Thursday, September 28, 2017

Family Policy & Early Childhood Support

I will promote policy that generates family centred funding, gives priority to families having time together and supports them interfacing with society in a manner that is optimal for their specific needs. The British Columbian Family as an institution is quaking under the strain of post-war societal trends and contemporary economic realities.



There is an alarming trend in society whereby, every aspect of our existence is institutionalized. We are born in government institutions, we are educated by government institutions, every aspect of our life is affected by government institutions and we die in government institutions. In this heavily institutionalized environment, the individual and the family are withering, and they are being replaced by a monoculture. Proper support of families is one policy initiative that can protect against the industrialization of child rearing, the destruction of the family and the social ills that fall out of it – it is bad for the people affected and it is bad for British Columbia.

People ofttimes misinterpret my call for the maintenance of family as a call to take us back, oft times the term “family values” is interpreted by people in the feminist movement as a regressive assault on their cause. I am eager and think it is critical to support the advancement of women to full partners in all matters societally. So please understand that my interest in supporting families includes supporting women in their pursuit of careers outside the home or to bring the discussion into the gender-neutral space – support parents generally in their pursuit of life with family.

Why is it important for parents to retain influence over their children? There is a unique dynamic that occurs as parents come together and make a family, family cultures and genes merge and a phenotype emerges from the process. The children can only become steeped in the culture peculiar to their parent’s merger if their parents contribute to their rearing. From the merger of family cultures children are shaped in a unique way, that “phenotype” combines with the ambient culture to generate outcomes, this is the wellspring of diverse people and thought – we need to preserve it.

There is no substitute for love in the rearing of children. When I listen to people speak on the subject of early childhood development they use terms like “we need to get them early” – as if, the sooner children are in a government facility the better off they will be. I disagree with this premise entirely, however, there are instances where parents are unfit or uninformed – in those instances the family needs support. We should build policy that effects best outcomes for the mass of the population and generate measures to remediate deficiency – nowhere is this point more critical than with child development.

As we’ve institutionalized society we have effectively stratified society by age class. We do it in our school system and in various ways throughout society. This trend generally is troubling because as its intensity builds the family unit descends further toward full disintegration. This trend has become particularly acute at this juncture in our development, as postmodern realities come to bear on the “young families”.

Many young women encounter a high degree of distress in returning to work and leaving their young families in care – this is worsened in circumstances where the care is unreliable. This comment, to be clear, is a statement of empathy rather than an indication that women should remain with their children. I submit that a loved one should be with children and that any support offered by the government in the care of young children should support an option where family cares for family.

The situation is that women are in the workforce in record numbers and this will be our reality henceforth, there are challenges that have emerged out of this reality that has caused a call for government intervention. Governments are being pressured to provide young families with support. The most ardent advocates are women forwarding the issue is support of the overall liberalization of women. The bulk of the lobby is pushing toward a “universal government day-care system”. While I share the concern that is driving the lobby, the solution being posited is alarming to me. It is alarming because it by funding daycares we are funding children’s removal from the family unit and contributing further to an already damaging trend.

There is another option however, that is a child care subsidy. When parents receive a child care subsidy they can direct the funds as they see fit, to daycare, to a loved one doing child care or they can keep it and care for the children themselves.

For purposes of illustration, if the government expends approximately $9000 per year per child for daycare and the average home has two children, that is a total of $18,000 per year. The “marginal tax” assessment or the gross income required to net $18,000 is about $35,000 - $26,000 in income and $9,000 in employment-related expenses. For many households, one of the spouses would be better off with the subsidy than going to work. The subsidy may serve to augment a limited senior’s income should a grandparent care for the child. With the subsidy, the daycare option is open, family care is open. By building a government daycare system, people who want to pursue these other options are punished – they not only fail to get funding, they help pay for other people’s daycare.

($9,000 is the approximate amount for a childcare spot in Que. & an elementary school spot in BC - the initial amount would have to be less and find the right balance over time as other efficiencies facilitate the process) The subsidy could be started at a rate that is manageable and further federal support can be solicited. I am very mindful of the cost of government and this program would need to be addressed in the context of overall spending and other priorities.



