Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

Education over Regulation

In Nova Scotia, they’ll be conducting a peer led program (http://www.gov.ns.ca/news/details.asp?id=20050113004) for people aged 19-24 about the dangers and risks of gambling. The program, called Know the Score, will be conducted at six post-secondary institutions across the province.

Things like this have always confused me. For instance, Marie Mullally, president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, has said “The success of the two pilots confirm that Know the Score is an effective way to get accurate information about gambling out to people in this age group, who studies suggest are at a higher risk of developing gambling problems.” [Ed. For more information on the risks of gambling to university aged people, see Betting Your Life Away in this issue.]

So here’s my issue. We know there’s a risk of “developing gambling problems,” we know that gambling has really no benefit to society as a whole, and very little to most of the individuals involved in it. Can somebody tell me why we allow it? I mean, is there some genetically hardwired thing that just means some people happen to lead unfulfilled lives if they can’t gamble? Are these people the reason we allow it? Maybe it’s just me, but when I look at something that has virtually no benefit and is draining resources away from the public coffers, I wonder why we allow it in the first place.

Some people claim that gambling is a money-making venture for the governments, which is why it’s permitted. But I’ve found that among the people I know, those who purchase the most lotto tickets and are hooked on gambling are also those who are generally relying on the government to support them to some extent. Which means you have to ask: if these people weren’t spending on gambling to give a portion to the government, would the government need to spend so much on them in the first place?

I wonder if it might be more cost effective to regulate than try to educate.

Working Less or Less Working?

Statistics Canada has done a study (http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/050113/d050113a.htm) comparing the output gap between the United States and Canada and has come to the stunning conclusion that we produce less than they do.

No, really. It’s true. However, in typical Canadian fashion, the studies goes on to justify this trend by saying that it’s not that we’re that much less productive for how long we work, it’s just that less of us, overall, are working. If you go down to a per hour basis, they find that we’re just slightly less productive than our counterparts to the south. Funny thing about that, two groups of people with very close to the same culture and level of technology tend to be very similar in productivity. Go figure.

Of course, studies like this make you wonder if the reason for that small gap in productivity is specifically because Statistics Canada does a study like this rather than looking at something we didn’t already know.

It’s a Coin Toss

Alberta and Saskatchewan are celebrating their centennials this year. To commemorate these, the Royal Canadian Mint is producing two new quarters and wants Canadians to pick the artwork (http://www.mint.ca/microsite/en/new_circulation_1.asp) on them out of selections from each province.

The artwork on all of the coins was commissioned from local artists, and selected by provincial boards. Sadly, it seems the board for Alberta was particularly uninspired since two of the four coins are more in homage to the oil and gas industry than anything else. The industry that actually has been around since the beginning of Alberta–ranching–is not featured on any of them, though you see a few tiny cows on one and a tiny cowboy on another. Perhaps they decided they’d rather not feature Alberta Beef this year for reasons I cannot fathom (http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/newcom/2005/20050111e.shtml).

Meanwhile, on the Saskatchewan side, they have only three choices, but they are quite diverse in style and subject matter. Maybe by the next centennial Alberta will come up with some originality for the designs.

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