IN DEFENCE OF DOUG FORD FREEZING THE MINIMUM WAGE

On November 21, Bill 47 was enshrined in provincial law. The much-maligned bill eliminates a bevy of provisions passed under the preceding government’s Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. The crux of the controversy surrounding the bill is that it freezes the minimum wage at a substantial $14 an hour, instead of the previously planned $15 an hour.

Many progressives, including students, have voiced their concern over the bill. But given the state of the economy following Kathleen Wynne’s tutelage, this freeze is Doug Ford’s best option and the right path forward for Ontario.

Legislation cannot overwrite the market

As pure as the intentions may be in advocating for higher wages vis-à-vis government mandates, it is not possible to legislate away poverty. Economic intrusions like artificial wage hikes always come prepackaged with unintended consequences.

At the end of the day, one individual’s wage is another person’s cost. Employment is the voluntary contract between those two individuals. The agreed upon wage is ordinarily set by basic market forces: supply and demand. Efforts by government to intervene in this contract cannot benefit the employee without affecting the employer.

As their costs of doing business increase, employers react. Industries such as food and entertainment lay off staff, cut their hours, or hike prices. As reported in the Financial Post, Ontario restaurants hiked prices in response to Wynne’s wage hike. Accordingly, in January, the province saw “food inflation [rise] to its highest annualized increase in nearly two years.”

As also noted by BMO Capital Markets’ senior economist, Robert Kavcic, the restaurant price hikes were a direct result of the Liberal government’s policy. In the same period that saw the province’s minimum wage jump 21 per cent, Ontario’s restaurant prices grew at a faster rate than any other province in the country.

Restaurants weren’t the only industry to feel the economic ripples of Wynne’s progressive proclivities. The Canadian grocery conglomerate Metro estimated its costs incurred from the wage hike to exceed $40 million. As a result, the firm said that it plans on cutting staff hours, in addition to reducing the number of 24 hour stores in the GTA.

The service sector also felt the pinch of rising costs. In Collingwood, Little People’s Daycare closed its doors permanently, citing the steep and swift spike in minimum wage.

The hike hurts low-wage workers  including students

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2018, YEAR IN REVIEW

Deluged with achievement, grief, and no shortage of historic firsts, 2018 can best be described as a roller-coaster year. With so many significant moments over the last 12 months, it was no easy task narrowing them down and picking the very best to fit our word-limit. Nonetheless, here they are!

China Successfully Clones Monkeys (January 24)

Two monkeys have been cloned using the technique that produced Dolly the sheep. Identical long-tailed macaques Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua were born several weeks ago at a laboratory in China. Scientists say populations of monkeys that are genetically identical will be useful for research into human diseases. But critics say the work raises ethical concerns by bringing the world closer to human cloning. Qiang Sun of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience said the cloned monkeys will be useful as a model for studying diseases with a genetic basis, including some cancers, metabolic and immune disorders.

Launch of the Falcon Heavy (February 6)

The Falcon Heavy test flight (also known as Falcon Heavy demonstration mission) was the first attempt by SpaceX to launch a Falcon Heavy rocket. The successful test introduced the Falcon Heavy as the most powerful rocket in operation, producing five million pounds-force (22 MN) of thrust and having more than twice the lift capacity of the NASA Space Shuttle launch system. The dummy payload was a Tesla Roadster, the flagship vehicle of Tesla — which is also owned by SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk.

Black Panther’s success (February 16)

Black Panther is an American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Critics considered it one of the best films set in the MCU and noted its cultural significance. It grossed over $1.3 billion worldwide, breaking numerous box office records including the highest-grossing film by an African-American director. For 2018 it is the highest-grossing film in the U.S. and Canada and the second-highest-grossing film worldwide; it received numerous awards and nominations.

Nerve Gas attack on Russian agent (March 4)

On March 4th, Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the UK’s intelligence services, and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned in Salisbury, England. According to official UK sources and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the two were poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent known as A-234. Two Russian GRU operators were the suspected perpetrators.

Stephen Hawking: 1942-2018 (March 14)

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of March 14th. The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, with several bestselling books — most notably, A Brief History of Time — under his name.