     

Friday, September 22, 2017

Institutional Reform - better structures, better performance, happier people.

It is the case that many of our institutions have lost the ability to adjust to the realities of the modern world as they have evolved into existence, in some cases they have evolved over hundreds of years – we need organizations that are DESIGNED to deal with the reality that we exist in, an environment where technologies morph daily. Institutions need to be adroit and have the absorptive capacity to utilize the mass of new technologies available now and technologies that are on the horizon. The majority of our government institutions are just too big and the institutional inertia they are experiencing is preventing them from responding to demands; efforts will be directed toward their long-term financial sustainability, more adroit response to change, greater focus in their mandate, a drive to increase absorptive capacity, and better and more productive working environments for the people employed. Reforms will be effected by reducing the mass of large institutions, reconfiguring their organizational structures and introducing more opportunity for heuristics to come into play in the development of government organization. Stagnation is always a bad thing in an organization, there needs to be disruption to effect progress and improvement in the functionality of government organizations; this is especially true given the dynamics of the modern operational environment.



The key communication to make at the outset of institutional reform is to express clearly that reform is directed at better services and or more services at the same cost and or as starting the trend toward a smaller organization if warranted. For reform to find acceptance it is critical that the people who have dedicated their lives to serving the government are given full consideration, that is to say, they all need assurance that their situation will improve or be unharmed. The spirit here is to bring efficiency to the government to better serve the province and to manage costs, this is in no way an attempt at a callus reduction in the civil service. In fact, it may be necessary to consider as part of the cost of gaining greater efficiency over time to pay out people affected – at the point reform is implemented the costing would be done and pay-outs would be costed into the whole program – so rather than a cost they are an investment on an improved future circumstance.

For any given endeavour there is an optimum size of the organization. In the 1970s, the Midwest US  1400 acre family farm was considered the most efficient economic unit in the US. It was efficient because everyone involved was utilised completely and they had a complete vertical understanding of the organisation. In the early 1920s, Henry Ford built a completely integrated manufacturing plant, every aspect of the automobile was made in that plant. It was discovered over time that while it seemed a good idea, the complexity and variety of processes made the model very inefficient. This model was abandoned and the new models were developed which eventually lead to a highly integrated but segmented supply gain – so there are a series of plants doing specialized work that feed various assembly lines.

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As an example, the general hospital is similar in structure to the obsolete model that Henry Ford abandoned – it attempts to perform the full gambit of medical care under one roof. It is worthy to contemplate if the general hospital makes sense or not. They seem to exist the world over, but very few services have evolved in this way elsewhere in the economy at large. This is the critique we can begin to level at the existing structures in government. What is better, however, is to design solutions from scratch drawing on past experience and taking advantage of new technologies and exercising the new quality human capital. We may find, as has been the case in nearly every other area of the economy, that fragmenting the general hospital into various service types would bring efficiency – perhaps a knee replacement clinic – or more dispersed emergency services – or emergency services integrated with frontline care. One thing that is clear, there are structures in government that use to exist in the private sector, that have been eliminated under the rigours of market forces.

The requirement for institutional reform is clear, the challenge is that people often incur fear at the prospect and understandably so, their livelihoods are at stake in many cases. That is why the most important aspect of change policy is to extend security to all affected actors; this generates an atmosphere that gains people's help in change rather than their resistance. There must be a commitment to compassion in change.       

Please notify me if you have suggestions or direction - thank you.
     

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Government Accountability - It matters regardless of where you reside on the political spectrum.

It is inherent in the mechanics of our political process that all actors avoid accountability. You say, but they are elected and voted out, that is accountability enough. The challenge is that there is no clear reporting on outcomes and so no clear means for the public to assess the success or failure of a given piece of legislation. Due to this reality, we are constantly getting spin because politicians attempt to conceal errors from the electorate. The process that emerges out of our present governance distorts the public’s perception of what legislation has worked and what legislation has failed. Absent clear reporting by a truly objective party it is impossible for the public to reward good work or punish bad work with their vote. As a result, legislation keeps getting propagated or remains in place when it should be altered or replaced. Worse, however, it drives fundamentally dishonest discourse, disingenuous discourse and misleads the public, people see this and government loses moral authority and credibility. 


