Tag Archives: bailouts

Ottawa Looking to Fund Partisan Propaganda

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The folks in Ottawa have been dying to figure out an ‘innovative’ way to bail out Canada’s biggest media companies (besides the CBC, of course) without creating a massive voter backlash.  With that in mind, another hairbrained scheme has materialized:  spending taxpayer money on advertising (story details are pasted below).

The absurdity of this plan is laughable for a number of reasons:

  1. I normally try to avoid programming by Global, CTV or stations that are owned by these conglomerates.  A wide array of other Canadians have made a similar choice.
  2. You might as well just burn the cash because spending money on dead air to reach an audience that is gone or declining is nearly as wasteful.
  3. Using advertising to shout at existing watchers translates to paid propaganda.  This is morally reprehensible.
  4. Shouting at people with ad breaks and other interruptions is an antiquated mode of communication.

It’s the last point that I want to talk about.  We entered a massive transition more than a decade ago when technology made it easy for consumers of content to avoid advertising:

  • TIVO = avoid TV ads.
  • DVDs = avoid 20 minutes of previews, along with ads for mobile phones, cars and shoes.
  • iTunes & CDs = avoid radio ads.
  • Search = avoid online ads.

A good part of the mess that we’re in today is related to the notion that individuals can now think for themselves rather than have marketers and governments instruct them how to think and what to buy.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped people with large agencies from buying media and placing it with these companies for the Cons, largely in the form of ‘public service announcements’.  Our governments have a long history of spending oodles of taxpayer cash to inform us about ‘staying prepared for emergencies’, ‘how to spend your tax credits’, over-produced Department of Defense ads encouraging people to sign up for the reserves, etc.

Add that to the multi-billion funding of programs like the Canadian Film and Video Tax Credit which goes to channels like ‘The History Channel’ so they can show us ‘Red Dawn’ (I guess because fear mongering about Cuba has so much to do with history).

To think that we’re currently void of propaganda is excessively naive, but adding to the pile shows considerable contempt for the people of Canada.

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Source:  Globe and Mail

BRIAN LAGHI

The Globe and Mail

April 14, 2009 at 6:53 PM EDT

OTTAWA — Ottawa has a new option on the table for helping local TV stations make it through the recession: buy more government ads.

The idea, which is under discussion at the cabinet’s powerful committee on priorities and planning, is seen as a way to replace private advertising revenue that has fled since the onset of the financial crisis, a source told The Globe and Mail.

“In the short term, the most efficient way to get money out to broadcasters might be through advertising, because that’s where the initial loss was,” said the source.

“That’s where things have gone.”

Although a good number of MPs and cabinet ministers support help for the industry, the question of how best to deliver it is the subject of significant discussion. The government has talked about shelling out between $150-million and $75-million this year and $75-million next year in an effort to get money into the hands of the broadcasters quickly. However, some MPs are concerned that funnelling money directly to the broadcasters would not do much to prevent cuts. At least the government could benefit from the ads.

CanWest, CTVglobemedia and Quebecor have been lobbying the government for help as some of them consider closing or selling stations.

The broadcasters are looking for both short- and long-term aid as they battle to keep local stations and programming. Some MPs fear that the loss of local stations would rob them of a way to deliver their message to voters. It’s of particular concern to MPs representing rural areas and small towns, where communications outlets are fewer.

Simply providing more ad money won’t resolve broadcasters’ larger, structural problem, one industry source said. Revenues have been reduced through fragmenting of the market and competition from specialty cable networks and the Internet.

Another option to aid the broadcasters would be for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to allow cable companies to charge for transmitting their signals.

The companies have warned that at least part of such charges, known as fee-for-carriage, would be passed on to consumers, making the issue potentially difficult for the governing Tories.

“That’s becoming a bit more popular within the government, although there are points of reservation, to be sure,” said the source.

“But people recognize if they want to have their local television, there are structural issues that have to be dealt with.”

The concept of fee for carriage is expected to come up when industry players appear before the House of Commons heritage committee. The government could direct the CRTC to review the issue, or it could decide to look at it on its own. The CRTC could also consider reducing or removing certain fees broadcasters pay to the government.

It’s not clear whether the ad-buying idea would also apply to the CBC. The public broadcaster is planning 800 layoffs to cope with a $170-million shortfall.

No more bailouts, please

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Research credit to Impolitical .

There’s really nothing worse than the prospect of hard-line anti-government control-freaks taking over anything, let alone Canadian media.

But that seems to be in the cards, anyways, doesn’t it?

Rumours have swirled for a while about the CBC being cut.  As early as last fall, folks identified that more than $200 million would be cut.  And they were right.  We’re losing valuable and incredibly important services just when we need them most to bring this country together.

Now rumours are back, only this time, they’re about the prospect of a bunch of moochers clammering to their friends in the House to get up to $150 million in ‘one-time’ support from the Federal Government.  Original CBC story on the issue .

There are no excuses that will justify this pathetic abuse of public finance.  Financial crisis?  They were falling apart before GM cut their ad budgets.  Losing audience?  Stop treating them like morons.  Can’t pay your bills?  Stop trying to monopolize the Canadian media industry.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.  STOP THE BAILOUTS.

