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Forum posts for What's i've learned

ha ha ha
Posted by Katie on Mar 09, 2005
not sure if you were being facetious, but simply by writing "what's I've learned" would lend one to believe that you actually haven't learned much at all!!!!

Anyway, interesting points. Good work.

yes
Posted by jessie on Mar 09, 2005
i couldn't agree more, there are way too many not-for-profits and charity organizations. Hell i work for a not-for-profit, and I learn of new ones in Toronto every day.

But I disagree that old ones can change -- people don't like change, so good luck trying to make an existing one better...

I think what would be great is if the government funded only ONE nfp or charity dealing with a certain topic. Like one environmental group, one cancer group, one arts group --leave them arms length and make all of their actions very public...right now anyone can get money from the government.

As for the world bank and the IMF, what DID you learn??? I am interested in what they have been up to the last few years...
I remember watching a video in high school of the former president of the World Bank who had gone CRAZY. He toured the US with a ukulele singing jibberish about the world bank and IMF being very bad...so how have they been doing lately??? making people crazy?

.
Posted by phduffy on Mar 09, 2005
Well, this is what I've learned outside of class, and is more interesting than school. Although, I've learned some interesting stuff in my labour class about wages between men and women, and unions, while in my tax class i've learned some good stuff about the GST, harmonizing the PST with the GST, and sin taxes.

Anyways, what did I learn at this conference?

Well, once the bank started helping developing countries (as opposed to help rebuild Europe, which was their original purpose) they pretty much went with a left wing approach. Give the money to the government, and let the state do whatever they want with it. THat kind of thing.

Then, they realized that wasn't working. So they figured, hey, if the left wing thing doesn't work, why not the right wing thing? So they started attaching conditions to their grants/loans, such as opening up your country to free trade. As an aside, one of the guys in my program thinks that this is a good idea, and he framed it like this: Assume you have alot of money and want to help out the homeless. You find the most desperate person you can. Now, do you just give him/her 100,000, or do you attach some conditions to it?

So anyways, more market based solutions are being looked at now. Some of it involves the trade stuff, some of it involves helping to finance micro-finance companies. One of the problems for the bank is that when they loan money to a country, they deprieve that country's banks from offering loans. So it's a fine line.

Anyways, the market based approach has been criticized, as it appears that both CAnada and the US had policies in the early and mid 1900's that would violate these laws. Also, the asian tigers are sometimes looked at as the sucess stories, and while that's true, it also appears to be true that they gradually reduced their barriers to trade, and didn't really go full our market driven until things were pretty good there.

The problem is that there are always winners and losers with trade. And the Western world has been extremely guilty of hypocripsy, as we demand trade concessions from the poor countries, yet we don't make these concessions ourselves. Japan gives more money to each cattle raised in Japan than it does to each person in Nigeria, for example.

As for winners and loser we could help Africa and Latin American by getting rid of farm subsidies in Canada. And in the long run Canadians benefit, as we get cheaper produce. In the short run it's not clear if Canada wins. However, Canadian farmers definitely lose. Now, ideally we could just take the wins from the rest of the population and give them to the farmers that are losing. So that they'd be indifferent between us getting rid of subsidies or not. However, that's not going to happen.

So, the World Bank is aware of these problems, and is tryiing to work around them. They're also trying to make sure that they don't get into a 'one size fits all' mentality for devoloping countries.

Also, the current head of the World Bank has been its leader since 1995 (there's an election coming up soon to replace him). And there was a period of time when Rober McNamara (from Fog of War) was the head. I don't know about the guy who went crazy.

akjsdh;f
Posted by cosmicfish on Mar 09, 2005
Do you guys know of any good books or trade journals or websites that are relevant?

Do any of the developing countries employ people from first world countries to help them spend the money wisely in their own country?

What?
Posted by mike on Mar 09, 2005
We should stop subsidizing Canadian farmers (ie. don't give them money to help them out) to help less fortunate countries be competitive at farming? Then to help out the pissed off Canadian farmers who we took the money away from, we should give them money from other areas we have gained in?

How exactly would this not end up in the same position we are already in? Take money away and then give it back? Is that not the same as subsidizing?

Seems like circular logic to me. But I don't understand money.

Okay
Posted by phduffy on Mar 09, 2005
So, if we take away subsidies from farmers, they lose.

However, Canada as a whole wins.
So, we can take a bit of that gain (but not the entire gain) and redistribute it to the farmers. In this case the farmers would be indifferent between the before and after (well, probably not, they'd probably rather have their job). So you give them the money, and they're no further behind than before, and all of Canada is ahead, and Afica is ahead.

Then, eventually the farmers die, and you stop paying out money. So in the long term there's big benefits to Canada.

We wouldn't subsidize the farmers to farm. We'd pay for re-training, some welfare, stuff like that. But we wouldn't have farm quotas and stuff like that.

WTF !?
Posted by mike on Mar 09, 2005
OK. I get the concept now. Pay the farmers not to farm. If this is ever going to happen, give me as much advance notice as possible so I can set up a farm and then get paid to NOT farm it.