In business we have a “dashboard”, it consists of a collection of indicators that are generated by a set of metrics that are derived from a mission or intention for any give business initiative. The dashboard gives a clear indication if our decisions were correct or incorrect. The government needs such a mechanism for the public that is reliable.

Every piece of legislation comes into being with an intended outcome. That intended outcome should be clearly stated in a plainly worded mission statement at the top of every statute – stating the intent of the legislation and the “spirit” of the legislation. There then should be a clearly stated set of metrics for that specific legislation and the indicators should be developed and documented as well. In this way, at the point of actuating legislation, there is baseline data (where we are) and where we are intending going.

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The next stage in the process is reporting, clear, concise and objective reporting. This task needs to occur at arm’s length from the government by an accountability officer. The accountability officer would be responsible for processing the metrics, updating the indicators and reporting the data to the public in an accessible way via a website. The outcome would have every element of government operation available to the public facilitating transparency. The accounting systems in government are electronic, so a member of the public should be able to access the “income and expense” sheet for any ministry or sub-department thereof. The accountability officer would be responsible for making this data available on the website.

We are working toward a more “democratic” electoral process that will eventually bring more “parties” into play in the political process. The outcome will be more minority governments and generally more responsive government – THIS IS A GOOD THING. Like many good things it comes with a side effect, in the majority of cases, it results in government growing relative to the economy, because, government attempts to please people by spending; a phenomenon that accelerates in politically competitive circumstances. This is just a reality to be managed as opposed to an argument to make government any particular size. There is an optimum size for government, the “right” size, the determination of the size of government is outside the scope of this communication, but accept if you will, that some limit on the size of government is warranted – I make this case with the average family giving up nearly half of their earnings to government now. 

The second task of the accountability officer would be to report on the size of government relative to the economy and to have the authority to constrain spending should government attempt to exceed optimum a given size as has been predetermined through input from various sources society-wide. There needs to be a degree of flexibility to allow for counter-cyclical spending and the like, this brings to life a similar function as the central bank – the central bank has a clearly defined mandate as it relates to inflation, it functions at arm’s length from the government. So to would the accountability officer have a clearly defined mandate which would permit opening and closing the fiscal tap depending on economic conditions as prescribed by their mandate.

The combination of these two functions at arm’s length from the government will usher in a new more effective and more responsive government. Myths will no longer govern, results will.

Please notify me if you have suggestions or direction - thank you.
     

        

Monday, September 18, 2017

There should be no distinction between life and learning


We have a wealth of assets to bring to the education system into modernity; we have trillions of dollars’ worth of latent human capital in the form of idled and undereducated people and a mass natural resources on which to draw to move British Columbia to the next phase of its development as a leader in the knowledge economy. It is shameful and a waste to have so many of our people constrained from their potential by stagnated societal apparatus, outmoded education systems and poor capitalisation programs. Be clear on this point, the West's place in the world is threatened - it is threatened not by the absence of resources, not by our human capacity, not by the absence of ambition - it is threatened by institutional inertia, monolithic institutional structures and apathy. In order to draw on latent human capital and to close the applied technology gap, we must increase the velocity of knowledge transfer. This requires that we redesign the way we transfer knowledge and distribute credentials.


If Canada was faced with another world war, the most fierce competition humanity knows and someone suggested we take our most able and intelligent people and lock them all in a room for eight years - most would agree this would qualify as a stupid suggestion. Canada - British Columbia is in a new type of competition where we need our young people most of all, and we are locking them in education facilities for longer and longer periods of time. At university, they are TAUGHT what we think they need to know. In the world of innovation, the world that applies technology, the world that makes an idea work, they LEARN what they need to know.

The application of new knowledge or the creation of solutions emerges most effectively organically, the farmer that rigs an app for his iPhone that remotely controls his tractor - etcetera. We need specialized knowledge certainly, the challenge with what has emerged in BC and the country generally, is the complex of education and regulation has fragmented the elements of innovation - we have specialized and regulated organic innovation out of existence. By way of example, if a group of young people built an innovative car in their backyard and set about the task of building more and selling them, absent having had the requisite licenced personnel on board the regulatory complex would obstruct their progress – the fact the car is built and passed requisite objective inspection should be qualification enough. The education system can provide a forum by which to absorb and enhance this type of participation. 

