‘Religion is a tremendously powerful social technology’: The best comments from Hub readers this week

The faithful walk through the streets of old Montreal during the stations of the cross on Good Friday in Montreal, Friday, March 29, 2013. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press.

This past week, Hub readers had dynamic discussions on the carbon tax, rising antisemitism in Canada, Doug Ford’s Ontario budget, and why Holy Week also matters for the non-religious.

The goal of Hub Forum is to bring the impressive knowledge and experience of The Hub community to the fore and to foster open dialogue and the competition of differing ideas in a respectful and productive manner. Here are some of the most interesting comments from this past week.

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Don’t bet on low interest rates returning anytime soon

Monday, March 25, 2024

“If there was a model, let alone a simplistic one, that predicted the future of interest rates accurately, it would currently be at the heart of somebody’s endless money-making machine. Economists who make their predictions publicly certainly don’t have it. Investors make their bets on it using a risk-based analysis, but they invariably win and lose.

Our global economy is an incredibly complex system, perhaps more so than climate given that human behaviour, rational and irrational, across billions is a core contributing factor. This incredibly complex system responds in real-time to new, good or bad, information (events, actions, speculations, aggregate emotions), making anything but short-term predictions a crap shoot. Even if there were a reasonable accurate model, the system would likely adjust organically to make it inaccurate.”

— Paul Attics

“One hopes the Central Bankers will have learned enough to avoid making that mistake again. Reasonable interest rates are essential to help guide productive investment and sensible behavior.”

— Greg

The carbon tax was never worth the cost

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

“However the economic costs work out on paper, it’s hard to imagine that people in the future (and maybe even today’s young people) are going to be happy to be left with 3.5 degrees warming in exchange for growth and current consumption. (This is even leaving aside the fact that the global differences in impacts are likely to be a huge source of instability.)”

— Valerie

“I would comment on the point late in the article about possibly ‘implementing border adjustments that tax the imports” from countries with lower carbon taxes. The author fails to note, that if we do that, those countries will most likely increase duties on imports from Canada, and it will hurt Canadian manufacturers while doing little if anything to ‘help the environment.'”

— Dave

Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference announcing the construction of an electric vehicle battery production plant by Volkswagen Group’s battery company PowerCo SE in St. Thomas, Ontario Friday, April 21, 2023. Tara Walton/The Canadian Press.

“The essential idea behind the carbon tax was that prices can influence behaviour. Obviously, this can work if the price accurately includes all emissions and if there is a cheaper alternative. If we look at home heating for most Canadians, electricity is much more expensive than natural gas. The carbon tax is not influencing the buying behaviour of richer Canadians who can afford it, while poorer people get colder because they have to dial back the heat.

Looking at EVs, which are heavily subsidized, the carbon footprint for their batteries and metals is not included in their prices. Similar to solar panels, all are part of a magical conception. Again, the rich are okay—the poor not so much. If our governments focused on making truly low carbon products cheaper rather than making existing products more expensive, maybe Canadians would be a bit happier.”

— Greg

“The tax, indeed the whole suite of policies, has been designed and implemented very poorly and, in the absence of a global carbon price, Canada is only inflicting economic harm on itself. History shows us that rich nations can afford strict environmental regulations and enjoy cleaner environments. We are slipping economically and are fast losing our rich nation status. Let’s make wealth creation our priority and saving the planet a secondary, or even tertiary, objective.”

— Colin Wright

Empty words are not enough to combat antisemitism

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

“A solution, which will require a combined and concerted effort by those tacitly approving (or ignoring) antisemitism in their organizations and society broadly, is to publicly, plainly, and repeatedly denounce antisemitism and those individuals and groups who practice and encourage antisemitism. This perhaps needs to be labelled a whole-of-Canada action.”

— Ian MacRae

Doug Ford’s disastrous budget

Thursday, March 28, 2024

“Premier Ford’s ongoing poor performance should not be a surprise at this point.”

— Paul Attics

“Sadly, Boomers (including myself) are more consistent voters than younger Canadians. Therefore Doug will continue to favour us oldsters with budget goodies. Collectively Ontarians need to agree 1) we need to pay higher taxes if we want all the stuff we get from the province or, 2) we decide what we can do without. We’re all adults, we need to be honest with ourselves.”

— Ian MacRae

“It’s certainly unfair to young people (and other renters) to be solely responsible for making environmental sacrifices that existing homeowners were not expected to.”

— Valerie

Holy Week matters for non-religious people too

Friday, March 29, 2024

“Religion is a tremendously powerful social technology that has continued to evolve since its inception. Across human history post-religion, the details (rituals, costumes, god-like figures, stories, rules, dogma, answers) are irrelevant as they change as religions come and go, fading out, splitting, and changing over time. As a technology, it can be used for good or bad. The important and good part of religion is the cohesive force for defining and leading moral lives for individuals, families, and whole societies. It continues to do this today.”

— Paul Attics

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