Hawking’s biggest accomplishment was unifying fields of relativity and quantum mechanics through his research in black holes. He discovered that black holes leak energy and fade to nothing – a phenomenon that would later become known as Hawking radiation. Through his work with mathematician Sir Roger Penrose, he demonstrated that Einstein’s general theory of relativity implies space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes. At the age of 22 Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease. Defying the odds, Hawking not only lived to 79, he continued assiduously working in search of new discoveries.

Last Male Northern White Rhino Dies (March 20)

The world’s last male northern white rhino has died leaving only two females left to save the subspecies from extinction. The 45-year-old rhino named Sudan had been in poor health in recent days and was being treated for age-related issues and multiple infections. A veterinary team made the decision to euthanize Sudan after his condition deteriorated significantly, the conservation group WildAid announced Tuesday. Sudan lived in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, surrounded by armed guards in the days leading up to his death to protect him from poachers. This has made the subspecies functionally extinct, with only two female rhinos left.

End of Castro Rule in Cuba (April 19)

When Cuba’s president Raul Castro stood down on April 19th, it marked the first time in nearly six decades that the island will not be led by a Castro. The country’s national assembly selected the current vice-president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, as the sole candidate to replace Raúl Castro. The handover will mark the end of an era: Cuba without the Castros has been the holy grail for Florida-based Cuban exiles – and a policy vigorously pursued by a dozen successive US presidents. Castro’s departure from the Cuban throne is best summarized in The Who’s 1971 hit song, Won’t Get Fooled Again, with the lyrics, “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”. Sure, it’s the end of an era, but for the poor, downtrodden population of Cuba, little will change. The average monthly salary will still hover at $25 a month, and political dissidents will continue to live under constant fear. Real, meaningful change in Cuba requires an embrace of economic liberalism in lieu of the current communist system that imprisons its people.

US Embassy to Israel officially opened in Jerusalem (May 14)

Following through on a campaign promise, United States President, Donald Trump moved the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — the historic Jewish capital — on May 14, 2018. This marked the 70th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel.

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CHARLES AZNAVOUR: 1924-2018

Charles Aznavour (Shahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian), the Paris-born Armenian singer-songwriter, actor, and diplomat, who was known as “France’s Frank Sinatra”, died this month, on October 1st, 2018.

Born in 1924 to Armenian immigrants who’d fled to France amid Turkey’s perpetration of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Armenians in the early 20thcentury, Aznavour was raised by a family of artists. His father was a singer, performing in French restaurants prior to opening his own.

Aznavour dropped out of school at a young age of nine to pursue his career as an entertainer — before his 10th birthday, he’d already starred in a movie and a theater production. Despite his young age, Aznavour insisted that he was never pressured or forced to become a performer. To him, it was a natural calling. “People say that they put me on the stage, but I put myself there. It was natural. It was what I wanted to do.” 

Aznavour later shifted his focus to professional dancing. He didn’t write his first song until the age of 24 in 1950.

He got his big break when he began opening for the legendary French singer, Edith Piaf. After his distinctive rich, mellow voice caught her attention, Piaf took Aznavour under her wing, mentoring the young virtuoso. Piaf advised Aznavour to pursue a singing career.

Aznavour went on to command a career lasting 80 years. He wrote a whopping 1000 songs, sold 180 million albums, and dazzled audiences in sold-out auditoriums well into his 90’s. He sang in an astounding 8 different languages: French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Armenian, and Neapolitan.

Aznavour’s music knew no boundaries, touching upon an eclectic range of themes.

He wrote songs that by any standard were ahead of their time. In “What Makes a Man” (1972), Aznavour sang about a gay transvestite. The lyrics are overall great but especially outstanding are the lines, “Nobody has the right to be; the judge of what is right for me; tell me if you can; what make a man a man.”

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REVIEW: STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI

In George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy, fans were immersed in a vast and uncharted universe rife with relics of the late Jedi order. The first film, “A New Hope,” introduced and set the stage for the main protagonists and antagonists with drips of detail to induce intrigue and wonder in the audience. Following sequels provided sustenance for fans’ fervor, delving deeper into the characters and connecting storylines.