We need to grant credentials from actions in concert with knowledge acquisition, credentials should flow from knowledge and its application, rather than time spent in a building. In concert with reconfiguring the education system itself and redefining what "credentials" are, we need to turn our colleges and universities into hothouses where applied science, knowledge, capital merge to generate real outcomes. Beyond the present co-opt programs to hothousing enterprise onsite or interfacing with the enterprise in some other venue.  With the aggressive merging of education and enterprise - creative capitalization programs can be developed augment returns and attract capital. Innovation is a heuristics game – if we want to garner the benefit of innovations we need to do a better job of accommodating failure and augmenting capital reward will help support the rigours of innovation.
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As the world's knowledge expands at a greater and greater pace and that knowledge needs to be applied, we need an adroit response to knowledge transfer requirements. We need faster credentials and to reconfigure what a credential is.  The present modalities of structured institutional based learning are very cumbersome and tend to trap human capital in a fruitless environment for extended periods of time. This is in no way intended to negate the value of the existing process, but rather to suggest augmentation of existing process & reconfiguration to include a "real world" adjunct. We can do this, we must do this – we have the resources to do this. 

Please notify me if you have suggestions or direction - thank you.


There should be no distinction between life and learning


We have a wealth of assets to bring to the education system into modernity; we have trillions of dollars’ worth of latent human capital in the form of idled and undereducated people and a mass natural resources on which to draw to move British Columbia to the next phase of its development as a leader in the knowledge economy. It is shameful and a waste to have so many of our people constrained from their potential by stagnated societal apparatus, outmoded education systems and poor capitalisation programs. Be clear on this point, the West's place in the world is threatened - it is threatened not by the absence of resources, not by our human capacity, not by the absence of ambition - it is threatened by institutional inertia, monolithic institutional structures and apathy.
In order to draw on latent human capital and to close the applied technology gap, we must increase the velocity of knowledge transfer. This requires that we redesign the way we transfer knowledge and distribute credentials.


If Canada was faced with another world war, the most fierce competition humanity knows and someone suggested we take our most able and intelligent people and lock them all in a room for eight years - most would agree this would qualify as a stupid suggestion. Canada - British Columbia is in a new type of competition where we need our young people most of all, and we are locking them in education facilities for longer and longer periods of time. At university, they are TAUGHT what we think they need to know. In the world of innovation, the world that applies technology, the world that makes an idea work, they LEARN what they need to know.

The application of new knowledge or the creation of solutions emerges most effectively organically, the farmer that rigs an app for his iPhone that remotely controls his tractor - etcetera. We need specialized knowledge certainly, the challenge with what has emerged in BC and the country generally, is the complex of education and regulation has fragmented the elements of innovation - we have specialized and regulated organic innovation out of existence. By way of example, if a group of young people built an innovative car in their backyard and set about the task of building more and selling them, absent having had the requisite licenced personnel on board the regulatory complex would obstruct their progress – the fact the car is built and passed requisite objective inspection should be qualification enough. The education system can provide a forum by which to absorb and enhance this type of participation. 

We need to grant credentials from actions in concert with knowledge acquisition, credentials should flow from knowledge and its application, rather than time spent in a building. In concert with reconfiguring the education system itself and redefining what "credentials" are, we need to turn our colleges and universities into hothouses where applied science, knowledge, capital merge to generate real outcomes. Beyond the present co-opt programs to hothousing enterprise onsite or interfacing with the enterprise in some other venue.  With the aggressive merging of education and enterprise - creative capitalization programs can be developed augment returns and attract capital. Innovation is a heuristics game – if we want to garner the benefit of innovations we need to do a better job of accommodating failure and augmenting capital reward will help support the rigours of innovation.