I HATE this idea. Countries (communities actually) should do everything in their power to be self sufficient. If Africa is so good at farming, then why are people starving? IF they could grow enough food to provide other countries, why not just grow the food anyway and feed themselves?

Is money complicating things? I find that hard to believe (obviously being sarcastic here). So you are telling me that Africa can grow enough food to ship to and feed us, but they don't even bother feeding their people because it wouldn't be cost effective? And it is cheaper for them to grow this food and ship it over here than it is for us to grow our own food?

I concur
Posted by Katie on Mar 09, 2005
Mike, I HATE that idea as well.

And all of the farmers driving their tractors into downtown Toronto today? I'm pretty sure they hate it too.

I kind of understand that fiscally it makes sense, but it also makes me feel that Canada doesn't give a crap about something that is a big part of making it a great country. Our agriculture is so important to us, and to how other countries perceive us that if we let it dwindle away, what would Canada be anymore?

I don't know, and I don't want to know.

Question
Posted by Nerhael on Mar 09, 2005
How is it even possible that food grown in Africa can be cheaper than food grown here? Why would farmers here be threated? Like...isn't it insanely expensive to ship food over oceans?

Isn't the only reason we subsize farmers because other countries subsidize their farmers to so they can be more competitive in foreign markets?

I simply don't understand how food transported from further away can be sooo much cheaper....

simple
Posted by jessie on Mar 09, 2005
food is more expensive to produce here because of government regulations and standards.

so...
Posted by Nerhael on Mar 09, 2005
We have regulations about the food we make...but not the food we import?

Or are you talking about what's involved in making the food? Safety standards on the farms themselves etc?

sigh
Posted by phduffy on Mar 09, 2005
You're not paying people not to farm. You're saying that if farmers go out of business, because we've opened up our borders to help out developing countries, we'll help farmers out.

Realistically, if we were to open up our borders, I don't think we'd do this. We'd just open up the borders, farmers be damned, because it's to the benefit of Canada and the world as a whole. I personally prefer that way, but I suggested the alternative as a way of making things easier.

Uganda can feed its people. It's just that their farmers don't make much money doing it, and they can't sell to Canada.

I find it very selfish of us as Canadians to say that we need to keep our little agriculture cartels, whether for competitive or historical reasons, while letting people in the developing world suffer and live in poverty.
Now, obviously Canada isn't big enough to change this by themselves, they'd need the help of the US, Europe, and Japan. So this probalby won't ever happen, as the West is too selfish to help the developing countries if it means that they're going to see pain. Even though it would also be better for the West in the long run.

Cost of 100 African Farm worker < cost of one Canadian Combine

Anyways
Posted by phduffy on Mar 09, 2005
Forget about the subsidy issue for farmers for a minute, as it'll never change, because it's politically impossible.

If you're interested, there's a book called The User's Guide to the WTO by a guy that used to work for the WTO and now doesn't like it. So he'll go into what's good and bad and issues and stuff like that.

I have some knowledge on this, but obviously not enough to say what's going on. I feel like I should be doing a better job of explaining this.
:)

Anyways, Peace out.

Riddle me this.
Posted by mike on Mar 09, 2005
I have some questions:

1.) If these impoverished countries have the ability to produce enough food to be even toying witht the idea of shipping it out-of-country then why are people starving in these countries? If the answer is money I think I might puke.

2.) Is it possible that farming is a bad example of what you are trying to discuss?

Now just for fun I wan to do some math here:

1 Canadian combine $250000 (assumed). Let's not worry about fuel and maintenance and storage and whatever. Let's also assume that the combine explodes into a million pieces after 1 year.

100 African farm workers would then have to cost less than $2500 per year to employ. I don't even want to consider the cost of feeding clothing and housing them.

Wow, I suppose that 1 combine is more expensive than 100 african farm workers. If we assume that the combine fucking explodes after 1 year.


two things
Posted by Hatful on Mar 09, 2005
the shocking actors study that they did was done in (i think) the 60's. the reason for it was to figure out why regular everyday germans drafted to the nazi party and their various armies and police groups would commit the attrocities that they did. and like paul said what they found was that almost all (i think it was more than 60%, way more) would continue to shock the people, even to the point of death and then some, because they were told to, by an authority figure or a supposed expert/scientist. so some understanding for the situation these men were in is probably a good thing. we'd all likely do the same thing.

about the farmers... i heard about the tractors in toronto thing, and i am not really all that clear on why they are so mad. they are losing funding or whatever because food can come from elsewhere for cheaper? isn't this like any business? if i make and then sell sunglasses for $15 a pair when someone else can do it for $10, why should i get money from the government?

Average Farmers Wage
Posted by Nerhael on Mar 09, 2005
http://www.africaonline.com/index.php?mode=getarticle&itemNo=9018335

This is for zimbabwe. An field worker makes on average $28 US a month.

That's a whole $336 a year.

Okay
Posted by phduffy on Mar 09, 2005
Hatful, spot on with the shocking actor stuff.

The scientists thought that there'd be a difference in the response rates of Germans and Americans. Basically, the Americans would be less likely to do it than the Germans.
Turns out there was no difference.