With 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” Disney played it safe. Director JJ Abrams effectively stuck to the same script (almost literally) as “A New Hope,” and the film was highly enjoyable – discounting its lack of original storytelling, and the fact that our hero Luke Skywalker had been reduced to retirement in what could only be described as the Florida of the vast Star Wars universe.

Now on to “Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.” Before I go any further, the review will contain major spoilers. There was a slew of weaknesses in the plot (and this is aside from the fact that the movie felt drudgingly dragged out at times) that can’t be pointed out without giving anything away. But don’t be disparaged, I’m saving you from having to sit through a 152-minute long mess.

Spoilers Ahead!

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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NET NEUTRALITY DEBATE

The topic of net neutrality is one of the hottest debated issues of the modern day, and for good reason. We all use the internet and thus have a natural tendency to weigh in on issues regarding its regulation.

The internet, however, is a complex hierarchical structure riddled with reams of vagaries. Without first understanding them, people shouldn’t attempt to propose legislation.

Unfortunately, from Congressmen to commentators to comedians, this is exactly what we’ve been seeing regarding net neutrality.

The only hot political issue where coverage is comparably poor is that of firearms. In fact, USA Today and Vox.com tweeting out explainers on the civilian AR-15 with a chainsaw and grenade launcher attached to it is the perfect analogy for how net neutrality is covered in the media.

But before getting to net neutrality, there are some key concepts about how the internet works that need explaining.

What is the Internet?

The internet is best described as a “network of networks.” It’s divided into regions that perform different functions. Access to the internet is provided through an Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP you’re probably most familiar with is the one you pay directly for your home internet (for example AT&T, Verizon, or Bell Canada). These providers are known as Tier 3 providers. But ISPs do a lot more than simply sell you a home internet plan. There are also Tier 1, and Tier 2 internet service providers.

Here’s a rough sketch of the interconnected web in the United States.

Tier 1 ISPs are known as the backbone of the internet. There exist about a dozen of them around the world, and they peer with one another, thus not having to pay anyone for transit (they have no providers). Tier 1 networks can reach every other network on the internet.

Next on the internet hierarchy are Tier 2 ISPs. These are effectively a bridge between the Tier 1 internet backbone, and the Tier 3 access ISPs end users use to connect to the internet.

And finally, between all of these, we have Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). This is a large, physical exchange point where data is exchanged between peers.

For a closer look at the function these exchange points serve, here’s a second diagram.

In the above diagram, Internet Service Provider (ISP) A, B, and D are all transit networks. With reference to the above diagram, these can either be Tier 1 or Tier 2 networks. For example, AT&T, or Verizon Enterprise Solutions.

ISP C and ISP E are access-ISPs. Meaning, this is where you — a home user — connect to the global internet. You go to your local ISP and obtain a modem. This is how you gain access to the outside World Wide Web. As mentioned above, AT&T would be an example of ISP A, ISP B or ISP D (transit networks). However, AT&T also offers services as an access ISP (this is simply a different division of the company) and deals with selling customers plans for their home internet (see here.)

Lastly, on this diagram, we have two internet exchange points. Recall in the first diagram, we saw these connected IXP points between networks. (1) The New York International Internet Exchange (NYIIX) and (2) the London Internet Exchange (LIIX). These are two of the many internet exchange points that exist around the world. These physical locations are large hubs where independent networks exchange traffic with one another.

What is Net Neutrality?

Traditionally, if Google wanted access to the global internet to deliver its content to you (an end user) it would go to an ISP, and become its customer. The ISP would, in turn, provide transit to Google.

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Economists HATE This. Eliminate Poverty With This One Weird Trick: The $9000 Minimum Wage!

On Tuesday, Ontario’s provincial government, undeterred by the province’s title-claim to the world’s most indebted sub-sovereign borrower (one-third the population of California, and twice the debt!), raised its minimum wage to a whopping $15 per hour.

Left-leaning lemmings were instantly filled with vim and vigour, proclaiming the minimum wage hike a social justice victory.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) led with, “How the Liberals went from cool to hot on $15 minimum wage.” Abandoning business decay as cause for concern, CBC ran another headline, “Ontario’s minimum wage raise a ‘small business killer,’ say critics, but for many it means feeling ‘human’.”

