Monthly Archives: December 2016

Denial

Last year’s media have suddenly discovered that the CIA on not very much evidence have reached a “consensus” that the evil Vlad caused his flying monkeys to hack the DNC servers and access material which was then used via Wikileaks to help crush Hilly so The Donald could win the Presidency. Apparently, this is the biggest political story ever!

Or not.

Probably not. Quick, name a revelation from the Wikileaks trove which would have caused people to switch their vote from Hilly to Trump? Stumped? So am I. I read a lot of the leaks and, while they certainly revealed a rather unpleasant culture of entitlement and corruption at the DNC, there was nothing which was terrifically shocking.

This is just one of the Dem narratives designed to call into question Trump’s legitimacy as President. There are also loser ideas like Steve Bannon being a secret white supremacist, the whole “fake news” lunacy aided and abetted by a brilliant WaPo confection which was sourced to an anonymous website, and, of course, the “billionaire has business interests” routine and shrill cries of “popular vote” as if it mattered. None of it seems to be sticking because none of it has much substance.

What these narratives share in common is the fact the Dems and their enabling media cannot quite bring themselves to accept that the “deplorables” won the election. As Trump goes about assembling one of the most impressive Cabinets in recent memory, the Dems cling to the idea that he can’t really be President. They want a do over.

As each new anti-Trump narrative is run up the media flagpole Trump’s polling popularity inches up. The more desperate the Dems sound the more inclined the general population is to give Trump a chance. The shriller the special snowflakes’ angst becomes the more inclined normal Americans are to be rid of the idiots. Calling Trump an “orange Nazi” may make the snowflakes feel better but it is not likely to make them any less odious.

Trump is going to be President. The only remaining question is whether the Democratic Party is going to be an effective opposition or if it is going to give itself over to denialist tantrums for the next few years. My bet is tantrums.

Trump is also going to be a President who does not need and will not bow to the pathetic mainstream media. As I suggested a month ago, a good place to start would be exiling the White House Press corps from the White House. Putting the media in their place after their awful election coverage is a luxury Trump can afford. The Press needs the President far more than the President needs the Press.

Ultimately Trump will be judged on his performance. To date, he seems to have a pretty solid grasp of the job ahead. We’ll see how he does in office.

 

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Italy: 60/40

The exit polls on the Italian Constitutional Referendum are showing the Yes side of PM Matteo Renzi losing bigly. 60% No, 40% Yes.

Popular anger at everything from the Euro to unfettered African and Middle Eastern migration on to the perpetually sketchy Italian economy all came into the mix. However, having followed the campaign a bit, my sense is that this is a purely populist reaction against the perceived globalist elite. Renzi was appointed – not elected – to office a couple of years ago. Whatever his politics he was seen as a tool of a technocratic, Europhile elite and, as such, when the people had the opportunity to voice their displeasure they took it.

This does not finish the EU. It will take the election of M. LePen to accomplish that; but it does signal a large scale rejection of the centralizing impulse which drives the EU. I expect there will be a fair dose of commentary linking Brexit, Trump and the defiance of the Italians. I doubt that there was much of a link other than the growing realization that the current situation of mass migration, unbalanced budgets and growing governmental interference with people’s lives is unsustainable.

The Italians are having to deal with a wave of African and Middle Eastern migration which they do not want and cannot afford. Their government seems hell bent on spending money it does not have to rescue, feed and house these migrants. Elites, imbued with an internationalist, multicultural orthodoxy, can’t imagine why their citizens are looking askance at migrants who are better treated than the Italians themselves. Unwanted migration is not the only reason for anger but it is the most visible.

The divergence between elite and popular opinion on the question of migration is the fulcrum of anger which is grinding away the pretensions of elite opinion. “Italy for the Italians!” can no longer be dismissed as irrelevant racist cant. Rather, it will begin to inform the actions of any government which hopes to rule Italy.

Today’s Italian vote may well signal the beginning of serious Italian nationalism.

As a general rule elites and Europhiles decry nationalism because they are convinced that that nationalism will set European state against European state a la WWI and II. I don’t think it will. Rather I think the nationalism will set the dominant European culture against the Muslim and/or African migrants/colonists flooding the borders. In the process that nationalism will start rooting out the now discredited ideology of multi-culturalism. In which case, today’s vote was a victory for Italy and the idea that Italian culture is worth defending.

