Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Alison Redford's Geek Manifesto: Part two

After a sick day which appears to have done the reverse of what it was intended, I'm back in the saddle, although a touch loopier (Readers who buy the deluxe version of the site will be mailed a small sample of cold virus so they can get the precise experience.)

The last energy post apparently only covered Canada's energy plan; so today I will start with
World Energy Capital

The majority of the plan is blowing smoke up our dress about how clever Albertans are, or how everyone in the world should look to us for energy innovation, with only a few bits of actual activity: Building export infrastructure on the West coast to engage with Asia, financially supporting home-grown green innovations especially those that reduce production decline, involve aboriginals in the regulation making process, cutting labor immigration, and investing in alternative 'greening' processes for our energy sector.
Twice in this section she says the job of government is not to pick winners within energy innovation competitions, but she is fooling herself if she doesn't acknowledge that whoever is favored with the government's money and attention is given an almost unprecedented advantage that comes close to guaranteeing success.

Post-secondary Education
 The first thing to greet you as you enter the domain of post-secondary is a big graph that outlines how people with a University degree are being exploited, and the written suggestion that we should be jumping on this bandwagon too, by encouraging more post-secondary attendance.

 My first thoughts when I see this graph? University graduates are overpaid. That's how they boast such a large amount of income tax. Welcome to a scaled income tax system.

She follows up with a shot about how university graduates enjoy a better quality of life for a variety of reasons (that can all be explained through a higher income - amazing how not sleeping under a bridge makes one want to participate in their community) but step one to building policy is "Don't confuse correlation with causation". There are a plethora of reasons for the effects that are observed from post-secondary attendance, few are directly caused BY attendance.

She draws attention to Alberta's low post-secondary attendance rate (16% to the nation's 22%) while deliberately failing to mention this is directly attributed to the oil fields. If young people can earn incredible high salaries without the pain and cost of post-secondary, they are going to. Her plan to provide bursaries and mentors is unlikely to combat this issue, but it will likely draw youths away from working in the family farm, thus deliberately undermining the agricultural industry she hopes to build.
Despite her lovely graph, she would apparently also like to encourage interest in the trades by allowing high schoolers access to apprenticeship programs while in high school.

As she describes how everyone will work towards one goal - her goal - it becomes apparent she is just pushing mandate she started back in her office as the Alberta Safe Communities Secretariat but, as far as dreams go, she could have worse ones.

Education Funding
 "Yes, teachers, anything you want." does not mean stable education funding.

K-12 Education
If her belief that for every two retirements there was only one replacement was true, there would be many more job opportunities than there are. She leverages this dismaying prophecy to imply children will be overwhelmed when they enter the workforce, so we should prepare them now.
She plans on tailoring education for students, including mentorship programs and such, while eliminating the grade 3 and 6 achievement tests, which are apparently too stressful. Teachers are already far too busy teaching students - they don't have time to babysit and evaluate every one.  

Another plan for the education system she presents is to eliminate the "no-fail" policy (tests are too stressful, but failing isn't?) saying that it contributed to a high drop-out rate in high school, but the no-fail policy is multifaceted. Sometimes it helps students who may simply falter for a year, but regain their footing the next. It would unfairly brand them at a young age, as 'failers'. Even in my own youth I remember the stigma attached to those who failed. Kids can be cruel. But I do agree that simply shoving kids forward is not the answer. Perhaps instead of spending money on mentorship programs she could institute tutoring programs.

But she already has plans for any spare money by providing free high school diploma programs for everyone in Alberta, revamping the special needs program to include more intensive judging of the students, and more strict graduation requirements for ESL students.

Finally, she plans to allow parents despotic rule over school openings (without mentioning where that money comes from), pit schools against each other to build competitiveness, and keeping schools anywhere there is "sufficient population" to warrant them.

Humorously, after this wish-list of Brobdingnagian proportions, she talks about maintaining stable funding and 'taking the lead' in teacher's negotiations. As a lady, she should know that just because one is in the lead does not mean one is not being taken from behind.

When I opened healthcare and six subsections opened up it became apparent this was going to produce three posts. I hate political promises. 

Family Care
  She talks about a funding model where the funding follows the patient, but does not elaborate on what that means in a practical sense; do we each have a budget? Or are they simply tracking what each person costs? Will we get waxed if we go over-budget? "Sorry, you are too expensive to let live."

Her healthcare plan involves family care clinics, better continuing care, more home care, localizing decision-making, and better monitoring of the system. Each step of which is elaborated in its own section. I'm going to drink myself into a political stupor and return on Friday to detail what the cost of this will be.

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