Reveling in hysteria and self-dramatization, liberals immediately decried the new law’s detractors as being cold-hearted and uncaring toward “working class families”. As the CBC’s own headline suggests, if you oppose the government-mandated minimum wage, you oppose people “feeling human.”

Here, in no particular order, are a list of reasons Canada’s Liberal government is making a terrible mistake by raising the minimum wage.

A Minimum Wage Hike Prices Low Skilled Workers Out of the Job Market

I got my first job in the summer of 2010. I was 17 years old, working as a lifeguard earning a generous (personally, I was very happy with it) $14 per hour.

At the time, the minimum wage was around $10 per hour.

I was making close to 50% over the minimum because prior to landing the job, I’d spent more summers than I can recall taking swimming lessons, as well as taking and completing first aid and lifeguarding courses.

What do you think would happen if the bare minimum you’re legally allowed to pay an employee jumps up to $15?

Naturally, lifeguards will also need a sizeable raise to maintain an incentive for people to expend the time and money on the required training. There’d be no reason to go through the trouble of becoming a lifeguard if you’re paid the same wage as a grocery store employee, who requires no prerequisite training, and has far less responsibilities.

This also means that companies employing lifeguards will prioritize hiring and keeping people with experience. This logic applies to jobs across the board. What you’ve effectively done is price low-skilled and inexperienced workers entirely out of the labor force. Their new “minimum wage” is now zero.

Youth unemployment in Ontario is higher than the national average. A recently published government jobs report showed that despite a slight January decline in national unemployment (5,700 less persons working than January of 2016), youth unemployment in Ontario was nearly 3 times harder hit (18,900 persons between 18 and 24 working in February of 2017 than in February of 2016). The Liberal government has a genius plan to address this. Make hiring unskilled, inexperienced young people more expensive!

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Everything You Need to Know About Deep State

What is “Deep State”?

Origins of the term “Deep State” trace back to Turkey. The Turkish term “derin devlet” – deep state – referred to a cabal of government officials with off-the-record ties to various crime syndicates. Turkish politicians leveraged these connections to carry out state-ordered killings – among other dark deeds – in efforts to silence dissenting communist Kurdish insurgents.

As noted in The Economist: “Starting in the 1950s Turkey’s deep state sponsored killings, engineered riots, colluded with drug traffickers, staged “false flag” attacks and organised massacres of trade unionists. Thousands died in the chaos it fomented.”

Deep State in America

American pundits and politicians use the term “Deep State” to describe a coordinated effort amongst appointed (unelected!) government officials – in all branches of government – to undermine and undercut the democratically elected president.

Leaking private conversations, memos and discussions in spades to whoever shares the vision of a Trump-free future (The New York Times and The Washington Post proceed to dislocate their shoulders, hyperbolically raising their arms screeching *me!*, *ME!*), these unnamed government officials attempt to erode trust and confidence in the Trump administration.

Due to their unbridled enmity for all things Trump, liberal news outlets have effectively jettisoned any semblance of journalistic ethics, opting for the Shaun King route of reporting. Forget verifying sources, if it fits the narrative it must be true!

This, in a nutshell, is how we get headlines like this from Business Insider that read, “Trump reportedly called his national security adviser at 3 a.m. to ask if the US wanted a strong or weak dollar.”
The Business Insider article cites a HuffPost piece titled “Leaks Suggest Trump’s Own Team Is Alarmed By His Conduct,” which itself attempts to verify these incendiary claims against President Trump by citing unnamed, anonymous individuals: “according to two sources familiar with Flynn’s accounts of the incident.”

As another example, The Hill – a widely read political news outlet – ran the headline “NSC officials include Trump’s name as often as possible so he reads memos: report.” The article claims, “Reported by Reuters,” which then links to a Reuters headline that reads: “Embroiled in controversies, Trump seeks boost on foreign trip.”

And if you thought, “Finally! I can now see real reputable sources,” think again! The Reuters report says, “National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump’s name in as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned, according to one source, who relayed conversations he had with NSC officials.” One unnamed source (just one!) is used to back up inordinate assertions about the president.

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