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As the world's knowledge expands at a greater and greater pace and that knowledge needs to be applied, we need an adroit response to knowledge transfer requirements. We need faster credentials and to reconfigure what a credential is.  The present modalities of structured institutional based learning are very cumbersome and tend to trap human capital in a fruitless environment for extended periods of time. This is in no way intended to negate the value of the existing process, but rather to suggest augmentation of existing process & reconfiguration to include a "real world" adjunct. We can do this, we must do this – we have the resources to do this. 

Please notify me if you have suggestions or direction - thank you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

More Bad Tax Policy - Governance confounded by failed doctrine AGAIN

Again in BC, we are being bludgeoned with equality.  In the name of social justice, the NDP are taking from those who have worked hard to build a life for their families and giving it away on programs that none of us will ever know the outcome of. British Columbians are generous people; however, too often we’ve seen redistributionist policy gone awry. If the NDP is sincere about helping the less fortunate, then it is better to focus on getting them started with education and capital, rather than through force of law taking from the very type people the NDP are purporting they want to create. This envy culture brought in to being by the systematic demonization of success and that calls financial security greedy will cripple British Columbia if it is allowed to get traction.




Disaster is inherent in the pursuit of equality, because, it is contrary to the way the universe works – equality exists nowhere in nature or in the physical world generally.  Never in human history has equality been achieved and when it has been pursued, disaster has ensued – so just stop it, please.  As a strategy to improve the plight of the poor it has never worked and worse, when you say to people I am going to take something you own away and give it to someone else, you excite resistance to the goal you are attempting to achieve – that is just stupid so stop it. It is also unnecessary when you can develop policies that give the less fortunate opportunity to be a part of the middle class and beyond AND benefit the people who are relatively wealthy – you create a win win – and you avoid punishing success.  It seems if you shake a tree in BC ten weary old Trotskies fall out, peddling faulty solutions.

Here’s a couple Win Win Policy Suggestions,  I’ve many more – have a look.


What does work in contrast to equality, is equity. When we are generous in our efforts to build lives, support families and at creating opportunities that a healthy economy gives – the lower income strata will benefit and society generally will benefit.   A healthy economy, open markets, support and work will help the less fortunate be a part of society. Chopping the heads off tall poppies to feed a culture of envy will lead us all to subsistence – there is a better way we should take it.  It is important to note also, it was greedy Toryism that got the whole redistributionist misadventure going during the industrial revolution. As a society now, we are smarter and we know a little generosity goes a long way.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Privacy - What Privacy - Medical Records Gone Awry

Below is a Letter to Government sent several years ago at the outset of development of a medical record system in British Columbia - my worst concerns have come true. The data collected is considered the property of the government as opposed to being the property of the patient. People have no control over medical records, if you ask to have data removed they refuse. The records your family doctor keeps are electronic now, so what the doctor and perhaps one other person use to see - all medical personnel see now - what happened to patient doctor confidentiality. There are no easy means to opt out, you should have been requested to opt in. This is a part of a general erosion of privacy and liberty in British Columbia and Canada generally - we need to be alert and insist that our private lives remain private as we wish them to be.  



The advantages associated with the development of centralized medical records are immense and as such, I am a reluctant supporter of their introduction. As an individual greatly concerned with the encroachment of government into peoples personal lives and having witnessed the miss-utilization of other legislation, the introduction of electronic medical records is being considered with extreme trepidation. When one considers abuses of such data, the recent loss of British medical data by loss of a hard drive or like Safeway's selling of pharmaceutical records to insurance companies in the United States, the examples are endless; this trepidation is most certainly justified. In Canada, we have enjoyed a relatively pristine history with respect to medical discrimination, yet present are a few skeletons in our national closet, such as state sterilization of person's afflicted with none - genetic handicaps. When we dare to cast an eye to Europe's recent history and imagine the implications of this information in the hands of people gripped by the most sinister ideology, one begins to wonder whether the exercise is prudent at all. It is only the presence of a massive volume of information that is presently remaining un-captured and the promise that information offers for our population's benefit that compels this action; paradoxically, in BC we have all the exposure to centralised medical records and none of the benefits. The people responsible for the design of the systems associated with the capture and storage of this most sensitive data must be cognisant of the fact that in the contemporary context, this exercise seems benign enough, but history is full of examples of the errant use of such information.


