the State.

    In short, if direct government expenditure and direct government control over the nature and scope of universal medical plans is the sticking point, there are several major countries (The Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany being examples) that avoid these 'problems' to a large degree while attaining the goals listed in great measure. The question therefore arises, Why did the recent debate in the US become so narrowly focussed so as to neglect to include consideration of the broader range of viable options (i.e. become a set piece battle on ideological grounds over limited and arguably flawed options)?
    Oct 14 12:10 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    Deadlocks under a Parliamentary System are also possible but we really have to screw up to create them.

    Politics is the art of the possible, not some Medieval Passion Play. Whether one has a Congressional or a Parliamentary system, either works better if its constituent political Parties each include members across the political spectrum (at least to some extent) and each Party is not excessively ideological and/or dogmatic. Arguably this is especially a problem under the US version of the Congressional system at present (and this hasn't been so evident since the US Civil War).

    To foreign ears like mine, the discourse on national politics at present in the US too often appears reduced to consideration of who is wining or losing some tactical advantage of the moment (rather than what basic issues face the nation and how a broad consensus can be formed to address these issues productively). Images of futile trench warfare on the Western Front in 1915 or 16 come to mind.

    Agreed, politics is a full contact sport but if it is only that a nation's affairs suffer in times of stress or crisis.
    Oct 13 08:49 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    Isn't the problem in part that poll readings don't have significant meaning for many of the key players. Many House Members, both Republican and Democrat, represent Districts that lopsidedly favour the incumbent, the President is not eligible for re-election and Senators are more worried about being 'primaried' than they are about the later stage General Election. In other words, the bias is against finding workable political compromises.

    Further, unlike the constitutional practice of most democracies, the US Constitution does not provide for a timely recourse to the electorate in cases of deadlock.
    Oct 13 07:45 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment