Slow and steady
Re “China’s looming decline could be a threat to the world” (Jan. 18): University of Wisconsin-Madison demographer Yi Fuxian may well be right in arguing that “China’s current economic downturn is not cyclical, but structural and irreversible.” But what is this supposed “current economic downturn?”
China’s economy grew in 2023 (”China’s economy expanded 5.2 per cent last year, hitting target of ‘about 5 per cent’ even though recovery is uneven” – Online, Jan. 16). Admittedly those are rates of growth much lower than China registered a few years ago, but they are still rates of growth well above those in Europe and North America.
In the late 1960s, the Japanese economy boasted growth rates similar to those of China in the 1990s and early 2000s, sometimes reaching more than 10 per cent annually. Then its population began to shrink, and the country has had declining population for many years now.
Japan’s economy still holds up reasonably well: It typically now grows by about 1 per cent annually. There’s no reason why China can’t do the same.
Don LePan Nanaimo, B.C.
Re “One Trudeau family vacation, three explanations, many doubts” (Editorial, Jan. 19): Perhaps the Prime Minister could share a little more about his experience of staying “at a friend’s,” just “like many Canadian families” did over the holidays.
Was the sofa bed okay? Pillows decent? Did the youngsters mind the air mattresses? How about sharing a bathroom with the hosts? And meals: It’s important to pick up on what one’s hosts expect.
And did he leave a nice bottle of wine, maybe some flowers?
Richard Berrow New Westminster, B.C.
Before and after
Re “Notley’s legacy?” (Letters, Jan. 18): I have noticed on many occasions that Alberta voters have short memories.
In 2015, Progressive Conservative Jim Prentice’s budget included tax increases, extensive cuts and a $5-billion deficit. Why so grim? Oil had plummeted to about $60 a barrel.
This is what Rachel Notley and the NDP inherited later that year. Oil prices bottomed out at $44 – compare this to the $72 enjoyed by the current United Conservative Party government.
Successive conservative governments used oil revenues to pay for services. At my university, we used this money to expand and hire more faculty. The NDP gave us annual increases of 2.5 per cent, enough to cover inflation and nothing more.
Who is to blame for Alberta’s deficits? Mr. Prentice knew: “We need only look in the mirror. Basically, all of us have had the best of everything and have not had to pay for what it costs.”
Peter Dibble Lethbridge, Alta.
Re “Energy boost” (Letters, Jan. 19): Where some natural gas turbines in Alberta were out of service temporarily, wind and solar energy sufficed to fill this gap. Thereafter it was possible for the province to purchase energy from British Columbia and Saskatchewan. And a warning system persuaded Albertans to reduce their consumption, so no supply crisis occurred.
Why did things work out reasonably well? Alberta has gas turbine capacity; Alberta is developing wind and solar capacity at the highest rate in Canada; Alberta has good provincial neighbours; Albertans, broadly, are not self-centred fools.
There is no federal villain, then. There is no deficiency in the provincial civil service. And, happily, Alberta’s cabinet has not effectively interfered with the evolution of the province’s energy supply into its modern, environmentally feasible form.
John Seaman Webb Calgary
Re “Ontario moves ahead with expansion of private clinics to address surgical backlogs” (Jan. 18): How will private clinics shorten wait times for surgeries?
They are working with the same pool of doctors and nurses. Without additional staff, nothing changes except the costs to public-health insurance and taxpayers.
A more efficient way to deal with wait times would be to give hospitals more funds to expand the hours of operating rooms and diagnostic imaging equipment. These often sit unused on weekends and evenings.
But Ontario seems determined to privatize health care, even when we know private clinics cost more.
Achim Krull Pickering, Ont.
Re “Loblaw discount reduction not evidence of grocery collusion, competition expert says” (Report on Business, Jan. 19): I’m not sure what all the kerfuffle is about.
Retailers are free to choose what level of discount they want to apply to their merchandise. There’s no legal or moral obligation to continue as is or, for that matter, defend the decision. If it was a moral issue, then Loblaw could donate these products to charitable organizations.
I admit the explanation given is certainly lame, if not laughable. I doubt that selling discounted food items is a major source of revenue.
Loblaw’s decision has resulted in bad PR and impacted those struggling to make ends meet. They will have to live with it.
Patrick Haussler Ottawa
Re “There are good reasons why I still don’t use a cellphone” (First Person, Jan. 16): I do have a “thing” called a cellphone. But the thing rings and then conversation stops.
I often want to say hello to someone, only to see that they have the thing stuck to their ear or are holding the thing close to their chest, as if it was a heart defibrillator.
These thoughts are becoming more prevalent these days, and not only among older folk.
Steffany Walker Kelowna, B.C.
I, too, have no cell contraption.
I enjoy the humour generated by those I see practising their debilitating addiction. It’s not just the slapstick of watching so many walk into poles and parking meters, but the abrupt look of embarrassment when they suddenly awaken to their comedy routine.
On public transportation, I have nothing better to do than observe the amazing changes taking place in this great city. If the scenery occasionally becomes boring, I’ll observe my fellow humans and often count how many are entertained by the sights in their palms – it’s often everyone. A few more chuckles and I’m off to a restaurant, where I’ll watch two or three cellphones having lunch together.
At 90, I’m advised that a cellphone is a safety necessity. “What would you do if you had an accident and needed medical assistance?”
Simple answer: “Just ask the nearest person to call 911.”
George Dunbar Toronto
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