It is a most fundamental right to refuse medical treatment and by extension, one should be able to refuse to have medical treatment recorded. A citizen should be allowed to retain control of their medical data. At present databases administered by medical professionals provides some insight to how causally the stewardship of such sensitive data can be. Presently any prescription you purchase in British Columbia is captured in the Pharmacy database and any pharmacist in the province with your name can search your records. You can write a letter to the government for a copy of your medical billing records and they are sent to you via the mail, absent any verification of who gets them at the point of pick up. We need to extend at least the same level of security to medical data as we do our financial data. If people want access to my bank information they need my bank card and a P.I.N. The technology is in place to extend an individual control over their personal data and this technology must be accessed, especially in the case of sensitive medical information.  
At the risk of being cynical, I have little confidence that people are taking seriously enough the implications of such data systems in the context of the full backdrop of human history. There is complacency, a casual sense it will be ok by governments. This is most alarming. There is a generalised acceptance of paternalism on the part of the populous that prevents people from arousing from apathy to challenge these kinds of developments.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Data In Lieu of Spin Please & Stop taking money from farmers and other small business



Fiscal Policy is important, it can be a means by which to offer leadership and seed the economy or it can be irresponsible and be misdirected by the political process. This is in no way a partisan issue, this a structural issue. Fiscal activities taken by any government have no clear objective reporting mechanism to the public; how could that be you ask, because, voters punish mistakes. The problem is the people here to hold the government to account get spin instead of data.

Further, this is true of all legislation outcomes, when the government says it is going to lift children out of poverty, we need to know what that means and if it happened.  The details need to be attached to set of metrics the public can understand and the legislation monitored and objectively reported on to the public; in this way, good results are rewarded and bad results can be identified and mitigated – the most painful aspect now is that mistakes get propagated and myths rule.

The other factor of concern is that there are key constituents that represent massive voting influence  – large corporations and their diaspora and large labour unions. These two constituents are important, we need them and we need to respond to their interests.  It is important to note, however, that we have a whole society to run – the artisan - small business - farmer - tourism etc. …  the “third” constituency, is as large a group but their message is defused and as a result, they get left behind.

The recent choice by the Federal Liberals to prevent income distribution between family members is an assault on the “third” constituency, people who are independent and self-employed.  The proponents of curtailing the ability for a farmer to pay family members call the distribution of income – income sprinkling. It behooves us to remember that people in this category often buy their own insurance – No WCB for them – when the income stops coming – No EI for them – they work their whole lives to build a future for their kids or work to build a future with their kids – they want to have avenues to transfer their wealth to their kids. Yes there is a tax advantage in being able to pay your family members, spouse – you can in effect split your income between people and reduce the overall tax burden – that helps to make up for the fact that the third constituency is outside the social safety AND it helps make up for the mountain of red tape they wade through on a daily basis just for the chance to contribute. Punish this sector long enough and hard enough they will be gone and with them the family, the independent individual and eventually the other two constituents.


The tax system needs an overhaul to be sure, less pecking at the fringes and more redesign.  The government spends about $ 4 billion a year collecting taxes, then business and individuals spend as much, likely more. $ 8 billion dollars people could be spending on much better things – our biggest transaction cost. It is a lot to ask the average Canadian to give up nearly half of what they earn; it adds insult to injury to make them pay to do it. I am unsure if this is one tax grab too far or not, soon enough people will say, this is enough.  Andrew Coyne reports that Bombardier nabbed nearly $3.7 billion recently in various forms of government assistance, imagine what our young people could do with $ 4 billing we spend collecting taxes AND the nearly 4 billion we gave to a single corporation. Speaking of sprinkling, it feels a little like farmers and the like,  are getting sprinkled on their backs and the feds are tellin’ them its rainin’. We can do better.

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/programs/about-canada-revenue-agency-cra/annual-report-parliament/canada-revenue-agency-annual-report-parliament-2013-2014/canada-revenue-agency-annual-report-parliament-2013-2014-3.html

http://nationalpost.com/opinion/andrew-coyne-bombardier-executives-nabbed-3-7b-in-subsidies-yet-the-mob-demands-we-punish-them

More Thinking on the Subject
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