Another interesting point is that they changed the study a bit at one point. Basically, while this was going on, someone in a white trenchcoat would stop by and say "What the heck is going on?" then leave

This lowered the response rate to below 10%.

Anyways, a couple of other things.
For some items, it's cheaper to get them from Africa, or Latin America, or wherever. THe reasons may not be clear, but that's the case.

Secondly, some of you obviously disagree about the subsidies thing. Now, to get this back to the issue of economic development, that's very relevant. There are two issues. One, it's hard to even figure out what's meant by economic development. The consensus now seems to be that mere economic growth isn't enough. I heard a couple of times on the weekend that economic growth is neccessary, but not sufficient, for development. There's a guy, first name starts with A, last name Sen, that won the nobel prize for some of his thinking on this stuff. Basically, can we really say that you're developing if you're under a dictatorship and don't have freedom, or access to health care, or in a conflict zone, even if you're experiencing growth?

Okay, now pretend for a second that we could agree on what development was. The second point, maybe even harder, is how do we do it? We've seen with my little agriculture example that there's no consensus on how to do these things. Pretty much no matter what you try, someone will disagree with you.

wages
Posted by cosmicfish on Mar 09, 2005
The minimum monthly wage for a farm worker in Zimbabwe is $28 American a month.

I agree with Paul that Canada should do what they can to help other countries. Survival and basic comforts for everyone should come first. The world is so insanely imbalanced.

ad;flh
Posted by cosmicfish on Mar 09, 2005
I suppose I should refresh the thread if I've been letting the window sit open to long...

dudes... this isn't so simple
Posted by alltogethernow on Mar 09, 2005
farmers receive subsidies for a number of reasons basically depending on what they choose to farm... In order to help control grain prices sometimes the government will basically pay a farmer NOT to farm...

mike i am not sure how you cannot understand that goods from overseas cost terribly less than anything from North America. why do you think that companies like Nike, Levis, etc have move all, ALL their manufacturing overseas?

it is the same in almost any market. the shipping of the goods is not prohibitively expensive if you balance it with the retarded cost of labour... in china you can expect to make 28 cents an hour making Levi's jeans.. additionally many of these other countries will offer 'free trade zones' where the companies are not taxed by the local governments.... (i don't mean to delve too much into NO LOGO territory here because most of it is crap.. but that stuff is relevant)

NOW

produce grown in AFRICA wouldn't be a very viable option due to the long shipping times by boat.. and the prohibitive cost of shipping by air... so really thats just stupid... but other places could become very VERY compeditive without Canadian farm subsidies.. even the United States which has a lot more 'factory farms' - farms run by larger corps instead of individuals and co-ops ... could easily undermine any profitability the Canadian farmers have...

the farming protest today was due to the fact that over-regulation (yes even subsidies) are interfering with a farmers ability to make a profit. ... most specifically the farmers around toronto are angered by the new 'Greenbelt' laws that can seize sections of their farms if they come into a certain territory around the GTA...

ALSO to hit upon one more topic that is <> related

Canadian beef farmers are being super-fucked by the ban on Canadian cattle entering the United States... Canada makes lots of cattle.. but doesn't have very many slaughter-houses... so with no one from the states to buy and slaughter the cattle the farmers are left competing for the lowest of bids.. it's basic supply and demand.. you know THE INVISIBLE HAND!

so in short
canadian farmers are currently getting it in the ass..

OMG.. GRADE 11 ECONOMICS
Posted by alltogethernow on Mar 09, 2005
a flash of light..
it's time to fight...
supply and demand...
THE INVISIBLE HAND!

thanks nathan!!!!

More points
Posted by phduffy on Mar 09, 2005
If we reduce subsidies, does that help Africa?
Well, maybe not. But it does help Central America and South America.

Also, Africa can ship to Europe, while Asian countries can ship to Japan. This shows how the world has to pitch in.

When the government pays farmers not to farm (what in this case) what they're doing is ensuring that we don't have competition, and that we, as Canadians, pay higher prices for our grains.

I agree that Beef farmers have it tough. Not about the rest though.

Heh, I keep trying to turn this into economic development stuff, and yet I can't resist the temptation to post about everything.

Supply and Demand
Posted by noodle on Mar 09, 2005
you're right Trev...Supply and Demand will kill us all....damn you oil companies
Adam Smith you crazy bastard....

the Greenbelt
Posted by Katie on Mar 10, 2005
to add to Trevor's point about the Greenbelt, not only are some farmers losing their land to developments, but others are being forced to hold onto their land!!!

Farmers, who want to retire and get out of farming, are being forced to keep their farms! That's because Ontario has made this new rule that a certain amount of greenspace in certain regions must be maintained. So people who counted on their land providing them with a nice little nest egg to move to Florida with are being screwed!

That is another sadness.

to clarify
Posted by Katie on Mar 10, 2005
the farmers are not allowed to sell their land to developers.

I did know this, and it makes me a little less sad for them, because I don't want all the land sold to developers either.

But I do feel bad that it takes away a lot of options.