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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Manchester Bomb Massacre

Letter to the Globe and Mail. Publication Declined.

When we in the west take the senseless bombing of a wedding party in Yemen as seriously as the senseless bombing of concert goers, then perhaps both problems can be solved.

Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan mouths the credo of western interference in muslim countries. He can’t or won’t understand that outbreaks of horrific violence require not just the existence of jihadist ideology, but also our killings to provide the justification that sick and warped people need to see themselves as heroes, and not as monsters. The BBC is already reporting that the British used Libyan jihadists to destablize Gaddafi, believing their promises to have no interest in politics outside their country, but sometimes the enemy of my enemy is not our friend, but the enemy of everyone.

-  David Crowe

After emailing this letter, I also found that, according to Russia Today, the sister of Salman Abedi, Jomana Abedi, told the Wall Street Journal that, I think he saw children – Muslim children – dying everywhere, and wanted revenge. He saw the explosives America drops on children in Syria, and wanted revenge. Whether he got that is between him and God, she said.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The cost of not taking your medicine (is less than the cost of taking it)

Submitted to the Globe and Mail newspaper, but not published, as usual when I criticize the medical establishment.

A recent Globe and Mail article, “The cost of not taking your medicine”, estimates that 125,000 deaths occur every year in the USA due to people not taking their medicine. Ironically, way back in 2000, the even more prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association published an estimate that 106,000 people die each year from properly (!) prescribed medications in hospitals. Given increases in population and pharmaceutical use, that’s roughly the same number. But if you include improperly prescribed medications (wrong drug, wrong dose, etc), over-the-counter drugs and drugs prescribed outside hospitals (via a GP, old folks homes, prisons, etc) the number of people who die from taking their drugs is much, much higher than those who die from not.

And many of the people who don’t take the drugs are probably experiencing side effects that they don’t want to confront their doctors with, probably because they are worried their doctors will chastise them. And, in many cases doctors will dismiss the side effects as unrelated to the new symptoms. At least until the drug is pulled off the market for causing too many side effects or deaths, as happens quite often.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sex Selective Abortion in Canadians of South Asian Descent

The Globe and Mail newspaper (Toronto) reports that a study has shown that the preference for male babies among women living in Canada, but born in South Asia, remains strong no matter how long since they immigrated.
Most striking is that the ratio of boys to girls among Punjabi women who have given birth to two girls, and no boys, is 240 boys to 100 girls.

It's probably true that most people who have two children of the same gender would prefer a third child of the opposite gender, however it probably does not lead to an abortion in many cases.

What is problematic is a statement by Kripa Shekhar, executive director of the South Asian Women's Centre in Toronto, that, "A woman has a fundamental right in Canada to decide whether to have an abortion, and should not come under pressure from a spouse or other family members to deliver a male child…This is an issue of choice that is taken away from a woman, in many ways it is very abuse."

Certainly the first part of this statement is not controversial to me. Women in Canada do have a fundamental right to an abortion (whether you like it or not) and I agree that they should not be pressured to have an abortion, any more than they should be pressured to keep a child they don't want. But is it true that in all cases (as is implied by this statement) it is men who are pressuring women to have the abortion.

I have observed that cultural practices, even when they clearly restrict women in some way, and not men, such as the Burka, Female Genital Mutilation, are endorse and enforced by both women and men who are part of that culture. Just as circumcision, for example, which may damage the sex life of men, is equally endorsed by both men and women who believe it is part of their culture, or who claim that it actually has health benefits.

What if at least some South Asian women want the abortion so that their third, and possibly final, child will be a boy?

If this was true (even if just for some women) then there is a clear conflict between a woman's "fundamental right in Canada to decide whether to have an abortion", and a prohibition on sex-selective abortion.

Since I don't believe that we can reliably determine whether someone would make the same choice outside of the influence of other family members there doesn't seem to be a solution to the problem. Imagine if, for example, South Asian women were forbidden from having abortions, or from having abortions of female fetuses? This would clearly be racist because it assumes that all South Asian men are misogynists, and it assumes that no South Asian women in Canada are strong enough to make up their own mind.

Given that I believe overuse of ultrasound is a health concern, I wouldn't object to restricting the use of ultrasound, but in reality a doctor can always find a medical reason to require one, and the decision to abort when the parents find out the gender can be made without anyone speaking the reason.

The only solution, which isn't much of a solution, is to respect the right of all Canadian women to decide whether to have an abortion (knowing that in some cases they may have been pressured) and to hope that future generations become perfect in all gender matters, just like white people always have been (calm down, I'm being sarcastic).

Monday, April 17, 2017

Not published by the Globe and Mail (sigh, why do I bother?)

Dear Editors;

I sincerely wish Justin Trudeau would stop sucking up to the United States, it just encourages them to get involved in more futile and bloody wars, especially now we have a madman on the Presidential throne. Trudeau can chastise Russia all he wants, but Syria is their only base in the Middle East (unlike the USA), so a withdrawal of support just isn’t going to happen. Realpolitik 101.

Perhaps he is encouraging America to start another ‘humanitarian’ war to topple dictator Assad, just like the successful and rapid topplings of Hussein and Gaddafi. Unfortunately, although we thought nothing could be worse than those dictators, we soon found out we were wrong. And in this case we have the additional danger of a direct confrontation between the US and Russia.