The major loser in all of this is the EU. For the EU the idea of “Italian” was somehow to be submerged into the idea of “European”. The problem was that “European” was not very attractive as it gradually descended into unswerving support for unlimited migration, politically correct multi-culturalism and a deep belief that bureaucrats could make better decisions than Italians about how Italians lived and worked. 16 years of economic stagnation in the Euro strongly suggests that Brussels adds very little to the Italian mix.

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Pot Leaks

marijuana postal delivery

Here are your brownies Mrs. Smith. Can I see some ID?

To my not very great surprise, John Ivison of the National Post had parts of the Canada Marijuana Task Force Report leaked to him.

What was a tiny bit surprising was to be called by “The Morning Show with Matt Gurney and Supriya Dwivedi” http://www.640toronto.com/morningshow/ at 5:30 AM this morning (Producer Ryan…you owe me baked goods.) to comment on the information disclosed in the leak. You can listen to my remarkably coherent (having been awake for a minute and a half) ramblings here.

A couple of slightly less random thoughts on the leaked material.

The leak itself is interesting and more than a little outrageous. The Report clearly favours Health Canada Licenced Medical Marijuana growers and many of those corporate grow shows are publically traded companies. Allowing the report to come out in dribs and drabs (because “translation”) could cause deep uncertainty in the public markets. The government should release the report, in toto, immediately.

Substantively, the Report apparently recommends that legalization efforts be directed at “getting rid of the $7-billion-a year black market. Sources familiar with the report, which is expected to be made public Dec. 21, say all the other recommendations flow from that guiding principle.”

It is not clear whether that “black market” includes the grey market of dispensaries and pot shops which has grown up in Canada and which continues to expand.

Using “legalization” as a weapon against the “black market” is pretty much the level of restrictive thinking I expected from the Task Force. Rather than seeing legalization as an opportunity to regularize the marijuana market, the language suggests a resumption of the war on drugs by other means.

The Task Force is apparently suggesting that the 40 Health Canada approved licencees remain the only legal source of marijuana and proposes that recreational pot, like medicinal pot, continue to be delivered by Canada Post. A nostalgic bow to the mail and a suggestion pretty certain to keep dispensaries and “Bob on the corner” in business for the foreseeable future. Here is a free clue for the Liberal government: recreational pot users are impulse buyers. As I say in my book, “The most common triggers for the decision is that, by their lights, a customer is running low on pot, has run out of pot or has been out of pot for some time but only now has the money to buy more pot.” In short, not likely to wait a week for Canada Post to deliver.

But recreational pot users may be waiting a lot longer than that. Let’s do a bit of simple math. A 7 billion dollar a year “black” market at, say, $10 per gram implies a 700 million gram market or 700,000 kilograms. According to Health Canada’s market data, Canada’s licenced corporate grow shows, in the quarter ending September 30, 2016 produced 5734 kilograms of pot and had inventory of 13,236 kg. Just for fun, lets say we take quarterly production to 7000kg. Annualized, in round numbers, 30,000kg.

Yup, the combined production of all the Health Canada licenced corporate grow shows is, optimistically, less than 5% of projected recreational demand aka “the black market”. Don’t be looking for the postie with your pot anytime soon.

There is no question that some, but not all, of the current licencees can scale up their operations; however a 20x increase in production is not likely with only 40 licencees.

Ivison’s story goes on to suggest that, at least initially, Canada Post would have a monopoly on pot deliveries. The logic here being that Canada Post would verify the identity and age of the people it was delivering to. Right. Just for fun think about how that would work. Would you go to your local post office and present ID to pick up your pot? Would the postie (for those of you who still have home delivery) ask for id at your door? Canada Post according to its 2015 Annual Report delivers millions of parcels. Some days it delivers over 1 million parcels. E-commerce is taking off and Canada Post is getting its share of the business. But a great deal of the parcel post does not involve any interaction with the recipient.

If you take the “black market” number of 700 million grams and assume people will buy in 10 gram parcels – call it $100 – that is 70 million face to face deliveries a year. There will be new jobs at the Post Office.

The only encouraging thing in the Ivison piece is that distribution and production will have to be discussed with the provinces. Ivison suggests that, at least in BC, “which already has a large number of pot shops, the expectation is that the provincial government will require dispensaries to buy marijuana from a licensed producer.” This would make a heck of a lot more sense than distributing through the Post Office.

I am waiting for the release of the actual report, but if Ivison’s article is substantially correct, the Liberal Government is being handed a largely unworkable plan for marijuana legalization. Insufficient supply, inefficient distribution and a prohibitionary mentality seem to have destroyed the entrepreneurial opportunity marijuana legalization presented.

I’m not surprised.

 

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