The Canadian public will no longer tolerate the blatant abuse of our money.

The Financial Crisis: Why Current Actions Won’t Work

I put a couple of articles on the back-burner, waiting for a chance to read both before commenting on them.  As it happens, this most recent article reminded me a little of this one so I thought it was time to explore them a little further.

Ultimately, the conclusion that both seem to have is that we’re going to run out of taxpayers.  And the problem with the financial crisis is that it’s nuclear:  we might be able to bail out a few banks now, but we’ll have toxic debt issues related to the bailouts for generations to come.

The solutions offered were mixed.  The Reality Sandwich article is really only in ‘Part I’ of a series, but towards the end, they seem to speak fondly of nationalization of the money creation process.  This would marginalize the demands placed on all capitalist countries by the financial community to borrow as they print money.  Instead, they would simply print money.  As someone who warns against the ills of abusing those things that come for free, this solution might create more ill than good.  It’s called inflation.

However, inflation only comes when people expect more from their economies.  Perhaps if we tuned ourselves to think in terms of zero growth (zero growth of money supply (unless under economic ‘duress’), zero growth of economies, zero growth of wages, etc), it might actually be feasible.

Good luck with that, though.

Enter the Socialist Project, with another lengthy and more current article, focusing mainly on the use of Keynesian philosophy and who’s doing it better.  They argue that China and other countries are better positioned to jump-start their economic bodies because they have a healthier attitude towards Keynesianism, but again, I’m concerned that we’ve really missed the point: we no longer have the luxury of infinite growth .

All of these policies, be they monetarist or Keynesian or whatever, simply don’t account for the notion that it’s irresponsible to fashion economies around the principles of endless consumption.  At some point, the party has to end.  We’ve already talked about the impact that demographics will have on our current situation , but the truth is that we don’t think anyone is listening.  There are too many special interests at risk (big banks, big unions, big government, etc etc etc).

What are your thoughts on this situation?  What do you think our governments should do to pull us away from financial ruin while trying to also encourage people to have a positive attitude about their futures?  Post your thoughts below.

Just the EARLY Stages of Financial Collapse

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Hi folks,

For those of you in the crowd who are MA in Economics, I’ll remind you that we’re just at the beginning of financial collapse.  Shoving your finger, gloves, basketballs, bumpers, old tires, bins full of clothes from Goodwill and even elephants won’t stop the damn from breaking.

I know … it’s a little gloomy, but I don’t feel like I’m being alarmist AT ALL.

This article outlines the facts that back up the notion that, as the song says, ‘we’ve only just begun’.

This is not gloom and doom…. This is reality and the truth. The financial system will not stabilize. It is being deliberately changed. The Treasury is crowding out corporate borrowers in their quest for liquidity, as corporations rush to raise what funds they can to allow them to keep functioning and so that they won’t be absorbed by an elitist mega-company of our new corporatist state. At the same time municipalities are raising all the money they can to keep from going under having far overextended themselves.

I think the punch line of the article is this:  by putting ourselves so substantially in hock to the organizations that will squueze every penny they can from us in terms of interest rates and tight credit, we are surrendering more and more of our freedom (yes, freedom) as we continue down the path of blindly bailing out this company after that.

Save up, pay off and walk away from temptation when you’re out shopping because the only people that will survive this are those who are not spending.

Car Crazy

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I’m getting sick of hearing about the plight of North American car companies.

And now we’ve done it:  we’ve made a commitment to old-school, traditional businesses that speak nothing about the future that Canadians want.  Just today, Stephen Harper announced a bailout package for GM and Chrysler, something he could finally stomach after his lord and master George Bush did the same in the US.

If I understand correctly, we’ve been forced to wait and wait and wait again while the Republicans (in the US and here in Canada) tried to turn the screws to unions and force them to make concessions.  I’d like to see numbers, because I really don’t believe that unionized employees represent the lion’s share of costs for car companies.  I could be wrong, but as I say, I’d like to see numbers.

Harper’s announcement still has a lot of ties to it, so expect to see either a wide range of layoffs or a number of concessions, despite feedback from the CAW that they won’t back down.

And they shouldn’t have to.

For weeks now, the solution has seemed obvious to me, but I’ll share them and see if you agree:

  1. Let them go bankrupt.  Bankruptcy is an exceptionally important function that’s been institutionalized in the capitalist system.  Let the lawyers and bean counters take over and kick all of the management out.
  2. Give guarantees for pensions.
  3. Ensure that ALL warranties are covered and will be supported by any government in North America.  People aren’t buying North American cars because they’re out of touch with demand.  People aren’t buying North American cars because there’s no confidence that these companies will be around to honour their warranties.
  4. Long term plan:  Build good cars.  Stop with this ‘disposable 5-year car’ bullshit philosophy.  The world demands better from all of our manufacturers and it should start with car manufacturers leading the way.  If you’re not making as many bags of money in the future, well, boo hoo.
  5. Slightly longer-term plan:  let’s figure out how to encourage the development of a made-in-Canada car manufacturer.  For example, why are we keeping the ZENN car on hold?
  6. Longer-term plan:  let’s figure out how to build a car-less society.  Cars are not our future.
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