It’s deeply disturbing that our Prime Minister, captured by his flowing rhetoric, is pushing the world towards WW III.

- David Crowe

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Stop dissing Alberta's new election laws

Published in the May 2017 edition of Alberta Views magazine.

I’m no NDP [Alberta's mildly socialist governing party] hack, but “Getting Big Money Out of Alberta Politics” is wrong in their criticism of the dramatic improvements that the NDP made to Alberta’s election laws. Dramatically wrong. It is false to state that the Alberta limit of $4000 is greater than the federal limit, let alone almost 3 times greater. This is an enormous misunderstanding of federal rules, perhaps drawn from the VUE Weekly article that you also included in your April edition.

In fact, according to Elections Canada, in 2017 you can give $1550 to EACH of the registered federal parties. And another $1550 to Electoral District Association, Nomination Contests and Party-endorsed candidates for EACH party. And $1550 per election for EACH independent candidate. And $1550 in total to leadership candidates in EACH contest.

So if you really want to throw money around, and you want to buy influence with the two or three parties you think are most likely to win, you could easily give several times more than the $4000 total limit in Alberta. You are only limited by the numbers of parties, independent candidates and leadership contests. Unlike Alberta there is no global cap.

There are other tricks you can play, federally. You can, for example, give $1550 to a political party, and request that the money is allocated to a particular riding or candidate. And then give another $1550 directly to the riding or candidate.  I know because I actually queried Elections Canada as I was sure that they would have recognized and filled this loophole, but they confirmed that the limits apply to the entity receiving the money from you, and that there are no limits or restrictions on transfers between parties, ridings and candidates.

And if you like another candidate running for a different party you can rinse and repeat. And if that’s not enough you can donate $1550 to an unlimited number of independent candidates (perhaps to try to bleed votes away from a candidate you want to lose). And don’t forget the leadership contests.

- David Crowe
Former CFO, Green Party of Alberta

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

It is not lack of access to pharmaceuticals that causes expensive complications, it is excessive access

Dear Alberta Views Editors;

I was shocked to read, in the November 2016 article by Linda Mcquaig, “Medicare On Trial”, that she viewed the inability to afford drugs as a major cause of “expensive complications” and ER visits. I support pharmacare because this situation may sometimes occur, but McQuaig did not provide evidence to persuade me that this is a major problem. What is a major cause of adverse events and ER visits is excessive access to drugs. A 1998 paper in the Journal of the American Medical Assocation, for example, estimated that 106,000 Americans are killed by properly prescribed drugs in hospitals. That would amount to about 10,000 Canadians every year. And this study did not consider drugs prescribed in other settings (nursing homes, prisons etc), over the counter drugs, and improperly prescribed drugs. Pharmaceuticals are, in fact, one of the leading causes of injury of death. Not lack of access to pharmaceuticals, but access that is too easy, in a culture that believes everything can be cured with a pill, with the finger of blame pointing at both on doctors and ordinary Canadians.

Everyone is now familiar with the epidemic of opiod abuse which was not started by illegal drugs dealers, but by legal drug dealers, an epidemic that is causing a trail of death and destruction all throughout North America. This epidemic will not be mitigated by pharmacare.

Pharmacare, and medicare in general, are only funding mechanisms, and can make access to medical treatment more equitable, but they can’t deal with the epidemic of over-treatment (which involves more than just drugs). I would challenge anyone to show that, in Canada, lack of medical treatment is anywhere near as big a problem as over-treatment, mostly the overuse of pharmaceuticals.  Solutions must involve the education of everyone, not just medical professionals, about the dangers of the medical system, beginning a process of eliminating the many unnecessary and unproven treatments.  One of the problems with fee for service, which it was good to see another article in Alberta Views questioning, is that it provides an incentive to treat, and a disincentive to not treat, even if non-medical alternatives, such as changes in diet, exercise and other habits, would be far safer and, in the long run, more effective. Increasing the health of Canadians would also requires governments to have the courage to stand up to big corporations that sell products that cause disease, such as the chemical and food industries. As an added bonus, less reliance on the medical treatment system for conditions like diabetes, would massively reduce the cost of the system.

Until this day comes, it is up to individuals to educate themselves and avoid the system, despite the fact that they’re paying for it, until they absolutely need it.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Electric cars are no magic bullet

(This letter was published in the September 2016 issue of 'Alberta Views' magazine)

I don’t understand why so many environmentalists are in love with the electric car. Does it solve the problem of traffic accidents? No. Of roadkill? Of paving paradise to build roads and parking lots? Of ugly suburban development? Of better access to efficient transportation to the economically disadvantaged? It doesn’t even solve the problem of burning fossil fuels because even if we could achieve 100% renewable energy production for today’s needs, the hundreds of thousands of electric cars added onto the grid would move the yardstick out of reach again, and, batteries, tires and the manufacturing of the vehicle will have a significant environmental impact that is usually ignored. It seems to me that it is a painless way for the upper middle classes to claim the green high road with no impact on their lifestyle, ignoring the fact that there will be far fewer benefits than claimed, and maybe none. Driving a kilometer in an electric car still doesn’t make the shared environment better. It car is greenwashing of the elites by the elites. True improvements in our transportation system will come from improving pedestrian and cycling facilities, from more public transportation, and from devoting fewer resources, less energy, less space and fewer lives to the cult of the automobile, no matter how it is powered.