Monday, August 15, 2011

Alison Redford's Geek Manifesto: Part one

The next candidate, in order of whatever-I-felt-like-typing-at-the-moment, is Alison Redford. Her apparent reluctance to capitalize her first name annoys me, but I am nothing if not forgiving. Even when I notice she has even more areas than Gary Mar. Perhaps, if I make it through this, I should buy myself a trip.

Democratic renewal
Her policies are grounded in "devolving power" which is good because she believes in evolution, but bad because, really, who wants less advanced power?
To open up government she plans on speeding up information requests without raising costs (I love magic tricks), mandate that all candidates disclose donors (thus tanking political spending), enacting 'whistle-blowing' legislation to watch government (Vague AND overdone), and studying phone and web voting (Prudent. Don't just lunge into that newfangled crap)
She seems a big advocate of more localized healthcare, better options for seniors and disabled, and more avenues for health care workers to dialogue, but these are just 'look good' options - no one is going to admit that they'll close seniors' homes and muzzle health care workers.

Her stance on education is somewhat confusing, as she outlines that school boards will work together when they can't work apart and inlcudes more 'look good' options in the form of not forcing parents to send their children to schools they don't agree with.

I shall now take the lowest blow I have ever written: She was in charge of tackling Alberta's gang problem. I'm not sure if she deliberately shuffled them all into Edmonton, but considering our homicide rate, I'm willing to put the blame on her anyway.

Planning for Alberta's Financial Future
Like Gary, she plans to rejuvenate the Sustainability and Heritage funds by growing the economy, which is nice because everyone else is shrinking the economy. Presumably she plans to achieve this by leaving it in a bowl of water overnight so it can grow to 20 times its size like one of those sponge things.
A five year health care budget and three year education budget do seem appealing, surrounded by the usual "review for savings" rhetoric, and a promise not to fund solely by population growth and inflation. She does talk about privatizing aspects of these programs, however, wherever possible, but the criteria for 'possible' is a large boat of wherewithal so this should be taken with a grain of salt (or a relief, whichever)

Agricultural policy
One would think that an industry running since before man figured pants were a nifty invention would not require a lot of innovation, but new needs breed new advances, I suppose, so Ms. Redford has pledged to provide committed funding for new advances in agriculture and the teamwork of the government. I got pretty excited when she mentioned the need for rural places to be able to connect seamlessly to the rest of the world, but fails to elaborate what that could entail, and since it was listed in the agricultural section I am drawing a blank. She also talks about tax credits for habitat development, but I wonder if that would be sacrificed for repairing the devastated Slave Lake region.

I must confess, I almost lose the urge to say anything bad about her when she brings up innovation in healthy eating options, even if it is through the perspective of our ability to meet that need and the economic payoff therefrom.After discovering she intends to build more towers to wirelessly connect all of Alberta to the Internet, I am really fond of her, even if she does think our current Internet service is competitive and fair.

Canadian energy strategy
It's nice she focuses on building our international image, even if it is just so we can fleece other countries more effectively. Overall, he goals is built around three main themes: making Alberta (i) the global leader in sustainable hydrocarbon production and (ii) a leader in partnerships for renewable energy technologies and achieving this by (iii) investing in our most precious resource of all: people.

Within the first goal, when she starts talking about how the industry has grown faster than the province's ability to regulate, thus creating sustainability and public/private sector issues, she blows away my curmudgeonly attitude faster than a fat kid looking for snipes. Her next talking point could be increased puppy-stomping, I would probably still favor her.
Unfortunately since her next talking point is "energy efficiency", I'm slightly non-plussed. It's great that she is putting it at the top of her list; top of my list is "self flight". Sometimes focusing on a thing isn't good enough, one must actually say how they plan on achieving it.

Her plan to revolutionize the regulatory industry is good though: find good people, give them good science, and set a clear direction, all topped off with an overarching eye to cumulative effects from all changes. Considering consumer cost when designing regulations is a poor plan, however, since either you will try to minimize costs, in which case your hands are tied with respect to sustainability issues that necessarily cost more, or you will simply try to find the happy point of cost to demand, a dynamic the private company will already be several billion times better at. (The government still is not in the same league as businesses for seducing the most amount of money out of people's pockets: it still can't convince them that they want to give them money.)

I can't express how much I love her phrase, "my strategy involves unleashing our researchers". Faster, pussycat, kill ... KILL!

Goal two ((ii) a leader in partnerships for renewable energy technologies) starts sounding like she is going to use money from the Oil sands (and gas production) to further research into renewable energy sources. But she mentions one of the key factors required to develop new technology is "insulation from political process", something I'm not sure our current electoral system can deliver on. Anyway, the whole plan to become a world leader in energy technology looks almost like a merger between a small child's plan to play nice in the sandbox, and a hooker who needs to pay off some serious debt, so there's no way we can fail!

The third goal includes this gem at the beginning, "Geekiness, public engagement and a passion for learning are all elements of the new cool." so you know the rest is going to be a laugh riot. She describes a funding, and thus focus, imbalance from industry to academia, which only goes to show she has spent a lot of time in post-secondary environments, but never had the theory of 'profit' explained to her (perhaps with a chaser of "why basic research doesn't make any"). When she talks about creating a legacy of excellence, I think she should probably be forced to part with her Obama videos and brought out to actually meet the Albertan population. We're good people, Ma'am, but we are a dirty, hands-on people more than a 'statue of Colosus' people. She definitely has the geek vote, but not necessarily the support of the population. This is also the first time I have seen a politician focus on sending our graduates off to other places. True, it will build their global resume, but there is also a chance we won't get them back. (If she does get elected, however, I will be first in line for a trip to Norway)

Alright, I just looked up to see the girth of this post, so we'll have to leave the rest of this Geek porn for another day. See you all Wednesday!

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